We are living in the age of Big Data. Getting a handle on the metrics that measure campaign success matters on any given day, month or year, but never more so than during the Great Disruption. Despite the recovering economy, dollars and budgets are not as free-flowing as they once were, and the pressure is higher than ever for ad spend to equate to brand success.
“We aim to develop projects that help brands stand out in the midst of a tumultuous economic environment,” says Jalila Levesque, head of global communications and partner at FRED & FARID. “A campaign that touches people’s hearts when we dare to approach a broader topic behind the ad helps us strike, while also bringing meaning to our job.” That’s why agency leaders are increasingly looking beyond numbers when it comes to evaluating the metrics around success, looking at less-tangible factors like whether the work was meaningful, culturally relevant and what kind of impact it made. “Analyzing the results of a campaign only through the lens of numbers seems wrong today,” says Levesque. “Agencies and brands have a bigger responsibility—the responsibility to participate in culture and to help make the world a better place.”
We surveyed the Amp community this month to get a sense of what measuring success means in 2021—which metrics really matter, and which don’t.
Learn more about the benefits of belonging to Ad Age Amp.
Measuring the work that works
When it comes to measuring success, most agency leaders agree that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Evaluating whether a campaign worked means first looking at what that campaign entailed, and who it was for. “This is entirely customized to each client and their needs,” says Douglas Brundage, founder and CEO of Kingsland. “Often, it’s one of the first questions we ask—what does success for this program look like? If the client doesn’t know, we help them make this decision.”
Having that clarity and alignment between agency and client from the outset could make all the difference in the outcome of a project. Part of making that happen comes down to quality of communication. “What seems obvious but isn’t always clear from every client brief is the need to get precise on what success is and how it will be measured,” explains Angela Jones, senior VP and head of strategy at Laundry Service. “Get real and get specific about what you want to change, create or do, then figure out the right way to track that impact.”
A clear vision translates to clear objectives, so the critical stage of successful measurement could come long before the campaign is even created. “It’s all about designing media plans around our client’s business goals,” says Chris Finnegan, VP and integrated media director at Cornett. “After formulating how we will effectively reach their target audience using the appropriate channels and tactics, we carefully outline the role that each will play in driving prospects efficiently down the funnel to take the desired action—web traffic, foot traffic, e-commerce sales, lead generation, etc.”
Setting expectations from the outset of a campaign means getting on the same page as clients regarding how success will be defined from all angles, from evaluating the content itself to measuring its reach and consumer reactions. “In the upfront of every campaign, we outline a measurement framework to ensure alignment on how we’ll measure success with our clients,” says Jessica Neville Tinetti, group strategy director of content at Dagger. “Measurement strategies are customized based on a client’s specific business and marketing goals with methodologies like creative ad evaluation research demonstrating content efficacy, brand health studies that provide metrics among the target audience over time and social listening to measure consumer sentiment.”
What works for one client on one campaign might look totally different from the goals and challenges on another. Some agencies go one step further in measuring success via the metric of team satisfaction, which is far less quantifiable but just as important for success from an agency perspective. “Each project has its own relevant success metrics—usually highly contextual to the industry and product we’re building,” says Leah Rajaratnam, director of product management at Work & Co. “There is, however, a broader framework that applies across every project we undertake: Untangle and address the most important business problems for the client, create an experience that is equal parts valuable and delightful for the end-user, and ensure each member of our own team takes pride in both their unique contributions and the final product.”
Ultimately, that last metric—especially in an industry so dependent on the value brought in by creatives—ranks as highly as its more technical counterparts. “Whether it relates to my team or clients, happiness and satisfaction are both at the forefront of measuring the success of my work,” says Chandni Kothari, associate director at Croud. “Trust lies at the basis of these relationships, as it does with my team. Their satisfaction in the workplace is indicative of my success in leading the team.”