Nailing Just How Effective Online Creative Can Be

Q&A: AtmosphereBBDO's Sue Davidson

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NEW YORK ( -- AtmosphereBBDO, the digital arm of Omnicom Group's BBDO North America, wants to sharpen how it interprets consumer behavior. So it's tapped Sue Davidson, 34, as director-strategy and analytics, a position created to accommodate the growing impact of consumer insights on online creative campaigns.
Sue Davidson
Sue Davidson

Before coming to Atmosphere, Ms. Davidson worked at Publicis' Digitas, where she led digital-strategy development on the General Motors business. At Atmosphere, Ms. Davidson will implement analytics that evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Ad Age: Tell us about your new position.

Ms. Davidson: My role at Atmosphere is really about integrating business strategy and actual data-driven insights into Atmosphere's creative. You can make great creative perform even better by asking the right questions and incorporating the right insights from your customer base or your previous campaign. So BBDO is all about the work, the work, the work. Atmosphere is all about the work, the work that works. And the strategy and analytics capability will really make us more accountable to our clients because we can show on the back end what the value of the creative we're doing really is.

Ad Age: What types of analytics are you hoping to incorporate specifically?

Ms. Davidson: The strategy piece comes into place when you start with your business or marketing objectives before a campaign or program is designed. So traditionally marketers say, "I want to do an online promotion," but what we'd really like marketers to say is, "We want to generate 10,000 leads or increase brand awareness to 90%," and then these objectives should actually inform the media and create a strategy. So more marketers and their agency partners should really do a reality check and evaluate the program ideas with the lens of: "Is this program the right thing to do to reach my objectives?"

The strategy coupled with the analytics kind of gives you a powerful one-two punch. You set your objectives up front, and the analytics help you make smart decisions about what to do and how to optimize your program. So it's about monitoring key metrics during your campaigns to see if you can make changes midstream to help improve performance, and then after the campaign is over, it's really about capturing best practices to make the creative smarter for the next campaign. And it really takes some of the subjectivity out of evaluating creative, which clients actually enjoy.

Ad Age: Can you think of a creative web campaign recently that has taken advantage of analytics?

Ms. Davidson: The M&M's campaign -- the official name was "Become an M&M." It leveraged the insight that today's consumer online wants to be engaged, wants to have fun. Today's consumer is about personalization and customization. So consumers went to this website and designed an M&M that looked like them. It was really viral because when you design something that resonates with you, you immediately want to get response from people.

Ad Age: Where do strategy and analytics fit into brand awareness?

Ms. Davidson: Building a brand online is probably one of the biggest challenges that a marketer today faces. Consumers are fickle online. They like things in snackable bits. They come and go in a really rapid fashion, so the challenge that marketers face can be mitigated by data. With a strategy and analytics approach, you can figure out what kind of assessment you want to make in, say, brand creative vs. more-direct, call-to-action creative. It's about making educated trade-offs with the information that you are given.

Ad Age: How do you measure engagement?

Ms. Davidson: That's a challenge, because engagement is about a brand metric -- it depends on the goals and objectives of your campaign. So some people throw out metrics like time-on-site or, if you are talking about an expandable ad, how long people are playing, but in reality, what you care about it is how the consumer walks away from the experience. So one way to definitely measure that is to do a lot of surveys. And in the online space, it's so easy to survey people and ask them their opinion.

Ad Age: Why do you think metrics are vital now for online creative?

Ms. Davidson: It's a huge trend. Analytics people that understand the online space are sort of few and far between. You can imagine the land grab that is happening now. Marketers are really demanding accountability, and this is one of the channels where they can get it on a consistent basis. CMOs are having to act more like CFOs when they report to CEOs what they are doing. So if they can walk in and say, "Here's what I got for my money from the digital side in terms of media and creative," it just goes a long way.
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