New Cross-Media Analytics Can Alleviate Guesswork

Viewpoint: MediaBank COO John Bauschard on the Science of Campaign Effectiveness

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John Bauschard
John Bauschard
Media departments are no place for guessing. With millions -- even tens or hundreds of millions -- of dollars at stake, clients want hard data showing that their budgets are being well spent.

And yet for too long, media executives have been forced to rely on indirect information to judge a campaign's post-buy effectiveness. If sales or awareness go up, things must be working (even though dozens of non-advertising factors affect such measurements). If all GRP goals are fulfilled, the spend is a success (even though it only proves people saw the ads).

To be sure, all these metrics are important. But to complete the picture, it's critical to look at what advertising is meant to afect: consumer behavior. Thanks to cross-media analytics tools, reliable measures finally exist for calculating the true payback of media investments.

In the new world of media analytics, online and offline data are married to create an amazingly accurate picture of what a campaign accomplishes. Everything from site analytics to competitive media buys, ad server stats to CRM, store sales information to traditional ratings results is integrated with the agency's media purchase data to create multi-source insight into campaign effectiveness.

Dedicated analytics products now exist that let researchers and planners not only evaluate campaigns post-buy, but also as they unfold, using near-real-time data. What's more, the same information can be used to model alternatives, demo hypothetical buys and make changes midstream if a campaign isn't reaching its objectives.

Because they are a direct measure of consumer interest, web analytics play a key role. It's not enough to look solely at the client's website activity; additional measures need to be included. As many as 10 to 20 discrete data sources may be needed to generate the insights necessary to make effective changes. Additionally, in order to evaluate and determine the drivers of consumer activity within the media mix, advertisers need access to granular data across disparate systems to formulate a perspective on creative and messaging effectiveness.

Advertisers are already benefiting from online/offline data integration. In one case, a major health-care services provider was looking for a way to reduce its cost of obtaining qualified leads through its advertising. Its target was $100 per lead; by obtaining real-time visibility into its campaign performance and making a fact-based, strategic shift from national TV to its best-performing DMAs, the advertiser was able to decrease its cost-per-lead by 21% in the first month, from $112 to $89. Moreover, it maintained an average 13% decrease in each of the next four months.

Together, the cost-per-lead improvement, combined with a more effective local TV buy, produced millions of dollars in additional revenue. Efficiencies are further gained by being able to measure lead flow and predict future revenue generation as the leads flow through the conversion process. That's the kind of results clients hunger for -- and agencies can now reliably generate with the right technology solutions.

Interestingly, today's multisource analytical tools also provide much needed objectivity and credibility for media personnel. Instead of planners analyzing media buys -- a potential conflict of interest -- these comprehensive, exhaustive solutions are neutral in stance. In the end, all anyone wants is the simple truth about how well a campaign is performing, or whether a shift in strategy is warranted. Advanced cross-media analytics can finally provide both.

John Bauschard is chief operating officer at MediaBank.
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