Branding: Worth Measuring

You measure the effectiveness of a Web-based marketing strategy in all sorts of ways, and the latest online advertising report from Jupiter Media Metrix makes a strong case for why branding ought to be one of the measures to watch.

According to the research, marketers who fail to measure online branding will miss the real value of digital advertising, as the actual return on investment (ROI) from online advertising is at least 25 to 35 percent higher than most marketers believe. Jupiter’s research indicates that unfortunately only 15 percent of marketers are conducting such inquiry into the effects of their online efforts on branding, preferring instead to focus on response-based metrics.

Jupiter analysts suggest that marketers can measure branding value by correlating behavioral data (individual click behavior, surfing patterns, and the like) with specific advertising exposures.

Regular readers of this column will recognize the relationship between this latest research report and the conversation we’ve been having about tracking behavior above and beyond a simple response in the form of a click or conversion. The Jupiter folks confirm the challenges we’ve been talking about here — there is as yet no generally accepted methodology for converting behavioral data into hard-and-fast ROI information. They also note, however, that forward-leading marketers are not letting the lack of standards stop them. Many are experimenting with their own ways of calculating the relationship between aggregate spending and the corresponding volume of user behaviors, such as clicking through to store-locator pages; requesting further information about products, services, or availability; and traffic to pages about phone ordering.

So, for the many among you who have been wondering where the answers are, the sad news is that there are no “official” answers yet. It is all still in the early stages of development, as marketers figure out how to best evaluate this new and different medium.

While that may be disappointing for those who like formulas, it is liberating to the marketers among us who prefer to map our metrics to our own specific marketing challenges and selling processes, because they still have the freedom to design and track the measures that matter most to how each individual company sells. Harder, yes, but with the potential to yield tremendously more useable information.

Rudy Grahn, an analyst with Jupiter, takes it a step further, saying, “Although much of the talk about the ‘new economy’ has been debunked, the old dogs still have new tricks to learn. What is learned in online branding may not set completely new rules for marketers ultimately; but it will offer lessons wise marketers will heed. What marketers learn about building targeting models from observed behavior rather than precampaign demographic or psychographic data must be factored into offline campaign planning as well.”

It’s music to my ears that learnings from creative online marketing and measurements can help us be more effective marketers in every medium and arena.