Digital media are accountable. Many businesses have been built around this basic tenet (some with legitimate business models, others not so much, especially in the Internet’s boom days). It’s a core reason for online advertising’s early success, the crutch upon which many leaned after the bust. Now, it’ll launch us to new heights.
Smart online marketers continue to refine, redefine, and reengineer the metrics and measurement methodologies they use to analyze campaigns. They seek answers to critical, complex questions, such as what is the crossover effect between online media and offline behavior, and offline media and online behavior? Also, how does the combination of both affect one or the other independently and together?
Confused? Don’t get discouraged. This stuff is hard. It’s not like TV, where there’s been more than 50 years of learning, evolution, and standardized model construction. We’ve got maybe 10 years of online under our belts, and we’re busily establishing the kinds of standard foundations that have existed offline for decades.
Cross-channel measurement is a hot topic. It must be part of your measurement set in some way. Otherwise, you risk underestimating your online efforts’ value or making optimization (and budget allocation) decisions with incomplete, incorrect information. Numerous studies demonstrate a significant combined effect of simultaneous on- and offline media. The IAB’s Cross Media Optimization Studies (XMOSs) are probably the best-known examples.
Questions about online and offline working together get so much attention that other important issues get tossed by the wayside. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t let your consideration of the layered effect of different ad media end at cross-channel analysis. Look within your online media mix as well.
For example, how does display media affect your search program? Do you see spikes in branded search terms when you increase display media? Have you considered buying keywords that are relevant to your ad campaign or tagline? Search on Google for “drivers wanted.” Volkswagen’s official site is nowhere to be found. It’s not a phrase that will drive a ton of volume, but why not ensure consumers who pay attention to your tagline but not your brand can find you?
What about the balance between rich media and standard display media? Your target audience might react differently to your advertising if they see a rich, emotional brand piece first, followed by a standard direct-response ad with a stronger call to action.
The tipping point will vary based on traditional metrics, such as brand awareness. A younger product with lower awareness may require repeated rich media exposure to attract attention, build awareness, and establish credibility. It might take three or four rich media impressions for each consumer before she’s ready to click on your ad and take the desired action. There’s no standard formula for this… yet. But ignore it, and you may miss the right optimization choices.
Absent a known formula for making these decisions, you must construct smart, disciplined experiments specifically designed to answer these questions for your product or service. They can be challenging to set up, but they can lead to some incredibly powerful teachings, regarding the right balance in your media mix and deep insights into customers’ mindsets. They’re not just media tests, but creative and messaging tests as well.
You need robust ad-serving technology to enable this kind of testing and some really smart people who know marketing data. It might prove a frustrating, drawn-out process to plan and execute, but the insights can be tremendous. In the often-overwhelming sea of online marketing data, this is a key piece most marketers can’t afford to ignore.
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