Archives for posts with tag: Measurement


The Internet is great. If you like data, the Internet is perfect for you. You can easily get overwhelmed by stats, not understanding the metrics that really matter. All this data is worthless unless you count the numbers that really make a difference.

The Internet is enormous – you can achieve scale rather quickly and fairly easy. As easy as you might make the mistake to chase volume over meaning. If you want to attract a quality audience should you try to use every SEO trick in the book or facilitate an engaged community? If you want to make money with your site, should you deploy many slide shows and photo galleries with low value or engage through high value content?

People love to do stuff on the Internet. The best metrics are often those that relate to people doing what the Internet is best at – interacting. Unfortunately, humans are extremely complex, so the way in which we measure it can be over-simplified. Just look at click-through rates. The average is now 0.1% or lower. You could say that out of 1,000 impressions served, at least 1 person was clicking. Buy gazillions of impressions and you can get thousands of people to click. Or, you could say that 0.1% means, 99.9% of people didn’t care about ad and your work is an utter failure.

Some say banner ads don’t work at all. Or they are not working hard enough. Putting them in the right context makes sense, making them bigger and more intrusive definitely not. They should be more useful and relevant. When I see an ad that tells me the Hollywood Bowl will start individual ticket sales tomorrow at 10am, that would be useful. Good targeting works fairly well. Still, we are in danger of attributing everything to the last click, and very little to any other form of effect, or to any brand-influence or other communications the customer may have been exposed to. We tried solve that attribution challenge, the pace is too slow for my taste. Too many digital campaigns are measured on soft and unimportant metrics. It is not all about the click, and the last click is certainly not everything.

So, next time you report on campaign numbers, don’t go for the shiny number. Data tells a complex story. My guess is, you’re stopping at page three. Dig deeper.


How many times did we hear outcry about tenure of CMOs? It’s somewhere between 12 and 24 months. In short: pathetically short. There are groups on various social networks where CMOs talk with each other and share information. I joined a few of them and was saddened by the content: a lot of echo chamber jargon, opinions and little substance. Anyone existing outside the marketing community wouldn’t understand a word.

There’s a lot of junk and cheap talk, nothing relating brand status to financial consequences. Anybody involved in the marketing and advertising world is responsible to nail down some factual benchmarks that smart business people understand. Many of the reports marketers produce are just fluff and hot air (Unaided brand awareness, anyone? Facebook likes. Do I have to continue? Thanks.) At my first agency job, we commissioned a client satisfaction survey each quarter. It gave us information agency staff couldn’t get internally. We used it as a way of giving the agency goals and every six months executives presented the results. It removed all opinion by giving us measures we needed to address. We tried to manage the agency brand through the eyes of our clients. The outcomes were fabulous when it came to retention, organic growth and new business.

The curse of marketing is jargon combined with unquantified opinion

That’s the real cause so many people in marketing and advertising believe to be visionaries and almost nobody is. When they lead the way, they might lead us to nowhere. Or Second Life. Let’s face it: most of us are challenged in the vision department. However, we all talk like Steve Jobs and Seth Godin. They communicated substance, most of us hot air.

Now, there are some real visionaries in this business. People that know the past, understand the present and learned from both to look at the future. The problem for agencies and clients is to work out who is the person with the jargon and glossary, and who is the one that is thinking and talking intelligently.

Any new client needs to agree on a form of measurement to track performance. Most brands still  don’t want to invest in the most elementary tracking. They rather focus on listening and defensive tactics, rather than understanding the real perception of their business and brand. Some brands spend millions of dollars on media but they don’t bother to spend 0.5% of their marketing budget on tracking important KPIs. “Let’s do that next year.”

CEOs should be brand managers

CEOs should ask for this data on a monthly basis. In terms of brand management at the top of any organization, the CEO cannot rely upon the input internally as it has a vested interest in all things  being pink unicorns. CEOs need some form of external intelligence communicating honestly how his brand is doing in the real world. Good intelligence gives the CEO the time to adjust the business. When he has to fire the CMO to correct strategy, it’s too late. The horse has already left the barn.


Under the title “More gain, less strain: Optimizing marketing partner performance and value in a digital world”, the CMO Council published an analysis of how marketers are optimizing marketing partner performance and value in a digital world.

It’s not a pretty picture

  • Just 9% of marketers believe traditional ad agencies are doing a good job of evolving and extending their service capabilities.
  • 58% of marketers are unsatisfied with the current process of measuring their agencies’ advertising effectiveness.
  • 55% of senior marketers do not systematically evaluate creative impact, and 58% are unsatisfied with the evaluation process associated with benchmarking their agencies’ creative advertising effectiveness.
  • Only 36% of marketers are committed to their agency relationships, with 49% saying that they may consolidate or change their global agency rosters.
  • 32% are looking at selective replacement in their agency rosters, 9% see increased turnover of resource, and another 9% are decreasing the use of agencies.

A small bright spot in a dark environment

Marketers are continuing their search for new insights: 48% consider the most important value and gain from outside agencies fresh ideas, analytics and perspectives. 39% are looking for new methodologies and creative approaches.

When reviewing and evaluating agency relationships, the majority of multi-national marketers look at strategic contributions (57%) and business value created (56%).

The frustration is palatable

The survey respondents also ranked the top five causes of pain and friction in their agency relationships: (in order)

  • Lack of an agreed-upon set of analytics and metrics that defines success and failure
  • Limited knowledge and comprehension of the client’s business
  • Lack of value-added strategic thinking
  • Pricing and budgeting issues
  • Integration of marketing plans and services

Do marketers get what they pay for?

As we all know, marketing expenditures are under incredible pressure from CMO’s and procurement.  While marketers complain about lack of knowledge and comprehension of their business, they don’t seem willing to pay agencies to acquire this knowledge.

A lack of knowledge and comprehension will lead to lack of value-added strategic thinking. The agency might be able to give out some creative candy, but no filling, strategic meals.

Being so unprepared to market a client’s business, the chance of success is diminishing and there’s no benefit in succinctly defining failure and success.

Ultimately, resulting in pricing and budgeting issues.

It takes two to tango

Marketers have to understand that agencies are not lazy or disinterested in learning about the client’s business. Structurally, the client-agency relationship is not set-up for such a learning experience.

On the other hand, agencies need to set parameters for success and failure at the pitch. The pitch meeting should be the occasion where both parties set expectations, discuss challenges and solutions. It should be less about fireworks, grandiose creative and big promises. More about business decisions, culture check and partnership processes.

The current pitch meeting with all its confetti is best suited for a fling. As any married couple with a few decades under their belt will tell us, confetti gets annoying after a while. Long-term relationships are built on trust, transparency and authenticity.  No confetti needed.


Is it going to location-based marketing? Hyper-local marketing? Google+? Facebook’s timeline? Twitter ads? Social Search? What about the convergence of mobile and social? Touchscreen computing?

Clients ask me that question all the time and my answer remains the same:

Nobody knows what the next big thing is going to be. Nobody. More importantly, you shouldn’t be concerned about it. We haven’t even figured out the basics of digital marketing yet.

Let’s be frank here: The only working tactic working in the digital space is SEM. Measurable, scalable and tied back to your basic ROI. Once you leave the SEM area, digital marketers continue to work in the Wild West. We still haven’t worked out how to engage with customer through display advertising. Instead, we try to try work the attribution and measurement game:

“The metrics are all wrong.”

“It’s not about the last click.”

All true but it doesn’t instill any confidence in our clients when we sell our arsenal of digital tools with a major asterisk attached to them.

We need to fix digital marketing from scratch.

SEM/SEO? Check

Display advertising? Clearly, we need to start from scratch. We have optimized the delivery of ad units to customers but the creative side of the equation continues to be abysmal. The declining click-through rates are proof of that.

Social Media? Most companies have still not understood the power of Social Media. 95% of marketing efforts on social platforms continue to be megaphone-style, mass marketing efforts. Cutting down the power of Social Marketing to almost nothing.

Location-based marketing? Coupons are nice but they are not the be-all and end-all of location-based marketing strategies. By focusing on pure coupon play, you’re missing out in great opportunities.

The next big thing is already there.

Actually, there are many next big things. You’re just not using them properly yet. You’re not innovating enough using all these new platforms.

The majority of brands act like little children riding a bike on training wheels. After a few minutes, they get off the bike and ask: “When can I drive a car?”

Let’s try to ride the bike properly first.


I just attended a media conference. And I was shocked to realize that the digital industry is still stuck in the old accountability paradigm. Our standard ROI measure is still the difference between the cost of the campaign and the cost of reaching the same number of people in more conventional media.

That is not return on investment. It’s the kind of measurement that lead us almost to the financial abyss.

It’s silly accounting, just like the CDO’s, the derivatives and the other financial instruments that almost turned our economy into a barter society. The only metric that should count is the incremental profit that your marketing executions generated for your business.

Instead, we focus on silliness like click throughs, cost per impression, cost per action, page views, unique views, engagement rates.

Incremental Profit.

It seems to be a real challenge for marketer to measure incremental profit. Or, maybe they just focus on the wrong metric, on things that make no sense but can be aggregated fairly quickly.

I know, it’s hard to measure incremental profit. But it’s only the admission ticket to the big boy table, to talk business to the CEO. And not bright, shiny objects with the Marketing Manager.

Blame the addiction to accountability.

Accountability sounds great, doesn’t it? You can explain each penny you invested for your client, you can show wise use of the budget and explain what happened with all his money. It’s also a good way to show the client that you’re so much better in investing money compared to the other, wasteful agencies. The sad truth is that what you measure makes no difference. You’re just measuring efficiency, not the impact of advertising. That’s why we’re in this spiral of cheaper and quicker and more efficient. The race to the bottom, the race to the be the next forgettable commodity.

I’ve never met a CEO who cares how you spent his money.

They care if marketing has an impact on the bottom line. Did it make the business more profitable? Did it grow the business? Digital Marketing needs to get out of that hole (we all dug ourselves) to focus on efficiency. It’s about impact.

Here’s a question for you: Would you rather have no money wasted, deploy the most efficient campaign but have little impact? Or, would you rather waste 90% of your money, but the remaining 10% grow your overall business by 20%?


Nobody says you should waste a dime. But the addiction to accountability creates silly communication vehicles (ahem….Zynga) and burns so much money for clients, it’ s tragic. We develop brand fluff on all these social platforms and pointless display ads to make it even worse. Highly measurable, Excel spreadsheet adoptable and totally useless.

If you think that’s okay, keep on trucking. But, don’t expect anyone to take you seriously for one second. The real game is in changing the future of a brand, improving the balance sheet of a company. For that, we need a measurement intervention.


I live on the Web. 95% of my media consumption is done through a computing or mobile device. In average, I see thousands of banner ads and digital campaigns each day. The problem is, I don’t really see them. I ignore them. I blur them out.

Today I watched an NBA Playoff game and I discovered Chrysler has new products and was reminded to see “Modern Family” once in a while. Later, I read through a few magazines and saw that Asics has pretty cool shoes, there’s a new drink “Neuro” that markets through a sexist campaign and Hilfiger lost his touch.

Why did I pay attention to print ads and commercials, while, at the same time, I don’t recall any digital ads?

Heavy usage equals minimal impact

There are times when I watch a lot of TV, the World Cup comes to mind. Up to 8 hours of soccer, constantly interrupted by commercials that I ignore and blur out. When I return to my usual habit of 30 minutes TV each day, I register each ad.

When I used to get physical newspapers on a daily basis, I never noticed any ads, the inserts ended immediately in the trash. The Sunday New York Times is the only physical newspaper I still receive, and I go through each insert, look at each advertising.

A person that uses the computer sparingly will be more likely to be impacted by a flash ad. They might enjoy the roll-over experience, expansion of banners, etc.

We should never align ad spend with media usage

Many pundits complain about the misalignment of usage and ad spend.

Don’t listen to them. The exact opposite should happen:

Trying to reach affluent technophiles in their 30’s? Spend the majority of your money on the few print publications they still consume, the few TV shows they still watch. A Wired print ad will be more impactful than a display ad on

Need to communicate with grandparents in their 50’s? Heavy up on digital because majority of their media consumption is still through print and TV. You might even delight them with your banner ad.

Measure impact. Not some vanity metric.

The only metric you should invest energy in collecting and analyzing are those that help you make better decisions. And impact your bottom line. The majority of data available are just vanity metrics. They might make you feel good (“2,500 followers!”, “We had 1 million hits!!” and “We served 3 trillion ads!!!”

Do you think a virtual gift will lead to a sale?

Do you believe a million Facebook fans will lead to 1 million sales?

Do you really think people want to get more ads on their mobile device?

I mean, really?

No, really?

Not every media tactic will lead to a sale. But each brand interaction should have an impact. Or you’re wasting money.


In a world driven by human and intellectual capital, traditional Org Charts, Employee Handbooks and most traditional tools that used to help enterprises to run their business have become increasingly unreliable and ineffective. High performance and value creation doesn’t originate from to traditional enterprise tools or new technologies, it originates from focusing on the human side of business.

Jack Welch had it right when he said: “The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.”

Enterprises face the biggest challenges to humanize their business since their organizations are driven by spreadsheets and shareholder value. As we’ve learned throughout the Great Recession, many companies leveraged their future away by focusing on short-term gains, destroying long-term value over time.

While shareholder value will remain a dominant metric, businesses have to focus their attention more and more on their relationships with customers, employees, partners, and all other stakeholder groups. By investing in these relationships, businesses will be able to create long-term value and, ultimately, shareholder value.

We believe that those organization aspiring to succeed in the current socio-economic environment have to understand holistically who their key stakeholders are and what they want. They have clearly defined strategies to ensure that constant value is delivered to these stakeholders. They have implemented processes to support this strategy and understand the necessary capabilities to execute processes. And they have thought through and communicated what the organization needs from its stakeholders – Loyalty, profitability, investment, etc.

Too often, metrics are derived from strategy. It seems so obvious. But it’s a trap. You can go from A to B directly, pass by C or go from A to D to C and end at B. Strategy is not a destination, it’s a choice of one path you’re going to take. Metrics help you track whether you’re moving in the right direction. Most corporate initiatives are focused on incremental improvements – expand your business to a new market, grow your product line, find new consumers. All these initiatives are developed with the belief that they will enable the business to deliver better value to all its stakeholders. That’s why focusing on the stakeholder perspective is imperative to deliver replicable value, choose the right strategy and exact metrics. When formulating strategies, businesses need to consider the wants and needs of all their stakeholders. This is not limited to primary stakeholders, the view needs to be expanded to the general public, special interest groups, legal and regulatory community. If this broad view of stakeholders is not adopted, businesses run the risk failing to satisfy the needs of their stakeholders, opening themselves up for revenge on multiple Social Media channels.

So, what is the best path for businesses to increase stakeholder value?

1) Stakeholder Satisfaction: Who are the most influential stakeholders and what do they desire?

2) Performance Strategies: What strategies should the organization adopt to ensure the desires of stakeholders are satisfied?

3) Measurement: Metrics are required to track if the chosen strategies are actually implemented. Metrics help to communicate strategies throughout the organization. Metrics combined with incentives help to speed up implementation. And, ultimately, metrics help you determine if the chosen strategy was the right one and if not, why. When the measures are consistent with the organization’s strategies, they encourage behaviors that are consistent with the mission and vision of the business.

4) Align processes with strategies: What processes do we need to put in place to allow the strategies to be executed?

5) Capabilities: What capabilities do we require to operate these processes? Today, tomorrow and in the future?

6) Stakeholder Contribution and Collaboration: What contribution does the business require from its stakeholders to succeed? How can we maintain and enhance these capabilities?

This complex exercise will help your business to face the challenging socio-economic environment and adapt efficiently. Or as Jack Welch said:

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”