by Adam Ortman, SVP Growth & Innovation, Generator Media + Analytics

This article was published by Modern Marketing Today, August 1, 2022


Measuring the success of advertising requires a look at the entire funnel. When this becomes the focus, brands engage with consumers in more relevant, tailored ways — and that leads to results.


Top-of-funnel tactics typically encompass any activity labeled “branding,” including advertising designed to increase awareness of a company or product or storytelling about values, culture, or a particular offering. They can reach audiences via television, radio, print, online video, or digital display ads.


Lower-funnel tactics, however, fall under performance advertising aimed at generating leads. These are often executed via paid search, social media, and in-store shopping campaigns, digital display, or online video advertising.


When most of the ROI comes from performance-based marketing, branding expenditures come down to customer purchase journeys and performance measurement.


Purchase Journeys


Customer purchase journeys are not linear or consistent in length but vary based on the product. For example, a pair of shoes and a car usually have vastly different price points, necessitating different degrees of customer research before buying. But these journeys also have commonalities. Each might have multiple advertising touchpoints, providing their respective brands with opportunities to influence consumer behavior.


A customer might see a number of ad types designed to influence various actions — from visiting a shoe store, reading a shoe-related blog post, or checking online reviews.


Or, after viewing a car brand on TV, consumers may search Google and click on a paid search ad to schedule a car dealership appointment. This variable nature of the buyer journey leads to performance measurement.


Measurement Matters


Performance measurement methods essentially gain accurate insights. In the above example, a customer schedules an appointment via a paid search ad after viewing a TV commercial. An eventual sale would typically be credited to paid search, or “last click” attribution. Unfortunately, it’s rarely useful in understanding the impact of holistic marketing execution.


Relying on last-click attribution doesn’t account for TV commercial influence and, therefore, TV isn’t credited. The car marketers will wonder why they should allocate any of their budgets to branding when the metrics tell them performance-based advertising tactics deliver all of the results.


To truly gauge the effectiveness of upper-funnel or lower-funnel tactics, companies should adopt an attribution model that accounts for the impacts of both.


Measuring Campaigns Accurately


Here is the simple but powerful method I’ve found that leads to accurate performance measurement and the most effective budget allocations:


1. Test.


Data is the key to understanding which tactics consistently achieve the most impact in campaigns, and marketing teams need lots of it to make accurate decisions. Gathering data that reflects constantly changing consumer preferences, marketers should routinely experiment with new tactics. Starting small to avoid overspending on an unproven approach is crucial, as is testing both branding and performance-based ad types. Modern marketing teams constantly face pressure from the C-Suite to prove the value of their efforts, and data helps their efforts.


2. Learn.


Brands often pour marketing budgets into performance marketing because it’s seemingly the most efficient strategy. That might work in the short term, but it’ll eventually backfire. New website or retail traffic will decrease, remarketing pools will dry up, and competitors will gain more awareness among customers, followed by more market share. The most effective media mixes cater to a specific audience and require intense customer research, understanding consumer preferences, and the customer journey.


3. Scale.


The ratio of branding to performance-based tactics in one media mix might seem absurd to different companies with different products, customers, and goals. But once marketing teams have data and insights to develop a mix tailored to their unique audience, they can confidently deploy it at scale. By leaning into what works and continually optimizing tactics as new data and insights become available, marketers can start delivering results.


Looking beyond last-click attribution is important. Measuring the success of advertising initiatives requires a more holistic look for a more holistic picture. When this becomes the focus, brands engage with consumers in more relevant, tailored ways — and that leads to results.