Better analytics drive better creative

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Many marketers hate math. Really it's not their fault. Most had some dramatic experience in college where an evil math professor confused them so profoundly that they were scared for life. To reduce the agony, most marketers get a degree in communications, art or some other degree where math skills are not required. I can say that because this is what initially happened to me.

While I can sympathize with the view that Patrick Sarkissian, CEO of Sarkissian Mason, expressed in this AdAge column, “Why Metrics Are Killing Creativity in Advertising,” I think what is really killing creativity is the resistance to metrics.

In 2009, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and their members saw the appetite for impression-based display advertising sour. Much of the response was to blame the new era of analytics based on the argument that science and math had put a damper on creative potential. So basically what happened is when the analytics stopped supporting their cause they decided to vilify analytics. What's funny is that better analytics through attribution measurement was really the answer.

Through attribution measurement, credit can be given to channels that customers touch or see before their last click. For example, if a customer first comes to the site after seeing a display ad but later converts on a paid search term, an attribution model assigns credit to both the paid search keyword and the display ad. Without an attribution model the paid search keyword gets all the credit.

ICrossing recently created an attribution model for a client and found that credit for about 35% of their 2009 sales would have been redistributed among different channels including brand building channels like display advertising. We've seen similar results in other clients.

Sound analytics that are well-presented unleash great creative that sells. And our job as marketers is to sell. Marion Harper, the CEO of McCann-Erickson in the 1950s, put it this way:

“Advertisers are not spending billions to decorate media and their messages are not meant as ornaments.”

Yes, it's frustrating when a perfectly good idea is destroyed by the facts, but these facts can drive better ideas that produce results.

Chuck Sharp is the senior VP of analytics at iCrossing. 

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