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Advertising Week: Cross-Channel Campaigns Don’t Measure Up

After a long sell-in process, Specific Media got clearance from a large retailer to build a multichannel campaign to reach customers who buy primarily online. Only after the campaign had been rolled out did it become clear to the digital marketers at Specific that the retailer’s agency was set up expressly to credit digital ads with purchases made online. “We had to stop and recalculate or else we’d have been way off the objectives that had been set for us in the campaign,” said Rick Bruner, Specific’s VP of research and analytics.

Bruner was part of a panel of digital marketers who kicked off the first day of sessions at Advertising Week in New York in non-controversial fashion. They were in total agreement that poor metrics often leave them in the dark when it comes to evaluating lapsed cross-channel campaigns and planning new ones.

“Advertisers are starting to put dollars into cross-platform marketing campaigns, but there is a lack of measurement standards,” Randall Beard, Nielsen’s global head of advertising solutions, said during the session. “Most campaigns now are benefiting only from random duplication.” In an analysis of some 5,000 campaigns, Nielsen found that TV ads reach 63% of target audiences and online reaches 2%, with an overlap of only 5%.

When asked by moderator Beard if measurement standards were better than they were 10 years ago, Tony Cardinale, head of insights and media strategy at NBC Universal, replied, “Not a lot better. We’ve built a patched-together machine to do this and we’re working to solve it.”

The two other panelists agreed, but indicated that progress is being made. “We’re able to look at active behavioral data to gauge the impact of different media, though mobile presents a challenge,” said Universal McCann Global Performance Officer Huw Griffiths. “We’re seeing a 30-35% layering effect with cross-platform campaigns. There’s clearly a multiplier effect.”

Finding a universal measure promises to plague marketers for some time to come. Beard pointed out that the newness of platforms such as social media and video present marketers with measures such as views or likes that don’t compute with old measures like gross rating points. “What does 29,000 views mean in relation to millions in TV audience?” he asked.

Griffiths added that the ongoing evolution of the digital marketing industry further complicates the creation of a measurement standard. “The different ways that the industry packages and sells [ad] inventory is not conducive to it,” he said.

Bruner asserted that the ultimate solution will come when all the players involved decide to bring some simplicity to the complexity of cross-platform metrics. “I would like to see the industry gather around a more general indicatior, like Net Promoter score, for instance.”

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