Owen Hancock (Impact): Are you measuring up?

Business, Digital & Media, Marketing, Media, People

Owen Hancock, Marketing Director EMEA at Impact, spoke to AdHugger about the importance for media platforms and marketers to be transparent with brands and consumers on measurement, especially during these uncertain times.

Owen’s opinion on the matter:

The media world has had a pressing need to get a grip on the twin issues of transparency and measurability for as long as digital advertising has existed. That need is as urgent today as ever, if we are all to sustain and build – or perhaps regain – the confidence of consumers and brands.

Various parallel priorities feed into this particular quest. Disparate media need comparable metrics if brands are to assess how spend in one channel impacts another and build a picture of the customer journey through offline and online. This search has been particularly lengthy, as various parties have set out in search of a common measurement framework and returned, so far, empty-handed.

Then there is the matter of public trust in advertising, which last year could be found at an all-time low, in the UK at least – right at the bottom of a list of selected industries with just 44% public trust. And there are other issues, too, including ever-troubling rates of ad fraud and disappearing digital spend, the rising consumer expectation of greater privacy and the need for integrity on the part of maturing channels that spent their early years with only crude metrics to chart their progress.

84% of marketers agree, for instance, that the ability to demonstrate the ROI of influencer marketing will be critical to its future. While metrics such as Likes played a role in putting such media on the map, they are also easily faked and inflated. Here, as elsewhere, marketers are now hungry for both transparency and substance in their measurement methods, with accountability and data provenance also high on the menu.

There are credible moves afoot to progress some of these issues. The UK’s Advertising Association, for its part, has set up its Trust Working Group, which has built a set of five key actions for advertisers. Among them are goals such as achieving full visibility of advertising placement, and the aim of ensuring that every impact and exposure matters.

The World Federation of Advertisers, meanwhile, has taken on the commendable cause of the common measurement framework, teaming with Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Google, Facebook, Twitter and others to build cross-media measurement solutions around the world for planning and reporting purposes.

Efforts such as these are important, and there are actions that individual brands can take, too, in order to find confidence in their own transparency and measurement.

Those who operate a partnership marketing programme know well that they have the ability to compare performance across channels including affiliate, influencer, mobile and B2B, and that accurate analysis is the watchword of the performance industry.

There are numerous advantages to partnerships that correspond closely to the qualities of transparency and measurability that the wider media and marketing business is seeking.

Within a given partnership programme, marketers can judge the value generated by individual partners. In a highly integrated media landscape, we all know last click doesn’t give the full picture, and partnership platforms such as Impact’s own Partnership Cloud can illuminate the sales funnel and allocate credit to those who made vital contributions down the line.

They also provide the means to track customers between devices along the conversion path, attributing conversions and app installs, as well as assessing the lifetime value of partners, analysing synergies between channels and monitoring for affiliate and influencer fraud wherever they corrupt conversion paths. Codes, loyalty cards or purchase actions can connect online channels with offline.

Partnerships have grown over the past decade in response to a demand for transparency and measurement, as well as automation and insight, and it is no wonder that, as it grows, sprawls and integrates, the broader business continues to grapple with many of the same issues.

There are heartening signs of progress, as well as many thorny, ongoing problems. But the fact is that we all need to give these challenges the best of our attention if we are to prove that we can measure up to the standards set for us by consumers and brands.