Imagine a coach who only shows up after the game to find out the final score.  No coaching during the game. No in-game adjustments based on what’s working and what’s not.  Is this good coaching?  Of course not.

The final score is just that – a final score.  It tells us nothing about what caused the game to be won or lost, and, more importantly, what adjustments could be made in-game to win.

Similarly, only measuring advertising ROI is like a coach coming to the game after it’s over to learn the final score.  In-flight optimization is just as important to advertisers as to coaches.

3R Framework – Reach, Resonance, Reaction

In my last post, Driving Higher Advertising ROI without Big Data, I described the apparent disconnect between the growing avalanche of “big data” and CMO’s continuing frustration with their inability to measure marketing effectiveness.  Given this, the 3R framework of reach, resonance, and reaction is a simple yet powerful framework for evaluating advertising effectiveness.

As important as it is to measure sales impact, measuring advertising ROI is not the be all and end all.  The 3R framework illustrates why this is the case.  Reaction is the outcome, the end product.  Reach and resonance are drivers of reaction.  Even when reaction is strong, reach and resonance may not be optimized.  And this is the opportunity for the advertiser to “coach” in-flight.

Case Study – A Successful Digital Campaign

A simple case study illustrates why.  A client invested a significant amount in a broadscale digital campaign with 100 million impressions.  The target (disguised):  males, aged 21-29. The campaign had multiple creative units, including banner ads, rich media, and on-line video, each with multiple creative units.  The campaign ran across multiple web sites.

Let’s work backwards:

Reaction – How well did the campaign drive sales?

The campaign delivered +22% sales lift among those exposed to the ads.  This was determined by tagging the digital ads and then measuring sales lift via off-line purchase panels among those people exposed to the ads versus those not exposed.

The client was delighted – the game was “won” so to speak – what’s not to like with a +22% sales lift?  Let the celebration begin…

Reach – How well did the campaign reach males, aged 21-29?

Of the 100 million impressions delivered, only sixty million hit the target.  So forty million impressions hit women, men older than 29, teens, or some other group other than males aged 21-29.  Obviously, the campaign was not well targeted.

But it also wasn’t well planned:  the reach was only 10% and the frequency was 50+.  Most consumers exposed to the campaign were almost certainly exposed way too much.  And way too many target consumers weren’t exposed at all.

Now, if it was the end of the first quarter and you were coach, what would you do? Advertisers now have access to the data above — daily. Would you wait until the campaign ends to do anything about it?

Resonance – How well did the advertising break-thru and change consumer attitudes?

Overall, the campaign performed slightly above norm – good news and consistent with the sales results.

However, performance varied tremendously across creative formats, creative units, and web sites.  On-line video performed best, followed by rich media and banner ads.  Of the ten creative units, three performed well below norm.  And of the eight web sites, two performed well below norm.

It’s clear in hindsight that the campaign wasn’t optimized.  If the client had measured results in-flight and made adjustments along the way, the sales lift would have been higher and among a much larger group of target consumers.

Now if it was the end of the 3rd quarter, what would you do?  Again, ad performance is now measured in-flight, not just after the fact, so that you can make adjustments “on-the-fly.” Weak performing creative?  Remove them and shift the weight to top performing creative. Below norm performance on select sites?  Move spending to higher performing sites.

Optimizing Advertising Performance

As the example above illustrates, it’s not enough to just measure the ROI of the advertising. This is akin to measuring the outcome of a game without any coaching throughout the game.

There are other important factors which are critical for you as the advertising “coach” to do to optimize advertising performance:

  • Reaching the right consumer and reaching them with the right reach and frequency.
  • Making sure that your campaign breaks through and changes consumer opinions –across all creative units and sites.
  • Measuring all of the above in flight and in real time so you can assess what’s happening and quickly make decisions to change your plan to optimize the campaign and generate the best possible result.

So, what are you waiting for?  Don’t be like many advertisers and be content to simply measure the final score.  Or, just take Yogi Berra’s famous advice: “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”