Life is one big series of measurements. 8 lbs. 6 oz. C+. 650 verbal. 590 math. 6-minute mile. And so on and so on. Everything has a metric attached to it that let’s you know how you stack up. But up until lately, in the profession of advertising and marketing, measuring effectiveness has either been unreliable, scarce, or nonexistent.
During my tenure as an agency writer and creative director, ad campaigns have been born in pretty much the same way — caffeine-addled creative teams labor to assemble strategically sound and conceptually compelling executions, hurdling obstacles ranging from the client’s wife’s affinity for the color Dusty Rose, to unfocused focus groups more interested in critiquing the complimentary deli tray than the concepts before them.
But if you passed those tests, the trials were over and you were on your way. So like a kindergarten parent, you nervously sent your new campaign toddling into the media abyss, hoping it would resonate and blossom into a groundswell that moved the needle.
Sometimes it was obvious that the message broke through. For instance, if you were the creative team who came up with the brazen idea to get squarely in the face of your customers and tell them to, “Just Do It,” we have some pretty solid anecdotal evidence that idea worked.
But more often that not, even if your client’s business succeeded as a result of your creative fruits, it was difficult to quantify. Maybe it was the offer. Maybe it was the media placement. Or maybe the creative was just that damn awesome. And if the campaign didn’t work, the reasons were even more murky. You were just left with assumptions: “Guess people really do hate clowns?” “Maybe there is a third white meat we don’t know about?” “If we’d only used the word ‘zesty’ instead of ‘tangy’?” So many quotations. So few answers.
Instead of viewing our creative work as the one size fits all daily special, we think about it as an evolving menu.
Now, with Google Analytics and a whole host of other tracking tools at our disposal, marketing practitioners can know with quite a bit of certainty, who saw what you did and what they did after they saw it. So now instead of viewing our creative work as the one size fits all daily special, we think about it as an evolving menu. “Oh, you don’t eat meat. No problem, try the halibut. It was flown in fresh yesterday.”
In this new world, messaging can and must change frequently — hourly, daily or weekly depending on the business. And with each creative effort, marketers can gain a little more insight. And our menu gets a little more refined, the customer becomes a regular. And client, agency and consumer all leave the table full.