One of the key objectives of marketing is to affect consumer or business behavior. If the message you're communicating isn't being heard or acted upon, there's no point in spending the money doing it. With increased competition and tighter budgets, it's more important than ever to know which channels are most effective at reaching specific customers.
When it comes to digital marketing, however, quantifying the impact of each channel and tactic on a sale or other desired outcome can be challenging. For example, understanding how consumers advance through touchpoints on the path to purchase is no simple process. For many brands, identifying the value of different digital marketing channels and initiatives comes down to the perception of what's working.
But perceptions of value shouldn't be driving marketing decisions. Instead, brands need to move beyond the initial "novelty" phase of exploiting the latest digital channels to one in which they're using more advanced measurement approaches to quantify the value of digital investments to optimize their ROI.
The Problem With Perception
For the 2019-2020 Nielsen Annual Marketing Report, we surveyed over 350 global marketers and found that organizations are often basing digital investments on perceived value rather than quantified or measured ROI. That is, digital channels that are perceived to be effective invite more spending, even when that effectiveness cannot be readily verified.
When asked to rank the most effective paid digital media channels, search, video, social media, and email placed first through fourth respectively among survey respondents. Channels such as OTT, streaming audio, podcasts, and native advertising were all judged to be less effective.
Yet, the report found that perceived effectiveness of certain channels isn't necessarily tied to marketers' confidence in their ability to measure ROI. For example, of all digital channels, marketers have the most confidence in email (which ranked fourth in perceived effectiveness), followed by search, and then display (fifth in perceived effectiveness).
In contrast, marketers have a lot of faith in social media and video, which rank high in perceived effectiveness. However, these channels fall in the middle of the pack in terms of marketers' confidence in their ability to measure ROI.
While it can be hard to detect which marketing activities are changing consumer behavior, relying on assumptions isn't the answer—especially at a time when CMOs and other marketing executives are being asked to grow results and contribute directly to the bottom line.
Using Measurement to Bring Reality to Your Perceptions
The results from the report suggest it's time for marketers to move beyond gut feel when judging the value of digital marketing channels. Perceptions don't always line up with reality, and investments that "feel" like they're valuable may in fact not be.
Luckily, there are some proven ways for brands to use measurement to bring reality to their digital marketing perceptions:
- Marketing mix modeling (MMM) can help identify the channels, tactics, and media interactions that have the greatest (or least) impact. Using aggregated historical performance data, MMM calculates the total effect that marketing channels have on sales and other performance metrics and provides broad recommendations on how to optimize marketing spending for performance. It can also produce insights on non-direct performance measures, such as brand affinity.
- Multi-touch attribution (MTA) is more granular and uses person-level data in near-real time. It incorporates data from digital channels such as online display and paid search to measure and predict marketing performance at very fine levels, such as creative, offer, or keyword. With such granularity, MTA can provide visibility into the path to conversion and enable brands to understand how each user is responding to media impressions.
- Campaign lift analysis can be particularly good when a brand wants to zero in on the sales impact of a particular campaign. This method measures the incremental lift that marketing and advertising deliver above native demand and quantifies the increase in sales that a campaign is generating. Furthermore, it can help marketers understand—and prove—the real impact of advertising while unearthing insights into the consumer segments and campaign elements that are driving the greatest response.
Marketing Decisions Based on Metrics, not Guesswork
Don't make the mistake of basing your marketing decisions on guesswork. While measuring ROI and the effectiveness of different digital channels isn't easy, it's possible. And more importantly, it's critical.
Measurement solutions such as MMM, MTA, and campaign lift can help brands bring reality to perception and drive efficiency and effectiveness in every area of marketing investment.
For more information, download the Nielsen Annual Marketing Report.
Request a Demo
Learn how Nielsen can help you measure and optimize your marketing and advertising: Request a demo today.
Subscribe to Our Blog
Get news and information in your inbox every month: Subscribe.