Cracking the Code of Marketing Effectiveness at DMEXCO 2018

September 26, 2018 Ginna Hall

This article also appeared in MarTech Advisor.

Once again, DMEXCO has lived up to the hype. In the exhibitor halls, non-stop food (pancakes, anyone?), innovative stands (have your meeting in a Tesla), festivities (lederhosen make excellent conference wear), and after-hours parties (make that day drinking), photo booths, goodie bags and more offered sensory overload for attendees and sponsors alike. Not to mention the extended list of seminars and keynotes happening in parallel.

“How you, as a consumer, choose to interact with channels is completely up to you. We’re not going to try to force that. We’re going to try to optimize channels that are working better and more efficiently against business outcomes.”

While Big Data was the main topic for marketers and vendors at the 2017 event -- how to turn big data into smart data, how to analyze and execute on findings -- the takeaway this year was a heightened focus on artificial intelligence.

“The biggest opportunity for marketers is to implement applied AI into their marketing flows in order to be more efficient and faster,” said Christoph Pippert-Winter, Customer Success Lead, Nielsen. “Almost every booth from a vendor perspective addressed this new buzzer.”

This need for greater speed and better results -- either through human power or with the assistance of machines -- was the common driver for most of the 40K+ attendees from digital business, marketing, and innovation.

“Marketing measurement and effectiveness is one of the hottest topics in the industry today, and you in this room are looking to crack that code,” observed Manu Mathew, Nielsen Marketing Effectiveness.

“Maximizing spend to achieve positive results may sound easy, but it’s very difficult,” Mathew continued. “A global survey of CMOs found that 90% cite marketing effectiveness as a top priority, yet only 6% say they have an adequate single view of customers or prospects across all devices and touchpoints.”

Mathew hosted a seminar with Iain Noakes, Chief Customer Journey Officer at The Economist, at which attendees learned how the 175-year-old publication has survived and thrived in a super-competitive media market.

Here are six lessons from “Marketing Effectiveness: How The Economist Proved the Power of Marketing.” [Watch the recording]

1. Today’s customer journey has gotten even more complex.

In 1915, JWT, the world’s oldest advertising network, printed a poster that said, “If you don’t know what return you’re getting, you’re living in the dark ages of advertising.” Since that time, a lot has changed. Noakes pointed out that this is still true and that today’s customer journey is infinitely more complex.

“We have more devices, channels, more ways to experience a brand - things which we are exposed to that we consciously choose and things that we’re unconsciously influenced by,” noted Noakes.

2. There is no singular way of measuring the effectiveness of your work.

The Economist uses multiple ways to measure marketing effectiveness, choosing to validate the results of each against secondary and tertiary approaches.

The first is last-touch attribution, which helps the organization understand channels that are generating demand and subscriptions and is instrumental in conversion rate optimization and tactical tests.

The second is multi-touch attribution for digital. That allows the team to understand how each digital channel works with the others to drive a common goal.

The third is media mix modeling, which reveals what’s driving incrementality and accounts for exogenous factors such as current events, seasonality, key markets and what the base effects are.

“How do we take into account, as a news brand, the effect of the news agenda? We’re not capable of forecasting what President Trump may do and how that may positively or adversely influence interest in the brand, but we have to account for it,” said Noakes.

The global engagement team views results of these three things together to get a sense of what is working and combines this with information from other tools for an end-to-end view.

3. Web analytics still play a role.

Noakes emphasized that stand-alone web analytics contribute to understanding “stuff we can see on-domain, on-app” to inform site-side optimization, site visits, and content consumption.

But to understand “stuff that’s happening off-platform,” he turns to channel tools and multi-touch attribution to understand what’s happening at a tactical interaction level.

“We take it up a level higher to multi-touch attribution. It looks at channel components, it’s global, it gets down to placement and keyword level. It’s as detailed as what we look at in the trading channels, but we can see how they interrelate against each other.”

4. Marketing effectiveness requires expert change management.

When Noakes joined The Economist, he found “a legacy business, world-class journalism and a very successful brand” that was organized into multiple teams focused on delivering “solid work against a specific outcome.”

He decided that in order to take a new approach to driving subscriptions, he needed to challenge the status quo and cross organizational silos.

“The main hurdle you will face is driving change. The journey is never over. Organizational change is very tough. It takes time and patience. You need to be able to prove things incrementally and bring people along,” Noakes advised.

5. Marketers need to see the whole customer journey.

Over time, The Economist has broadened its marketing focus from paid channels to earned and owned as they got a greater understanding of the customer journey. The magazine’s multi-pronged attribution strategy allowed it to understand the impact of content as well as the impact of offers in driving people to the site and then to conversion. The team recognized that content-based channels could influence subscriptions as much as traditional offers with a call to action.

“Just because [the content] doesn’t have an offer, doesn’t mean someone’s not going to be interested in subscribing on that visit or a later visit,” Noakes stated. “How you, as a consumer, choose to interact with channels and with search, is completely up to you. We’re not going to try to force or change that. We’re going to try to optimize those channels that are working better and more efficiently against those business outcomes.”

6. There’s no silver bullet for marketing effectiveness.

Although Noakes welcomes a unified approach to attribution, he believes marketers will always need to look at things a number of different ways. “No one technology will give you all the answers. If it makes an incremental gain over what we have now, then it’s moving in the right direction.”

Noakes summarized The Economist’s approach to  marketing effectiveness as a traffic light. “We look at last touch, web analytics, MTA and MMM. If they’re all green, it’s full speed ahead, maximizing budget as much as we can. If it’s a mix of greens and yellows, we test and optimize. If it’s mostly reds, we pause and recalibrate,” he said. “It’s not a single tool. It’s a pragmatic way of dealing with the complexity.”

Watch the Video

View Marketing Effectiveness: How The Economist Proved the Power of Marketing on Youtube today.

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