Digital Essay: Making the right measurements by Santadip Roy

by Santadip Roy, MENA regional digital director, Magna

Data is the new oil, and there is plenty of it. The challenge is to make sense of this data to ensure we are measuring and analysing our digital activations better than the competition. In my working experience across London and now Dubai, it is refreshing to see that we are putting more emphasis on this topic; measurement is not usually the one slide at the end
of a presentation.

However, with so much data at our fingertips, measuring the value of digital often gets over-complicated, despite the relatively simpler objectives, which tend to lean towards sales as opposed to softer brand objectives. How consumers buy the product depends on the average time it takes them to make them aware of the product and get them ultimately to make a purchase. This will vary by vertical and depends significantly on the consumer journey and point of sale.

Therefore, in the instance where sales objectives are imposed on us, it is important to break down the overall objectives of sales into more pragmatic ones. For example, launching a new car model in a competitive market will not yield immediate sales, especially when the average journey through realisation, research and then purchase takes more than a month. In this instance, driving sales requires raising awareness (if there is low awareness of the model), which then builds familiarity and interest. At this point, when prospects are interested, via brilliant performance marketing the demand can then be converted to sales.

The first hurdle therefore is to understand the level of awareness, familiarity and interest required to achieve the required sales. The next stage is to treat all these objectives separately and select media platforms and formats that are best suited to achieving these objectives.

The element that we tend to struggle with is justifying the role of channels that are great at raising awareness or driving interest. For such media placements, we typically resort to media metrics such as impressions, video views, clicks, cross-device reach, and the list goes on. However, a 5 per cent uplift in clicks or views for a campaign that raises awareness does not really answer why the channel was planned for in the first place. I am not discounting such digital metrics – it is still important to keep on top of our campaigns and ensure that we are driving great media value. However, these are additional performance indicators and should not be the key metric to evaluate whether the campaign was successful or not.

Properly measuring uplifts in brand metrics that confirm whether our audiences are more aware of, familiar with or interested in the brand as a result of seeing our content is more appropriate.
This is usually done with robust brand tracking surveys that use control-exposed audiences to gauge the impact of the campaign. On top of this, measuring uplifts in search volumes or buzz through social listening tools is also a good way to give a macro view of increased interest.

Bearing the above in mind, measuring success of performance campaigns is relatively simple for pure e-commerce brands. However, when the brands don’t have e-commerce functionality, this becomes a little bit more complex. Let’s take an example of the world of automotive again. Car brands work tirelessly to drive high-quality leads. In their case, a lead is typically someone who has been to the car manufacturer’s website and submitted their details in the form of a test drive request for the dealers to follow up on.

However, a very small percentage of people who buy cars actually go to the manufacturers’ websites and then book a test drive. Most people would call the dealer or just go to the showroom. Despite this, a lot of investment still goes into lead generation for performance campaigns, which just doesn’t make sense. In this case, the fact that media could have affected walk-ins, sales or calls is totally not credited for. These metrics must be accounted for on a performance campaign. There are challenges in measuring footfall cross-platform but it is better than having no visibility at all. However, call analytics providers can give insights into call quality across platforms by media source.

On top of this, and without resorting to econometrics modelling, on-boarding offline data (such as sales made in-store or at dealerships) into the digital ecosystem is a good way to map sales to digital media touchpoints. Applying a bespoke attribution model to this will ensure that we are giving credit beyond the last touch point before conversion.

To summarise the performance measurement element, success should account for all onsite conversions including call enquiries, while any form of sales or footfall done offline should also be accounted for. Consumers at the end of the day don’t think in channel silos.

In conclusion, the key element of measurement is to have a framework that is specific to how success will be measured at each stage of the consumer journey. This involves brand and performance plans working together to ensure the ultimate sales ambitions are met.