Analysis: Beyond Measuring Performance: Direct Response Data Craze

The digital revolution over the last decade has had a very strong impact on the marketing and advertising industries. Thorough data on performance and response to digital advertising has become the norm. Due to the development of sophisticated performance measurement tools, the famous phrase of Philadelphia merchant John Wannamaker that "half the money spent on advertising is wasted; the trouble is to know which half it is” no longer holds. The advertising and media industries are becoming much more efficient. 

But, aren’t we losing something in the process? Isn’t the pendulum moving too much towards mathematics and direct marketing myopia? Wanda Harris Millard, COO of media advisory firm Media Link, definitely thinks so. While Online Ad Networks, Ad Exchanges, DSPs (Demand Side Platforms), Agency Trading Desks, and SSP’s (Supply Side Platforms) have contributed to make the advertising and media sectors more efficient, they also have commoditized the industry. There is too much of a fixation with immediacy and sales results. Harris Millard gave an interesting presentation during the recent Interactive Advertising Bureau Mexico Annual Convention. In her view, technological innovation has taken too much of a central space in detriment of the creative and artistic part of the advertising and media planning/buying process.

 “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. Advertising, Marketing and Media Executives of the Digital Age should take into account this phrase from famous American writer and humorist Mark Twain (1865-1910).  It should particularly resonate with brand marketers. Currently, new metrics relevant to brand marketers are being developed. These metrics need to go beyond direct response and performance oriented data. In addition, measurements that are relevant and consistent across off- and “online” media have to be created. The development of these new metrics, on which AAAA, IAB and ANA are currently working, should also help to increase the amount of brand advertising dollars spent online.

Questions for Brand Marketers

Direct response oriented approaches are understandable, but while advertising must sell, it’s focus should be on the value exchange between brands and consumers. With the advent of social networks it is, to a large extent, in digital media were relationships are built, formed and shaped. This relationship can and should not only be measured with performance driven analysis.

As Harris Millard put it. Brand marketers should increasingly ask themselves questions like:” How does a logo sound?” or “how does a text move?”

Hispanic and Latin American marketing and advertising executives, with their well known creative skills, should substantially contribute to this necessary unlocking of creativity in the digital space.


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