By Patrick Mazzotta, Managing Director, Data & Analytics, What’s Possible Group.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how marketers can measure the value of their brand activity. There are a number of methods available, many of which focus on top-of-funnel metrics like awareness, consideration, and intent. These metrics allow advertisers to better understand their target consumers at an earlier stage of the purchase funnel before they’ve even interacted with the brand. Depending on the channel used, the specifics of these metrics can vary. But the real power of these methods is that they bridge the gap between media performance and consumer behaviour, giving brands a more holistic view of their marketing effectiveness.
The representation of the “value” of brand activity will be dependent on business, and campaign specific objectives. For example, business objectives orientated on rebranding itself, would value a brand campaign on its effectiveness at maximising exposure and solidifying the customer base. Conversely, business objectives focused on increasing sales would value a brand campaign on its effectiveness of increasing the volume of quality consumers into your funnel. A new product launch might value a brand campaign on the incremental change in awareness and consideration compared to competitors.
It’s important to bear in mind that industry-standard metrics serve different purposes for different businesses. The usefulness of a given measurement will depend on your unique goals and objectives as a business, contextualising your measurements. It’s easy to conflate the concepts of ‘brand value’ or ‘brand equity’ with the value of your branding activity, but it’s important to recognise that these are very different things. The former relates to how the strength and perception of your brand adds monetary value to your business, while the latter is all about measurable objectives and an end goal.
So, when measuring the value of your brand activity, remember to keep in mind the context of your specific objectives to truly understand the value your brand is bringing to your business.
Determining what brand campaigns are doing for your business
It’s important for advertisers to understand the purpose of their upper funnel brand activity and the potential benefits this can bring to their business. However, it’s also crucial to recognise that sales rarely happen immediately, and the customer journey to a purchase decision is variable and nuanced, varying by both sector and brand.
For instance, the transitional journey in the FMCG sector is much simpler compared to something like travel or automotive. In industries where the path to purchase is more complex, consumers are more heavily influenced by their perception of the brand. In fact, all other things being equal, a consumer’s choice of one brand over another often comes down to their affinity towards that brand, regardless of price.
Focusing solely on the customer journey towards purchase expectations and neglecting the upper funnel – including awareness, familiarity, and consideration – won’t allow brands to measure the cumulative impact of brand-building initiatives. The role of branding is to connect with audiences, and this is where we should start when thinking about how to analyse the performance of a brand campaign.
By considering how the customer journey starts and the role of branding activity in that phase of the journey, we can identify the best forms of measurement. In the case of a retail business, this might involve considering questions such as: how effectively are we recruiting outside of our existing customer base to expand market share? Are we delivering the message we intend to? Are we advertising in the best channels to reach our customers? By answering these questions, we can be sure that we are measuring the right things and accurately assessing the impact of our branding activity.
Measuring a brand’s contribution
The de facto standard for measuring all marketing contributions to sales is media mix models (MMMs). While attribution looks to define the journey to the sale at the transaction level, contribution looks at how all the pieces fit together at a macro level. The distinction is important because you will find efficiency optimisations with attribution modelling – which help with tactical buying and placements – but you will find scale with contribution modelling because you can find unattributable correlations in behaviours.
Media mix modelling also has the added benefit of seeing more than just media and marketing effects on KPIs such as sales. Competitor behaviour, weather, current events, and lots more can all be modelled in MMMs. In that way, brands can gain a holistic view of what contributes to a resulting KPI. This in turn allows marketers to drill down and find ways to replicate and scale successes. In addition, there are techniques in correlative and counterfactual modelling that can establish relationships between brand activity (at a campaign or execution level) to an organisation’s KPIs.
We all know measuring brand activity and aligning it with business objectives is critical to effective marketing. What we forget sometimes is to be creative and explore our options according to what our goals are. Different measurements, different methodologies, different objectives. There’s a tool and/or approach to tackle every problem, and the best teams are those who keep going back to the full list of options and are diligent in asking themselves, “what’s the best tool for this job?” Could be simple brand trackers, could be MMMs. Or, it could be something entirely new and innovative.