According to Forrester Research's Shar VanBoskirk, there's good news and bad news for the online marketing industry.

The good news is that marketers have fully bought into online marketing and there's significant interest in new forms of online marketing, including through social media and online video.

The bad news is that measurement is an impediment, especially for "social media and emerging communications channels".

VanBoskirk's "Interactive Marketing Channels To Watch, 2008" report was based on a survey of 333 marketers.

According to AdWeek, Forrester found that "68 percent of respondents said they adopt new techniques 'only after they're proven'".

This explains why, despite a 100% year over year increase in the use of marketing involving social media and user-generated content, for instance, marketers have been reluctant to make greater investments. They're simply not convinced of the efficacy.

Interestingly, VanBoskirk's report hints that emerging forms of online marketing like social media aren't the only ones marketers are grappling with. For instance, over half of the marketers Forrester surveyed indicated that they have problems measuring searching marketing.

This, of course, is quite surprising given the amount spent on search marketing and the fact that it's widely held to be the most accountable form of online marketing available today.

What VanBoskirk's report demonstrates is that measuring online marketing campaigns is a challenge
across the board.

In my opinion, this is a challenge whose burden needs to be shared by both marketers and those who sell inventory/solutions to them.

As a post by Pat LaPointe of Online Metrics Insider hints at, perhaps the greatest problem is that both parties don't know what their goals are and don't know how to measure them.

While it's easy for each party to place the blame on the other party (which is done quite frequently), my personal opinion is that the problem originates, in large part, from the fact that marketers and those who provide inventory and solutions to them don't act like partners.

The former often don't set goals and are lax about choosing the right metrics to measure the achievement of those goals while the latter are often completely disinterested in outcomes once they've cashed a marketer's check.

In other words, the former often expert miracles to happen while the latter often disappear after the check is cashed.

As I have suggested before, both parties benefit the most when their interests are aligned and they "partner" with each other to produce outcomes that are mutually beneficial.

From this perspective, the issue of measurement is really about more than numbers.

It's about having a situation in which those who sell inventory/solutions to marketers share their expertise and experience with those marketers so that the marketers know what goals are realistic and which metrics are best used to measure them.

And it's about having a situation in which both parties work together after a deal is signed to ensure that campaigns are executed in such a fashion as to promote the type of results that are desired.

In my opinion, the problems often attributed with the challenges of measuring online campaigns are often less a result of poor metrics and poor technology and are often more a result of poor relationships between marketers and those who sell to them.

Perhaps this is another reason that television advertising has held up in such a tough environment - marketers and broadcasters have established a working relationship over the years that both are comfortable with. All parties know what drives the others and what the others are looking for and "partner" to meet expectations with the tools that are available.

In this sense, I'd suggest that online players selling inventory and marketing solutions might be wise to worry about their approaches more than all of the sophisticated tools they have to measure results.

Clearly, satisfaction is about more than just measurement by numbers.

Drama 2.0

Published 17 September, 2008 by Drama 2.0

237 more posts from this author

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Comments (2)


Andrew Hood

The point that measurement is about more than just numbers if well made: a significant majority of measurement issues still tend to be focused around interpretation and debate of definitions rather than the figures themselves.

Perhaps the reason why even search is perceived as having widespread measurement issues is that the interaction of search with other channels (affiliates, display) is still not actively measured/understood, and hence clients don't feel confident attributing success across the different channels.

The social media measurement issue is a real catch-22. Until there is significant investment going into the medium, there's little drive to establish best practice for measurement and standardised metrics. Equally, until that standardisation for benchmarking exists, businesses are naturally nervous about making the investment commitment.

The buyer/publisher perspectives will never completely match (this is buy/sell after all). At the moment, however, there's not even a commonly held view of what success really looks like. Talk of "common currency" generally misses the point: it's not just about having a common metric to focus (and monetise/bill) on, it's having a shared understanding of what works and doesn't work and that requires a very open dialogue between client/agency/publisher.

almost 10 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Agree with all that Andrew. It always seems to me that the people banging on about a 'common currency' are the most resistant to change, the least likely to actually get anything done, and the folks that don't really measure things in the first place (while hosing crazy money at TV ad campaigns).

almost 10 years ago

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