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Building metrics to ensure effectiveness in ad campaigns

Date posted: March 4, 2013

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A MarkLives column by Odette van der Haar (@odette_roper), CEO, Association for Communication and Advertising What does effective mean? In the business of advertising and communications, we define it as ‘delivering a measurable business result.’ With the squeeze on budgets and the general malaise in the economy, the ability to prove effectiveness of any communications campaign has become more critical than ever.

The APEX awards have long been established as the standard by which effectiveness can be judged. However, the principles that govern APEXOdette van der Haar are not applicable only to award entries – there is in fact a leading agency that runs a mini-APEX process for every single campaign that it executes because effectiveness is paramount and ingrained in the culture and business practise of the agency.  This discipline intended to ensure that campaigns are not only creative and deliver brand resonance but that they also deliver business results in a tangible and measurable manner that is meaningful to the client.  The success of the agency is a testament to exactly this.

It is important for marketers to understand the interplay between creativity and effectiveness, allowing the agency to deliver holistic creative solutions whilst also working with the agency to build-in the kind of metrics that will allow for the effectiveness of the campaign to be measured.

Generally, campaigns fall one of three categories: Launch – for products or services that are new, or have no significant history of advertising, Change – for new campaigns from previously advertised brands, which resulted in significant short term effects on sales or behaviour and Sustain – for campaigns that benefited a business by maintaining or strengthening a brand over a longer period.

In terms of the actual metrics engaged to measure creative effectiveness, there could be a number of possibilities – one could look at an improvement in elements such as awareness, market share, brand equity, imagery or simply exceeding a sales target. To measure communications campaigns, measurement criteria or metrics need to be clearly defined.  For example, in the Launch category, metrics could include examining the precise timing of the campaign and its effect on the rate of sales.

For example, measuring sales directly after the launch of the campaign or designing a campaign for a specific purpose i.e. to direct the product towards a very particular target market and measuring the number of units sold.  Another benchmark to consider is whether a new product has been helped by a communications campaign to ensure a pattern of repeat purchase however, it must be noted that launch campaigns are particularly difficult to assess for effectiveness as market share starts from a zero base.

For assistance with metrics for Change and Sustain campaigns, more information is available on the APEX section of the ACA website.

What is important at the end of the day, is to put in place metrics and to have the metrics agreed upon by both the client and the agency as these are an indispensable tool for justification and measurement of the contribution to business success and return on investment generated by on the part of marketers and their agencies.

Truly effective work is work that delights consumers through its ability to connect hearts and minds, while being respected by clients because it delivers tangible results. We’ve always maintained that the business of advertising and communications is as much as science as it is an art because creativity and effectiveness work hand in hand.

- Odette van der Haar (nee Roper) is the CEO of the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) which is the recognised industry body of the advertising and communications profession in South Africa.