Can you prove your advertising works?

Lessons from the IPA's Eff Test on measuring the effectiveness of your marketing

Nobody knows quite what the coming year is going to look like for marketers, but it’s likely that we’re going to see tighter budgets and tougher targets across the board.

More than ever, demonstrating the impact of advertising is going to be essential.

I recently completed the IPA Eff Test; an in-depth, 13-module-course on what makes for effective advertising that draws on insights from figures such as Les Binet and Peter Field. 

I studied this course over 2 months at the beginning of this year and learning from the experience of industry heavyweights has been extremely valuable.

Here are five of the biggest takeaways from the course that have influenced the way I now look to approach effectiveness in advertising.

1. Work to a clear process

The Eff Test contains a simple framework for embedding effectiveness and measurement at every stage of a campaign. 

That includes establishing early in the planning phase the measures you will use to judge effectiveness and how you will capture the data. 

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There’s no point waiting until the campaign’s already begun to think about what you need to track - get started on it as soon as possible!

2. Have a firm idea of what you’re trying to do

Objective setting is central to marketing effectiveness – you can’t prove that a campaign has been successful if you didn't have a clear and specific idea of what it was trying to achieve. 

There are several distinct top-level objectives a campaign might have – for example brand exposure to create awareness, direct sales activation or customer loyalty. 

Everything else in the campaign – the creative, the media buying, the performance metrics – should all relate to the initial objectives. 

A muddled set of objectives will make for an ineffective campaign. 

3. Select the best tools available to measure effectiveness

Econometrics is the best way to gauge effectiveness. 

By using complex mathematical modelling, econometricians can correct for the impact of outside factors (such as seasonality, competitor activity, price) and isolate the real impact of a campaign on consumer behaviour. 

However, given the specialist skills and cost involved, only the largest brands can typically afford to do this.

If this is not you then you need to rely on a host of other tools and approaches such as digital analytics (e.g. Google Analytics), brand trackers and qualitative surveys. 

Picking the best available tools at the outset will enable you to put together a credible case post-campaign about the true effectiveness of the activity.

4. Consider ALL the impacts of advertising

Persuading people to buy a product or service isn’t the only thing advertising can do. 

By increasing brand equity, it can also let brands charge higher prices per unit.

The science of setting prices is a complex one and there are many factors influencing how much consumers are willing to pay; however, advertising is one of the most important levers businesses can use to set higher prices. 

Don’t forget this important consideration when planning how you will evaluate your campaign’s effectiveness. 

5. Aim to determine a clear return on marketing investment (ROMI) from the campaign

A campaign can’t be considered truly effective just because sales have gone up. 

As well as the money spent on running the campaign, there are also often additional material and labour costs associated with selling more units – and these costs need to be taken into consideration when working out the real payback of a campaign.
 
Additional complications come from the fact that campaigns often pay dividends over the long-term – sometimes months or years after the campaign has ended. 

Despite these challenges, it’s important to attempt to put a figure to the campaign ROMI. 

This is typically worked out as (profit / campaign costs) x 100. This gives a firm figure to present to the client or finance department to show that the activity genuinely achieved what it set out to do. 

Whatever the next year holds, as marketers we can go a long way towards helping our clients, businesses and organisations by doubling down on measurement, asking tough questions and putting effectiveness at the heart of everything we do. 

If demonstrating the effectiveness of your marketing is a priority for you this year, email Tim to find out how we can help.