I think we can all agree with me when I say:
It’s impossible to measure all aspects of a brand.
But answer me this:
With all the advances we’ve made in the field of web analytics, attribution and AI, why are digital marketers still so limited in measuring our brands?
Luckily, this elusive aspect of business measurement isn’t so far away.
Thanks to advances in market research and consumer surveying technology, new ways of tapping into consumer opinions are emerging every day.
Soon, innovative new measurement platforms will shine a light on what matter most to the growth of our brands, unlocking new levels of business growth for those that leverage them.
And we couldn't be giddier.
In today’s post, we’re going to bring you up to speed on how this impending shift in marketing metrics might just be the hottest thing to hit online measurement since Google Analytics.
As marketers, we’ve gotten more and more detailed with what we can measure.
Cross-device. Multi-touch. Media mix models. Advertising impact analyses.
We’ve developed a myriad of ways to measure our marketing efforts, and yet many brands still barely know squat about how consumers really feel towards our brands.
How far, exactly, have we come in terms of measurement?
Maybe a third of the way? Half? Definitely not more than half.
“On a scale of one to 10 in this industry, we’re probably at a three."
It's not like the industry isn't trying. Measurement and attribution have always been top-of-mind for digital marketers.
Heck, even TV folks are getting a whiff of better metrics and they're demanding better metrics (Yes, the very same folks who for years laughed at your Google Analytics reports while coveting their precious GRPs).
As one TV exec recently said, “We do need to think holistically and consider the KPIs ... it is no secret that using the current measurements is problematic. We need to find a new way.”
"We need to find a new way."
Holistically is the key word here.
While we’ve gotten increasingly better at measuring marketing minutia, we’re still a long ways off from measuring the entirety of our brands.
Take a look for yourself at the current marketing technology landscape:
~5,000 marketing technologies and there’s no one (yet…) really dedicated to brand measurement.
We have a hundreds of tools in measurement and business intelligence alone and not one?
It's as if we've perfected measuring all of the parts of our marketing, but we somehow have failed to arrive at the correct sum.
We’ve become seasoned arborists, but we still can’t tell you what forest we’re in.
As far as I can tell, we’re where we’re at for two reasons: money and technology.
Search engines and social media platforms shoulder much of the Internet’s daily traffic.
We use search engines to find stuff that we like.
We use social media to connect with people who also like that stuff.
These pastimes are all subsidized generously by the advertising platforms behind Google, Facebook et al.
And when these ad platforms emerged, it was an expectation that everything was measureable because they were born online.
Digital was new and needed to prove itself, so the digital advertisers got to work measuring all the things within their platforms.
Going all the way back to the beginning, Google AdWords has been around since the year 2,000 and has funded everything from the acquisition to YouTube to the a robot division and self-driving cars.
Shortly thereafter, they bought Urchin, turned it into Google Analytics and gave it to the world for free.
They didn’t do it because they were benevolent. They created GA–and Chrome, Android and Google Fiber for that matter–because marketers made them do it before dumping billions of dollars into it each year.
Similarly, Facebook’s valuation took off like a rocket when it proved that it could monetize the mobile web.
But on the other hand, the demand for a true brand measurement platform has been incredibly slow to develop.
That doesn’t sound like much compared to the ~$25B that Google raked in from AdWords last year until you consider how many customers each company has.
Nielsen has somewhere in the tens of thousands of clients where Google boasts that greater than four million advertisers use AdWords, which makes Nielsen’s average client between 20-50x more valuable than an average Google advertiser.
Why fix what isn’t broken?
Bottom line: there’s just so much money still in retail and TV advertising that the demand hasn’t reached a critical mass yet for a new way of measuring our marketing in its entirety.
It often feels like brand measurement technology is about five-to-ten years behind digital marketing measurement.
Case in point: Google Analytics has been around since 2005 and we have no equivalent measurement tool on the branding side.
The reason for this gap comes down to what each is trying to measure.
For all the challenges analytics presents, measuring the web is actually pretty easy (people can make it hard, which is a topic for another day). It’s just a matter of stitching together the things a person does across a bunch of disparate applications.
On the other hand, measuring brands is much more difficult because you need data about what consumers think and feel about your brand in addition to data about their actions.
This is where we’re still struggling.
Now, to the credit some of branding pioneers, there are some really good technologies that are able to address many of the things I just described.
Marketers can now use all sorts of modern-day versions of the traditional market research approaches used for decades to measure brands in the golden age of marketing.
For example, Usertesting.com provides focus groups-as-a-service for anyone looking to test out websites, prototypes or mock-ups in front of real live people.
Want to double your revenue while halving your pride?
Step 1. Find a marketing campaign/project/web page that you created that makes you proud. One that you worked really hard on and poured all of your grit and creativity into.
Step 2. Sign up for Usertesting.com and send 3-5 people to visit your campaign and ask them to tell you how it makes them feel how they'd interact with it if they saw it out in the wild.
Step 3. Identify roughly ~80% of the things holding people back through the insights of these user tests, all while smacking yourself in the head at the things you didn't anticipate about the ways in which people interpreted your marketing.
Another tool in the arsenal of brand measurement pioneers is AYTM.com.
They offer incredibly sophisticated and customizable consumer surveys that allow marketers to find their target market and ask them any questions they want.
Often, these questions are about brand awareness, affinity to certain products, and perceptions consumers have with different marketing concepts.
AYTM.com is build to be easy enough for do-it-yourself marketers and sophisticated enough for hardened market research teams to use.
Yet another tool is OptimalWorkshop, which provides online user experience and information architecture tools such as card sorting and tree-jacking exercises.
These types of measurement tools are all great indicators of how performance marketers have learned how to measure some pretty detailed and niche things, and yet still fall short of holistic measurement.
We’re getting incredibly close, but we’re still not at the point where we can create any sort of pie chart or histogram that shows the sum of our branding efforts and results, which is often what our leaders like to see.
And who are we to argue with leadership, right?
In short, not long.
There are signs of the future all around us.
Facebook released a metric to let advertisers know when someone clicks on your ad has also had a previous touchpoint with your brand.
On the demand side, media juggernaut Bloomberg recently partnered with its research agency, DVJ Insights, to create new metrics for its content marketing efforts around purchase intent, brand perception and brand association.
“The industry is aware we need better metrics to justify increasing levels of spend and highlight our successes.”
This is the type of thinking that is driving demand for a new generation of tools that directly support brand measurement.
If we have anything to say about it here at Brandish Insights, we’ll be living in a world where any marketer can access a dashboard that shows how her brand scores in categories such as awareness, frequency familiarity, favorability and purchase intent.
It won’t be long before we’ll have words and ideas that describe different types of brands and how their marketing opportunities and limitations differ from each other.
The future of brand measurement is nearly upon us and with it will come an entirely new era of marketing.
What do you think the future of brand measurement will look like? What would you expect/demand from brand measurement tools in order for them to solve your problems? Let me hear it in the comments.