ROI of the beholder who has the tools

Final post on this topic for now. 

With ESPN’s comments this week and continual blogosphere, promosphere (my word for “corporate blogs”) and rag coverage of the ongoing debate between brand marketing vs. direct marketing online, it’s time to come back to what marketing is supposed to be about: driving awareness through transaction for a specific product, client, or entity.

Ask any direct marketer and they’ll produce a thousand spreadsheets with tidbits of data (the reality is they only optimize on 5 or 10, but that’s another post).

Ask any brand marketer online and they’ll lead with “reach” and “frequency,” push them for an evaluation metric and 9 times out of 10 you’ll hear, “we’ll I kind of guage by the CTR.”

The reality if you look at macro trends is that this trend of “soft” metrics by brand marketers will continue for the foreseeable future (3 to 5 years), no matter who tells you about forthcoming accountability of media.

Let’s look at some macrofactors:

1) On the major media client side it’s the economy, specifically the weakening of the dollar. With the weakening of the dollar the majority of U.S. companies are looking overseas to improve their numbers. This is a much more manageable and balance portfolio approach to growth than trying to deconstruct media dollars. In short for a 5-year CEO, deconstructing the media problem is a plodding process that slows shows progress, not an immediate gold mine.

2) Agency heads older than 45 or so are going to have a hard time figuring out the accountability issue. Why? Well, one, they have only 10 years or so in their career to make their retirement and this accountability of media problem surely is going to take much longer. Two, there is a major technology investment in providing the systems and services to do this — that’s right hello agency balance sheet and hello agency staffing a discipline they have not really spent a ton of time on yet.

It’s going to take a sea change and some heavy lifting to really move the needle in the right direction. In the meantime, you are going to see the value still go to ad networks, like Glam, who are building up brand-nice inventory and numbers to make everyone look nice to the clients.

So folks say brand marketers are not accountable, that’s completely not true.

They are beholden to a set of tools, products and methodology that the pessimistic says is archaic and that the optimist says are now more possible than ever with the advent of internet marketing.

ROI for brand marketers is not an immediate conversion off a click; it’s using tools like BuzzLogic and others to assess brand awareness.

Bolt on tools at the campaign level ESPN and you’ll see your brand spend increase and increase accountably.

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