Accountability is the New Efficiency

Jackson-Alissa-RicciBy Alissa Ricci, Media Supervisor

For a long time, some of the biggest concerns for advertisers centered on efficiency. When the economy was down, they wondered how they could cut budgets and still be effective; get the biggest bang for their buck. And while cost efficiency is still a primary concern, accountability is stepping into the limelight.

Marketers quickly latched on to the efficiencies of digital advertising, blinded by the inexpensive, shiny new object that was programmatic. But as cost-efficient as these buys were, in some instances they proved problematic, like when the impressions they purchased turned out to be bots, or not viewable, or ads were placed near unsavory content. Source.

These challenges have pushed accountability to the forefront, and media buyers and planners have to solve new challenges for tracking leads and reporting a hard ROI figure. I’ve experienced this firsthand in the last two years both in the B2B and B2C advertising sectors. Clients are clamoring for a way to credit sales back to ad spend—which is no easy feat!

MEDIABUYS00Gone are the days of impressions-based media buys. What good are five million impressions if my sales are down? Who cares if the phone is ringing, if those phone calls are not leading to more revenue? Now more than ever, buyers are tasked with reaching the right people when they are at the right place in the buying cycle and subsequently demonstrating the sales success related to talking to those people.

This can be a dangerous road to travel, because there are many factors that live well outside an advertising campaign that have an impact on sales:

Messaging. There’s a reason clients pay the big bucks for creative agencies. If your message isn’t communicating the benefits of what you’re trying to sell in a convincing way that breaks through the clutter, it won’t matter if the right person sees your ad just the right amount of times; it’s wallpaper.

The sales force. A good media buy and marketing campaign can make the phone ring all day long, but if the sales force isn’t effective, those phone calls won’t translate to closed deals.

Technology. A CRM is a powerful tool, but if not used properly, it can incorrectly report and attribute lead traffic and sales success. Additionally, analytics (like Google Analytics) can really help hone in and optimize a digital campaign, but if an agency doesn’t have access to see that, they can’t use what they don’t know.

Once, and if, all of that is out of the way, then you can start trying to attribute sales back to an ad buy. And there are a few ways to accomplish that:

Pixel tracking. Most programmatic vendors can place pixels on key pages or buttons within a website to track conversions. For example, if there is an online lead form, you can track how many completed forms your campaign delivered. You can now show clearly how you are delivering results and adjust throughout the campaign if you aren’t seeing the desired results.

Google Analytics. You can set up goals in Analytics to track how many key actions were completed on the site. This could be a form fill or a completed eCommerce transaction. Be sure to use UTM codes in your digital buys, though, so that you can attribute those goal completions to your digital campaigns.

Google AdWords. You can easily set up conversion tracking in Google AdWords so you have a 24/7 view of KPIs within your campaign. Even better, you can link your AdWords and Analytics accounts so that the data feeds back and forth from both platforms. You can then define AdWords conversions based on goals you set up in Analytics and track campaign performance directly in Google Analytics.

These solutions are clearly all part of a digital advertising campaign. Traditional media can be much more challenging, but with the advent of new technologies like Smart TVs or lead generation programs with print, there are ways to track leads and sales from traditional tactics, as well.

These tools ultimately enable clients to hold media buyers accountable for the success of their campaigns. Rather than “set it and forget it,” buyers need to pay more attention to the clients’ sales goals and design campaigns that will drive key conversions, ultimately leading to sales. While it is still a challenge to directly correlate ad spend to sales, digital media brings us a little bit closer.