What are the most important metrics for tracking the success of brand building digital advertising?
Here’s the non-answer: it depends. Advertising metrics should be driven by marketing objectives. To say you have a brand-building marketing objective is frankly a bit broad. Sure, you want your brand to succeed, for everyone to know it, love it, and choose it. But for you to truly measure the impact of your advertising, you need to be more specific about the problem you’re solving with ads so you can track the impact, if any, you’re having.
Let’s think this as an example, ATT’s wireless brand has been battered lately by competitors claiming better coverage. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that to build their brand they must be known for broad coverage. So they launch a national multi-media campaign claiming coverage of 98% of Americans.
How to measure the impact of this campaign? Track consumer perception of ATT wireless coverage pre, during and post the campaign. Here, it seems the goal is not general awareness but perception change. To be honest, few brand-building campaigns are about anything other than perception change. Metrics such as awareness, recall, and intent are just table stakes in the game of brand building. The true brand building makes meaning.
But your question asks about digital advertising. The metrics don’t change. What you call success doesn’t change. What you can measure changes. Consumer surveys are slow and expensive (albeit that’s changing). Digital allows for some creative analytics to serve as proxies for consumer perception. Tracking interaction and usage paths tied to specific content and messaging can guide the savvy analyst. Social behavior such as tweeting, liking and friending can signal that ads are having an impact. If people see your ads online and get persuaded, it’s logical to assume you’ll see more searches for your brand. Do you see increased impressions and increased clicks on your branded keywords?
In the end, the most effective brand-building campaigns are often holistic – integrated across media, customer service, sales, and everywhere the consumer and employee touches the brand. To discern the incremental contribution of the digital portion of your advertising is the challenge. That requires statistical analysis to compare otherwise similar test and control groups, of those exposed compared to those not exposed, using measurements that, to bring this full circle, speak to the specific marketing objectives you set out to achieve.
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