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Move Beyond Traditional Metrics and Embrace Brand Impact Again

In an industry driven by data, there’s a surprising need to overhaul much of how we measure our brands.

Marketing has long been obsessed with numbers. Whether it’s click-through rates, impressions or unique visitors, each is a seemingly invaluable resource for marketers looking to increase the bottom line. However, in the scramble for KPIs, a crucial piece of the puzzle to success has been lost: the effect brand has on those KPIs. 

The problem with traditional metrics is that none of them truly acknowledges real buying behavior and brand impact. Not to mention that a tech giant such as Google or Apple can make tweaks to a policy or algorithm and throw the efforts to measure engagement into a tailspin. 

Focusing too much on inaccurate or misleading metrics can be detrimental. Instead, brands need to embrace quality over quantity through creative storytelling. 

Data is No Longer the King

The metrics we now use most often have limited value. A recent Association of National Advertisers study found that marketers themselves aren’t even leveraging what they value most, with only one of the top five most important KPIs among the most used — return on investment. Despite this, marketers are still dominated by CPM, CPC, unique reach and number of site visits. This doesn’t even take into account the remaining four most important KPIs ranked in the study: brand safety metrics, customer lifetime value, conversions and exposed return on ad spend.

Another issue involves misleading metrics. The ANA survey identified “head fakes,” or KPIs that may be endorsed by a media partner but aren’t actually that useful and potentially even deceptive. The most cited were likes, comments and shares across social media channels. 

That’s not to mention online bots, false sites and ever-changing privacy and cookie standards. Take all this into account, and it becomes apparent that using metrics for brand measurement alone is a risky game, one that marketers can no longer afford to play. 

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The Rise of Quality

If we’re swearing by the motto quality over quantity (as the ANA report suggests), we simply must reevaluate our quality strategy. Outcome KPIs such as return on investment and conversations are replacing output KPIs, such as cost per click or unique reach. 

The way to capitalize on this transition is through bolstering dynamic, interactive content that drives further engagement and supports first-party data collection, something that is increasingly important as the demise of third-party cookies continues. 

Quality content is also just that: quality. It’s informational and entertaining, trusted and shared. It creates awareness around and appreciation of your brand. By digging deep into what your audience wants and needs, you’re able to better curate content that speaks to them in deeper ways. Content that’s emotionally appealing to a consumer goes much further in drawing them back to your brand over a simple barrage of messaging. 

Recommended: Flaws of Prebid and How it Impacts Brand Safety

Relying too heavily on metrics can also cause dissonance and distrust from consumers, who are much smarter than marketers often think they are. For example, Penn State researchers earlier this year found that clickbait headlines (headlines that ask questions or use buzzwords) aren’t any more effective than regular headlines. Rely too heavily on metrics and you run the risk of alienating an audience instead of truly understanding them.

Metrics should no longer be hailed as the king of brand measurement, but instead treated as exactly what they are: a resource. Much more important is creating a holistic quality interactive experience, something that should be prioritized above all.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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