Common mistakes with media measurement - and how to avoid them

Media Measurement

By Rosie Bolam

In a previous blog, I wrote about the importance of measuring your ad campaigns. But for those who are still new to media measurement, it’s important to note that there are some all-too-common pitfalls to avoid. 

Please note that, if you like to analyse campaign data weeks or months after your ads have run, then read no further. But if you’d rather analyse your campaign whilst it’s in flight, then you’re in the right place!

With that in mind, here is a round up of the mistakes we see most often …

Overlooking the importance of real-time reporting

Sadly, many agencies and brands come to us with fantastic briefs but tell us that the campaign went live yesterday. I can’t stress it enough: It’s critical to consider media measurement while creating your campaign; to make it a natural reflex; part of every ad’s journey.

And it should come as no surprise to learn that measuring campaign effectiveness while an ad is in flight has the greatest impact. If you’re paying for a brand lift study then you need to ensure its working. So be prepared.

Trying to prove yourself right

Some take the approach of setting out simply to prove that their strategy worked; that they were right all along. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they want to show that they have made wise decisions. After all, it can be terrifying for any marketer to see negative results, and hard to admit if a campaign isn’t working.

For these reasons, brand lift studies can scare teams, especially at agencies, but there needs to be an openness and a willingness on all sides to admit – even to welcome – mistakes and to find ways of working together and improving. Getting feedback during your campaign allows you the freedom to make missteps and to correct them quickly – to stay ahead, to maintain relevance and make better-informed decisions.

We have to accept that an ad campaign won’t always hit the mark and that it can become outdated very quickly. Live reporting helps you to figure out quickly what’s working and what’s not. After all, with brand lift studies and media measurement, you have the data in black and white in front of you.

In this way, it’s important to avoid looking out for a specific, pre-defined answer, and instead to be open to results. Having pre-set expectations can create bias. If you choose instead to follow where the data actually takes you, you can base decisions on hard facts – as opposed to vague concepts or preconceptions. I want you to change your mindset and view mistakes as valuable learning experiences and as opportunities to develop and improve.

Failing to stop tone-deaf communications  

I mention this a lot to clients, brands, friends even random strangers: Consumer perceptions change so much, so quickly. Today, it seems, more so than ever. From COVID to the cost of living crisis and everything in between, keeping up with what consumers want or feel can feel like a full time job. But it’s critical to ensure your communications remain appropriate by remaining abreast of the changing context at all times.

Nor is it wise to make too many assumptions about your target market. Sometimes unexpected audiences crop up. Take, for instance, fashion and beauty trends. These can shift in an almost cyclical fashion. Unfortunately, the people who over plucked their eyebrows in the nineties can’t use campaign measurement to rectify changing trends – but you can! 

So, aim to be inclusive. You may find that your campaign appeals to a demographic, a generation, or a gender that you hadn’t considered.

And, if something does go wrong – because mistakes happen – be proactive in finding out why. It could be as simple as a typo in the creative, or it could be because the context has changed and, as a result, attitudes have moved on. 

Playing it too safe

It’s important to remember, too, that not all risk is bad. By analysing campaign effectiveness, in flight, you can optimise and afford to take risks. Remember when KFC ran out of chicken? The brand pivoted and turned potentially disastrous publicity into a positive by poking fun at itself. Done well, humour is one of the best ways to engage consumers. And media measurement tools can make it easier to take a risk.

What’s more, numerous studies we have run show that audiences remember those ads that provoke a strong emotional reaction. Creating a sense of joy across media platforms is not easy, of course, but don’t always stick to what feels safe. 

Having too many KPIs – and not being focused

All that said, there’s risk in being insufficiently focused. While our technology can track seven KPIs, it’s best to focus on one or two in particular for each campaign. 

Remain steadfast when it comes to what you want to achieve and prioritise. It’s fine to measure as much as you can, but do keep one or two key KPIs at the forefront of campaign planning and execution and don’t take a scattergun approach.

Not thinking long term

We also have to face up to the fact that some KPIs, such as brand awareness, don’t always come hand-in-hand with immediate results. That said, memorable, impactful campaigns can reverberate for a long time. I can remember taglines from campaigns decades ago – in fact, Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ was first coined in the 80s, ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ in the 60s, and Kellog’s Rice Krispies’ ‘Snap! Crackle! Pop!’ as far back as the 30s. The most effective ads don’t necessarily deliver results straight away. But many overlook this in the scrambling rush to prove impact. Great campaigns are long lasting, iconic and bring so much value to a brand. 

Today, marketing teams have at their disposal new, creative ways to engage with consumers across platforms, and technologies to help them measure the impact both in the short and the long term. This is indeed an exciting time to be in the industry and we will see a huge burst of activity as we approach H2. Watch this space!

For more information on how to get the most from your ad campaign measurement, contact our team!