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Reinventing marketing metrics

Posted on: Wednesday 30th of March 2011

I’m just back from speaking at the World Advertising Research Centre’s annual conference on Measuring Advertising Performance.

My main message was that most advertising and marketing metrics don’t actually measure what we think they are measuring. The mental model behind these metrics tells us we are measuring how effective the marketer is in changing the consumer’s behaviour.  In fact, very often, what’s actually being measured is how useful the marketing initative is to the consumer.

In other words, the vector driving these observed behaviours is consumers trying to improve their own metrics – not marketers with svengali-like powers to change consumer attitudes or behaviours.

Metrics narcissism is a related issue. Its organisations’ tendency to measure their own costs and their own benefits in isolation, without measuring knock-on customer costs and benefits to the same degree.

Narcissistic metrics can create dangerous action blindspots.

Take two marketing actions. One of them helps the consumer in some way, the other misleads consumers in some way. Both result in the consumer buying more. If you focus solely on your own costs and benefits, you can’t see the difference between these two actions. You might end up prioritising the misleading ad – the one that destroys consumer value – because (in the short term at least) it generates higher returns at lower cost.

Anyway, if you want to get into the detail of the argument, my presentation is now on the website and free to registered users.

Alan Mitchell