Six no-nonsense steps for marketers building a measurement framework

Six no-nonsense steps for marketers building a measurement framework
Chris Love (VirginMediaO2) and Ian Gibbs (Jicmail) at The Future of Media, October 2023
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Jicmail’s director of data leadership and learning lays out the key learning from its recent Future of Media session with VirginMedia02.

“You can type this sh*t, George, but can you say it?”

So said Harrison Ford to George Lucas when apparently reading through the script of Star Wars, bemoaning the director’s inability to write dialogue that any sane person would be able to say out loud.

For some reason, it was this anecdote that sprang to mind as I presented Jicmail’s guidance on building an effective measurement framework with Virgin Media O2’s Chris Love at Adwanted’s Future of Media event in October (a session we reprised at the annual Jicmail conference at PWC last month).

It’s all well and good an industry body like Jicmail (a highly respected and credible industry body I might add) offering best practice guidance on measurement, but it’s the advertisers that have to put it in to practice.

It was refreshing to hear Chris’s frank comments on the challenges of measuring marketing effectiveness, and a welcome reminder that while it might not always be possible to reach consensus on measurement best practice, simply going through the process of having a conversation about how to build a measurement framework is a significant step forward.

CMOs are under more pressure than ever.

The short-termism that plagued the marketing industry pre-covid, has only accelerated during the cost-of-living crisis, and marketers’ inability to truly articulate the effectiveness of their spend in the boardroom, has placed a downward pressure on CMO tenure.

A universal marketing measurement framework will better enable marketers to communicate the contribution of marketing to the business. It will enable them to produce meaningful benchmarks for target setting while providing a basis by which future campaigns can be optimised based on the learnings of previous campaigns. Most importantly however, measurement frameworks ensure that a business is speaking in the same language when it comes to the measurement of marketing effectiveness.

The six steps that we have outlined when it comes to building a marketing measurement framework, are as follows:

Pick your marketing model

Ensure that different areas of the business have a shared and unified understanding of how marketing works. A crucial step when the objectives of different departments can often work against each other.

Agree on your taxonomy

Make sure that your business is speaking the same language when it comes to measuring marketing inputs and outputs. Consistency of language is key if learnings are to be meaningfully applied to future campaigns.

Choose your building blocks

There are numerous fields that can be used to capture framework data: from campaign objectives, to channels used, to spend levels, KPIs, targets and performance data. Having a method of shortlisting the KPIs to track based on campaign objectives is a useful first step.

Develop a cross-organisational working group

Consider involving a range of internal and external teams (e.g. finance, your creative agency, media agency etc) in your measurement efforts: A) to avoid accusations of marketing teams marking their own homework, and B) to bring in external expertise and alternative view points.

Measure, measure, measure

Develop a menu of measurement options for your business, drawing on techniques such as MMM, test and control, attribution modelling and brand tracking. Devote between 5-10% of your media budget to measurement.

Test and learn

Measurement should be more than a backward facing box-ticking exercise. Campaign learnings should be fed back in to upcoming plans on a systematic basis by documenting what worked, what didn’t work, and what hypotheses you want to test next time out.

While Chris and I agree on a lot of the above, it’s refreshing to get an honest perspective about how practical all of this is, as I’m sure he’ll tell you now…

Chris Love, Head of Performance Marketing and Effectiveness, Virgin Media O2:

“Ian’s six steps are a great way to get into shape in this space and if you can nail step 1 off the bat, then take a bow as that’s quite the achievement. However, if you face scepticism around every corner, then I’d say that you need to employ steps 2-6 (starting with step 3 – Choosing your Building Blocks) just to have a shot at having a shared view of how marketing works.

“Understanding which KPIs have a strong, provable relationship with your business outcomes (sales, margin, market share etc) at each level of the funnel is critical. They need to be few (three to five perhaps), easily explicable to non-marketers (things like ad awareness, key perception statements, and traffic), and regularly updated (too infrequent and you risk being forgotten).

“Building that evidence base is challenging. Marketing is complex and difficult to measure, requiring (shot glasses out) triangulation across a multitude of measurement techniques understood exclusively via a series of acronyms (MTA, MMM, AB, DDA…) and well-covered in steps 5 (Measure Measure Measure) and 6 (Test & Learn).

“Once you have established a strong evidence base for those primary KPIs (step 3), then move to steps 2 (Agree Your Taxonomy) & 4 (Develop Cross-org Working Group) and get to marketing the sh*t out of them because be under no illusion that “marketing” marketing internally is key to success. Employ the same strategies you use day-in and day-out with consumers; be relentless in the consistency and simplicity of your message to as many people as possible over time.

“I’m going to say that again: deliver your message consistently and simply over time (read: avoid changing your reporting KPIs to paint a positive story). Only then will you earn the right to a shared and unified understanding of how marketing works (step 1). Once you’ve achieved that, then the hard bit starts — maintaining that brand you’ve just built.

“If all that sounds too much, then I simply ask you to stop saying marketing ‘spend’, it perpetuates the view that marketing is a cost. Instead, call it what it is — an investment in your business (Ian…).”

Ian Gibbs is director of Data Leadership and Learning at Jicmail

If you want to see Chris and Ian’s The Future of Media session in full, you can watch a recording here.

To find out more about how to access Jicmail’s industry leading mail planning and measurement data tools, then get in touch with ian@jicmail.org.uk.


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