ADOTAS – Once again, it’s the time of year when the obligatory “biggest trends for…” posts fill our feeds and social media streams. And while sometimes it can be overdone, there is something therapeutic about taking time to truly consider what will be important in the coming year and what initiatives will be appropriate to make the most out of the opportunities presented. Having been in the marketing technology and analytics space for the past 18 years, I have to say 2014 looks to be offering up some seismic shifts being enabled by both data and technology. With that in mind, here are my five marketing measurement trends for 2014.
1. More Big Data. Like cowbell in an SNL skit, marketers have a fever and the only prescription is more data, or so we hope. Back in January, we predicted in 2013 marketers would begin to translate the big data hype into meaningful customer insights, providing a richer understanding of which touch-points were driving conversions and a solid foundation for a holistic approach to marketing strategy. While big data initiatives continue to be a key priority for marketers and many organizations have begun to see extraordinary results, clearly others are still working to kick start these efforts. This is particularly true as marketers struggle with connecting disparate data sets across both online and offline channels. We’ll call this a continued work in progress.
2. Unifying User Identities across Devices. According to research firm NPD, the average American household now has roughly 5.7 internet-connected devices, which frankly seems like a lot for an average. From a measurement perspective, this shift towards multiple screens and device types has drastically altered marketers’ ability to accurately identify customers. As a result, the ability to deliver and measure relevant marketing messages at key points along the customer journey is increasingly a challenge.
Over the past year, investment in mobile advertising, search, email, sites, and apps has accelerated, even with limited measurement capabilities in place to adequately assess the business impact. Fortunately new technologies are emerging to help brands connect customer behavior across both desktop and mobile devices; however, the true one-to-one user matching across devices remains a challenge and advertisers are already beginning to explore new tactics to more effectively identify and target customers. Expect ‘unified identify’ and ‘user-level’ attribution to be central themes in the marketing measurement community over the coming year.
3. Data-Driven Attribution Adoption. Recent data from eMarketer suggests more than 70% percent of marketers continue to rely on antiquated marketing attribution models, or worse, fail to use any attribution model at all. “Why?” you might ask. For starters, the market is still evolving and adoption of a new basis of performance measurement takes some work and commitment. We’re encouraged to see more and more marketers, agencies and vendors collectively educate the market about various attribution methodologies, particularly with the likes of Google enhancing the attribution capabilities in Google Analytics. Generally, I would say marketers understand the rationale for why data-driven attribution is a superior approach to arbitrary, rules-based methodologies like last-click.
In 2014, I expect adoption of advanced attribution tools to accelerate as marketers begin to shoulder a greater burden of demonstrating marketing ROI across an increasingly fragmented customer journey. With this, you can also expert marketers to begin demanding more transparency and collaboration from both agency and technology partners as businesses begin looking at performance through a broader, less opaque lens. Nonetheless, the Zombie method of last-click lives on in 2014; it will just become less prevalent.
4. Operationalization of Attribution. If you haven’t already, soon you will also begin to hear more about ‘operationalizing’ attribution insights with an uptick of success stories from organizations that have already begun using data-driven marketing attribution to holistically measure marketing performance. Once marketers have successfully tied together measurement across multiple channels, they are beginning to exploit new opportunities, such as utilizing attribution results in concert with programmatic buying platforms for real-time bid optimization or funneling attribution results into a DMPs, like Acxiom AOS, for more complete and accurate campaign measurement and planning. In other words, it’s not just about collecting data anymore; it’s what you can do with it to drive greater business value.
5. Content Becomes a “Channel” in Attribution Models. Content marketing strategies are more and more prevalent in both B2B and B2C than ever before. A recent Ad Age article highlighted a trend nicely predicting a not-so-distant future in which “brands and agencies will become content machines, producing 100 different types of creative…as they discover that different people respond differently to different ads and format types at different times of the day.
Altimeter Group’s Rebecca Lieb may have said it best: “There’s no owned media without content. There’s no social media without content. And there’s no paid media without content.” That’s true. But why aren’t advertisers measuring it that way?
The next step is to understand the role and influence investments in content are playing in the customer journey. How did that video contribute to the sale? Did the ‘mortgage calculator’ increase applications? Which product guides contributed most in converting journeys? Understanding content costs and beginning to perform apples-to-apples comparisons between content marketing assets and other media-based marketing is a huge, untapped opportunity for marketers in 2014.
What are Your Marketing Measurement Trends for 2014?
Now it’s your turn. If you have any measurement predictions for 2014, please leave them in the comments below or post them on Twitter using #measure14.