“One Metric” – The Holy Grail?

November 29th, 2015

The Advertising Age article, One Marketing Metric to Rule Them All? Group Believes It Has One is if not the latest, one of many recent pieces published about some of the wonders new technology and media can offer: increasingly precise and real-time measurements of the impact of marketing and advertising initiatives.

In this article, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB), states that the metric they have identified is a reliable and simple measurement of brand value that will “move marketers closer to having the same credibility in boardrooms that finance or engineering executives long have enjoyed.”

Having just completed the first phase of their study, MASB will be going on to evaluate how the method they’ve identified compares to other brand valuation models.  As exciting as one metric sounds, it does prompt this question: will it really be a good thing?

Out of curiosity, I went in search of insight as to what the C-Suite currently considers key marketing metrics.  Perhaps not surprisingly, these vary to some degree depending on the resource.  For example, the Bizable eBook, THE CMO’s GUIDE TO B2B Marketing Attribution, lists the following as the top three measurements CMO’s and other executives consider in the effectiveness of their marketing efforts:

#1:  Total Revenue

#2:  Total Opportunities

#3:  Other/Don’t Know

…yes, #3 is “Other/Don’t Know”

While “One Metric” may seem to have the potential to exclude some important variables, the metrics reported by Bizable are somewhat disquieting: too general; too many variables in play to reflect the impact of marketing efforts alone.

On to Harvard Business Review, its July 14 article, Identify the Marketing Metrics that Actually Matter may be both more ambiguous and at the same time, more precise.  The article cautions:
“With a wide variety of advanced, easy-to-implement analytics, it’s easy to be led off track and fall prey to a few pitfalls.”

Indeed, as wondrous as the science of advertising and marketing has become, so much of it remains very much an art.  It’s difficult to conceive how one metric would capture the qualitative and abstract.

In the Thinking article, It’s a Two-Way Street, earlier this year, Bozell CEO, Kim Mickelsen discussed the wonders – and potential pitfalls – that new technology and media present.   It’s a given that human behavior — call that Consumer Behavior, or Customer Behavior — is driven by both the rational and the emotional.  Can variables within both distill into one metric?

Kim’s conclusion resonates:  The more things change, the more the key marketing principles endure:

  • Avoid information overload.
  • People buy a feeling.
  • Existing customers are pure gold.
  • Creativity is king.
  • Sound marketing planning and strategy helps you succeed.

One metric that encompasses all of this…could it be the Holy Grail?  Or, a pitfall?  The implications are numerous and could influence our industry’s on-going evolution.