Reporting is as integral to a media campaign’s performance as planning and buying. Because of this, the responsibility for reporting and analyzing media campaign performance should not fall to professionals outside the media department. The job of reporting on campaign performance is more than just stating the obvious through bar charts and graphs, it is about understanding why the investment was made in the first place.
Since reporting is so integral to a media campaign, why are so many agencies putting this responsibility in the hands of non-media professionals? In the evolution of any agency, the discussion around who should handle reporting undoubtedly comes up and in many cases the responsibility falls to team members who are not involved in the day to day. This will result in a lack of insight driven optimizations and recommendations.
A strong case should be made for agencies to focus on consolidating the reporting and analytics function within the same department that handles media buying. This will result in deeper insights and more impactful campaign optimization. Why? Because when improvements need to be made to a program, the people best suited to make those improvements are the people who understand the structure of the original program, what’s available in terms of ad inventory or supplemental elements that can be swapped in, and the nuances of the relationship with the partner. Without the keys to the relationship, anyone attempting to make recommendations concerning the improvement of a program won’t have the needed grounding in what’s possible from an execution standpoint, nor will they have the necessary clout and negotiation skills to drive optimized performance.
Anyone evaluating campaign performance should also be properly grounded in how program objectives marry up with business objectives. For example, it’s often possible to expand pools of search terms to achieve a more effective Cost Per Click and higher volumes. But what if the original goal of that search campaign was to prequalify an audience and weed out the people who are less likely to use the product? In that case, what can look good on paper in terms of increased performance metrics might actually be harmful to the stated goals of the campaign. Anyone evaluating it needs that strategic background to understand its role in the media mix, in addition to a healthy understanding of the executional details of the program itself. In this way, media “performance” is not always a black or white issue. Sometimes there is grey. Lots of grey.
Digital media programs aren’t always measurable solely by website performance. Other metrics like awareness or favorability can compete with easily-observable website actions, and the steps needed taken to optimize programs according to those metrics might be very different from what it takes to maximize on-site performance. In many cases, optimizing to one metric can be damaging to another, so it’s very important to keep optimization in the wheelhouse of someone who understands the role of a program and its individual components.
Sometimes what seems obvious is actually counterintuitive. Keep your campaign optimization with the people most closely aligned with its success.
Chris Tuleya is Executive Vice President, Media, at Underscore Marketing, a firm that creates and manages integrated marketing programs for health and wellness brands.