Ad Technology

Using Surrogate Metrics – The Advantages and Pitfalls

By: David Ruppel

When planning a measurement strategy for a digital campaign, it makes sense to align the goals of the campaign and its measurement methods directly. But what happens when that alignment isn’t immediately feasible?

In healthcare campaigns, directly connecting prescriptions (or sales or leads generated) directly to a media tactic is the most illuminating approach. By tying media engagement physician level data back to sales, you can easily paint the picture. But what if that’s not always possible? For example, sales data has a 12 month lag time or it’s not significant enough to be projectable due to small numbers, or another department holds that information close to the vest. What is possible is to utilize data where it’s available, to find and seek out correlations between interactions with a media tactic and the real campaign objective.

Whenever planning any multi-channel, non-personal promotion, one always starts at the beginning: the goals and strategies of the brand or company. If it’s an unbranded campaign looking to drive awareness of a disease state or a therapy line, the NPP plan will be tailored accordingly. If it’s lead generation for future mailing, that’s an entirely different plan, utilizing different channels.

How you measure a multi-channel non-personal promotional campaign is the most important aspect of planning. How would anyone know if the campaign was effective without proper measurement? If you can’t prove your campaign is effective, how can you prove that YOU are effective?

Measurement strategies all start at the same place: the brand/company’s objectives and strategies. If your goal is awareness, you’ll want to look at some combination of reach,frequency, and awareness lift. If your goal is leads, , how many leads can you drive?

But most multi-channel non-personal promotional campaigns aren’t quite so simple. And many have a variety of layers. The Holy Grail for many campaigns is being able to tie prescriptions (some specific action) back to a specific media tactic. But short the ability to do that, many companies rely on simpler media metrics to help shape the story. The interesting aspect to this is that many overly simplified measurement techniques may have originally been rooted in quality analytics, but have grown stale and commoditized over time. Let me give you an example: click through rate.

What could click through rate possibly tell you about the sales of a product? Without any analytics system setup to draw a correlation, absolutely nothing. But what if you step back and think, “Then why did everyone want to use click through rate as a benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of different display partners and placements?”

It’s possible that someone was able to correlate them at some point. A small percentage of people who engaged with a banner may have shown brand affinity. A small percentage of those may have shown brand affinity may have shown interest or intent. A small percentage of those people who showed interest or intent may have actually purchased the product. Eureka! We’ve figured it out: click through rate equals products purchased! Or more likely, there was nothing better to use to indicate success.

That’s where the Touchpoint comes in. Utilizing our RxSense analytics platform across many multi-channel non-personal promotional campaigns, our company has been able to tie sales back to specific actions made by HCPs, with the goal of finding accurate surrogates to use for campaign performance if the goal we want to measure isn’t immediately measurable. Some of those surrogates don’t always correlate one to one, but there’s confidence we’ve seen this action be a part of a journey to written script, more so than other actions. Now, we can declare these interactions with a media tactic as a HCP Touchpoint. Certain deep education tactics may be “worth” more Touchpoints, while a simple click on a banner (click through rate!) may only be worth one.

But the difference is that since we’ve done the homework to tie a script written (or sale) back to a Touchpoint, focusing on the Touchpoint should naturally drive scripts written. Now, keeping that correlation fresh and adapting to the current landscape is an ongoing procedure. But now, we don’t have to pretend that your campaign is succeeding simply because it has a high click through rate or high email open rate.

Once we have brand objectives and strategies, that can allow us to build a comprehensive multi-channel non-personal promotional campaign as well as a measurement platform to achieve those goals effectively, and most importantly, prove it.