If you’ve ever played a game of telephone, you know how easy it is for things to deviate from their original intention. “Let’s all go to the ballpark” might become “lately all we do is work” by the time it gets through the chain. Something similar happens over the course of marketing campaigns. Too often, agencies allow targeting and measurement parameters to drift away from the original intent of the campaign/creative, which leads to diminishing returns and campaign failures.
At JXM, we refer to this as “target-measurement drift,” and it’s something we’re explicitly looking for when clients bring our attention to struggling or failing campaigns. Likewise, it’s something we’re highly attuned to preventing when it comes to adjusting the campaigns we create and manage in-house.
There needs to be a strong, meaningful relationship between campaign intent and how results are tracked. It’s not just about keeping your goals in sight; it’s about making sure the parameters used to quantify success still apply as time goes on.
Connecting the dots on campaign results
If you set out to achieve one thing and track metrics for another, it’s almost impossible to connect the dots on a successful campaign. Likewise, if you make evidence-based adjustments to a campaign and don’t adjust the metrics to follow your new intent, there’s no way to tell how it’s truly performing. The bottom line is simple: as your advertising efforts evolve, so too must your metrics.
For example, say you make a mid-campaign adjustment from an engagement focus—optimized for individuals likely to perform X action—to a traffic volume focus, to drive awareness. At the same time, you also pivot to a CPM/CPC cost mitigation focus.
Like our game of telephone, the new concept is completely different from the original; which means the original metrics are an equal departure from the ones you should be using. In fact, in this example, they’re likely to be in direct conflict with the new intention of the campaign! Improved targeting tends to perform better, but will cost more from a pure CPM/CPC standpoint—even when the business outcome is improved. It creates dissonance for marketers.
Any time JXM takes over a campaign or adjusts one we’re currently managing, we take a moment to reflect on the current metrics. Do they encapsulate the new focus of the campaign? Are they a true measure of expected outcomes? Do they reflect a meaningful way of quantifying performance? Before we move forward, we make sure metrics align with intent.
Metrics need to evolve in tandem with campaigns
The reason target-measurement drift is such a pervasive problem in marketing is because ad campaigns need to evolve to be successful. If you’re not evolving your approach, it’s almost certain that you’re not getting the best possible results. Lack of innovation indicates stagnation. That said, tweaking your campaign focus without fine-tuning your metrics creates an entirely different set of problems.
At JXM, we find it useful to practice two-way thinking when evolving campaigns. Do the metrics reflect the new intent? Conversely, what metrics indicate the best measures of success in a campaign? Both sides need to be in agreement at any given time. If they’re not, it’s a sign of creeping target-measurement drift.
It’s also important to consider creative direction at this juncture, as well. When your focus and intent change, so too should messaging. Clients are often surprised when JXM campaigns feature iterative messaging over the course of the campaign. In our minds, the reason is simple: if your appeal changes, your messaging needs to evolve, as well.
Avoid that game of telephone
In a game of telephone, the message changes dramatically from start to finish because of incremental changes. Someone might leave a word out of the phrase as they pass it along. Someone else might substitute a word that has the same meaning. The more people in the chain, the more the message becomes distorted. The same is true for ad campaign changes.
Tweaking the targeting demographics. Altering the CTA. Toying around with ad placements. These incremental changes can all add up to something much different than the original intention of the campaign. This is why it’s so important to plan for change. As important as it is to update campaigns and respond to insights with agility, it’s equally as important to reevaluate metrics and make sure they stay aligned with the new focus of the campaign.
Telephone is a fun party game to play because of how distorted the message can become when it gets to the last person in the chain. It’s less fun to play when you’ve got a five-figure marketing budget riding on the success of a campaign. If you feel like your metrics aren’t reflective of the message you originally set out to deliver, JXM can help. Chat with us about target-measurement drift and what we can do to make sure your message comes through clearly.