The Right Way To Measure Media

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” The quote, from retail magnate and marketing pioneer John Wanamaker, is over 100 years old. Despite digital media’s promise of accountability, many retailers still struggle with this attribution conundrum.

The goal of understanding how marketing and advertising resources are consumed and determining the return on those efforts is necessary to optimizing the marketing mix. Attribution model after attribution model is developed, with endless amounts of touch point data attempting to determine the magic ingredients that drove consumer behavior. Using the wrong models and approaches can lead to exactly the wrong conclusions, thereby being precisely wrong rather than vaguely right. Many are waiting for the perfect model. The situation seems to closely parallel Waiting for Godot, and for those who implore more rationality in media measurement, bringing a rope in the final scene echo as well!

We’ve written this paper because we’ve witnessed first-hand the misleading results of ham-fisted and sometimes lazy models. At Undertone, we offer unique High Impact digital circulars, recipe ads, and more, all personalized through a slew of AI-driven selected variables that drive sales lifts leading to 15x to 19x ROAS. These state-of-the-art products can stymie old and tired media models. This is because, in some retailer attribution models, high impact display is treated with the same modeling considerations as boring, small and entirely missable standard display ads. Of course, this is plain wrong, yields misleading results and is hurtful to retailer aspirations.

This note attempts to better explain what drives retail store visits, and perhaps a simpler and more effective means of being largely right in motivating people to make a trip to the local grocer, department, or specialty store.

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