Despite the fact that consumer confidence is at a 16-year high, the business community isn’t necessarily feeling the same love. Recently, a review of the Fortune 500 found that more than half of the companies on the list have been experiencing revenue declines over the past few years. Growth is slowing and it is increasingly worrisome as marketers look for answers. A recent article in Crain’s Chicago Business pointed out that the largest food companies in the U.S. have lost “almost $16 billion in sales over the past three years amid broad shifts in how consumers eat and shop.”
Next year, marketers are expected to invest an estimated $800 billion in marketing, advertising and brand activation initiatives. These activities are among the key components driving our economy and creates and sustains millions of jobs and puts food on the proverbial table. However, we are finding that as an industry, many marketers don’t have the knowledge, skills or experience needed to optimize this enormous spend by utilizing today’s robust data, analytics and measurement tools.
While an increasing number of companies are embracing data and analytics as a core competency, in many ways we remain an industry reliant on intuition over data and recommendations over analysis. The often cited John Wanamaker quote -- “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” -- may be as true today as it was a century ago.
To truly understand how best to measure our marketing campaigns requires developing and implementing a data- and analytics-driven culture that can uncover the critical insights necessary to pursue growth. But today, as an industry, there are no standards to follow. We lack an accepted foundation to pursue growth in a measured and consistent way.
We need to embrace a “measurement mandate” that serves as a rallying point for marketers. A recent ANA member survey asked, “When thinking about your decision-making process, what percentage of your marketing-related decisions are based on intuition (gut) versus analytics?” Of those responding, more than half said 40 percent or more of decisions are based on “intuition.”
While we were disappointed that intuition still can trump analysis, we weren’t surprised. In response to the needs of our members and the industry, the ANA is ramping up its focus on measurement, data and analytics through the development of greater capabilities. The ANA, in partnership with Neustar, has launched the ANA Analytics Center of Excellence (ACE). Together, we will develop the competencies, tools, and standards needed to train marketers to better utilize data, analytics and measurement to drive better marketing decisions. Through this new partnership we will also, over time, introduce an array of tools and capabilities marketers of every experience level can utilize to become more proficient, efficient and effective in using data and analytics to drive brand growth.
The partnership with Neustar enhances the ANA’s capabilities and takes our pursuit of the measurement mandate to a new level. As we grow we will invite additional partners to join ACE so we can truly make it an industrywide initiative that, at its core, advances the marketer agenda. This will allow the industry to rally around a set of comparable measurement standards that, when applied, will help grow brands and allow the entire ecosystem to benefit.
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