Measurement, Discovery and Mistakes - Michael Kassan

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All marketing begins with an insight. But it takes art and science to activate it. For this to work, all media—every touch point, every channel, every platform, every conversation—needs to be effectively represented and accurately measured.

If your plan is cross-platform minus one, it is not a cross-platform plan. You need it all, old and new. Look at how radio and social are both asking the same questions, for example. They share concerns, challenges, and opportunities because they share an ecosystem, each playing a role.

This is not just integration. It's interdependence.

Italian physicist Enrico Fermi said of any analysis, "there are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery."

Every marketer should have this quote tacked up on their wall. But there's a third alternative—if the data that goes into your analysis is flawed, you have neither measurement nor discovery—you have a mistake. Or worse, a confirmation bias.

And as we know, nothing eats up a marketing budget faster than a mistake.

Here again, radio can provide a teachable moment, According to a recent Association of National Advertisers study, up to 70 percent of advertisers rely on Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) to determine the potential impact each segment of an ad campaign – TV, radio, print, online – will have on sales.

These models are supposed to offer marketers a blueprint that strikes the right balance across several media and extracts the most from their ad budgets. But without reliable data for each medium, the MMM results can be misleading -- resulting in the wrong balance and wasteful ad spending.

Historically, radio data has not been sufficiently timely or appropriately detailed for best use in these models because it was averaged quarterly. Consequently, MMM has consistently under-represented radio's impact on consumers, meaning that the platform is often undervalued or even entirely left out of brands' marketing plans.

But the best counter-argument is one that takes an industry-wide view rather than a platform-centric one. An argument which holds that the right measurement is a rising tide lifting all boats.

That's how Clear Channel approached the challenge. Beyond their own internal research projects, the company partnered in a two-year industry initiative on how radio data can be optimally leveraged by MMM systems. Now that confidence was developed in those models – which demonstrate a better read on radio as well as overall media mix, they are being made available to marketers and MMM providers.

Incomplete measurement can damage any effort.

Good measurement leads to discovery.

Bad measurement leads to mistakes.

Marketers must pay heed to these truths.

Fermi certainly did. He was one of the inventors of the nuclear bomb.

Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at michael@medialinkllc.com

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