Opinion

When it comes to boosting incremental ROI, work smarter, not harder

Feeling nervous about our gloomy economy? That makes it the perfect time to re-evaluate your campaign effectiveness. Outbrain’s managing director (APAC and growth markets) Andy Burke shares the key insights from the company’s Advertising Week APAC event to help marketers prosper.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” 

So said Thomas Edison, famed innovator, whose inventions defined the industrial revolution. And if he’d let life’s bumps in the road get him down, well, the world may not look the same today. 

But what this quote really speaks to is the value of perseverance. It’s about trying to generate success even when the odds seem stacked against you.

This is something I think all marketers can relate to.

Every marketer, at least once in their career, has to face a campaign with plateauing results. Or a campaign that appears to be performing as well as it can, without understanding how to take it to the next level. 

Well I’m here to say that your media mix is the place to start in rectifying this issue. If you get yours right, you have the potential to drive a serious incremental return on investment (ROI), and to take those last few steps along the path to success.

To gauge how some of the industry’s sharpest minds are maximising their gains, we gathered a panel of experts during this month’s Advertising Week APAC. 

“And”, not “or”

When establishing which media channels are most effective at delivering outcomes, prioritising the best performer is normally the way forward. It’s a mindset of quality over quantity, an adage that mostly rings true. 

But it doesn’t have to be a question of “Should I use this channel or that one?” Instead, why not ask, “Should I use this one and that one?”

It’s certainly the view of Analytic Partners’ managing director (Australia) Paul Sinkinson, who unveiled potent research showing that, on average, adding more media channels to a campaign increases ROI. 

So while there are high performing channels to utilise, an even bigger consideration is having a high performing campaign. That’s why marketers should always think broadly about their campaign strategy – and capitalise on what each platform has to offer.

For example, Analytic Partners’ research revealed the inclusion of native advertising alone into a campaign increases the performance of other digital channels by 18%. Synergies also come into play via omnichannel marketing, as brands with a combined physical and digital presence see an increase in sales impact of 32%.

“It’s never one or the other – it’s both,” concluded Sinkinson. “If you take a broader view of things, you’ve got a much better chance of achieving a high ROI.” 

Test, learn, rinse and repeat

Every campaign is different, but no matter how well your media mix works, marketers should be looking to constantly optimise. More often than not, that means a fair bit of experimentation.

“Experimentation is a big part of Koala’s DNA,” said Sally Phelps, former director of media at Koala. “We have two streams we work on – our baseline and a second layer of finding new growth areas.”

The baseline, Phelps explained, is how Koala tests its regular channels and strategies to ensure it continues to drive results and that certain channels aren’t over or under-invested in. The second layer is reserved for small new opportunities, such as promotions or deals, which if successful, can be scaled.

“Whatever experiment we’re running, we always need to decide which part of the funnel we’re looking at. Right from brand awareness all the way down to conversion,” she added.

This is where alignment on key KPIs and a rigorous timeline is essential. It’s one thing to run a few experiments to understand how to best optimise a campaign, but the results will most likely need to be taken back to a CFO at some point. Securing buy-in early in the project and communicating reasonable targets is fundamental to ensuring your experiment doesn’t fail before it starts.

“Everything we do is about sales, so is it sales now or sales in six months time?” questioned Stewart Gurney, chief strategy officer at Kaimera. “Whatever it is, your stakeholders need to understand your expectations, and you need to be able to communicate them effectively.”

And if an experiment doesn’t go the way you expect, pick apart what worked and what didn’t, explained Gurney. This is fundamental to understanding which precise combinations will power your channel mix most efficiently.

Clearly no one channel is going to address all of a marketer’s campaign and outcome needs, but we don’t need a perfect solution. Driving incremental ROI isn’t out of reach for anyone – and developing the most powerful media mix possible is the first step to getting there.

Outbrain’s managing director (APAC and growth markets) Andy Burke

Source (All Statistics): Collective Studies, Analytic Partners, 2006 – Onwards

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