Measurement continues to be a major challenge for marketers and it is the time to insight where they feel the most pain.
In a recent study for the IAS’s 2020 Industry Pulse Report, digital media professionals were asked to identify their biggest challenges this year. Unsurprisingly, three of the top four were measurement related.
At the core of why best-in-class measurement continues to elude marketers is its complexity. Today’s customer journeys are complicated, across channels and across devices, and the tracking issues related to consumer data privacy regulations & cookie issues have made things exponentially more difficult. And, if and when marketers are able to connect all of the dots and actually gather these big data sets, the processing and measuring load on resources and teams is no small matter.
Insights = actionable that marketers can bet on
Ultimately, what every marketing organization hopes to achieve with a best-in-class measurement practice are insights—small nuggets of truth that marketers can rely on to have a beneficial impact on their business goals.
Whether as small as the most efficient bid for a Facebook ad or as significant as how to allocate a global marketing budget across channels, insights are valuable pieces of intel that a practitioner can use to guide their decision-making.
Even just a few truly actionable insights can be the difference in success or failure. With most marketers facing stiff market competition in an always-shifting landscape, insights that can deliver predictable outcomes are worth their weight in gold.
The value decay curve of insights
Incrementality testing has become the cornerstone of today’s marketing measurement practices. By comparing the impact of marketing elements (channels, ads, budgets, etc.) on a test group versus a control group, practitioners can quickly determine the incremental value of those elements and mine the data to find those all-important insights.
As valuable as incrementality testing is to marketing measurement, the time to insight (TTI) for most incrementality solutions is not fast enough.
Recently, I spoke to the head of marketing for a very large brand who told me, “In my experience, measurement tests can take so long that by the time they finish the results are not meaningful because market conditions and strategies have changed or campaigns are over.”
What this marketer was articulating is that when it comes to measurement, the time to insight matters. Getting insights back into market quickly is not just an important component of a marketing measurement practice, it’s a prerequisite.
You see, the value of insight is directly tied to its ability to be confidently leveraged to drive business results. Thus, if the true goal of marketing measurement is not to grade past performance, but to improve future performance, then by their very nature, insights have a limited shelf life if their value to improve performance decays over time.
After all, an insight gleaned from a marketing campaign in January may not be valid in April. An insight from last month might not even be valuable this month. And in today’s real-time, high-speed, technology-driven marketing, insights may be valuable for just days, hours, or even minutes.
Take, for example, the rich signal of shopping cart abandonment. Digital marketers pay a premium to retarget those consumers because they are betting on the insight that someone who has navigated to a store and dropped a product into a cart is probably more likely to buy that product than a random person surfing the web.
But, how long is that signal/insight valid?
Haven’t we all been retargeted for weeks after we’ve already made our purchase and moved on?
Insight value most certainly decays over time.
Time to insight matters
At Skai, I lead the development and roadmap of our measurement solutions and the most important input to my thought process is through conversations with practitioners. Rapid time to insights is what I keep hearing over and over from marketers for what they want from their measurement.
That’s why we have prioritized a low time to insight as a critical pillar at the heart of Skai’s measurement solutions. The focus of our core product, Impact Navigator, is to reduce the total time to insights by speeding up the key parts of incrementality testing:
- Reducing the test design phase (i.e. how to create equitable test & control groups) from weeks to just 1 minute
- Shortening the testing window needed for accurate results from months to 2 weeks
- Decreasing the amount of time from insights-to-action by running multiple incrementality tests simultaneously
Whether you are a channel practitioner optimizing messages and bids or a CMO using marketing measurement to guide a billion-dollar media investment if you can’t get insights to you either A) fast enough before their value expires or B) fast enough so that you can turn them into action to positively impact results, then we do not believe it is a best-in-class measurement approach.
When it comes to insights—true, transformative insights—time matters.