4 Reasons CMOs Should Rely on Brand Lift Campaigns

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: September 11, 2017
Photo credit: Tonis Pan/Shutterstock

As the CMO role has changed from brand ambassador to revenue generator, the ability to show ROI on digital advertising campaigns has become critical. In a rapidly changing landscape, brand lift has become a reliable and important measuring tool, as it relies on human feedback and avoids fraud.

A study by Deloitte and the CMO Council called The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift found that the role of a chief marketing officer, or CMO, has changed drastically in 10 years from "brand ambassador" to "revenue generator." 

While this has resulted in a bigger seat at the boardroom table, it has decreased job security. A study published in the Wall Street Journal of CMOs from 100 of the top U.S. ad spenders found CMO tenure of 3.5 years to be the lowest in the C-suite and half as long as CEOs, who average 7.2 years.

A major reason CMOs' turnover is high compared to their C-suite peers is because monetizing the digital frontier has fallen on their shoulders.  Among the 200 CMOs surveyed in the Deloitte and CMO Council study, the top method cited (44 percent) for marketers to drive revenue is to "utilize data for effective campaign spend."

While digital ad spends ($72.5 billion) exceeded TV spends in 2016 for the first time, a new study from WPP projects advertising fraud will double to $16.4 billion in 2017. The bottom line is that it has not gotten any easier to validate ROI with bots and fraud running rampant.

As clicks and impressions lose credibility, "brand lift" has entered the lexicon as a reliable and effective tool to validate ROI. Here are four reasons brand lift can help CMOs validate their ad spends.

1. Results are based on human surveys.

Brand lift studies typically include a consumer survey where one group is exposed to an ad and the second group does not see it. Shortly after seeing (or not seeing) the ad, the participant receives a one-question survey about their intent to purchase the product or service featured in the ad.

For example, our company recently published the results of a brand lift study measured by Nielsen that we did for the KitchenAid Mini Mixer. As part of the campaign, consumers were asked, "How likely are you to purchase a KitchenAid Mini Mixer in the next six months?" Nearly 3,000 consumers participated in the study, which ended in June 2017. When consumers were shown the ad on two screens – desktop and mobile – KitchenAid saw a brand lift in purchase intent of 62 percent. When consumers were shown the ad on six screens – desktop, mobile, tablet, connected TV, in-mall and in-movie theater – KitchenAid saw a brand lift in purchase intent of 468 percent. For comparison, the industry-average increase in purchase intent measured by Nielsen is 8.1 percent. As opposed to clicks and impressions, this brand lift study resulted in real-time positive feedback from consumers.

2. You can optimize ads on the fly.

The reason more companies are turning to brand lift as a reliable metric is because it provides direct feedback from consumers in days, not months. It allows them to understand how their ad is changing perceptions in real time. This gives you the unprecedented ability to make changes on the fly and optimize the ad on certain channels to maximize ROI. We saw a great example of this during the launch of Trident Unlimited with two versions of the same TV spot. The first version of the commercial started with the actor putting the gum in his mouth, whereas he was already chewing the gum at the start of the other ad. A brand lift study showed the second version's recall rate among audiences was 5 percent higher. After the company optimized its budget behind that version, the recall rate rose to 97 percent. 

3. It provides qualitative feedback and long-term benefits.

As CTR, impressions and clicks lose value as true internet currency, brand awareness campaigns offer qualitative feedback. By investing in a brand lift campaign, you can get to the bottom of a consumer's intent and preference for your brand. This will not only take them through the purchase funnel on this product, but it will inform your ad campaigns for years to come.

4. Be part of the solution.

At this juncture, companies can either be part of the problem or part of the solution when it comes to fighting ad fraud. It is great to see the industry is galvanized on this issue. Google, for example, has agreed to let the Media Rating Council audit its YouTube, Moat, DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science ad inventory. Brand lift campaigns that offer real metrics from real people are part of the solution.  

While the digital landscape is changing rapidly, the ability for CMOs to monetize the digital space will be their biggest opportunity and challenge in the years to come. As impressions, clicks and invalid traffic run rampant, brand lift has emerged as a trusted metric that shows both quantitative and qualitative value in real time.

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