At Xaxis, we talk a lot about outcomes. Outcomes are what we aim to offer to our clients, holding ourselves accountable to marketers who buy digital advertising.
That kind of thinking can be an adjustment for an industry used to spending millions of media dollars based on measures like CPM or CTR that are more than 24 years old and take us back to the days of the first AT&T display ad on Wired.com back in 1994.
Those metrics carry a presumption that, if you pay the right price for fraud-free, viewed impressions to the right audience in the right environment, you'll create enough “lift" or clickthroughs to generate more revenue for your brand.
Each of those measures, though, is really a proxy for what is almost always the real goal: increased sales.
Why Performance Marketing Isn't Enough
Sometimes the term “outcomes" is conflated with “performance." Online performance marketing tracks clickthroughs that lead to conversions. A well-optimized performance campaign will ensure that ad placements lead to cost-efficient and profitable clickthroughs. That can be a valid way of running a campaign.
Today though, aiming for a better kind of accountability is vital for marketers using digital advertising, especially programmatic advertising involving billions of data points and decisions executed in fractions of a second.
Sophisticated attribution modeling, econometrics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning along with the right supporting technology and expertise all help manage media toward serving strategic business goals, rather than just marketing precepts.
Take, for example, a high-ticket durable item such as a set of living room furniture. Clickthroughs on ads may indicate interest, but almost no person will buy the furniture they're going to live with for years by simply clicking on an ad.
It's inevitably better to optimize to a more sophisticated marketing mix proven to prompt more sales in the short and long term. Does the messaging, for example, need to focus on attracting showroom visits, newsletter subscriptions, or virtualized customizations on the store website?
Each of these metrics can be individually weighted for importance based upon the retailer's data-informed knowledge of which actions most assuredly trigger sales, and in what sequences. Doing this will ensure that subsequent online campaigns can be optimized towards driving the specific outcome of the retailer and maximize return on ad spend over the short and long term.