Tim Webster
Tim Webster 29 November 2018

Addressing the real causes of ineffective digital campaigns

When a digital campaign doesn’t meet its objectives, blame is often instinctively directed at the respective vendor partner or media owner. However, when you take a deeper look there can be underlying problems, such as unclear communication between internal teams or partners, or how effectiveness itself is measured.

The activation, execution and measurement of digital advertising campaigns requires a number of partners, from brands themselves to creative and media owners as well as the many technologies or platforms in between. Each has its own discipline, so pointing the finger specifically at one is failing to understand the intricacies of the digital landscape, how things work together and where they overlap.  

To achieve successful campaigns, marketers need to identify areas of weakness and make sure these are addressed. Let’s look at three areas that can impact campaign effectiveness and how to avoid them.

1. Malfunctioning global strategy 

Poor strategic alignment is a common issue that can affect international campaigns. Many businesses have central marketing teams that set overall objectives and define strategies for organisational campaigns however, they have a fundamental flaw – budgets are frequently controlled regionally or locally. This means that while centralised units can set the frameworks, they may not be carried out by their local teams.

Errors can quickly occur if communication between this core team and those who execute plans regionally isn’t streamlined and coherent. Such disconnection can mean that by the time campaign briefs reach local teams, the original goals have become lost or diluted. This could result in various problems. For example, one country could decide not to use the recommended global verification vendor and select another of their own choice, or they might introduce additional KPIs, such as viewability – both of which would lead to discrepancy and inconsistency in campaign analysis. The resulting impact is likely to be sub-optimal performance, and potentially, the channelling of budget away from the centrally agreed primary KPI.

Ensuring overarching marketing strategies are integrated throughout the organisation is therefore paramount. Brands should create measurement frameworks and set minimum standards for working with partners – particularly with brand safety or performance metrics – before they reach the RFP stage. Ideally, this should include procedures that facilitate better communication and give local teams the opportunity to contribute unique insight. There needs to be clear standards set that are both measured and made accessible while also being 100% geo-translated, particularly in programmatic.

2. Defining effectiveness

Another common reason behind campaign ineffectiveness is there is no universal measure for what deems an advertising campaign effective because there are many different desired outcomes.

Even if stakeholders reach a consensus on their end goals, poor campaign measurement could mean they still miss the mark. For example, there is little point measuring the effectiveness of a campaign by its click rates, when the original objective relates to brand uplift, such as an increase in brand awareness. Often ill-thought out measurements and goals are tacked onto campaigns that distract from the original objective.

The solution to this problem is simple: KPIs should be used that clearly measure against primary campaign goals and they must be made available to all stakeholders – both internal and external. Crucially the KPIs must be applied — and understood — across the organisation and partners, which means the true objectives must be shared.

3. Disjoint between media and creative

Finally, a major reason behind campaign ineffectiveness comes from digital companies not being involved in the creative process early enough. Many traditional creative agencies are still only interested in making the creative and telling the story rather than focusing on the environment where it is delivered and as a result digital and media vendors are not included in the planning phase.

This process needs to change – particularly when marketing to younger generations. In a recent survey The Exchange Lab ran with Populus, we found that for 20% of 16-34 year olds the most important thing for the success of an online ad was that it doesn’t interrupt their online experience. Further to this, 41% said they prefer ads that match the look and feel of the social media platform they use.

If creative and media aren’t considered in tandem, it could impact the overall success of your campaign that could have lasting negative effects on your brand.

While the ineffectiveness of digital campaigns can’t be tied to a single source, dysfunctional organisations, misaligned creative and media companies, and disjointed global strategies are all good places to start when attempting to improve digital advertising outcomes. Communication is a key component in the solution to these issues and the great news is that it’s something marketers have a hand in controlling. It sounds simple, but by improving communication, businesses will instantly pave the way to more effective campaigns.

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