Studying the impact of the internet on advertising and marketing is increasingly part and parcel of relevant university and college courses around the world.
I now lecture on online marketing, search and social media at a number of educational establishments in the UK, and new requests to come and talk to students still come in thick and fast.
What I’ve noticed though, is a divide between the creative and the accountable.
The marketers, agency reps and media owners of tomorrow light up when the creative promise and opportunity flows across the PowerPoint in the form of rich media demos or fancy mobile applications, but enthusiasm wanes when metrics, KPIs, analytics and reporting are suggested as the meat and potatoes of ANY internet advertising campaign.
As the global recession casts a shadow over all the care-free fun we’ve had for years, for those of college age it’s all they’ve ever known.
So, not wanting to be a party-pooper, I think it has to be said that accountability, proof of the pudding, back up metrics and data deep dives will become more and more important as budget owners insist on understanding how every marketing dollar has performed.
The current climate and the increase in available tools for tracking and reporting online campaigns means we have to educate at grass root levels that it’s important to be creative when dreaming up a new campaign, and that it’s also crucial to set out from the start what you are trying to achieve and how you’ll measure that success.
I was taught very early on by an old CFO not to be creative with the numbers, but to let the numbers create a story – good or bad!
If the story was good – fabulous!
But, if the story wasn’t so optimal, at least the numbers gave some indication of what to do next next.
Without numbers you have nothing!
When it comes to understanding the opportunity around online measurement, Jim Sterne put it very well last year in an interview I did with him at eMetrics, “We have discovered the surface, we realise we have fingernails and we’re ready to begin scratching!”
So with marketing accountability becoming more and more disciplined within businesses, web analytics tools costing next to nothing to run out there in the market place, and tools like Engagement Mapping which demonstrates that effective online touch points and ROI transcend just search, we need to ensure that the campaign managers, media planners and creatives about to graduate over the next few years understand that the key to building the successful brands of the future lies, not only in creative execution, but in the beautiful stories that can be found behind the numbers!