I am a Texas-raised girl, and, among many other things, this means having an innate love for football. Sure, I love a new pair of shoes or a new handbag, too, but don't let that fool you. I lose my voice each year, screaming at the sidelines of the Red River Shootout-- the annual battle between the glorious University of Texas and the Oklahoma Sooners.
This is probably why I often think through media campaigns as if I were a coach (or at least a Monday morning quarterback). Having a well-balanced and stringently measured media mix can do wonders for you in terms of branding and ROI. And analyzing your campaigns like a coach will also provide insights into your target market that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
To maximize the usefulness of your campaigns, you need to focus your game plan on three factors: data accessibility, your campaign channels and analysis. Managing a complex media matrix is a dynamic task. It involves vigilantly monitoring performance, assessing and altering goals, and shifting around individual components to realize a given intent.
Data accessibility has nothing to do with the location of your flash drive. It's more about what is shared between agencies, partners and clients. It can be problematic because the data tends to be nebulous and difficult to acquire. Keeping a healthy balance between confidentiality and accessibility can also be a challenge. For example, if a client is not forthcoming with revenue statistics, how can an agency set attainable goals? Or if a partner's tracking is not accurate, how can you manage their portion of your media mix?
If part of managing a successful media mix is measurement, it's imperative to have trust and cooperation between all parties (kind of like a quarterback and his offensive line). Without an appropriate benchmark, results become open to interpretation. Barring liability and disclosure issues, unnecessary secrecy is counterproductive. This is particularly true of the organic components of your mix. Be up front. Share data. Then your results will be demonstrative rather than subjective. Furthermore, how can you optimize something if you can't tell whether or not it's working? This is an intuitive part of measurement, but it's particularly true when it comes to accessibility between clients, agencies and partners.
When planning and evaluating your media mix, you need to consider that each channel fulfills a particular role. Bringing it back to football, consider an offensive play. The quarterback sets the offense in motion. Tight ends prepare the way for the receiver, who catches the QB's pass and scores. Each has a unique, but vital role in making the touchdown, and when analyzing the play, you judge each player within the context of his position. The same goes for your media mix-- each channel has its own task, and you have to determine its success within that framework. You might bristle at spending a lot of money on hotshot players such as compelling TV spots (quarterbacks) or competitive search terms (your "receivers"), but these can be the big playmakers. At the same time, you still need to utilize your "running backs"-- channels that are good for short yards but major ROI, such as brand terms. Understand the function of each channel and assess its execution accordingly. After all, no coach would trade a punter because he didn't score any touchdowns.
Of course, your team can't win unless it has the adequate training and the right plays. If you run expensive TV spots to generate buzz, you need to have the necessary online support, including an easy-to-navigate website, a tactical search campaign (with the budget to spend on high profile keywords), tracking on your search campaign, and the adequate bandwidth. Additionally, your campaign must be adaptive enough to try different approaches. This is where analysis is key.
Part of the challenge of a mixed-media model is finding what works and what doesn't. Placement, messaging and creative format are integral to your success. After all, you wouldn't advertise a product geared towards adults, such as Centrum, during Saturday morning cartoons. However, when kids are glued to the TV, parents might take this time to go online, and running your Centrum ad on CNN.com or the Fox News site might be a good fit. In fact, a November study by The Media Audit found that the presence of children in the home influences the majority of household expenditures. This suggests that the coordination of adult ads with kid-friendly channels is imperative to successful campaigns.
By analyzing all the facets of your media push, you can capitalize on unusual pairings and unforeseen opportunities. Know your players, know the field, and have enough plays to cover every eventuality. Like any campaign, mixed-media models are subject to the whims of external variables such as seasonality and the economy. In dealing with these, you'll need both the hail-Mary plays such as risky placements, and evergreen ones such as consistent search converters.
As such, optimal mixes tend to be something of an art form, but they also rely on up-to-date data. Continual analysis ensures that you are not investing resources in the wrong position, but it also sheds light on perceived underperformance-- maybe you can go for that gutsy play after all. For instance, suppose that within your search channel, you have a particular term that is not converting well. You may have placed it in several search positions with varied creative, but it is still not driving online sales. Did you check to see how it is affecting offline sales? In this case, you would want to examine other metrics such as store locators and catalog signups. It may be that the term is actually pulling its weight in different ways. Analysis helps you find a different play to parlay that tacit success into the tangible win you're looking for.
Just as a successful coach assesses his players' stats, positions and strengths to create the best starting line, a successful marketer has to acquire and integrate data, appropriately deploy channels and try different plays to form the best strategy. If you manage your campaign like a winning coach, you'll be on your way to victory, just like those Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl.
Misty Locke is co-founder and president of Range Online Media. .