The future of marketing measurement

At the BRITE '14 conference, McKinsey's Liz Harrison spoke about the metrics that actually make sense of the data.

McKinsey's Liz Harrison spoke at the BRITE '14 conference.

What did you speak about?

I focused on the practical implications of measurement. As investment in digital has increased, so has the need to understand what’s working and what’s not. The problem is that there are so many groups within a company working on various digital initiatives, and they’re all measuring different things. So one group might own mobile, and then marketing owns one part of social and operations another. At the same time, agencies are creating materials and placing ads, and supplying yet a different set of metrics. What happens then is that varying metrics create a very confusing picture for those in the C-suite who are trying to figure out what investments to make in various channels. They can’t see what matters.

We’ve hit an inflection point here where the scale of these efforts is creating serious confusion. Companies are creating various apps, for example, but they don’t look the same, and they’re measured differently. Now we’re seeing companies starting to roll up their sleeves and fix this issue. For example, they’re starting to figure out what a consistent set of metrics they need their agencies to provide. And they’re developing consistent nomenclature of metrics around the consumer decision journey, for example, so that it can be clear to everyone how various digital efforts are actually performing relative to the others.

What’s on people’s minds?

There is a real desire to simplify things. People were asking “what were the three metrics that matter.” The problem is that while there may be a few metrics that really matter at the C-suite level of the organization, there is a plethora of metrics that need to feed them. It’s just not realistic to think that there’s a silver bullet for metrics, at least not today. Related to this is the question about how to better educate senior leadership about the nuances of metrics. Success can mean different things to different channels, and they can all be valid. Engagement and brand metrics, for example, have to be looked at in a different way from hard purchase metrics.

There was a consensus that digital enables better decision making but can often cause paralysis as well because of the magnitude of data it produces. To get around that issue, organizations must recognize that they need to experiment and quickly test, adjust, and measure impact. That starts with having a rapid test-and-learn mindset.