As agile econometrics, automated media buying and advanced analytics become more and more ubiquitous, creativity will be the great differentiator. But how to prove that your breakthrough idea, or that new piece of creative or channel switch is causing the uptick in sales? Atomic 212°’s Rory Heffernan on how to de-risk risk taking – and win.

“It’s toasted” – can you believe it’s nearly 20 years since Don Draper said those two words? And in doing so breathed new, smoky life into the mainstream perception of advertising, inspiring more than a few of the current generation of marketers.

Burning his colleague’s research-driven approach to the problem, inspiration struck Don – as it would time and again over the ensuing seven seasons – and with a single big idea, Lucky Strike’s fortunes were turned around.

So how can marketers prove the value of such bold moves in the age of analytics?

All of us still want to pursue big ideas. But for many in the current climate, a new brand strapline, media execution or change in direction can only be pursued if it is guaranteed to move the needle.

Thanks to the advent of machine learning, scaled, agile econometrics has become accessible to more marketers than ever. But can something that examines past data to predict future outcomes ever be useful in helping to take a risk? The best campaigns mark a departure or a memorable moment in a brand’s evolution. For this reason, Fernando Machado recently surmised creativity as a competitive advantage, and one that will always reward those who take the risk.

You have to agree, and over the coming years as agile econometrics, automated media buying and advanced analytics become more and more ubiquitous, creativity will be the great differentiator.

So how can you prove that this breakthrough idea being implemented is the part of media mix that’s causing the uptick in sales?

Google recently published its 2024 Modern Measurement Playbook, a handy guide to the benefits and limitations of the leading forms of measuring effectiveness for marketers.

To be expected, many of the examples and use cases are very Google-centric, but useful concepts are explored, including how marketers can adapt a validated or triangulated approach, using one measurement type (e.g. experimentation) to validate another (e.g. marketing mix modelling), as well as determining incrementality via controlled experiments.

In fact, Google’s paper makes a significant callout about experiments early on, in the segment on “what has changed in the media effectiveness measurement toolbox”:

“Incrementality experiments are becoming more accessible and popular among advertisers, thanks to more open source resources and increased availability to run experiments in platform.”

While there is no silver bullet when it comes to marketing – Google noting “you will need a combined approach that uses each tool’s strengths and fills in the gaps” – experimenting presents a great opportunity to have the science of your data work hand-in-hand with the art of your big idea.

All about that base(line)

To accurately measure how much of a difference your big idea has made, the first thing you need to do is establish a baseline.

Before making a major change to your marketing strategy, get a read on where it is – and get specific.

Having baseline data allows you to run experiments over the top that accurately measure the difference in sales that have resulted from your change in approach.

And brand data no longer needs to be the realm of 200 page reports filed 12 months apart. We are working with our clients on much faster ways to get a read on the impact that media and creative can have – using more agile brand reporting and experimentation to measure through the funnel.

When money isn’t buying anything

One of the key views that market mix modelling (MMM) can provide is saturation points on a particular media channel – meaning that at a certain point you won’t squeeze much more out of a given channel based on your current approach.

At that point, you can make one of two choices: move money elsewhere, or test a departure from the norm – creative being one of the bigger levers to pull.

It’s an opportunity to construct an experiment to show whether you need to try something bigger and bolder to increase the headroom.

Using data, marketers can design experiments to support bold moves – whether that’s an out-there creative idea, a new media partnership or a completely different execution to what the brand has done in the past.

It’s an exciting opportunity to bring together the best of marketing – the creative and the analytical – to do something that isn’t just different for the sake of it, but is demonstrably better.

Article originally published on Mi3.