They Got It (Almost) Exactly Right

The Hard Part is “What’s Next?”


The Forrester 2022 Wave™: Marketing Measurement and Optimization Solutions is out. It’s an elegant distillation of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the most significant solution providers, with advice on how to select the right partner. Even more importantly, it offers valuable insights into the key changes marketing measurement and optimization (MMO) is undergoing, and what marketers need to do NOW to stay focused on what comes next.


For example, a fast-changing measurement ecosystem means that some marketers may need to completely rethink legacy marketing measurement approaches and ensure they are able to measure and optimize marketing against unconventional objectives such as engagement, brand loyalty, etc.


In other words, marketers must challenge conventional methods of framing options – redefine the turf based on each individual company’s unique insights into customers, competitors and the forces that act on each of them. It’s important to constantly reassess analytical competencies for evidence they may be focused on the wrong questions, or are designed to measure the past versus predict the future under alternative sets of assumptions.


Marketers must also be able to look beyond their own boundaries and incorporate the impact of newly emerging factors on marketing planning and performance to address an expanding array of business questions. They must ensure that capabilities are in place to translate analytical insights into specific strategic and tactical recommendations quickly and with high confidence.


Well done Forrester. Thanks for the hard work. You spurred us to try to imagine what else we should all be thinking about in the marketing analytics ecosystem…


For a courtesy copy of the Forrester 2022 Wave™: Marketing Measurement and Optimization Solutions click here.


Dealing with Data Disruption


Data deprecation has disrupted the marketing and advertising ecosystem. This has made it important for marketers to ensure their MMO programs are making adjustments to maintain accurate insights, while still dealing with seismic shifts in consumer behavior, pirouetting patterns of media consumption, and explosive economic upheaval.


But data deprecation is only the latest in an ongoing series of marketing measurement disruptions that will not just endure, but likely accelerate thanks to increasing cybersecurity threats and rising interest in consumer privacy.


Which leads us to ask:

  • What changes are coming BEYOND data deprecation?
  • Are measurement programs truly built to adapt and evolve as conditions change?
  • What foundational steps are marketers taking right now to anticipate changes and adapt to a world where PII data becomes even more curtailed and court challenges worldwide inject more confusion into how data can be stored, moved, or used?


In other words, we need to be looking beyond the horizon since the solution-building cycle takes time.


For example at AP we believe successful marketers of the next five years will need analytics capabilities that extend well beyond traditional marketing mix to more advanced commercial mix analytics. These capabilities should integrate the concept of “Customer Franchise Value” as a way to better understand how changes in strategy or tactics might have very different short- vs. long-term impacts on bottom line value.


And that raises the question: How can marketers build more durable and valuable relationships based on real dialogue with customers and confidently shift to 100% opt-in data exchange relationships? Wouldn’t THAT be a true competitive advantage!


Machine Salvation?


In response to data deprecation and other changes, the Forrester MMO Wave™ says:


“Measurement vendors are responding by providing flexible and scalable measurement tools and expansive scenario planning capabilities as well as adopting new machine learning (ML) algorithms for faster, more actionable marketing insights…buyers should look for providers that:

  • Advance their algorithms to measure and optimize against a range of objectives…
  • Adapt to changes in the advertising ecosystem and data landscape.”


All true. But reading this had us wondering just how extensively we can look to ML to solve for future unknowns in which changes both business and consumers face will only continue to accelerate and it will be even more difficult to extract signal from all the noise. Measurement programs must be able to:

    1. a) sniff out the relevant signal; and
    2. b) avoid wasting precious resources chasing noise.


Machine learning is certainly a valuable addition to a diverse analytical toolbox and well-suited to finding identifiable signal in the noise. Yet it needs people to help it understand what the signal might look like when it likely doesn’t resemble anything seen before.


In and of itself, ML is not well-suited to seeing around corners. So marketers will need platforms that make it fast and easy to integrate analytics with research and experiments. At the same time, platforms must also be capable of bringing partial data sets and well-structured subjective assessments into the process of formulating the hypotheses of what “signal” is likely to look like in months and years to come.


Greater Data Access = Better Results


Here’s Forrester again: “Leading MMO vendors are expanding partnerships with closed ecosystems to gain more access to granular performance data, ensuring their measurement approaches are flexible in order to ingest different types of marketing and media performance data...For a partnership that can weather data deprecation, buyers should evaluate the depth of ecosystem relationships, data quality and integration, and innovation around integrating customer sentiment or demand generation data.”


Spot on. This is why most of the leading solution providers have built strong partnerships with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, et al: To ensure the best access and insight into data that’s available and put it to use answering the most pressing questions marketers are asking.


But as garden walls get higher, access to data will become less critical than building the skills to work confidently with new (likely partial) data. We won’t be able to simply replace data that gets walled-off. We’ll need to imagine entirely new ways of answering marketing’s critical questions.


I’ll have the Tools-and-Services Combo, Please


The Forrester MMO Wave suggests that marketers: “Look for a partner whose tool can link outputs to collaboration tools (e.g., MS Teams or Slack) and that offers insights and marketing transformation services to optimize performance across people, process, and technology.”


Couldn’t agree more. Marketers need the ability to turn data into expertise at understanding how things change, and how to avoid getting lost in the crisis du jour – with time-tested technology that holds up under the harshest real-world marketplace conditions.


We are also constantly reminded that technology is great at automating repetitive tasks and freeing up people-time to be used more effectively elsewhere. Tools and tech tend to be best at helping humans ask and answer the questions related to data at -hand. As such, they often surreptitiously create bias toward measuring what can be measured, versus what should be measured.


AI can help. But human experience, creativity and innovation remain the only proven ways to find and explore the next big thing.


  • - The Analytic Partners' Brain Trust


Forrester Wave: Marketing Measurement And Optimization Solutions, Q1 2022.

Access the Report