ROI is clouding our ability to appreciate good ideas.
|By David Griner on Oct. 17, 2010||Tweet|
Author's note: This is the first in a series of three posts reflecting on BlogWorld 2010, where I was a presenter and an attendee.
Just a short ways into our presentation on social media marketing case studies, co-presenter Dave Peck and I had just finished outlining the concept, execution and results for Join the Colony, an alternate reality game created to promote Season 2 of Discovery’s “The Colony.”
Here are the results we listed, as provided (quite generously) by creative agency Campfire:
• Coverage in Mashable, Neatorama, MediaPost, AdFreak and more
• Players spent an average of 6 minutes on site, some as long as 20 minutes
• 70% of users chose to allow Facebook Connect
• 59% who reached final “tune in” message went back and re-started the experience
• 350,000 pageviews in 2 weeks leading up to season premiere
Before sharing our final verdict (two thumbs up), we opened it up to an audience vote. Would they give it a thumb up or a thumb down? But attendees noticeably bristled, and someone quickly shouted out, “Well what did it cost?!” Several other heads nodded in agreement.
It’s an understandable question, but I was struck by the fact that so many people would need to know the budget before deciding whether they liked the campaign. I wasn’t privy to the project’s cost, but let’s say it was $100,000. Or heck, $50,000. Or $1,000 and two family passes to Busch Gardens. Is that number — whatever it is — going to magically determine whether you found the idea inspirational, innovative or engaging?
Yes, return on investment (ROI) is important, but in the end it’s something the agency and client will have to determine through their own judgment after weighing a variety of factors. (Including ratings impact, which unfortunately has not been reported for the cable program.)
Focusing primarily on cost also confuses success with value, which is just part of the whole. Ideally, you’d have great success with minimal cost. But it’s also possible to have great success at great cost, which military types call a Pyrrhic victory and marketing types call “a good Super Bowl ad.”
There may have been a time when traditional, oversimplified measurement tools like cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or earned media value were enough to judge a marketing campaign’s success. But today, marketers on the corporate and agency sides have to analyze results both quantitatively (pageviews, time on site, ratings) and qualitatively (extent and nature of blog coverage, user behavior on site, unanticipated effects on other brand channels such as Facebook or Twitter).
Seems nebulous and time-consuming, doesn’t it? Well, tough. Being a marketer today means being able to review your successes and failures with an open mind and a forward-thinking spirit.
Whatever the budget, a campaign is only a failure if you refuse to learn from it. And the more innovative you are with your ideas right now, the faster you’ll learn how to reach your audience effectively, compellingly and, yes, efficiently.