There are thousands of people, agencies, partners and brands passionately working in the experiential industry to deliver outstanding creative work and unforgettable engagement. From sampling to intimate events and stunts, to huge festival experiences, the world of experiential is very broad and is an integral part of brand engagement.
Yet, we struggle to really put a value on the business results. Of course we can measure number of engagements or reach and work out cost per contact but is that really going to prove that the marketing budget for experiential was well spent?
The IPA measure with an industry benchmark figure for advertising expenditure of return for every £1 spent and focus on ROMI as a measure of effectiveness.
The IAB (internet advertising bureau) estimates a return of £13 for every £1 spent on digital advertising (April 2016).
The latest must-read Internet Trends 2017 report (Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins) discusses the increasing ability for digital measurement – not just to prove worth but to adapt, evolve and offer the consumer what they actually want. Measurement isn’t just a way to prove or disprove work but should be viewed as a necessity to understand audience motivations and trends.
The PR industry has created The Barcelona Principles, which provide guidelines for best practice with a focus on not just delivering outputs but outcomes and business results.
And for the experiential industry?
The UK spent £21.4bn in 2016 on advertising, and agency brand experience budgets were estimated at £171.9m (London’s Experiential Playground report). In London alone, spend on brand experience activities in the capital in the same calendar year was £81.4m. This investment represents a continually growing channel in the marketing mix.
Although some experiential agencies and their client brands do seek to measure effectiveness and ROI, currently there is no standard, industry-agreed approach to experiential evaluation and therefore no consistent and credible yardstick for comparisons. This is arguably harder to achieve for experiential marketing because there are many differing types of event, each with differing reach and impact, and currently no common method for judging the business benefit of a campaign.
So the IPM and their members have been asking the question – what can we do?
The IPM is an industry body, which focuses on the effectiveness of ‘promotions’ in the broadest sense, from sales promotions to shopper marketing and experiential campaigns. Working closely with their experiential agency members, the IPM set up an experiential council in 2013, and from this identified key areas of industry standards and best practice, of which the leading work-stream is effective experiential measurement.
"We started with the simple statement: the ultimate purpose of experiential marketing is to affect the behaviour of the target audience through live engagement and this can and should be measured.
"Working collaboratively, there has been a huge groundswell of commitment from agencies and their client brands including PrettyGreen, Circle, Wasserman, Jack Morton, Leith, TRO, Ambient, Curb, Haygarth, Wolf Brand Experience and The Think People.
"Having initially created Five Principles for Experiential Measurement, which we launched in Effectiveness Week November 2016, the IPM has since amalgamated all the models the collective agencies use, and, of course, they all share huge similarities, which means that a best practice model of measurement has become reality. We are now launching a 12-month benchmarking test phase with the output being to allow agencies and brands to be able to analyse success from benchmarking figures for cost per contact to brand advocacy and purchase intention as well as share learnings and know ‘what good looks like’.
"It is an absolute passion point for our experiential council. Surely working together for the greater good of the industry will result in better briefs and increased budget commitment. Industry standards in measurement will help brands justify the value that experiential can deliver in both brand advocacy and hard ROI.
"Calling out to research agencies, brands and agencies – we are opening the benchmarking test element for this next 12 months to agencies and brands and this will keep building. Get in touch!"
From Jessica Hargreaves, IPM Experiential Council Chair and managing director, PrettyGreen, and Carey Trevill, managing director, IPM
For your daily hit of news from the brand experience community, weekly brand updates and your monthly trend download, register and subscribe to Event and our bulletins.
Comment below to let us know what you think.