How to survive in an outcome-driven future

Today's marketers need measurement, tracking and proof of success but in an age of fast-paced, real-time strategy, the media industry is prone to focus on the 'how' and forgets the 'why'. Senior media, ad tech and publishing figures discussed...

"The marketer is being asked for accountability on what they do as a marketer. They’re being asked to show or predict value or engagement from any interaction they have with the consumer. It’s a difficult world to be a marketer," said Henry Stokes, [m]Platform EMEA client development VP.

Stokes was speaking at a panel session held in the heart of the City, where media owners and agencies gathered to debate what outcomes really matter for marketers.

New research carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Xaxis formed a back-drop to the discussion. The report’s key findings showed that marketers increasingly need to to show their contribution to strategic business goals. But proving their activity actually has an impact can be a challenge, often due to the fragmented nature of digital platforms leading to poor data analysis – among other reasons.

The pressure for marketers to measure, account and prove their investment is higher than ever and it’s already having an impact on their stakeholders explained Stokes.

Better dialogue, build trust
Pete Beeney, global agency lead at Spotify said that media owners and agencies have a responsibility to lend the marketers a hand – but it is two-way process. "We’re investing a lot more in getting close to clients as well as agencies. Without that dialogue it’s very difficult for us to get under the skin and provide them with what they need to be successful. We need to simplify everything, make it straightforward and have enough of the right people in the market to understand."

Nigel Gilbert, VP strategic development at Appnexus agreed a strong relationship – particularly between agency and marketer – is key, he said: "A relationship can only improve the closer the marketer gets with the agency." He added that marketers need to take more responsibility and be more open about the business and outcomes that drive the business.

According to Xaxis' VP Global Client strategy Candice Odhams, it’s also about working with clients on understanding successful outcomes: "Marketers are accountable. We need to have an education process – and they want this. We have clients, for example, who will trawl through a list of 6,000 domains because they’re so concerned about brand safety." But, Odhams explained, many of those domains are safe and performing well, even if the brand has doubts; agency and clients need to work together.

Making media outcomes and business outcomes talk?
There’s work to be done to better connect media outcomes with business outcomes, according to Stokes. "If you look at TV advertising, P&G know how many ratings they need per week to sell a certain amount of shampoo bottles, for example. But I don’t think we’ve done that in digital yet. We need to take on a bit of responsibility to map media outcomes and business outcomes better."

He added that each sector has a different problem to solve: "In the automotive world, we might see people speccing low-spec cars. While FMCG businesses might have problems with consumer switching to supermarket own-brand products… we’ve got to narrow down some of the tighter business outcomes." And media can provide some of the answers.

But successful outcomes for one part of media aren't necessarily the same for others. Take viewability, a hygiene metric for much of the industry but, Beeney explained, it is extremely important: "Brands want to know the money they’re investing in creative and branding is going to be seen. KPIs have become more sophisticated and increasingly brands are going to want the advertising to do a number of different things based on their objectives. But if you’re going to make an investment it needs to be seen."

Publishers have similar goals to advertisers but one challenge is attribution, according to Haymarket Media Group’s commercial product and operations director Sandip Ray. He explained: "On our automotive sites [What Car? Autocar, Pistonheads], we have an editorial goal that’s perfectly aligned with our advertisers’ goal. We’re trying to help the audience buy a car and they’re trying to sell a car. I’m seeing people on our sites that are showing genuine consideration to buy a car but it doesn’t get shown [in the metrics currently recorded].

"If someone goes to a manufacturer's website and if someone goes to our website to read an article about it, there’s good intention there but that doesn’t come through. We’re looking at vertical areas of focus to overcome this – we’re looking at journeys on our own sites, we’re tagging and tracking client sites to show where we add value."

From insights to outcomes to opportunity
Insights not only drive outcomes but "they drive opportunities" according to Gilbert: "I met a big publisher in Copenhagen recently, they own the majority of their users’ time in their market – users spend approximately 70% of their time with them online. They asked if and how they can capture and sell time. The point is people are trying to find new opportunities."

Are insights also feeding innovation? Could ‘mood’, for instance, become outcome driven? Beeney admitted that Spotify doesn’t quite go that deep into the human psyche: "There’s a lot of research that says music is able to augment mood; we are reflecting the mood. ‘Mood uplift’ is unique to the individual, in terms of what makes someone happy or sad. But we do have a lot of data points and it is a possibility."

Paying for 100% viewability

Xaxis has taken the step to position itself as an outcomes-driven company. Xaxis wants its strategy to stand alongside business need, shoulder business risk and deliver desired results for clients and consumers alike.

"It’s about simplifying a complex industry. We want to get to know all partners and deliver outcomes for clients – this is part of our mission. It’s about removing operational risk," said Odhams. She defined an outcome as different depending on who you talk to, but examples include anything from a lead, completed view or click to engagement, online sale, action and viewability.

One outcome Xaxis is already pushing is a viewable CPM according to Anand Siddiqui, senior director product and audience at Xaxis EMEA. "We’ve talked about viewability for most of the year and we’re launching Xaxis VCPM – a product delivering 100% viewability to display campaigns. This iterates our quality and standards to our clients." And advertisers – put simply – only pay for what’s seen.

Read 'Accountability in Marketing' – a research partnership between Xaxis and The Economist Intelligence Unit here

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