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By Erin Peralta Nov 3 2015

#DigitalZeitgeist: I Created This Awesome Ad for You, Now Respond!

Let’s say you’re an airline CMO and you started a new route to a vacation destination. Who doesn’t love promotional fares? Let’s make this fun – you now have flights going from East coast U.S. airports to Martinique. Ever heard of it? It’s a little-known set of French islands in the Caribbean. There aren’t a lot of crowds yet (because hardly anyone has heard about it!). It’s getting cold in the U.S. and now you, Ms. airline CMO, are one of the only games in town for getting on this small piece of paradise.

You work with your agency on a digital media campaign and you run it in Q4 2015 with a $200,000 budget. Let’s assume that the media plan is solid – no doubt because perhaps you’re working with a team (like Centro’s!) that’s got this function down to a science. Then January 2016 rolls in and you check the online bookings on this route — $150,000 worth in revenue. #epicfail

Was it really a failure? Did the campaign achieve the outcome we wanted? That’s always the million dollar question in advertising. In this case, if our desired outcome was only online bookings, then we sucked. However, response (and the measurement of it) isn’t always that simple.

Yes, as an airline carrier, we want to take into account online bookings. But wouldn’t we want to know about other results as well based on the type of campaign we are running? Perhaps we’ll get more revenue from baggage fees and other charges. Maybe we want to drive people to talk to travel agents about the destination and the choices of getting there. How about the people who browsed our site and didn’t pull the trigger, but still signed up for our newsletter. The possible KPIs that lead to outcomes could be endless, and sophisticated marketers shouldn’t just be looking at single factors for results.

With the variety in how campaigns can arrive at outcomes, marketers need to properly optimize (and measuring) for them. Looking back at our airlines campaign, for example, optimization for a direct response (to get a click, a purchase, a sign-up) is going to be different if we were running a branding campaign. Furthermore, if the desired outcome is an offline purchase (like the ones made with travel agents), our airline marketing team has to find out what measures lead to those purchases. Is it a visit to those resellers, scheduled appointments, or something else?

Furthermore, performance measurement doesn’t necessarily stop at the end of a campaign. Quality leads can result in customers with a high lifetime value because he/she purchases more later on. These customers who we sold on our Martinique route may end up being loyal to the brand for all their Caribbean destinations. Those folks who browsed our site and who only signed up for the promo newsletters may be future customers with some appropriate nurturing campaigns. A marketer has to ensure that business value from their campaign is measured properly, whether it’s in real-time or the future.

A marketer can put a lot of rigor in media planning, buying and execution, but if they don’t sync their desired outcomes with the right KPIs, the campaign results will look terrible to any CEO or CMO. So make sure you’re counting your customer opportunities correctly. And if you’re still wondering, yes, there are still affordable fares available to Martinique. I hear it’s wonderful in January.