IPA Effectiveness Accreditation Judge Neil Rycraft sees new measurement challenges ahead.
After more years than I care to recall in the marketing industry, I was delighted to be approached to evaluate the 2023 IPA Effectiveness Accreditation submissions. Maybe not the Cannes Lions, but for me, who has spent a lifetime trying to isolate the impact of marketing spend, it was a real privilege to review the work of so many great agencies for their clients' brands. To see how they each employ a different approach but with the same goal in mind – to evidence the impact!
Overall, I was impressed by the quality of the work but as I read through the documents there were a couple of key points that kept coming to mind. While all submissions had the common goal of trying to demonstrate the impact of the work created by the agency-client partnership, this often required a considered solution which took into account the varying dynamics and relevant metrics of clients’ industry sectors. There is seldom a one-size-fits-all model.
Having spent several years in the financial services and technology space, I had become accustomed to a plethora of seeking to monitor share of voice, share of search, brand preference, consideration, and equity, to name only a few.
But what if your client operates in a niche sector, one that is less well-served by the research industry? For example, for some time the digital payments space required the development of bespoke panels that investigated the nuances of the decision-making process audiences went through when selecting a way to pay. In some scenarios, the actual metrics being tracked are specific to a brand’s ambition or purpose and against exact audiences, that are sometimes hard to reach (e.g. under 16’s or users of newer brands) in order to prove the efficacy of the brand’s marketing investment. I started to ponder if this was always justified. On reflection, I believe it is. All investment, no matter how seemingly marginal needs an approach to baseline its performance. Otherwise, as professional marketers, we will never know if the budget could/should have been invested in another part of the business. This does not have to be an ongoing framework but at least setting the compass in the right direction to begin with is valuable.
This started me thinking about an area that I am particularly focused on now; the increasing interest behind sustainability and how marketing is a powerful lever in the changing of attitudes and behaviours. As we stand on the edge of what may seem an environmental abyss, I believe we will need a set of tools that explore far beyond the current marketing metrics. For many years, we were drawn towards ‘purpose’ but now we really must evolve beyond neuromarketing and behavioural economics. To push further into psychology and develop solutions to define marketing’s effect on us socially, cognitively, and from a multi-cultural perspective. We need to think as a planet and not as a series of individual countries and regions, to express a collective perspective.
If we explore the work of the social psychologists Freedman & Fraser (1966) on the Foot in The Door technique (which seeks to gain compliance for a larger request by getting someone to agree to a more modest proposal first) then many of the environmental challenges we are facing may require small changes in advance of the larger shifts actually required. These changes may need to be demonstrated for a smaller group before the mass adoption. In effect a reverse of the classic "early adopter" model where we are really looking at an "early mover". Another example is IKEA's Buy Back Sustainability Campaign which highlights how buying second-hand furniture is a norm.
I believe marketing is one of the key disciplines alongside innovation that is needed to drive the scale of behaviour shift required. The most important client here is not who pays the bills but the generations that follow us.
I await the 2025 submissions to the IPA Effectiveness Accreditation, keen to see the evolution that unfolds in this and other areas.
Neil Rycraft is the former Head of Strategy and Operations for Visa UK and one of the 2023 IPA Effectiveness Accreditation Judges.More on IPA Effectiveness Accreditation
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