Advertisers and advertising agencies have always looked for ways to measure the impact of their communication efforts, on the brand, and on its sales. Guy Abrahams, regional communications planning director, ZenithOptimedia, says he has a solution to offer to the industry. The self-styled “agent of change,” is in India to spread awareness on a concept called RoI (or return on investment). Ranked by the UK’s Campaign magazine as one of the “top ten media thinkers”, Abrahams spoke with Mint on RoI and other issues in advertising. Edited excerpts:
There have been many debates on measuring RoI in advertising but nothing much has come out of these debates. How will you make sure your approach works with clients?
There is no one tool to measure RoI. There are many different tools that depend on what RoI are you looking to measure and what your clients are looking to benefit from. Because some clients will get profit from sales, some clients will get profit from trading, some will get from retention and some clients will get profits from advocacy.
And communication is only half of the RoI equation because I can drive clients to a website but if the site breaks down or rejects your credit card, then it is not my fault that the customer is lost. And every communication we do is focused on driving people to action—that is our end result. And we want our clients to believe in that kind of philosophy. We have been building a RoI mindset, a RoI language and a RoI set of tools to teach—and that is our philosophy. We have some great RoI tools and metrics, but there is no one tool that I can say will give you the best RoI.
We are seeing a lot of new age mediums, such as outdoor and digital advertising, picking up along with the traditional platforms. The efforts to measure the impact of media has not kept pace with the growth of media itself. Will your RoI formula help in getting closer to the truth?
You are never going to get the truth and I cannot prove it one way or the other. But our whole RoI philosophy is about getting metrics which will get us closer to the truth. So if you prove that it will work 95% of the time, chances are your client will be more confident about it.
And it’s not always about measuring the impact of communication, it is about the transparent and accountable approach to prove that what we are suggesting will work. When you spend, rather than invest your client’s money, you are using standardized metrics.
But when you start to look at what the RoI should be, then you have to work out the metrics and you have to work out the metrics before you start on the communication.
Brand-building may not always lead to enhanced sales because sales is a function of various factors. How will you correlate investments made in brand building with sales? Also, should the two be linked?
It is about understanding the business and the role of communication within the business. So, for example,the in-store displays(are there) to get people to use these products but then there is no simple model on how it would work.
But primarily, communication can drive sales and footfalls. But in the brand-building context, you’re talking about involvement and you want consumer to choose one brand over the other.
So it is about that premium. In India, it is about need, but in the West it’s about wanting the stuff to feel good. Want and desire is what brand building is all about. But brand-building cannot be sitting in isolation as the sale is not going to happen by magic. So the two are related to reach one common goal.