Can Awareness and Attribution Live Together?

Dave Morgan

Founder & CEO

Originally posted on MediaPost

For years, many folks in media have questioned whether brand advertising and ROI can live together well. Awareness, a key metric of brand advertising, has for many been seen as mutually exclusive from a metric like sales attribution, a key measurement long associated with direct response.

At the industry event PeopleFront, my colleague John Piccone asked several media executives the question: Can awareness and attribution live together? Sharon O’Sullivan, executive vice president of sales at Discovery Communications, had no hesitation in answering: Absolutely. They can and do every day.

In her answer, which was supported by similar responses from Daniel Slotwiner of Facebook and Dan Aversano of Turner Broadcasting, O’Sullivan made it clear that she and Discovery believe that providing ad campaign metrics that extend from the top of the consumer purchase funnel – awareness – to the bottom – sales attribution – works. And providing such metrics in tandem is a critical element of new, data-driven strategies at companies like Discovery. This is how marketers are evaluating campaigns more and more, and the TV medium has historically been able to distinguish itself in both metrics.

What I found so refreshing in O’Sullivan’s response was not just the definitiveness of her answer, but the fact that a TV executive had no issues with talking about the importance of ROI metrics to the business, a subject that many had not always wanted to confront in years past. To me, this signals a new boldness in the TV industry, with members realizing that more and better ROI measurements only make TV more compelling and unique. Marketers have long known of ROI’s capacity to drive sales, and do it quickly. They just didn’t always have the kind of highly granular, matched media exposure and purchase data, like what exists now, to prove this.

We no longer have to live in a world where media and marketing channels are defined – and discriminated against – by their measurements. Brand advertising delivers no less branding, just because it can now be measured to an exacting ROI. The same for direct response. It is no less effective in driving response, while its providers develop the capacity to demonstrate how their vehicles can also deliver measurable branding. Remember all the Google research touting the power of unclicked text ads to drive awareness? :)

Can awareness and attribution live together? I’m with O’Sullivan. They absolutely can. What do you think?

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