The 1960’s was an interesting time in the world of advertising. Think Mad Men. Think Don Draper. Can you picture it?
Back in the 60’s, consumers had far less information to help guide their decisions about products than they do now. There was a significant limitation in media options. Companies plunged lots of money into advertising and marketing campaigns but had difficulty measuring their effectiveness. What sort of returns did these campaigns generate (ROI)? What medium was most successful? Effect on brand equity? All challenging questions to answer.
In 2016, with the advent of the internet, social media, portable devices, smart televisions, digital mediums and technology, coupled with an ever-growing global population of consumers, it has never been more appropriate and more possible to measure the effectiveness of advertising.
Marketing evaluation can help marketers select the right test and control markets, work out what media options can increase reach and penetration, measure the effectiveness of marketing programs and assess the marketing and media mix being employed (Mintz and Currim, 2013).
Marketing metrics refer to the set of measures that help marketers to quantify, compare and interpret marking performance. Sharp (2010) claims that without a comprehensive set of meaningful metrics, a marketing director simply cannot tell if they are doing a good job or not. Marketing and financial metrics can be used for management purposes and for reporting performance to stakeholders.
The ‘Metrix’ has you!
Ambler and Roberts (2008) doubt that a single silver metric (such as ROI) can provide an adequate report of marketing performance and advocate dashboards with multiple measures. Financial, behavioural, memory, physical availability, marketing activity and customer profile metrics all contribute to digital marketing decisions (Mintz and Currim, 2013). Therefore, marketing in the digital world requires broad data collection in order to inform these decisions.
Davis and Iwanow (2009) state that website metrics are very important because to optimize a site, baseline information and feedback is required so that marketers can understand whether changes improve site traffic or not, as well as which aspects of your site draw traffic.
High site traffic from a certain geographic location might result in executives deciding to increase their marketing spend in these locations. If an advertising product like Google Adwords appears to produce strong traffic, a company may decide to invest more heavily in it. Online metrics drive the pay-per-click fees that online companies can expect from advertisers, and the costs-per-click they incur, making metric data accuracy essential.
Terminator 2016: Rise of the BOTS!
Corrupted data hampers the efforts of online marketers seeking to optimise their sites. Imperva Incapsula claim that nearly 50% of all web traffic is generated by bots, with 29% being programs designed to generate fake ad impressions. Radium-One, a social advertising data firm, estimates an industry cost of around $400m per year as a result of suspicious, non-human web activity. Marketing tools track humans. Through impersonation, bots blend-in and distort visitor tracking and reporting, rendering critical business marketing tools ineffective.
Bad bots infect residential computers and imitate the owner’s online behaviour, such as viewing a video or website and clicking on content. Consumption metrics such as page views and time spent on your website help to inform digital marketers that website content is performing well. Retention metrics measure returning visitors and movements in social media followers, for example. Sharing metrics such as likes, social media shares and re-tweets, inform marketers about customer engagement and popularity of products. Engagement metrics are used to measure the levels of interaction between consumers and webpage content, as popular digital marketing engages interactive content to create a buzz around the brand. Lead metrics include new leads and lead nurturing. All of this critical metric data can be compromised by bots who are able to copy human activities.
Marketers that invest in advertising sources with higher click-rates and spend money on sites with higher viewability are making a mistake if the visitors and clicks are fake. Therefore, optimisations and business decisions based on bad data, corrupted by fraudulent bot activity, is both costly and wrong.
Consequently, trust issues exist in digital marketing because data that may be unaffected by bots may be perceived to be inflated and thus not fully considered in marketing decisions.
Man VS Machine!
As bad bots can negatively impact your site’s KPI’s and analytics data in numerous ways, companies should be aware of and take action to prevent bot activity and minimise the corruption of useful data to inform digital marketing decisions.
Detecting and filtering such bot activity is a good first step to reducing the data corruption. Companies can utilise special bad-bot-blocking software to help combat bot use. Multiple data-sources, including offline data, can also allow for comparison and standardisation to iron-out possible discrepancies caused by bot-activity. Ad networks, sites or other sources that have high bot activity should be actively blocked or removed to reduce their impact on analytics and Big Data. Many other bot-fighting options are available.
The bad bots have risen but there are tools to fight them. Just remember to have that Don Draper cool whilst you fight back to protect your precious digital metric data!
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