Measuring Everything That Communicates

Last week’s Cog Blog post made the point that everything a brand or company puts out there is in effect an ad. Everything communicates; everything a brand says, for good or ill contributes to what we think of that brand. Which leads to the inevitable question: which communication channels work best, which do the business good (or harm), which need to be invested in and which avoided at all costs?

A quick scan of comments from today’s media gurus turn up any number of cliches and platitudes around ‘business outcomes’. It’s as if the very notion that brands spend money to achieve something is a new concept invented by this generation.

The truth is that market mix modelling has been around for decades as a valuable input into decision-making.

But the old MMM approach is creaking more than a bit in an age when the impact of commercial communication is often immediate, and when so many of the basic data building blocks are exclusively in the hands of the big platforms.

It’s also not helpful that many conflate concepts like viewability and attention to give a false impression of effect, as Karen Nelson-Field’s column in Mediatel this week points out.

This week a piece appeared on LinkedIn from my Crater Lake and Company colleague David Beaton on the approach we at Crater Lake take to measure the business impact of all channels, including online. David uses a hub and spoke analogy to make the point that all models have to work with what they have; and that the data varies channel to channel.

Each channel used contributes to the whole; the model needs to take account of the fact that individual communication channels use multiple different ways of measuring their particular contribution.

David’s piece concludes that it’s better to be 90% right and to deliver guidance in a timely fashion, than 100% right and tell everyone what they should have done, after they had done whatever they were going to do in the first place.

The Crater Lake approach starts from the point that the old MMM model is really not suited to a multi-channel, digital, always-on world within which things are changing constantly.

The old model is also by definition backward looking, when what is required is a predictive service that learns and grows as circumstances evolve and change. This is the aim of the Crater Lake approach.

Crater Lake is all about making sense of it all. To do that we have to measure the totality of customers’ experiences with brands, something that another Crater Lake partner, MESH Experiences is particularly expert at doing, analysing the impact that each channel has on how consumers see the brand.

The business is still evolving from being all about advertising, and mass audiences, to taking advantage of the many opportunities created by multiple channels used in so many different ways by consumers.

We need to get far better at applying advertising skills to non-advertising media forms and we need to be able to measure the results each brings to the whole effort.

Organisationally, disaggregating into specialist units has led to us losing perspective, as anyone who has ever tried to plan a campaign using advertising, retail promotions, email and PR will know. The fights internally for share of the budget, the irrational belief that advertising is by some divine right more appropriate than (say) an influencer campaign can turn nasty.

We need to accept we’re living in a world where we are expected to plan across all comms channels. All we need are the tools to help us do that using the evidence we have.

The specialists’ job is to make the most of the budget they’re given to meet the objectives set. The planners need to think across all channels, without fear or favour.

It’s their job to make sense of it all; to act as integrators within a dis-integrated world.

This is where Crater Lake and Company ( can help.

If you would like a full explanation of how Crater Lake assesses and evaluates the contribution that all media forms make to the whole you can download the full version of David Beaton’s paper by using the button at the end of his piece here.


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