The Numbers Don’t Lie…Or Do They? The Challenge of Evaluating Marketing

Marketing, March 2013

Does evaluating marketing based on numbers stifle creativity?

With today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses are beginning to tighten their spending and are ensuring that everything they do results in positive income for their company. This want for accountability across all departments has led to a spotlight being shined on marketing in order to justify spending on advertising and branding.

Marketing has widely been regarded as one of the most important factors for a company’s success, yet when push comes to shove and costs need to be minimized, it is often one of the first budgets to be criticized and slashed.

Now, why would something that is seen as a vital part of an organization be the first on the financial chopping block? The answer lies in the difficulty of directly evaluating marketing and the use of “silver metrics” to measure the success or failure of a marketing campaign.

Properly understanding how to measure marketing is quite important for a company to understand as making the wrong marketing decisions based on poor metrics can lead to a loss of future revenue, or worse, closure of business.

Holding marketing accountable and providing metrics to shareholders to quantify marketing spend is reasonable, but which metrics do we use to properly measure marketing and why is measuring the effectiveness of marketing so challenging?

Marketing metrics are defined as the set of measures that help marketers quantify, compare and interpret marketing performance. These metrics are meant to help managers know how the marketing being done to promote a company/brand is performing.

Sharp (2013), breaks marketing metrics in to 6 categories that can be selected from to evaluate marketing:

Financial Profit Contribution

Profit Margin

Return on Investment (ROI)

Customer Value




Market Share

Market Penetration

Purchase Frequency

Share of Category Requirements



Brand Awareness

Brand Image Associations

Mental Availability


Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality

Intention to Buy

Physical Availability


Number of distribution points

Hours of opening

Geographical coverage of distribution points

Geographical coverage of delivery points

Number of display points in store

Number of shelves devoted to the brand

Marketing Activity


How much is being spent on marketing

What marketing activities are being run simultaneously

Customer Profile


Describes the company’s customers




While the above metrics are logical and provide good overall indicators, problems arise when marketing strategies are quite complex.

Iacobucci states that most consumers often can’t recall where they experienced a company’s marketing message making it very hard to assess the efficacy of one ad campaign vs. another when multiple advertising activities are being run simulatenously (quite common).

Furthermore, it is quite common that a CEO is interested in short term results and looks for a direct ROI associated to marketing. This type of approach can stifle creativity of ads that are not intended to immediately increase ROI, yet, perhaps build a long term brand loyalty. ROI, fails to calculate the creation of a long term customer and relationship.


Return on Relationship™… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing. 

Ted Rubin

While there are companies that make a business of selling metrics tools such as Google Analytics, Adwords, and CRM software such as SalesForce, what is the true value of tracking number of clicks on a webpage, visits to a site, number of likes on a facebook advertisement or retweet on Twitter?analytics-screens-devices-ss-800.jpg

These numbers that are gathered look great on a marketing report, however actually putting a numeric dollar value on an advertising campaign is downright, nearly impossible.

In conclusion, Metrics are important for every department in an organization, marketing included. However, it is important to have an open view when analysing the success of a marketing campaign above and beyond basic dollar value. If you still have doubts, I urge you to look at success stories such as Go Pro, RedBull and Monster, who created lifestyle brands over a long period of time.  For those still on the ROI is the only judge of success, I ask you to tell me which exact advertisement or campaign was directly responsible for the success of companies like those.


References and Further Reading (2016). The failure of marketing ROI. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2016]. (2016). The Big Bad ROI Question. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2016].

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Content Marketing Institute. (2014). A Simple Plan for Measuring the Marketing Effectiveness of Content. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2016].

Docurated. (2015). How to Measure Marketing Effectiveness: Tips from 26 Experts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2016].

Eisenberg, B., Litsa, T., Sentance, R., Singer, A. and Sentance, R. (2016). The Difference Between ROI and Marketing Accountability | ClickZ. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2016]. (2016). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2016].

Forty. (2011). Metric-lust: how well can you really measure marketing ROI? – Forty. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2016].

Genow, J. (2016). Measuring Marketing ROI: Good or Bad for Marketing?. [online] J. Genow Marketing. Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2016].

Gerber, S. (2014). 12 Ways to Measure Your Marketing Impact. [online] Mashable. Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2016].

Johnson, S. (2016). Why Marketing Budgets Get Cut (and Why You Shouldn’t Cut Yours!). [online] Promotional Products Blog | Quality Logo Products (QLP). Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2016].

Marketing Science Institute. (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2016].

McKinsey & Company. (2012). Measuring marketing’s worth. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2016].

Miller, J. (2013). How to Measure the ROI of Marketing Programs – Marketo. [online] Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2016].

Score, P. (2016). 18 Marketing Performance Metrics that Matter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2016]. (2016). The Importance of Marketing for the Success of a Business. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2016].

The Content Strategist. (2016). The Biggest Reason Brands Fail When Tying Content to Business Goals. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2016].

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