Therese Mulvey, Vice President of Marketing Intelligence at Valassis, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Today marketers are challenged with where to best invest their advertising dollars to drive ROI. Tightened ad budgets, fragmented media, a consumer who is in control and the new path to purchase are all factors contributing to this challenging media environment. Marketers are struggling with achieving the right mix of traditional and new media in order to meet their advertising goals.
The consumer's path to purchase is evolving quickly as broadcast, print and digital media engage consumers based on their preferred media. No one medium is going to be the answer. Marketers must tap into insights and data recognizing that big data creates predictability in multi-channel campaigns. So, what if you could forecast your print ROI before selecting the balance of your media?
There are signs that engagement rates for print are increasing and they still represent a massive, highly engaged audience segment that brands and retailers can't afford to ignore. Since the beginning of the recession, response rates for printed inserts have increased year over year from 2009 to 2012 based on results from some 20,000 marketing events that are part of Valassis' proprietary RADical Database. The results are consolidated by industry for more than 20 different industries. Marketers can expect a prediction of performance based on a compilation of results of multiple events by industry and by shared mail product or newspaper inserts.
Interestingly, despite sinking circulation numbers, loyal subscribers still engage with print advertisements the same way that they always have, or more so. The RAD Data demonstrates the effectiveness of direct mail and newspaper inserts. Using 2009 as the base year with an index of 100, response rates for shared mail have increased to an index of 122 over a 3-year period through 2012. That equates to an average annualized increase of approximately 7 percent. For newspaper inserts, the baseline index of 100 in 2009 has grown to 116 over the same 3-year period — about a 5 percent annualized growth rate.
When it comes to new media, digital has measurability and automation to ensure that a brand is front and center with target audiences. Digital allows marketers to build a pipeline of attractive leads and strengthen conversions for their campaigns. When marketers combine print and digital they should expect lifts in sales and ROI. We are increasingly incorporating data points that represent integrated print and digital campaign results. For example, based on a few recent campaigns with a specialty retailer, we saw as much as a 4x lift in customer response with print and digital combined, compared to digital alone. Our goal is to continually work to better understand what is the optimal mix for each category and campaign.
Response measurement is a key driver for success in today's advertising market. Marketers should demand an upfront prediction of campaign results before spending any advertising dollars. Unfortunately very few advertisers can provide that type of information, which is what makes the RAD database so unique. For example, a specialty furniture retailer was recently considering a shared mail campaign for the first time. Through the RAD database, the client was first given a range of expected response rates (0.10 percent to 0.15 percent) based on the industry benchmark in RAD. Their actual response rate came in within the range at 0.13 percent, and the client earned a 7x ROI.
Marketers should also expect their Advertising Agency to recommend and manage test and control scenarios of different media during the campaign, as well as a full analysis of campaign test and control results. The historical campaign data in RAD allows for more informed recommendations and predictability to ultimately drive increased response rate and return on investment.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.