Measurable AND memorable: Mark Pickering on the benefits of experiential

As a practitioner of a new form of marketing I am faced with the question we all confront in this industry: can I convince clients that experiential marketing can be measured effectively and deliver meaningful ROI and value for spend?

TARPS, eyeballs, reach, circulation, hits, click-thrus… these are all tools marketers and their agencies use to ensure their choice of media is measurable and can provide tangible ROI. Each has its own disciples and, despite debates over their accuracy, they have stood the test of time to become markers in the sand of how much reach and effect campaigns are having.

The fact is that when planned and implemented effectively, experiential is one of the most measurable media around and one that can provide unique insights into consumer and brand behaviour when used with targeted campaigns and clear objectives.

The core focus of experiential marketing is to create brand evangelists who then drive word of mouth within their network, broadcasting the positive ‘feelings’ they have had via a brand experience and ‘converting’ that network to their passionate feelings for the brand.

The targeted nature of the medium lends itself to providing brands with the perfect opportunity to measure itself in the world of emotions and senses and to really gauge brand ‘love’, as well as drive sales and trial.

From the outset it is critical to educate the client in the power and reach of experiential marketing. It is vital to have a committed client who trusts your specialised skill set to get the results. Once you have finalised the objectives for the brand together, set measurable KPIs and confirm the tools you will use to track the brand and the performance of the campaign.

Traditionally, brand events and experiential have always worked closely with PR to ensure amplification of the activation pre and post event. Creating the ultimate brand experience that involves 1000s on the day but also gets measured mass media coverage is the goal of any activation campaign. Sales vouchers and direct purchase driving promotions are used to get consumers to purchase post event and from this sales uplift can be measured during or straight after the activation.

Recently, digital, mobile and social media has come to be a key tool in the spreading of WOM and sharing the positive brand ‘feelings’ created by a campaign. It’s particularly useful in getting influential brand ambassadors to utilise their network to talk and interact with the brand via online and social media channels. Measuring these interactions is a key element in providing evidence of a successful activation.

These tools alone really show the measurability of experiential marketing, which provide clear metrics, and tracking of sales for brand and in many ways this is more tangible and accurate than an eyeball or a readership numeric. With experiential providing a direct, targeted approach to connecting with consumers these numbers have far more accuracy and weight than traditional media.

More recently—and particularly in more mature markets such as the UK and US—agencies and experiential groups such as FaceTime and the Experiential Marketing Forum have started developing their own methodology and mechanics for measuring activations. Using the above tools and placing them into a matrix allows these groups to create definitive measurement and ROI reports for clients.

Things aren’t far behind in Australasia, with agencies such as Traffik and Play Communications developing measurement systems over the ditch and in New Zealand The Experiential Marketing Association of NZ and the CAANZ Marcomms Leadership Group are at the forefront of developing more tools and processes for their agencies and clients as they push measurability to drive growth and trust in this medium.

Essentially, amplification across all channels, with an integrated approach through a variety of media is the key and experiential can in many ways provide far more meaningful research about the target market from their measurement tools, as well as provide valuable information about the brand, the category and its competitors. This is unique to the medium.

Measurability will be the key focus for brands and agencies in the future and experiential—working closely with its client and partner agencies—is at the forefront of providing new and more in depth insights into brand and consumer behaviour. Particularly in those specific areas where the target consumer can be found; whether that be a festival, in the supermarket, at a park or on a beach, experiential is one of the memorable AND measurable media around.

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