How to plan digital measurement?

We need to combine a number of different measurement techniques in order to really understand the impact of each piece of our marketing act...

We need to combine a number of different measurement techniques in order to really understand the impact of each piece of our marketing activity. This includes using basic web analytics, external search volume tools, marketing attribution tools and, finally, chopping up some data in spreadsheets to analyze digital performance. It is not as painful as it sounds, but the reality is that neither is it easy nor something that most marketers know how to do. This is one of the fundamental issues surrounding calculating social media management packages ROI that we need to be clear on. It needs to be planned from the outset and is a process we need to repeat and improve.

Digital performance case study: Three Mobile – Dancing Pony

 This campaign was launched in February 2013.


Three Mobile has always been a fairly solid, middle-of-the-road brand when it comes to mobile. Until now the brand has been unable to achieve the recognition of its competitors and has had some negative press in the past. However, while Three Mobile may not be an innovator, it does seem to know its customers well and this insight led to the development of this fun and quirky social media package campaign.

Digital performance objectives

Three Mobile’s main objective was to connect with its audience and strengthen its strapline ‘Keep on internetting’ by providing content that it knew would appeal to its customer base. It also wanted to build upon the expected appeal of the campaign with an interactive element.

Strategy and execution

Three Mobile employed Wieden + Kennedy to come up with a concept that reflected the kind of content its customers liked to share. The brand’s premise is based on the reality of why we access the internet and how we share and connect with each other. While other brands are telling us about all the cool and exciting things we can do with our devices and the web, Three Mobile acknowledges that more often than not we use the internet to look at videos of cute animals doing silly things. And this campaign delivers more of what we like.

The video featured a cute Shetland pony moonwalking to Fleetwood Mac across the Shetland Isles. To add in a level of interactivity, alongside the video was the ‘Pony Mixer’ tool, which allowed users to create their own version of the ad by choosing a different track and adding in special effects to the video. Users could then create their own unique dancing pony video and share it with their networks.


The video received more than 3 million views in its first week and so far has racked up over 7 million views on YouTube. The video gained over 2,000 shares on Facebook and Twitter in its first week and has spurred a great number of copycat and parody videos. Before the video was launched, Three Mobile’s Facebook page contained mostly product updates with a few seasonal offerings that attracted somewhere between 10 and 200 likes per post. Since the campaign, Three Mobile has taken the premise and run with it and its feed contains much more of the same funny or cute animal shots that are now attracting anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand likes per post, as well as hundreds of shares.

Three Mobile has clearly found its unique selling point (USP) and its customers are responding well to the new content, almost all of which is being gathered from elsewhere on the web. There is a great case study of the campaign on the Google Think Insights website and this claims a 27 per cent brand uplift caused by the campaign. The full video can be seen at:

This is a clever and original campaign that clearly generated reach and engagement. What we don’t have clear evidence of, though, is what impact it had on sales linking advertising and brand valuation. In order to achieve this we would need to survey the potential audience to understand what impact the ad had on purchase intent and, importantly in this case, brand perception.

The reason that brand perception is so important in this case is down to how we make buying decisions about which mobile phone network to select. However, we need to be careful about talking about things like ‘brand uplift’ as this is a fairly loose term that can be used in a number of different ways. The campaign certainly achieved fantastic penetration and reported reaching 67 per cent of the UK audience, which is a great achievement. The next stage is to try and understand what direct impact this had on long-term sales.

Beyond the last click

Analytics allows us to see activity on our websites and apps, and where that traffic has come from. It also allows us to track our desired outcomes, at least to some extent. What we need to be clear on from the outset, however, are the limitations of analytics and what it can’t tell us.  Generally, web analytics takes a ‘last click’ approach. This means we look at some form of activity, such as a download, and see where the traffic came from that directly preceded the download. What this doesn’t tell us are all the steps before that last step. Just because I came to your website from a search engine and then downloaded something, doesn’t mean the search engine was solely responsible for the download.

I may have visited your website 10 times before, from multiple sources over an extended period of time. This is what we really need to understand. Thankfully, by using some relatively new features in tools such as Google Analytics, this has become a lot easier. Analytics also can’t measure when our outcomes happen offline,  such as when our sales come in over the phone or at a showroom. Does this mean that tracking in analytics is a waste of time? Not at all, it just means we need to be clear on what we want to achieve online and that this should be as close as possible to our actual desired outcomes. I define these online goals that may not be our actual business objective but are as close as we can measure online as ‘primaries’.

As we look at the wide range of measurements we can take from analytics, we need to decide what is important and what is not so important. I like to refer to these different types of online goals and measures as ‘primaries’ and ‘indicators’.

Primaries are the key things that we can monitor online that are as close as possible to our business objectives. If you sell online with a credit card facility, then your ‘primary’ will be a sale. However, if you are looking for leads it may be forms submitted or calls made to a web-advertised telephone number. It could also be the registration for an event or the download of a very relevant piece of content. These are not our absolute business objectives in many cases, but the closest we can come online to achieving these.

Indicators are the things we can measure online that impact how many primaries are completed. In order to get a filled-in lead form, I need website traffic. In order to get that traffic I need a traffic source (such as a search engine or white label social media marketing site). For the search traffic, I need to be ranking for certain search terms. For best social media management I need an engaged audience. Each of these things can be broken down into ‘indicators’. For search traffic my indicators might be as shown below.

Digital Performance

Digital Performance Indicators

Digital branding dashboards

Each of these indicators takes us further towards our primary, and by bringing them together in a dashboard we can start to see where our challenges may be. Below table shows how a single primary can have a number of different indicators and how these can be grouped by traffic source.

Digital Branding Dashboard



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The Digital Media Strategy Blog: How to plan digital measurement?
How to plan digital measurement?
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