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US in a different league to UK in marketing tables

Through the ashes of Enron the US has perfected its marketing analytics, something the UK could learn explains Heath Podvesker

03 Dec 2012

By Heath Podvesker

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BEING A YANK in the UK is a brilliant experience. I've taken pride in using the British English: queue instead of line, biscuit instead of cookie, chip instead of fry as well as enjoying a lovely pint of Bitters (St Austell's Proper Job is my favorite so far) with new friends. And, when it comes to business there are also well-noted differences in how things operate between our two great cultures, but there is one difference which has struck me in its breadth, the adoption of advanced marketing analytics.

As marketing expenditures are questioned by senior management, namely the CFO, the material differences between the US and the UK became apparent. Many large US companies use Market Response Modeling (MRM) as a tool to: calibrate marketing investment to financial goals and budgets, manage expectations across the stakeholder community and to add transparency and accountability to the marketing process. Contrast this with many UK companies' adoption of econometric techniques, which is to talk over the process on an annual basis with the marketing team and you have to ask why is there such a difference between the two countries? Are the differences driven by corporate culture, availability of data or the marketing offices position in management?

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES

I believe that the reason behind the US making more effort to prioritise transparency and accountability in marketing is due to scandals such as Enron.

This scandal created a disruption in how businesses operate resulting in and directly affecting how ROI on all marketing efforts are measured. The move to additional transparency and accountability trickled down from boardrooms to management which:

• Forced increased levels of transparency, more accurate attribution and ROI measurement techniques;
• Required additional (quarterly or more) modeling and reporting;
• Broadened and engaged stakeholder groups to include finance, etc. within the marketing process;
• Expanded and evolved internal analytical capabilities; and
• Evened priorities from ‘creative' driven to a balance of creative, effectiveness, and ROI

The UK did not have a massive collapse such as Enron, or the shockwaves this episode sent across US organisations, so are still working with performance reporting and basic econometrics. The focus is often short sighted and centred on discreet campaigns and specific media vehicles such as Social Media. Measurement includes loose correlations between spend and outcomes and a battery of ‘siloed' performance metrics such as cost-per numbers, impressions, etc.

However, this method could mean UK marketers have: less influence, especially with senior management such as CFOs; minimal relevant arguments to increase budgets; defensive posture when supporting investment levels and validating spend.

As the marketing methods vastly differ from across the pond, I think now is the time for UK businesses to reevaluate its use of data within the organisation. I believe advanced marketing analytics will move from the back-office to a more prominent place in UK organisations and this will help brands manage their resources better, spur creative ideas, and work to add increased levels of collaboration amongst stakeholders.

In a global economy as challenging as this one, it has to. By lagging behind the US, the UK will fail to generate palpable opportunities due to age-old practices that are dismissed in the boardroom. Marketing analytics can propel companies into greater success than is currently achieved and the CFO will be able to understand the value of marketing through validated, thorough analytics.

Heath Podvesker is Executive Vice President of EMEA and global accounts at MarketShare 

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