Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stop Using ROI as an Excuse

Great reports today out of FUTURELAB that examine the failures between agencies and clients. Bonus credit for taking a gun to a knife fight. The agency failures are a topic very few are willing to discuss today.

Though I'm still working my way through the reports, the section on ROI rings especially true. For years, we've had the promise of better metrics through digital. Better targeting, better customization, the promise of personalization, blah and on. For all the promise, we're left with an empty bag of comparative email figures. I still have a hard time keeping a straight face when telling clients that the most recent campaign went smoothly because we saw a 2% increase in the open rate.

A quick paraphrase of the section of note: (the full report can be found at the site)

Client says: "I'm under pressure here to prove that this shit works. You know I'm on the outside of the c crowd. They rarely listen to what I have to say. My cfo is pissed with the budget increases we put forth every quarter. I need to know if we're making anything at all."

Agency responds: "That's great. Have we shown you our creative awards from the past year. We've got gold lions, pencils and all sorts of other shapes. We might even have to build a new cabinet to show these off. We might have to hire another intern just to keep them polished."

The only time this argument can carry any weight is if the awards can be melted down and sold on the market. Should we start measuring ROI by the pound?

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