Optimizing Full-Funnel, Cross-Media Measurement with UM's Graeme Hutton

Expert insights on new ad formats, siloed social platforms, and identifier technologies

We were fortunate enough to sit down virtually on an AdWeek webinar with Graeme Hutton, well-known research lead at advertising agency, UM. As a member of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and the Journal of Advertising Research's editorial review board, Graeme brings over 20 years of industry experience to the conversation. Below, we explore Graeme’s perspective on successfully navigating the fragmented ad measurement landscape.

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Q: The rise of new platforms like TikTok has placed a renewed emphasis on ad resonance. Why should it be an important measurement metric?

In August, I wrote and published a joint POV with TikTok which showed that:

1.  Attention is earned not forced, it relies on both media and creative.

2.  View duration and outcomes aren’t linear, a diminishing return sets in.

Critically, attention alone is not enough. What is critical is resonance, defined as how the consumer chooses to interact with or is drawn into an ad: Attention * Resonance = Engagement. We can’t fully understand resonance without first understanding attention, something TikTok is very good at. Attention is earned, not forced. It’s shaped by both the medium and the message. 

But gaining even a few seconds of attention is very difficult, and having those seconds resonate is even more difficult. Ultimately, ad engagement is the product of attention and resonance together. And as attention sees a critical diminishing return as consumers increasingly multitask on their phones, resonance grows in importance.

I specifically teamed up with TikTok because recently, in an important article in the Journal of Advertising Research, academics were able to independently show that while influencer marketing has generally been moving towards micro influencers, such is TikTok’s vigor and energy that it actually bucks the trend, with macro influencers still being the leading form of influencer.


Q: How do you prove campaign efficacy holistically?

Agencies need to prove that their media mix is working – but they also need to prove how it's working. One of the most important measures to prove efficacy is providing regular reporting to a client so that they can see how their campaign goals are progressing. At UM, we champion full-funnel modeling, including attitudinal trackers, brand lift studies, and sales data.  

UM helped pioneer full-funnel modeling (FFM). I recall one industry meeting several years ago where I referenced FFM and no one else had heard of the term. If a client doesn’t have detailed frequent attitudinal tracking data for this modeling, we can use proxies such as search, web visits, and other factors. This tells us what to dial up or adjust as needed. I love DISQO because it provides precise attitudinal and behavioral measurements across all media, including social.


Q: How important is cross-platform measurement today?

When we model campaign data, either attitudinally or behaviorally, we can clearly see a synergistic lift. Cross-platform advertising not only increases reach, it can increase the effect because one channel may stimulate a certain response, while another may get a different response. This omnipresence helps build brand awareness, making it appear everywhere, which can be quite powerful. Our agency is a big champion of omnichannel strategies and measurement that help us understand the full picture.


Q: How do you navigate client expectations for delivering outcomes?

 Thankfully, the industry has moved toward a greater understanding of campaign effectiveness. What helps us determine how to deliver effectiveness are detailed media briefs and clearly defined KPIs across the funnel, from our clients. When we have this detail at the start, we, the agency partner, can build effective media plans and measurement strategies.

In terms of leading attitudinal metrics, these often include Top of Mind Awareness and Preference, which originally came from the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB), although there is now good evidence from Nielsen that the joint combination of raising Awareness and Consideration together will both increase sales and reduce cost per acquisition. Clients are also increasingly interested in the long-term effects of advertising, and we have good evidence showing long-term effects--over 1+ years--will double the short-term effects.   


Q: What downsides do you see with the demise of the cookie?

Reaching addressable audiences will require multiple strategies in the post-cookie world. While eliminating cookies aims to reduce consumers’ irritation with privacy violations, it might amplify their irritation with frequency. We will likely need to address frequency capping in the near future. This will require various industry bodies coming together to develop a methodology that works for the entire marketing ecosystem.


Q: How can agencies differentiate with data-driven capabilities?

Standing out with unique data capabilities will be critical to agency success in the future – whether that’s through direct ownership or partnerships. UM anticipated this demand with its in-house data stack called Acxiom. It is a privacy-centric database of over 260 million individuals in the US. We fuse major industry studies into the data spine with core demographics and variables like political persuasion, personal values, and aspirations, for an end-to-end vision. Our clients value that we can understand who's going to be most predisposed to their advertising.

Another key element is the original primary research that we do. Recent studies have included:

1. Deep learning techniques and how to apply them to Attention.

2. What’s happened to effective frequency-- Have frequency thresholds shifted at all?

3. Creative vs Media: Which is more powerful?


Q: How can advertisers future-proof their strategies for the post-cookie world?

As mentioned, reaching addressable audiences is going to require multiple strategies in the post-cookie world. First-party data strategies should be considered as a primary tactic moving forward. Cultivating partnerships with other brands and media owners is another valuable tactic. Retail marketing networks, for example, are growing phenomenally well for established brands. Overall, I believe that navigating the post-cookie world will require a multi-tiered strategy.


Q: What is the number one thing agency media buyers should focus on in 2024?

 Looking at audience shifts will be critical- where the media audiences are coming from and where they are going to. For example, linear TV is under pressure, so understanding where its audience is going is important. Advertisers need to understand not only that but also why they’re leaving (or coming). We need to examine that in more detail, look at the flow of audiences, and understand where best to reach them.


Get more insights on the future of ad measurement!

Graeme’s expertise sheds light on how leading agencies navigate the intricate advertising ecosystem. Listen to the full webinar on-demand for more from Graeme and his co-panelist, Marian Thomas of Zynga.

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