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Ogilvy On Tracking

In Tips, Trends on November 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm


A friend tweeted a link to this video from the legendary David Ogilvy this week. It’s worth a look. Even if you don’t agree with everything he has to say, it’s refreshing – in a world of constantly changing media platforms and seat-of-the-pants marketing approaches – to hear from someone who is “all in” with their marketing philosophy.


While it’s hard to disagree with David Ogilvy, I do. I think he’s right that direct response, targeted marketing is indispensable. It should come before brand building, public relations or other forms of promotion. I agree that marketing should be tied closely to sales. But I also think there’s a place for unmeasurable, un-trackable, free-for-all, brand-building marketing. The trick is to know the difference. Don’t try to measure responses or impressions from TV ads or Super Bowl halftime shows. It’s tempting to try because the numbers are there (for instance, 106 million people watched the Super Bowl last year). But those numbers are mostly meaningless. They could be much too low because the ad or halftime show was so phenomenal that it got discussed and replayed hundreds of times. Or they could be much too high because (as is usually the case) there was nothing in the presentation to keep people in front of the set instead of in front of the fridge. (You can see why, regarding unmeasurable media, the quality of the creative product has such a great impact on the campaign’s success.)


This paradigm applies to a smaller scale as well. Don’t expect direct returns on the golf tournament sponsorship or the newspaper ad. On the other hand, don’t neglect to build in tracking mechanisms (like unique phone numbers or landing pages) for campaigns that are measurable like email, display ads or direct mail.


The lesson here is simple. Know what to expect. If you’re not sure what to expect, try some things out. Or, better yet, talk to a marketer who has experience with the medium you’re considering. If you can find someone as smart and charming as 1950s David Ogilvy, all the better.


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What’s your take? Have you had success with direct response media? Have you tried?
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