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Billy Ryan is Marketing Effectiveness Manager at Direct Line Group. Ahead of his appearance at the Audience, Analytics and Insight #EffWeek satellite event on 11 October we talked to him about his role and what the job of managing marketing effectiveness means for him.

My presentation at the AAI event covers how to build lifetime value for a brand, whilst also hitting volume targets. To a certain degree, this is a succinct summary of the marketing effectiveness function at Direct Line Group.

Along with three other marketing effectiveness specialists in the Insight team, our job is to maximise return on marketing investment for the business as a whole, covering all the brands in the portfolio.

Special promotion: AAI have a 2 for 1 offer for readers of the EffWorks site for their satellite event on 11 October, which looks at how you get to the ‘why’, rather than just the ‘what’ of customer behaviour. If you would like to take advantage of it book your tickets with this link.

As with many publicly listed companies the need to deliver short-term value to our shareholders is very real and the modern marketing industry has developed quick and easy ways to do this. At the top level of organisations first-hand marketing experience is rare and, as such, having permission to take a long-term, value-based marketing planning approach is a challenge. DLG are in the fortunate position of having marketing expertise at the highest levels of the company. Our CEO, Paul Geddes, describes the business as ‘brand-driven’, and has a strong marketing background.

“There are a number of ways that we try to ensure we remain brand-driven at Direct Line Group”

I’ll be trying to offer some solutions at the conference for media planners and marketers who are struggling to advocate a value-based planning approach. There are a number of ways that we try to ensure we remain brand-driven at Direct Line Group. These methods allow us to achieve a balance between acquisition and brand marketing.

Measuring ROI

First, we take a very holistic approach to ROI measurement. We promote an understanding that there are varying levels of value in different customer segments, and that different advertising activities will drive different customer value profiles; and have contrasting effects over the longer term.

Modelling

We use econometric modelling to measure distinct short, medium and long-term advertising effects. Together with our measurement partners Ebiquity we build long term brand models for each DLG brand, linking brand and customer experience metrics back to our base sales and understanding advertising’s role in driving them.

Natural Experiments

The ability to observe natural experiements is a huge advantage for any portfolio brand and these are a rich source of insight for DLG. With three brands selling motor insurance for example, their different levels of brand equity can be looked at through a number of lenses. We can quantify those differences in numerous ways, looking at the efficiencies of the media activities in isolation, their funnel metrics, retention rates, or the propensity to cross-sell, etcetera. As long as non-brand factors are properly controlled for, having a portfolio of brands gives us a unique understanding a brand’s equity and how it’s built.

Marketing effectiveness as a discipline, particularly advertiser side, has moved on since I’ve been in the industry and this has largely been out of necessity. Marketers are under greater pressure than ever to justify their investments and the advertising landscape has become more fractured in the digital age. At DLG our core function is evaluation and forecasting, but we are increasingly involved in campaign planning – promoting an evidence-based approach. In keeping with other advertisers we have developed into a much more consultative function within the organisation rather than merely a data hothouse

“At DLG the team are a naturally independent arbiter and advisor when it comes to thorny budget issues”

In terms of budget allocation, marketing effectiveness teams are  in a unique position to drive an evidence based planning approach. Insights can be drawn from a number of sources to advise on where you can increase or decrease investment, and where it would be wasteful or dangerous to do so.

At DLG the team are a naturally independent arbiter and advisor when it comes to thorny budget issues, advising in a way that is brand and media-channel agnostic. If return on investment is measured holistically, distinctions between brand and acquisition marketing, become redundant. Marketers are then in a position to make fully informed, value based budget allocations with the freedom to optimise across all brands and marketing channels. This puts a value premium on insight within the organisation and leads to media plans with insight and evidence at their heart.

“A marketing effectiveness role by its nature requires an understanding of how each marketing activity works in order to get a handle on it from an evaluation perspective”

Marketing effectiveness professionals also have an important place in the industry as generalists. Marketing has become increasingly specialised,  and rightly so. The arrival of digital media, and the tactical skills it requires, demanded it. Increasingly,  marketers identify as ‘digital execution specialist’, ‘brand specialist’, or ‘below the line specialist’, and so on. Especially in bigger organisations there are fewer all-rounders. A marketing effectiveness role by its nature requires an understanding of how each marketing activity works in order to get a handle on it from an evaluation perspective. Effectiveness can therefore, give an over-arching view of what activities are really important when it comes to driving the business forward. Rather than fixating on intermediate metrics specific to one marketing discipline

A brand like Direct Line has a compelling need for marketing that works. We aren’t on price comparison sites and have no physical brand assets. To find a route to market, offering market leading propositions and unbeatable customer service isn’t sufficient. We have to find ways to communicate this to our customers at scale and in a compelling way too. Insight is at the heart of DLG’s planning approach but the lessons we have learned can be applied in many other sectors to help brands grow.

Billy is speaking at the Audience, Analytics and Insight #EffWeek satellite event on 11 October. Book tickets through their 2 for 1 offer here.

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Effectiveness Week 2016

“Just what the industry needs, great collaboration between clients and agencies on the topics that drive business growth.”

Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

“It’s great to see the IPA in the UK bring the whole industry and particularly the trade bodies together to focus on effectiveness. This new Marketing Effectiveness initiative will enable people across the industry to work together to build on best practice.”

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer, RBS

“Effectiveness is a team sport, so it was great to see the industry in the widest sense, come together. In an increasingly diverse and fragmented world, only by using all parts of the brain will we solve effectiveness challenges and design our campaigns to deliver short and long term value. That’s why what happens next is important – if the IPA can help facilitate progress on this with a long-term initiative around Marketing Effectiveness, we’ll definitely crack it.”

Bart Michels, Global CEO Kantar Added Value and Country Leader Kantar UK

“The time spent at #EffWeek was extraordinarily effective. It was great to hear the diverse views from all areas of the industry. All tied together with the common themes of accountability and effectiveness.”

Andrew Canter, Global CEO, BCMA

“It has been a privilege to be part of the inaugural Effectiveness Week. The agenda is one which we at O2 UK feel passionately about. To see and hear perspectives across the industry demonstrates how the breadth of marketing effectiveness is increasingly being valued within businesses. Data, insight, social, customer experience, test and learn, ROI, these are all fundamentals and were covered expansively at the event”.

Sandra Fazackerley, Marketing & Consumer, Telefónica UK Limited

“The full week of effectiveness events brought into clear focus the need for marketers to use data and insight to achieve the key business objectives of growth and profits. Marketers today are in a better position to quantify their knowledge of customers and measure the ability of investments in marketing to increase brand and shareholder value.”

Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA