Can you really measure experiential?

Experiential marketing often has to prove ROI before it is considered along with or instead of more traditional forms of media. The efficacy of experiential is unquestionable to agencies and brands that have seen its value time and time again. But it is also acknowledged that experiential as with any other form of marketing should be measured.
How you measure experiential marketing will entirely depend on the objectives of the campaign – the evidence for success can look very different depending on what these objectives are. On this basis, it is wise to clearly outline measurable objectives to your agency; is it about generating sales or is it about building the brand? It could be one or the other, or even both, and identifying this at the agency briefing stage will ensure these objectives underpin planning and execution, and ultimately results.
Be clear about what kind of ROI you’re looking for and why. Although financial and intellectual investment remains a constant in calculating ROI, other variables differ and therefore marketers should consider both hard and soft ROI.
Hard ROI delivers a monetary return. This centres around purchase frequency, number of units bought, purchase price and which products were bought.
Soft ROI is a positive uplift in the consumer’s connection with the brand. This takes into account brand metrics and in particular those that the campaign is intended to make a positive impact on, for example loyalty, affinity, future purchase consideration, imagery/personality etc. This helps us to determine the quality and impact of a lead which is imperative to the success of experiential, especially in comparison to more traditional forms of marketing.
One is not better than the other – success should be judged on a campaign’s intended goals as set out at the beginning.
By working closely with an independent research agency to track engaged vs non-engaged and intended vs actual behaviour we have built a model that calculates ROI results during and post campaign (a four-week period).
This allows us to shape future campaigns, make robust recommendations and analyse at a more granular level not only the financial returns but also what type of experience, environment, level of messaging and word of mouth is having the most impact.
After working with our research agency for a number of years, we now have comprehensive benchmarks across a wide range of activations and sectors. By using an independent research agency our clients know that they can trust the results on the effectiveness of their campaigns and can see them in a context too.
Being able to prove ROI in an experiential campaign can be a game changer. We have won numerous awards for the effectiveness of our clients’ campaigns. For a soft drink brand, we were able to demonstrate that 64% disliked the product pre-trial versus 87% of the 500,000 sampled that liked the drink post-trial. Brand perceptions totally shifted by sampling as 93% claimed they would go on to make a purchase.
Being able to prove ROI and measure effectiveness has driven further spend year on year, shaping and securing future client relationships and adding real value to the business.

Caroline Deutsch is client services director at iD Experiential

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