Go Ahead, Measure This

Al DiGuido, CEO of Zeta Interactive, writing in Ad Age about what agencies might look like in five years, predicts:

Data will dominate all agency activity — real-time messaging, real-time results and analysis. The day will come in which planners won’t plan without understanding the metrics of success. Creative teams won’t create without understanding the relationship between execution, engagement and return. In the agency of the future, analysis will drive strategy, not vice versa.

Put another way, the propeller heads are coming and they mean business.
Karl Gustafson and Rich Schreuer, also writing about the rise of measurement for Ad Age, say organizations that consistently “measure and manage see a positive impact on their top (and bottom) lines and are more likely to be market leaders.”
Mickey Lonchar, is one Ad Age reader who doesn’t care much for the metrics obsession. Let’s look at his response to Schreuer and Gustafson:

David Ogilvy once famously stated, “Ad agencies use research the way a drunk uses a lamp post–for support rather than for illumination.”
These days, the same can be said for “measurement.” It amazes me that two equally qualified marketing people can look over the same set of data and draw totally different conclusions from it. Hopefully in time, we will get over this fetish to measure everything we possibly can and focus on what’s really important: Are our efforts making our audiences want to engage with us?

Somewhere a creatively-led agency is going to hook up to this amorphous metrics machine and milk it for all its worth. “Go ahead, measure this,” they’ll say. And when their creative efforts are shown to have moved the line, everyone will be rejoice.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. ‘Preciate the mention from Ad Age.

  2. Speaking as a creative, I’ve stared into the abyss, and I feel encouraged. I dream of an industry where agencies and clients can unite minds towards a common goal. But better data and instant numbers are not going to change human behavior.
    In a perfect world, if agencies and clients actually do “what works” this will be great for creativity, innovation, and talent.
    But unfortunately, there will still be groupthink, politics, subjective opinions, turf wars, and the comforts of mediocrity both within agencies and clients. This will reduce the creativity and effectiveness of the work, just as it always has.
    Still, I hope for the best.

  3. @Mark well said. maybe someone can come up with a system to measure groupthink, politics, subjective opinions, turf wars, and the comforts of mediocrity.

  4. Thanks David.
    I’m imagining a future where innovative agencies, armed with data proving their provocative campaigns work, still get shot down because the CMO’s wife doesn’t like the campaign.

  5. Speaking as a propeller head, I’ve found some of the greatest brainstorming sessions happen when creatives and measurement types get together. Playing off each other helps to push the envelope and develop concepts that have stopping power, measurability, reach and impact. In fact, isn’t it inherently creative to find new ways to get better results AND prove those results out? (P.S. I’d love to tackle the challenge to “come up with a system to measure groupthink, politics, subjective opinions, turf wars, and the comforts of mediocrity.” All measurable, actually!)