In this guest post, James Cooper, founder and director of media agency Metropolis argues there’s more to media campaign performance than cost-per-lead analysis…
The recent residential market downturn placed a magnifying glass on the performance of our client campaigns. For developers selling apartment projects (many now with completed stock) there has been a shift toward more economical, digital performance channels to generate leads – primarily search, social and programmatic display. Whilst these channels can deliver leads at a lower cost than the real estate portals like Realestate.com.au or Domain.com.au, they do not always deliver an in-market audience ready to buy.
Where project budgets have become tighter in the last 12 months, Search, social an programmatic display have made up the majority of project media spend. Google and Facebook are effective due to their enormous reach and their reporting is live with the ability to optimise budgets, placements and creative in real time (and with machine learning). That said, there are some watch-outs before you put all your eggs into one performance-based basket.
- Beware the law of diminishing returns.
There comes a point buying Adwords where you will exhaust the in-market audience. Yes, Google has incredible reach, around 90 per cent of internet searches in Australia are conducted via Google, however searches for off-the-plan apartments are a tiny fraction of total searches, so saturation can happen quickly. Also, Google’s pricing is demand-driven so where you have more developers competing for keywords in a similar category or area, the cost per lead only increases. And of course, you’ll always be competing with real estate portals who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on Adwords to bring in-market buyers to projects on their sites.
Facebook and Instagram can deliver large volumes of low-cost leads, but these leads can be early stage in the buyer journey (top of funnel) and some client sales teams have expressed frustration with the readiness of these leads to engage. Where off-the-plan buyers are taking longer to convert, top of funnel enquiry is not necessarily a bad thing, provided you’re set up to nurture those leads toward buying. However nurturing also requires systems and resources that come at an additional cost.
- There’s more to driving performance than media placement.
AC Nielsen’s most recent study on digital media indicates that between 5–35 per cent of ROI on digital media can be attributed to placement and that 50–80 per cent of ROI on media activity can be attributed to CREATIVE i.e. the stuff you fill the media placement with. The balance can be largely attributed to conversion techniques which relates to the environments, methods and technologies used to capture and measure leads.
What we find staggering is the number of clients who use creative agencies for digital advertising that have never seen a media performance dashboard let alone know how to read one. The wastage of media budgets due to ill-informed creative executions and un-tested conversion environments is huge. So much discussion and debate centres around the effectiveness of media placements but creative and conversion are the largest areas of opportunity for clients to improve performance of their campaigns.
- Streamlining for performance.
The clients we know and work with are busy. Between PCG meetings, design meetings, sales and marketing meetings, new acquisition bids and being across multiple campaigns at once, it’s hard to believe they have time to meet with different agencies (creative, digital, media, performance) every week. Co-ordination of agencies and adaptability to campaign analytics is critical for maximising ROI– yet many clients manage their agencies independently of one another.
The nature of our business is collaborative. As a media agency, we work alongside many great creative agencies and we check our egos at the door in order to put client outcomes first. But it has to be said that having one agency accountable at the intersection of performance i.e. that can make changes to the media placement, creative and conversion environments as they see the need via dashboard reporting (without needing a written brief from the client) is a major competitive advantage for the client and the project.
In summary, there are big gains to be made where campaign performance is concerned. Search, Social and Programmatic Display can be highly effective and low cost, but these media channels are almost always more effective when being used alongside premium real estate and above the line channels that support awareness of the project and developer brands.
Naming, branding and creating unique stories and ideas are a must for a successful sales campaign. But creative for media (especially digital) is a specialist skill that most creative agencies don’t understand so we believe this should reside with the agency responsible for the media channels.
And for busy clients, shifting toward a single, dynamic service at the intersection of performance is not only sensible and efficient – it’s essential if the desired outcome is better campaign ROI and a little bit more time in your day.