How measurable are upper-funnel marketing channels?

According to a survey by Ruler Analytics, less than 25% of marketers feel confident they’re tracking the right KPIs. 

Only 60% say they can demonstrate ROI from marketing campaigns. 

And 100% of marketers surveyed said they’ve had trouble measuring the success of TV or radio ads. 


Can you measure upper-funnel marketing channels?

Each week, we break down another marketing concept so you can skip the hype and get directly to what works. 

Measuring marketing’s impact is hard. And when something’s difficult to measure, it’s often also difficult to communicate its full value. So it makes sense why 54% of marketers feel marketing’s role is poorly understood. 

Accurate and reliable measurement is especially challenging for traditional, upper-funnel “brand-building” channels. Channels like TV, radio, out-of-home and print advertising don’t have the same built-in deterministic attribution capabilities as digital. 

Trying to solve this measurement crisis, there are two common approaches to evaluating channels like TV. The first takes a bottom-up approach. This involves conducting time-based analysis but reviewing just a small window of time (often a handful of minutes) after an ad is shared. This means analysts track only the immediate impacts of that ad, missing long-term results.  

The second approach looks at campaigns from the top-down. They track long-term effects like brand awareness, but this approach can require months to see an impact. 

Both approaches provide information on campaign performance. But they only tell part of the story. For a channel like TV or radio, marketers should look at three categories of results

  1. Micro Impacts: These are the immediate effects of your advertising. They can be tracked by reviewing calls, texts or web traffic following an ad’s airing. 
  2. Macro Impacts: Broader effects like new customers and changes in your web traffic composition should be visible after a few weeks. An on-site survey can also help indicate how many people went to your website after seeing your ad.
  3. Business Impacts: These can take three months or longer to fully evaluate, but they’re also the most exciting results, including brand recall, awareness, improved pricing power and partnership opportunities. 

All three categories together provide a clearer picture of a channel’s role in driving business growth. So yes, upper-funnel marketing channels are measurable. But they’re also easy to measure wrong.  

Key Takeaway: Don’t simplify attribution to a single data point. Use multiple models to evaluate a campaign’s performance, and you’ll have a better sense of its full impact. 


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