Where have all the brand communication trackers gone?

If you had to pick your favourite marketing research tool, what would you pick?

I would pick continuous brand communication tracking, the monthly version and let me tell you why.

The benefits of brand tracking are many. But there are two main reasons why I think it is the most useful research methodology in a researcher’s toolkit:

  • 1) Brand communication tracking is like the Sword of Damocles on a brand’s performance. Ever present, always creating healthy anxiety to watch for the competition and track the immediate impact of all media activity.  The monthly tracking data puts the brand team into the driver’s seat and help them carefully ride the campaign to success, increasing investment when the campaign impact is low, or accelerating even further when the impact is soaring.

In the absence of brand communication trackers, marketeers depend on their media agencies to execute the campaign as they see fit, while they wait for the ROI measurement that is to come in 3 to 6 months.

  • 2) The monthly cadence provides an excellent opportunity for insights teams to connect with brand teams and have a reflection on how the campaign is doing vs the other players in the market.

In the absence of brand communication tracking, brand teams are now using social media platform data to track immediate campaign reactions. However, this is a 2D view and considers the brand in a vacuum. It does not provide a full picture of the industry but rather compares the campaign performance vs the previous campaign/period. In time, there is a risk that the competitive lens will erode and performance reviews become myopic.

So why have they disappeared?

Once the bread and butter of the market research industry, now they are nowhere to be found. But how did brand communication trackers lost their glamour?

Before year 2000, a typical national representative, brand communication tracker would have a sample size between 400-600 and it would be reported every month.

During the economic recession of 2000 and 2001, many multinational companies decreased the sample size of their brand communication trackers dramatically, some by even 50%. In order not to create data fluctuations, reporting frequency was also decreased.

According to my observation, this is the time when brand communication trackers got the first hit. The decrease in reporting frequency weakened the sense of urgency, got the monkey off our backs. The brand teams now had to wait between 3-6 months to get their ROI calculations to track campaign performance in which time we would have already moved to their next project.

“Out of sight, out of the heart”

A Turkish saying

It is said that the next stage of brand communication tracking is in the social media listening area. Well this is another topic for another day 🙂

Do you think brand communication trackers should be revived?

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