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What Metrics Should Count in Advertising: I’m Torn, and Let Me Tell You Why

Associations, Award Shows and Festivals
New York, USA
Joel Lundblad at McCann XBC got the chance to sit in on LIA judging at Creative LIAisons, but how did that change the way he assesses work?

Not too long ago, I quit my job at one of the world’s biggest media agencies and moved to New York for a job at a digitally focused advertising agency. Previous to the media agency, I worked for one of the world’s most renowned advertising agencies, one which is focused on storytelling. 

From working at three diametrically different agencies trying to do the same thing - elevate brands - I’ve noticed that they all went by different metrics when evaluating creative work. At the first agency (the storytelling focused), the level of the work was determined by the creative height, the story it told and the cultural impact it had.

At the media agency, the metrics were completely different. The success of a project was determined by measurable data: reach, impressions, interactions. Basically anything that could be put in an excel sheet to show the client that their campaign was a success. 

So what is a successful campaign?

Any case-film you see will include the metrics to show how incredibly successful it was. 

“Millions of impressions, thousands of tweets, incredible reach, blah blah blah.”

I’ve yet to hear from any client or advertising executive who actually checked the source of said metrics. The case-filmmakers just sprinkle it in, and it’s rarely (if ever) checked for validity. 

Yet, that is the data that is expected to bring home the awards. And god knows how award-driven this industry is.

When I received the fantastic news that I had been chosen among some of the world’s most talented creatives for London International Awards’ Creative LIAisons, the event I looked forward to the most was by far the opportunity to observe the Statue Discussions. 

I craved to know what criteria the top of the top in our industry goes by when awarding the best work in the world. I once asked my CCO what his definition of great work is and he answered, only half joking:

“Great work is what I say it is.”

After taking part in the jury’s discussions I now understand what he meant by that. Here we found ourselves in a room with industry professionals that have overseen the best work in the world for years and years. They’ve made it, they’ve failed at it and they’ve learned from it. Now they’re in a position where by awarding a certain type of work, they immediately affect where the industry is heading. 

Agencies will come back to their clients and point at the award-winning work and say: “Look how successful this campaign was, here’s why it was successful, and this is how we need to think to make your business grow.”

The award shows are important because they set the standard for future work. The metrics that the media agencies/account people obsess about are important, since a creative idea is not a good campaign if it didn’t help the business for which it was made. But this is only glanced at when the juries around the world vote. 

So, what metrics should we go by in advertising?

What this experience has taught me is: great work is not defined by what it was. It’s defined by where it’s taking the industry. What type of work should we be doing for our clients?

The Integration jury in which I took part went by three main things when judging the work:

What impact did it have on culture?

How well did the work integrate itself into society? 

And last, but not least:

Was it innovative in the sense that it’s pushing the industry in the right direction?

I’m currently working as a Senior Copywriter at one of the world’s biggest agencies and I realise now more than ever that our generation’s responsibility is growing the further we get in our careers. By making the work that we believe in, the work we think the industry should be doing, it’s in our power to tell the industry: 

This is the type of work you should be doing.

Joel Lundblad is a Senior Copywriter at McCann XBC, New York

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