Agency teams are getting plans ready for 2023 and it’s common for clients to ask about testing new channels this time of year. Regardless of what channel is under consideration, the key question to ask is “How will we know if this new channel is successful?” While I can’t give advice on what specific channels you might add, it’s important to have a process for testing new channels.
It’s unfortunately too common for agencies to run tests for new channels, but fail to properly prepare for the test with the client. Then, when reviewing results, struggle to persuade the client to keep spending on this new channel.
There are 5 steps you should follow before launching a new channel:
- Get the right measurement in place
- Align on the purpose of the channel
- Identify your KPI’s
- Record your evaluation criteria
- Decide what will happen after the test is finished
Measurement strategy is the first thing to figure out when testing new channels. If you don’t have a clear way to measure the effectiveness of your new channel, then it will be impossible to tell if this channel is worth a continued investment.
This is especially true if you’re testing brand tactics like streaming audio, connected TV, or programmatic. Standard measurement like Google Analytics is not enough to show the value that these channels deliver.
For example, if you’re testing streaming audio, you’ll want measurement technology that can measure when streaming audio ads are delivered and show when the same users are seeing your ads in other channels.
The first step to successfully testing a new channel is finding the right piece of technology that can capture the data you’ll need to measure your KPI’s and the unique ways this channel will contribute to your overall campaign.
The next thing you need to do is outline the purpose of this new channel and how it will fit into the campaign. Here are some questions you can ask:
- What’s the purpose of the channel?
- Where does this tactic fit into the marketing funnel?
- Is this channel performance based? or awareness/consideration based?
To continue our streaming audio example, the purpose of the channel will likely be to reach incremental users and increase brand awareness.
Once you’ve set a proper expectation with the client on what this channel will do, you’re ready to identify how you’ll quantify success.
The third preparation step in testing new channels is identifying what metrics, or KPI’s (key performance indicators), you’ll use to quantify success.
To reiterate, if your client is using Google Analytics, it’s likely that you won’t have the metrics available to truly prove the value of a new channel, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right measurement tech in place.
As you’re deciding what metrics will indicate success, remember:
Ads Deliver Value in Two Ways
- Channel Incrementality: reaching and converting net new users
- Media Mix Lift: reaching shared users with other channels and supporting conversion rate
To show the full value a channel delivers, you need to express both of these dimensions of value.
For our streaming audio example, your KPI’s might be a lift in branded search and showing the media mix lift (how streaming audio makes other channels like search or social more efficient).
After you’ve found the right measurement tool, identified the channel’s purpose, and picked your KPI’s, you’re ready to decide on your evaluation criteria.
A proper evaluation criteria has two parts: how long the test will last and what success or failure look like.
First, you need to set an expectation with your client for how long it will take to evaluate the channel’s success. If you’re testing an awareness channel, three or four weeks will not be enough. This duration will align with the channel purpose you already outlined.
Second, you need to decide what success looks like. You need to be aligned with the client around what a successful flight will look like. Where would your KPI’s need to be to call this test a success? What would failure look like?
If you do a good job in setting these expectations with clients, the most important and last step, “what comes next?”, is much easier.
What Happens After
Making a commitment with the client for what you’ll do after a channel passes or fails a test is overlooked too often. This is where, as an agency, you get clients to put more spend under your management.
You might say something like: “If this test with CTV is successful and the KPI’s are at these levels, then we’re going to increase your investment in CTV from 3% of total spend up to 10% and add new budget.
Predefining next steps helps prevent clients from changing their minds about adding new channels or increasing spend after tests.
Proving Campaign Effectiveness
When it comes to testing new channels, there are five things you need to make sure the client is agreeing to before you launch: the right measurement tech, what role this channel will play, how you’ll quantify success, how you’ll decide on success or failure, and what you’ll do next.
If you’re ever stuck trying to find the right tool to measure new channels, BiModal Attribution is the only tool that can show both ways ads deliver results and clearly show the value of middle and top of funnel tactics.