It’s fitting that the most famous quote about marketing measurement – “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.” - is itself unreliable: although it’s typically attributed to John Wanamaker, there is no definitive citation. Nor has much changed since Wanamaker’s time: to paraphrase what Mark Twain didn’t say about the weather, everybody still talks about marketing measurement but few do anything about it.
The problem isn't lack of data. Marketers today can track the messages received and actions taken by their customers in more detail than Wanamaker could imagine. The problem is fundamental: Even if we know every action a customer takes, we can't calculate how their actions are affected by our marketing. All we see is what a particular set of inputs will produce in aggregate. It's like following a recipe in a cookbook: You know what the combination of ingredients will produce, but not how each one contributes.
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