Brands: We still don’t know if our digital efforts are paying off

Top brands like Intel, Chevrolet and Kimberly-Clark are gathered in Palm Springs, California, this week for the Digiday Brand Summit to discuss the biggest trends shaping their industries — and the challenges standing in their way.

One consistent theme throughout the event: accountability. Most brands in the room were hot on investing in content production, but lacked the tools to measure whether this investment was translating into actual sales. Companies like Barilla, which runs articles about recipes and its products on its site, find it tremendously difficult to tell if that investment was paying off in actual pasta sales, according to Beth Reilly, director digital marketing strategy at the company.

Other challenges included how best to organize internally, and how to determine which platforms to invest resources into. We asked execs what they thought their biggest challenge in their brand was right now.

Beth Reilly, director digital marketing strategy, Barilla
“Frankly, I continue to see the biggest challenge in the digital and social space is getting accurate sales measurement data. This is easier to do in the display environment, but when there is not paid amplification behind social, nothing really exists. And even when you pay, the thresholds are so high to get the sales lift study that smaller brands will never get there. Brand marketers will continue to ask ‘so we have shares and likes, but how does that translate to sales?'”

Tammy Herstoff, brand marketing manager, Del Taco
“From a big picture sense, our biggest challenge is using the budget and resources of a very small company to feel like we have the impact and presence of a large brand. I found it fascinating to hear about the ‘newsrooms’ megabrands use to monitor and react to social chatter. We don’t have resources to dedicate an entire staff to that. It is just another thing on the ‘to-do’ list of my three-man digital marketing team. A more specific challenge is how to determine where to focus our limited resources. If we have the option between SEO/SEM marketing, programmatic marketing, user generated content marketing, blogger outreach, it’s hard to predict which channel will provide the best ROI given we financially and logistically can’t do it all.”


Gabe Mattingly, e-commerce lead, Kimberly Clark
“Our biggest challenge is how to capitalize on all the opportunities in front of us. Speed and the ability to made decisions helps. But we need a way to be doing more, all the time. A common theme is how to convince leadership to make the investment in the near-term, which may not pay off for the long-term.”

Mary Bradburne, senior manager, social media communications, Cisco
“For us, it’s about navigating the internal stakeholders who want or need to post on our corporate social handles.”

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