Progress In Activation Reporting Standards – A Natural Progression For A Growing Industry
Comprehensive, integrated and relevant reporting in the activations industry in South Africa is at the heart of building real value for clients. This is the opinion of Lauren Durant, director at Isilumko Activate, a company focused on facilitating creative, integrated one-on-one interactions between brands and consumers. Adding to this she says that what can’t be measured, can’t be managed, and will thus not compete well against other media choices available to the marketer.
“The longstanding perception that activations activities are “feel good” and experiential and cannot be measured, is unfounded,” says Durant. “While an experiential element may be included in an activation, if activations are to offer the returns clients expect and rightfully demand, and retain their space in the marketing mix, then a more scientific approach to reporting is required; an approach that ensures accurate and insightful commentary.”
With a 22 year association with, and involvement in the activations space, Isilumko Activate has over the years invested resources into the analysis of the issues at the core of an industry which at a point in time was tainted by a lack of true accountability. Durant says the results of the ongoing informal research, revealed a clear lack of focus on target-specific measurable activities, geared to drive a specific activation’s outcome.
“Without a good brand strategy and client/agency collaboration in the planning phase, key outcomes and a method to measure the activation’s performance against agreed returns, can create wonderfully creative solutions (which are also so important) but without the proper business outcome required,” says Durant.
Despite the inherent value of consumer engagement promotions and experiential activations, years ago they did not hold their own and were not attracting the same interest as other more traditional marketing activity. However as the industry evolved and the marketing arena changed, the true value of a two-way conversation taking place creatively and tactically in relevant environments, is far more valued and better understood. This evolution to activation, is also supported by the deeper appreciation for the value of human connection, how seeding and word of mouth can impact and grow a brand and how easily ‘ignorable’ a one-way marketing message can be.”
Not content to leave the industry as is, Isilumko Activate director, Brendan Powell joined Durant on what was to become a personal mission to continue the credibility and integrity of the activations and promotions space.
“We set out on a journey to transform the industry. Formidable reporting, accountability and measurability were quickly to become the pillars of the conversion process and in so doing, authority and credibility made activations accessible to the marketer. This was the birth of great reporting and the genesis of taking an industry bursting with potential, to a whole new level,” says Durant.
“Our approach was to set up a comprehensive marketing reporting system that would provide the required feedback to clients as and when it was required. It was our belief that reports should be easy to read and use, with graphics incorporated for an ‘at a glance’ view of key insights and learnings.”
An understanding of the objectives of any campaign and the establishment of measurable outputs is fundamental to the provision of relevant, meaningful reports that are delivered timeously during a campaign rollout. This allows for changes and adaptations to be made based on the reporting insights. “Best in class online technology affords us flexibility and is at the heart of our commitment to deliver on client mandates,” says Durant. “This also paves the way for us to demonstrate just how responsive to the ever changing and evolving landscape – the activations space is.”
The activations landscape focuses on outcomes like brand switching at Point of Purchase, coupon redemption and sales results, acquisition targets or sign ups achieved, communication reach, “brand in hand”, lead generation or digital or social media engagement and even perception changes. “All of this, including perception change, can be measured and the specific outcomes of a campaign should be built into the reporting, and the results a measure of success,” says Durant.
Field intelligence, competitor analysis, learnings and any additional insights, are also incorporated in the reporting process. “By way of example, clients find it refreshing to see a detailed reconciliation of shifts worked in their reporting. They also understand that a brand activator can fall ill or face a transport issue. As long as the missed shifts are worked in / credited back and perhaps most importantly, accurate and honest communication occurs, these issues can be managed. That being said, Isilumko Activate proudly holds a 98% attendance rate in the field, and we attribute our success to a co-operative, professional employment culture, long standing employment relationships and strong performance management tools in the field,” says Durant.
Isilumko Activate’s project reports have become and set the benchmark for the industry, a fact that Durant is most proud of. “Optimising the outcome and results for clients, and being able to show the measure of the return, is surely at the heart of this industry’s mandate,” concludes Durant.
About Isilumko Activate
Isilumko Activate (powered by Studentwise) is a company focused on facilitating creative, integrated one-on-one interactions between a brand and the consumer. With impressive credentials built up over almost 22 years in the in the industry, this level 2 BBBEE accredited company has a rock-solid reputation that attracts and retains staff that are as passionate about activations as the company’s original founder members. For details visit: www.isilumko.com/activate