On the issue of marketing accountability, the corporate muscle of the US Association of National Advertisers has labored mightily for eighteen score days and five.

But some say that the ANA, like the proverbial mountain, has brought forth a mouse. Despite the association's best efforts, it seems a generally acceptable standard of marketing accountability remains tenuous, more dependent on corporate conviction than on solid metrics.

After deliberating a full year, a twenty-strong ANA task force concluded that marketers must first create a "culture of accountability". To foster this Holy Grail, executives require ...

  • A top down endorsed approach

  • An inclusive, repeatable process

  • A method that provides employees with confidence for both its numerical accuracy and its perceived value and comparability

  • Use of unique metrics that reflect management expectations

  • A rigorous, end-to-end process to deliver superior marketing results

  • To accept responsibility for short-term return on investment on expenditures,; then go beyond to demand accountability for nurturing brand equity.
As to the latter, the task force noted that as marketers increasingly pursue accountability goals, they struggle to demonstrate the critically important linkage between long-term brand equity and short-term marketing spending.

It also found that the most successful companies have strong end-to-end marketing processes that complement their focus on metrics.

Among the major accountability problems encountered by ANA members are …
  • Data is less available for the B2B segment, which often deals with complex supply chains and third party distributors

  • Distinguishing individual drivers of sales results from integrated marketing campaigns

  • Understanding returns on innovation and new media for which history does not exist

  • Developing metrics that align with strategic expectations

    Recognizing the lifetime value of a customer when Wall Street is driven by short-term results

  • Dealing with management's metrics requests for such intangibles as "competitiveness" and "customer centricity"
Comments Gordon Wade, founder partner of EMM Group whose 'enterprise marketing management' standard has been adopted by the ANA: "Today's corporate culture demands executives be accountable for their actions and marketers are no different.

"This study provides the industry with the best practices to overcome its accountability challenges and effectively prove its worth for the first time."

ANA president/ceo Bob Liodice agrees: "This type of benchmarking provides ANA members with important strategic direction. The results present foundational steps for companies to move toward true accountability."

The full report will be presented to ANA members when they convene tomorrow (Tuesday) at the ANA Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Data sourced from Association of National Advertisers (USA); additional content by WARC staff