In an increasingly complex digital marketing landscape, embracing privacy-friendly, macro measurement solutions like media mix modelling can help APAC businesses overcome challenges in 2024, says Adjust's April Tayson.

If the term media mix modelling (MMM) sounds like something you first read about in your high school commerce textbook, you wouldn’t be far from the truth. MMM became popular as a measurement model in the ‘60s and ‘70s for its ability to combine first-party data like leads, marketing spend and revenue, with external factors like market conditions and competitor activity.

A successful model, however, requires years of data and massive marketing budgets to adequately provide what was only a high-level view of advertising effectiveness. And, as marketing became increasingly digital, MMM lacked the immediacy, granularity and transparency needed for marketers to make real-time decisions on budgets and campaigns.

But today, thanks to advancements in data analytics and machine learning, MMM has become quicker, more effective and more affordable to implement. The framework also has the ability to paint a holistic, macro picture of campaign performance and predict how different combinations of marketing efforts will perform – all without relying on user data. These unique features make an invaluable use case for advertisers in an increasingly complex data and regulatory landscape.

As a result, MMM is experiencing an ongoing renaissance. In late 2022, for example, Meta announced it had seen an 80% increase in MMM adoption compared to the previous year. Earlier this year, both Meta and Google launched their own in-house versions of MMM as an open-source library for anyone to use and customise. All signs point to the framework being an integral part of optimising marketing measurement in 2024 – and more so in the diverse APAC region, where data availability and quality vary widely, as do external factors like economic conditions, cultural trends and seasonality.

Breaking down MMM for APAC

MMM is a form of statistical analysis that uses historical data to measure the impact of different marketing channels on a business' bottom line. Unlike attribution modelling, which focuses on highly detailed, specific data offered at user level, MMM uses aggregated data to offer a more macro-level view of marketing performance.

In general, MMM offers improved measurement accuracy, forecasting and budget allocation for advertisers. As a result, it can be used to measure the impact of both online and offline marketing channels, as well as to forecast future performance.

This makes it a valuable tool for APAC businesses, which often have complex marketing mixes, alongside several other challenges that are unique to the region. These include:

  1. Diverse markets and cultures: APAC's vast and diverse landscape spans numerous countries, each with its unique culture, language and consumer behaviour. What resonates with one audience may fall flat with another, making it challenging to create a standardised marketing approach. By incorporating external factors like cultural trends and local market conditions into its analysis, MMM can help advertisers navigate this diversity, offering insights that can help tailor campaigns to specific markets within APAC.
  2. Data fragmentation: Data fragmentation is a common challenge in markets like APAC, which are home to multiple data sources and platforms. The absence of a unified data ecosystem can make it difficult to collect, consolidate and analyse data effectively. MMM’s usage of data aggregation solves this challenge by consolidating data from various sources and offering an accurate and unified view of marketing performance.
  3. Mobile-first markets: APAC is characterised by being a mobile-first region, with a significant portion of the population relying on mobile devices to access the internet. This presents a unique challenge when tracking and attributing user interactions accurately for multi-channel strategies. MMM has the ability to integrate mobile measurement into its analysis, providing holistic insights into user behaviours that can help optimise campaigns effectively.

While there are several benefits of using MMM, there are also several challenges unique to the APAC market. For example, the diversity of the market can make it difficult to develop a single MMM model that is effective across the entire region. Differences in data availability and quality can also impact efficiency, sometimes requiring working with multiple data providers and putting data reliability into question.

Technology adoption also varies widely across APAC and some businesses may not have the infrastructure or expertise to effectively implement and use MMM.

A segmented approach could help advertisers tackle these challenges. This means developing separate MMM models for different countries, regions or customer segments. Successfully doing this may include the use of multiple data sources, as well as working with an experienced MMM provider that can pull these disparate pieces together and unify them into one platform. 

Leveraging MMM in 2024

In today’s increasingly multi-channel marketing landscape, MMM can be helpful in measuring everything from connected TV (CTV) to billboard performance, as well as Android and iOS. In fact, the introduction of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) user privacy framework in 2021 has been a catalyst in re-transitioning back to MMM.

This brings us to the two biggest advantages that MMM offers advertisers in the year ahead:

  1. Privacy-friendly measurement: With ATT, marketers can no longer access user-level data on iOS unless a user opts into tracking. Google is similarly seeking to limit the sharing of user data on Android to third parties to strengthen user privacy. Neither impedes a marketer’s ability to use MMM. However, the framework is and will continue to be privacy-friendly – an advantage that has enough utility on its own to make MMM a future-proof marketing measurement tool.
  2. Accurate forecasting: Forecasting is one of the best advantages MMM has to offer. MMM measures the value and impact of campaigns across channels, helping marketers determine future steps and make marketing predictions for upcoming campaigns. It can develop monthly, weekly and daily forecasts that are divided by regional markets and factor in variables like adspend and seasonal activities. MMM can help marketers discover, for example, how much adspend is needed per channel to achieve a year-over-year revenue goal, removing the guesswork from campaign planning.

As MMM becomes increasingly automated, marketers can optimise their campaigns in real time. Some businesses are also adopting a hybrid approach, combining MMM with attribution models and working with mobile measurement partners (MMPs) for a full picture of past, present and future performance.

As we look toward 2024, MMM is set to play a vital role in helping businesses across the APAC region optimise their marketing efforts. Its ability to provide a macro-level view, combined with insights from attribution models, empowers businesses to make data-driven decisions that maximise ROI. Within a changing landscape of user privacy, MMM offers an invaluable, privacy-friendly solution to marketing measurement.

Considering these advantages, businesses that embrace MMM in 2024 are likely to be better equipped to navigate the increasingly complex world of digital marketing and secure their path to marketing success in the year to come.