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Intelligence Briefs

Ritson: Binet and Field not perfect, but not wrong either on brand building v performance

Paul McIntyre
Executive Editor

10 June 2019 3min read

Mark Ritson says marketers are right to question Les Binet and Peter Field’s methodologies, but argues that in a world of imperfect science, they are closer to the truth than most (Marketing Week)


Key points

  • As awareness of Binet and Field and their work has grown, so too has the sniping and counter-argument
  • This centres around bias, as their work is often funded by the TV lobby; Sample bias, as their effectiveness studies based on IPA Awards data only pick from ‘winners’, or big UK campaigns that have already won awards and; Self reporting; that their work relies on those submitting awards entries to essentially mark their own homework
  • Ritson dismisses the first aspect, pointing out that Binet and Field’s research is also often funded by digital platforms; Accepts focusing on big campaigns is a limiting factor; Accepts self-reporting is imperfect, but points to correlations with externally reported data where available
  • Even with these sizeable caveats the work transcends these limitations, from my perspective.”
  • “In truth, much of this debate centres on the imperfection of all data in proving marketing theory. We do not study rocks or gravity or the rotation of the earth.”
  • “This big messy world of advertising, with all its varied and contradictory inputs, does not easily correlate with the equally untidy world of corporate performance and marketing effectiveness.”

My Takeout

This clash is long overdue. Much of the digital advertising and marketing economy has been fueled by a transfer of analogue direct marketing to online performance activity. Most adtech and martech operatives, and the social and search platforms, have pushed an array of data heralding the magic of real-time dashboards which encourage the performance marketing chase. Last click metrics anyone?  Peter Field and Les Binet have been pushing back and that's brave given the vested interests in parts of the online food chain. Even direct-to-consumer pioneers acknowledge there's something in this longer-term brand building thing and are re-weighting their budgets. It's not one or the other - it's the mix that matters. This debate is great.        
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Marcus Foley, Co-Founder