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Measurement and brand marketing have often moved at different speeds - and in opposite directions. Marketers have had to rely on rearview mirrors for a glimpse of whether a campaign worked, often long after it ended. By working through old problems and identifying new possibilities, we've pinpointed four principles that we believe are key to effective brand measurement. Here, the Google Brand Measurement Team shares evidence that indicates a revolution is underway and explains why brand marketers need to take part.

Brand measurement: It’s not a particularly sexy topic and it doesn’t win any awards at Cannes. It’s also a major source of frustration for marketers. In fact, only half of marketers consider their current brand metrics effective, according to a survey by Google and Sterling Brands conducted in October 2013. The problem is that, for the most part, we’ve inherited brand measurement that belongs to another age. It was born at a time when the only thing we could quickly test was exposure. We had surveys and the like, but the data was based on small samples and arrived months after a campaign ended. Since these approaches cannot feed back directly into the campaign, they severely limit our understanding of what works and ability to make changes mid-flight.

Today, there is a huge opportunity to shift brand measurement from pain points to proof points. This means harnessing speed, scale, interactivity and all the advantages of digital. By doing this, we can make brand marketing measurable, building solutions that get to the heart of what brands really want to know: Do people pay attention, remember and take action?

The four principles

So how do we usher in an era of effective brand measurement? The ecosystem is ripe for a revolution, but everyone—from brand advertisers and publishers to industry bodies—must play a role and work together for real solutions.

But first we need to identify the building blocks that combine to form a strong foundation. At Google, we've identified four principles that guide our efforts, and we're sharing them here with the broader ecosystem:

  • User-first: Measurement solutions have to be rooted in consumer behavior and respect individuals’ privacy.
  • Open: The industry must collaborate on accessible and meaningful metrics.
  • Universal: Advertisers and publishers have to use common metrics to ensure cohesiveness.
  • Actionable: Solutions must include real-time metrics that let brands optimize campaigns within days, not months.
Today, there is a huge opportunity to shift brand measurement from pain points to proof points.

We’ve started applying these principles to all the solutions we’re building to test whether they can work in practice. A brand that’s recently put one of our solutions to the test is eHealth, America’s largest health insurance marketplace. Since 1997, the company has focused on direct response advertising. Following the boom in media coverage of the Affordable Care Act, eHealth wanted to drive brand awareness and interest earlier in the customer journey.

They began to experiment with campaigns on the Google Display Network, but needed a way to measure impact quickly. Using Google's Brand Lift solution, which includes reporting on lift in organic searches on Google directly attributable to its campaign, eHealth saw a 45% increase in brand interest and a 33% lift in all health insurance-related search terms for consumers exposed to the campaign. Uncovering these insights with speed and accuracy has given eHealth the confidence to double down on their investments in display for brand building. (For more details on eHealth’s success, read our case study.)

We’re encouraged by the progress being made in digital brand measurement, but we’re still in the early stages. There’s much more to do and we need your help.

Does this philosophy work for you? Does it apply to what you're doing? We want to hear from you. Leave us a comment at +ThinkwithGoogle or tweet us at @ThinkwithGoogle and include the hashtag #BrandMeasurement.