Q&A with 'Elevate' Trail Leader, Digital Media Expert Fara Warner

As marketers move deeper into brand-funded content, how are they proving that their efforts are driving an increase in revenue for the brand’s core businesses?

Trail 3 at Elevate will focus on answering the question of how marketers evaluate success, as well as shine a light on how brands think about predictive modeling vs. post-campaign measurement. Leading Trail 3 will be award winning journalist and digital media expert Fara Warner.

We caught up with Warner to key into her expertise and discuss what's in store for Elevate attendees set to embark on the Measuring Success trail:

How and why did you begin writing with a focus on digital media and storytelling?

I have been covering marketing and media for more than 30 years. At The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company, I covered the first Internet boom and its affect on brands and advertising. The intersection between publishing and advertising has always interested me as we depend heavily on each other to reach audiences. The growth of using journalistic methods to tell brand's stories--what has evolved into branded content--has interested me from my first sponsored program at Aol (This Built America) through to my work at WSJ. Custom Studios leading a team of creatives that worked on campaigns such as Cocainenomics for Netflix and Defy Hunger Together for MINI USA.

In what ways do brands and their partners get measurement wrong? In what ways do they get it right?

One key insight from my research is that brands don't have a great deal of trust in the measurements they receive from partners, be they agencies, publishers or the platforms. This lack of trust comes from a lack of standardization on what metrics matter in branded content. They also point out that everyone in the chain of data has a reason to make themselves look good from the data. But brands truly need clear, transparent data to make decisions either before, during or after campaigns.

What do you hope the Elevate audience will learn from this session? What real-world business applications might they be able to employ?

I'd love to see a working group evolve out of this session to determine what metrics are crucial for branded content--and what metrics we can stop looking at or at least reduce our dependency on them. I think a focus on knowledge from data instead of just data for data sake is also a critical discussion we need to have. Finally, how do we make better use of technology to understand how audiences engage, feel and think about the branded content we produce.

How does an event like Elevate help stoke conversations like this?

By putting all the players in a room together to talk about tough issues, we get collaboration instead of competition. Elevate offers a safe space to have these conversations where we can be honest and transparent about the challenges facing branded content. I think we all love this sector of advertising. We love the creativity and imagination. But to keep it moving forward we have to clear metrics that truly measure if it's engaging with real people, not impressions, page views and click through rates.


About Fara Warner