Uncommon Sense: Get a Grip on Your Advertising. Introducing Advertising Process Control

Uncommon Sense: Get a Grip on Your Advertising. Introducing Advertising Process Control

Reliable genius is what you really want from your advertising. Why aren’t you getting it? Probably because you don’t take your advertising production process as seriously as you take many of the other processes in your company. Let me introduce you to the concept and practice of “Advertising Process Control.”

Whether you sell hamburgers, airline trips, checking accounts, or running shoes, producing your product or service reliably is crucial. And you likely have process control mechanisms and measurements in place for many of your core functions. For instance, your finance department is probably tracking things like average days outstanding for accounts receivable. HR is probably tracking employee turnover and defect rates, and the sales department is paying close attention to customer satisfaction, budgets, etc. Trending this over time highlights variations in performance for the right managers.

Why, then, is it that you don’t track the reliability with which you produce your advertising just like you track the reliability of any other key activity in your company?

“Wait!” you say, “We measure every ad campaign that we field.” If that’s the case, good for you, but what you’re probably not doing is measuring the reliability with which you produce quality advertising.

Most people will agree that successful advertising centers on delivering the right message to the right people at the right time so that you affect their attitude or opinion and they ultimately buy your product. There are a variety of ways to measure the reach, resonance and reaction of your advertising, and the concept of Advertising Process Control presumes that you are doing at least some of those things regularly already.

In our experience, learnings are frequently only applied to the performance of a single campaign. Sometimes those measurements are compared to norms, which is a step in the right direction, but doing so still only provides a snapshot view of your overall advertising effectiveness. What if advertisers, agencies and publishers measured and optimized not just the performance of individual ad campaigns, but examined and improved the reliability of their process for executing effective ad campaigns over time?

To do that, one has to track a new “meta” metric, which is the variance of whatever measures you use to assess the success of your campaigns. Variance describes the spread in the scores of your ad campaigns as measured using the same metric. If your advertising process variance is zero, you are consistently producing advertising of the same quality. If your advertising process variance is high, then your ads are inconsistent, and you are producing advertising of widely differing quality.

By understanding the factors driving variance associated with your advertising production process as well as the average quality of your advertising relative to norms, you can deliver a better advertising production process and get more bang for your advertising dollar.

Understanding variance is not a black art. There are people on your team right now who can probably tell you intuitively if a particular campaign is widely different from average. Advertising process variance is just a number that you ought to calculate, track, understand and manage.

This article first appeared on and is the first in a three-part series. For more insights from our thought leaders, view our other Uncommon Sense blog entries and our recent webinar.