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Coke Weighs in on Earned Media ROI

Carol Kruse
Vice President, Global Interactive Marketing
The Coca-Cola Co.

October 23, 2009

Carol Kruse develops interactive marketing programs and experiences for Coca-Cola’s global brands around the world. Here, Ms. Kruse discusses Coke’s use of digital media and marketing and the evolution of social media.

eMarketer: Within social media, are you dealing with issues such as how much a Facebook fan is worth and the ROI for various forms of earned media?

Carol Kruse: I think before you have ROI you have to really understand how social media is driving your business. If you’re a traditional sales funnel type of company—if you’re selling something online—you could say, “I know how many sales I got out of that social media app.” We are not a funnel company, but we still need to measure the value of what we do. I can’t measure it in actual incremental sales because I’m not selling something online. It’s much safer to say we are focusing on measuring the business value of different types of digital marketing.

In that context, we are asking whether it’s driving brand health or brand love. Is it driving purchase intent? In some cases, like search and online advertising, we have been able to measure ROI driving true incremental volumes and true increases in sales. It’s the same thing from a loyalty and CRM standpoint. We have a lot of online promotions and online loyalty programs like My Coke Rewards, and we’ve certainly measured the amount of true incremental volume those type of programs drive.

eMarketer: Are you satisfied with the type of metrics or benchmarks that are in place for online advertising?

“If you’re going to shift money from one pot to the other, you certainly want to make sure it’s going to be equally effective.”

Ms. Kruse: If you’re going to shift money from one pot to the other, you certainly want to make sure it’s going to be equally effective. Lots of companies would like to improve the ability to measure these new forms of media. I think as a company, we have gotten on board on the measurement issues very early on.

eMarketer: Where are you now with that? What would you like to see that you don’t have?

Ms. Kruse: Measurement around mobile is difficult right now, and measurement of social media marketing is more difficult. There are a lot of solutions for getting at engagement metrics—how many people participated, how much time was spent, did they tell a friend and are they a repeat visitor? I think there are perfectly adequate engagement metrics in place.

We want to take those to the next level which, for us, is driving brand value. It’s about bringing incremental increases in brand love, purchase intent and actual purchase. But for some brands, like if it’s a new brand—we’re launching vitaminwater around the world—the brand strategy is building awareness and trial. What are you going to measure there? You’re going to measure awareness and brand recall. There’s not one pat answer of what we’re looking to measure because it depends on the brand and the business objectives.

“You have to be careful how you go about the measurement because you might undo all the goodwill you have built.”

Brand measurement is important. I think we can do it in the mobile and social realms in a way that is acceptable to consumers. We don’t want to disrupt that consumer’s experience. If we’re going to be there with our brands, we want to be enhancing the experience. You have to be careful how you go about the measurement because you might undo all the goodwill that you have built.

eMarketer: What do you see as a pressing issue for digital marketing?

Ms. Kruse: I really think that search marketing is underutilized by consumer packaged goods companies and other brand companies. Whether you’re selling online or you’re a travel company or even an automotive company, consumers are searching. They’re raising their hands and expressing their interest. Search shouldn’t be relegated to direct marketers.

The full version of this interview is available here, to eMarketer Total Access subscribers only. Every day they have access to new interviews with digital marketing leaders and trendsetting entrepreneurs.

Check out today’s other article, “Local Searchers Head to Store More.”


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