‘Measuring the ROI of experiential activities. An update on post Covid developments in the UK’ The Red Route International approach.

By Lila Malliari

Strong vaccination uptake, an end to virus containment measures and the release of pent-up consumer demand are among the factors contributing to an expansion of UK marketing budgets for the first time since Q4 2019, according to the latest IPA Bellwether Report. The Bellwether Report is now projecting a 7.5% growth in ad spend in 2021 and 6.0% in 2022 before moderating to 2.7% in 2023 (Bellwether Report, July 2021, https://ipa.co.uk/knowledge/publications-reports/q1-2021-bellwether-report)

There is no doubt that the events industry, in all its forms, is one of the sectors that has been badly affected by the current pandemic. Many experiential marketing agencies have utilised their resources to work in new completely novel approaches and have created activations that connect consumers without physical engagement managing to connect with consumers in digital experiential activities.

As we get back to normality and the events industry is opening, the need for effective measurement, of not only the short-term effect of the experiential campaign, but also the medium (projections on brand affinity metrics and sales uplift) and long-term effects (ROI of the activity for different levels of reach) become more important than ever.

However, measuring marketing effectiveness is still an issue for debate. A study conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA report 2021, https://dma.org.uk/research/meaningful-marketing-measurement-2021  ) reported that “A significant proportion of current industry measurement metrics highlight campaign delivery performance rather than true measures of effectiveness”. More specifically:

  • There is no common language around campaign measurement: the DMA’s ‘Meaningful Marketing Measurement 2021’ report found 167 different methods of articulating campaign results being employed.
  • Of these 167 measures, 59% related to response, brand, and business measures; 41% related to campaign delivery measures

When it comes to experiential marketing campaign evaluation, the ability to connect campaign activity to ROI in the medium and long term becomes even more challenging. In the era of measurability and accountability, experiential marketing often lacks factual justification. And it should not be so. We at Red Route international along with the Institute of Promotional Marketing Experiential Community, believe that the “ultimate purpose of experiential marketing is to affect the behaviour of the target audience through live/online engagement, and this can and should be measured”. Informed decisions should take the place of ‘gut feeling’ and ‘based on previous experience’ reasoning.

As experiential marketing is the ‘a process of identifying, satisfying customer needs and aspirations, profitably, by engaging them through two-way communications’, it brings brand personality to life and adds value to the target audience’s experience in a unique way (Smilansky S., pg2).

In an age of information clutter, today’s time-poor and cash-rich customers are erecting barriers to many of the traditional communications tools. Experiential Marketing breaks through these barriers and nurtures brand relationships amongst potential advocates. Experiential Marketing’s added value, multi-sensory, interactive, engaging brand experiences go beyond boosting brand awareness and embed an emotional brand connection deep in the minds of the target market. This emotional connection is the link between the brand personality and values and the customer’s feelings. It creates dazzling sensory and interactive experiences delivering memorable brand moments’ (Smilansky S., pg2).

As such we have seen that experiential marketing compares very favourably with the other media channels. According to a study conducted by Hall @ Partners, experiential delivers average increases in brand affinity of c. 10%, whereas the Gold Standard for an Ad Campaign is at the level of 9% (Source: Hall & Partners, Europe,). In the same study we have seen that experiential generates ROI on a par with other media channels.

Red Route international in cooperation with the IPM experiential community have developed a process which measures the ROI of experiential activities not only in the short but also in the medium and short term.

We have applied the methodology to many brands/sectors and types of events, and it is proved to be a robust, reliable one.

For more information on how we can help you measure ROI of experiential marketing activities, please contact lila.malliari@redrouteinternational.com

Or visit our website: