Those were the days: pack-a-day smoking habits in the office, two-hour martini lunches, weeks-long planning sessions for once-a-year media buys, and months more waiting for enough data to evaluate.

Mad men, indeed.

Any marketer today who took that kind of time (while indulging such vices) would be out of business before you know it. There are more brands, more competition for consumer eyeballs, bigger data to sift through.

Success is about speed: Speed to analysis, speed to opportunity, speed to execution.

Which makes the traditional process of upfronts a particularly pernicious relic of “the good old days.” Media buyers making long-term commitments, months in advance — with no flexibility, no way to respond to changing conditions, no chance to optimize or improve.

Sure, you get a discount for locking in. But the reality is you can save even more by making smarter, better-informed buying decisions any day of the year — taking advantage of the most up-to-date information, and responding in real time to changing conditions.

How do You Get Up to Speed?

So then the question becomes: Where do timely, actionable insights come from?

You could go the traditional route and hire a consultant. Which means outsourcing critical business decisions and adding steps into an already time-sensitive process for their behind-the-scenes magic.

You could try some A/B testing to compare different models and options. Which means, through trial and error, you may discover that one idea works better than another; but you may never know which idea really works the best.

You could have a custom solution created by one of the big analytical shops. Which means subjecting yourself to a long, slow, iterative design process to select a model, which will instantly be out of date.

You could conduct digital attribution studies, and learn about the path to purchase. Which means you’ll miss out on all kinds of other important data sources — things that let you look at interactions between media, and study contributions to sales based on investments.

Welcome to the Age of Agility

Spoiler alert: there is a better way. It’s called predictive marketing mix analysis.

It starts by combining historic industry statistics with your specific data, creating a deep pool of knowledge available for both backward-looking and — much more important — forward-looking analytics.

One key feature of predictive marketing mix analytics is that it includes data related to both marketing and finance. This is partly to make sure all of the decision makers are speaking the same language and looking at the same information.

But it’s also intended to help everyone dig into the nuances of ROI: the complex interrelationships that aren’t apparent in a standard spreadsheet view. By providing a fully transparent view into all of the relevant data, you’re able to see how investments in different media impact a brand, both in the short term and over time.

Even better, predictive marketing mix analytics puts the tools for doing all of this in your hands. As you’re crafting marketing plans, you can test strategies as you go, changing goals and instantly seeing the results. And because these platforms are set up to evaluate those interrelationships between variables, you can see what it all means in terms of sales, profits, value and other parameters.

But the true secret weapon of predictive marketing mix analytics lies in its ability to harness all of this knowledge for real-time decision making. 

Timing: Marketing’s Third Dimension

Think of it as adding a third dimension to your marketing matrix — because now, in addition to determining what kind of marketing to run, and where to run it, you can pinpoint exactly when to run it as well. And that can make a huge difference in the success of your campaigns.

That’s where the optimization comes in. You can learn on the fly and adapt intelligently as you go. Build brands and boost sales. And all the while, make sure you’re squeezing maximum value out of every dollar you spend.

You can just picture Don Draper saying, “I’ll drink to that.”