Ford: Using ‘business metrics’ can earn marketers a seat at the top table

Trading media metrics for the “right data” can help marketers prove to the CFO why certain investments are “worth every dollar”, says Ford Europe’s media boss.

FordShifting the conversation from media metrics, such as reach and impressions, to “business metrics” can earn marketers a place at the top table with the CFO, according to Ford Europe head of media and partnerships Jen Meyer.

Speaking today (9 May) at The Marketing Society’s Digital Day, Meyer explained that armed with the “right data” marketers can have conversations with the CFO about why certain media investments are “worth every dollar.”

“They’re interested when media is one of the largest line items on their P&L,” she said.

Meyer explained that Ford focuses heavily on leads as a key metric. For her team, the “right metrics” to focus on include whether people are getting through to the website, engaging with the content and even picking out the colour of their next Ford Explorer.

“Ultimately, are they leaving their contact information to become a lead?” she adds. 

Meyer discussed the challenge of “modernising” a large heritage brand and the shift from a broadcast-first mentality to a digital-first approach.

“We had good intentions in terms of being digital-first,” she said. “But we lost the meaning in terms of why we should actually be digital first.”

Our assets started to shift to be a lot less polished and a lot more digital-first.

Jen Meyer, Ford

Having just celebrated its 120-year anniversary, Meyer said working on a brand like Ford with such a “rich history” comes with a lot of privilege, as well as many challenges in terms of brand perception.

“Ford has changed and will continue to change over time,” she said. “It’s exciting, but also challenging to change that perception of a 120-year-old brand.”

She outlined the three Ford businesses that require different marketing focuses: Electric vehicles, petrol and hybrid vehicles, and B2B vehicles. Explaining that each division is “very different,” Meyer stressed the necessity of having a separate positioning for each area of business.

To do this, Ford established brand principles dictating how each business should present itself in marketing. These principles became the company’s “North Star.”

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In promoting electric vehicles, for example, Ford concentrated on transforming traditional creative into “social-first” assets designed to “resonate with audiences.”

“Our assets started to shift to be a lot less polished and a lot more digital-first,” she explained.

In contrast, Meyer explained that for its petrol and hybrid vehicles, the approach wasn’t merely about “doing digital for the sake of doing digital”. In this division the approach is to leverage digital channels to help the team identify signals someone is interested in searching for a petrol vehicle.

“Here, we’re very much signal-driven and ROI-focused. Digital serves this approach, values and objectives rather than trying to force digital in,” Meyer added.