What Preseason Football Can Teach Your Business

By Matt PerlAugust 14, 2015

Prior to the start of a pro football season, an NFL team is allowed to keep 90 players on its roster. The fact that some of those guys might be hurt, upset about their contract status, or possibly incarcerated, is a whole different story.

Once training camps open around August 1st, the teams get to see the talent, skills and drive of the men vying for jobs. They test their endurance—both in practice and via in-game scenarios. Exactly 1 month after opening training camp, the teams are required to trim their rosters to 75 players. Five days later, the list must be at 53. Within 35 days, each team must trim nearly half their workforce and every year they repeat the same process.

The parallels being constructed here towards marketing are clear: we also must trim the fat and find the best talent amongst our media buys and campaigns to better get towards the final number(s) that works for us. One interesting construct of the way these NFL clubs go about getting to 75 and then 53 is they really don’t wait for these milestones. If they notice someone struggling after three days—they cut them. This is an incredibly valuable lesson for any business, as low-hanging fruit must be addressed rapidly and swiftly.

How then, as the judge, jury, and executioner do we pull out the scythe and finally hack-off a bad campaign? What metric finally sinks it for the low-performing pre-roll ad? What MER puts the final nail in the coffin of a PPC ad?

Well, it depends. Not the answer you were hoping to hear, I’m sure.

What we’ve seen at our firm is that there are key junctures in making a determination about the efficacy of a campaign. To demonstrate the first wave of decision-making, let’s look at an A/B test we ran on a social media campaign.

 Campaign Name  Conversions   Reach   Frequency   Amount Spent (USD)  Clicks  CTR (Click-Through Rate) CPC (Cost Per Click) (USD) CPCL (Cost Per Converted Lead)  CPM 
Test Group A 2 35534 1.1245 $505.82 1224 3.063063 $0.41 $  252.91 $12.66
Test Group B 2 48206 1.2749 $504.06 1179 1.918352 $0.43 $  252.03 $8.20

In this scenario it is clear that both Test Group A and Test Group B are driving almost identical CPCs and CPCLs (identified as a converted lead). Obviously the more concerning point here is the spend needed to reach that audience is almost 37% higher on Test Group A. The CPMs are nearly $5.00 higher and yet the cost to generate a conversion is almost identical. So is it time to pull the plug on Test Group A? Yes. Do it. While the frequency of that impression is low, I’m not waiting around and spending nearly $200 per conversion to wait and be patient.

So now you have made your “first cuts” like NFL teams do around September 1st. Time to give your remaining players a chance to fight it out for the final 53 spots. How do you do that? In the case of our approach, we’ve looked at everything from collateral, messaging, time of day data, as well as complex demographic targeting. All of these additional levers let you create that perfect roster of high-performers and straight-up studs.

Once it’s time for opening weekend of the NFL season, you are primed with a roster that is ready to score, win, dominate—whatever you want to call it.

Just don’t fumble the snap.

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