Boundary Conditions

In finance 101 we learn that to have a balanced budget, expenses cannot exceed income. In other words, you cannot spend more than you make. This is an example of a boundary condition. It is a rule or constraint that must be meet in order for the system to work. This does not mean that businesses have to follow this rule, lot of businesses have higher expenses than income. However if your expenses exceed your income for a sustained period, the business will likely fail.

In marketing, there are four key boundary conditions in order to accurately evaluate the value of a marketing campaign or strategy.

All marketing efforts must be accounted for.

Just like in finance, financial reports are useless if they do not account for all income and all expenses. In marketing the same is true whether it is determining the ROI of an advertising campaign or identifying which creatives are most effective.

Only humans drive value.

Before the internet, this boundary condition was always satisfied. However since the advent of the internet and digital marketing, marketing resources can be consumed by other computers. These other computers are often referred to as bots. A simple example of this is when another computer (aka bot) views your website. There are lots of good reasons that can occur such as monitoring the load time of your website. However, this page view of your website was not caused by any marketing activities and as such should not be considered in any marketing analytics reports.

The impact of a marketing event is time dependent.

While this boundary condition may seem obvious, it is one that many marketing analytics solutions do not satisfy. For example, if there is only one billboard on a long stretch of highway verses hundreds of billboards on that same highway, the audience is going to have more time to process and recall that advertisement in the first scenario rather than the latter.

The impact of a marketing event is copy dependent.

While this boundary condition too may seem obvious, it is one that many marketing analytics solutions also do not satisfy. For example, a radio advertisement that simply states "we have a sale going on" without mentioning the name of the business, the location, or any identifying information would not add value as the audience would have no idea what business this advertisement is promoting. Similarly, a full page advertisement in a newspaper is going to be noticed more than a small advertisement on the same page surrounded by other content or advertisements.