Conversation Starters

Subscribe to our blog to get the latest updates from our team

Measuring Experiential Activation ROI in Three Key Phases

January 16, 2024
Dara St. Louis

Dara St. Louis

SVP & Founding Partner, Reach3..

Brand Experience Predictor (BXP) is the first scalable research solution that provides early-stage, in-moment and post-reflection feedback on the effectiveness and potential of experiential brand activations.

Experiential brand activations have evolved from guerrilla marketing to a multi-billion-dollar category, a reflection of a seismic shift in consumer preferences. The pivotal reality is that brand experiences outshine traditional advertising, forging emotional connections and perceived uniqueness. However, despite booming budgets, measuring the Return on Investment (ROI), or Return on Experience (ROI) remains a challenge.

The Rise of Experiential Brand Activations:

In 2023, we participated in a ground-breaking 2023 study with The Keller Advisory Group to get a fulsome understanding of customers attitudes and opinions towards experiential activations. We had a hypothesis, of course, however the results surpassed our expectation significantly. According to the study, 69% of consumers prefer brand experiences, finding them more relevant and exciting than traditional advertising. We also discovered that the role of so-called “influential” had a significant impact on the potential success and shareability of the activations. Read all about how much consumer influences love brand experiences here: consumer-influencers-in-love-with-brand-experiences.

Challenges in Measuring Experiential Activations:

Budgets are robust and the demand for experiential activations is evident. So why then do marketers struggle to present a unified set of metrics demonstrating ROI? The answer is simple. There simply is not an integrated and unified system of measurement. As a result, marketers default to historical measurements like media impressions and foot traffic fail to capture the impact of brand experiences. A bubble-gum and duct-tap approach that relies on siloed and fragmented data, ill-defined success metrics, and after-the-fact measurements.

The good news? There is a better way. Brand Experience Predictor (BXP) is the first scalable research solution that provides early-stage, in-moment and post-reflection feedback on the effectiveness and potential of experiential brand activations.

Re-imagining Experiential Brand Measurement:

 To address these challenges, we worked with Ed Keller, co-author of "The Influentials" and leading expert in word of mouth, influencer marketing, and consumer insights to analyze the results of our research. From that data the team at R3 uncovered three foundational pillars for experiential measurement:


Pre-testing becomes crucial for risk reduction and performance acceleration. Moving beyond traditional A/B testing, understanding potential engagement early in the development stage can significantly impact overall success. By predicting engagement, shareability, and brand impact, pre-testing experiences becomes a powerful tool often overlooked.

 In the Moment:

Experiences are a potent way to engage consumers, motivating trial, boosting positive feelings, and creating emotional connectedness. Leveraging mobile chat-based technology with video selfies and advanced conversational research techniques, brands can engage participants in-the-moment on their mobile devices to see and hear in the moment. This taps into system 1 thinking, making it easier to collect rich, contextual feedback full of emotion and color.

Post-event Reflection:

Connecting activations to an increase in revenue or brand lift is the key to demonstrating meaningful ROI. By re-contacting on-site attendees at future dates, brands can understand the activation's impact on subsequent behavior and brand equity. Predicting the impact and linking those predictions to post-event behavior can have a transformative impact on future activations.

A New Set of Norms for Experiential Activations:

Traditional broadcasts follow specific norms to measure traditional campaign performance, but these norms don't fit well with experiential campaigns. Experiential campaigns are a different medium, engaging consumers in a unique way. Simply put, traditional broadcast norms do not work for experiential campaigns. The unique nature of experiential activations demands a discrete set of norms, providing benchmarks for comparative analysis and diagnostic feedback. These norms can be relied upon to assess the performance of activations within a company and category.

Closing Thoughts:

The net-net of this study is the creation of what we call the Brand Experience Predictor. A solution, Greg Pharo - Senior Global Director, Holistic Communications & Marketing Effectiveness at Coca-Cola describes as “the only fully integrated and unified solution for measuring the impact and effectiveness of experiential marketing campaigns in the world.”

In the ever-changing landscape of experiential brand activations, the shift from guerrilla marketing to a multi-billion-dollar category highlights consumers' preference changes. Brand experiences now outshine traditional advertising with the ability to create emotional connections, inspire shareability and drive business impact. Increased budgets in experiential activations further validate this trend. Through Reach3's approach, brands can navigate this unique medium, fostering a transformative era where creativity seamlessly blends with measurable success.


Dara St. Louis
Dara St. Louis

SVP & Founding Partner, Reach3 Insights

You may also like


Consumers today can engage, research, and purchase in countless ways. And, given the dynamic and evolving landscape today, doing customer journey mapping...

June 25, 2024 | 4 min read

This year’s Super Bowl saw a noticeable number of marketing initiatives — both advertising and experiential — focused on women. From food companies like M&M’s to...

March 8, 2024 | 4 min read

Our team at Reach3 Insights is passionate about understanding shoppers — it’s part of what we do. We’ve been tracking the evolution of shopping since the pandemic...

March 1, 2024 | 4 min read