This week the industry convenes at New York’s Hudson Yards for Advertising Week New York, which has returned to host live in-person events. On-demand videos online will also be offered and altogether the event will feature more than 200 hybrid sessions and 500 speakers.

At a panel today led by Alon Leibovich, co-founder and chief executive officer at BrandTotal, Leibovich shares the metrics that exist for optimizing the top and middle of the funnel, including how top challenger and leading brands are using these tools to strengthen their social media advertising strategies.

Holding a Master’s in organizational behavioral psychology, Leibovich likens marketers’ inaction toward optimizing every stage of the buyer’s journey to the feeling dogs exhibited during psychologist Martin Seligman’s experiment on learned helplessness, which is defined as behavior exhibited by a subject after enduring repeated aversive stimuli beyond their control.

In accepting that they can’t understand what tactics their competitors are using at any particular moment, marketers have struggled to clearly understand how their messaging, positioning and ads are truly resonating with consumers.

Despite the advent of social media, which has enabled a two-way street and instant feedback, marketers are stuck in the frame of mind when TV and after-the-fact campaign metrics were their only option.

To evolve beyond siloed measurement that only compares your current top and middle of the funnel efforts to your previous efforts, Leibovich suggests following these three steps.

Step 1: Measure and Benchmark

First and foremost, keep tabs on what your direct competitors are doing while also comparing yourself to the industry average. Leibovich emphasizes the importance of ongoing measurement to assess your and competitors’ share of voice, media mix, ad formats, the volume of messages being used and campaign themes.

This includes tracking and predicting pre-click buying intent during the awareness and consideration stages. If, for example, you’re a luxury brand attempting to persuade consumers to pay more than the category index for your goods or services, look to other luxury brands to see how they’re achieving that success. Leibovich cites Lululemon in the apparel category and Ray-Ban in eyewear as standouts.

Step 2: Look At Creative Critically

Social comprises four key components—the copy, the visuals, the theme and the call-to-action. As Leibovich notes, these are levers brands should be adjusting based on what their competitors are doing. He suggests marketers apply the same level of precision and science to creative as they apply to media.

By finding the right balance between data and creative “spark,” brands can optimize their impact and drive creative strategies to elicit the type of engagement that leads to a higher conversion rate.

Step 3: Metrics

Lastly, Leibovich said to measure engagement rate and positive consumer net sentiment to correlate top- and mid-funnel activity with bottom-funnel purchase metrics. At BrandTotal, he noted, social share of voice and engagement rate are two metrics that have a bottom-of-the-funnel correlation.

When Gillette received backlash for its ‘The Best Men Can Be’ campaign, competitors including Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s capitalized on that moment and experienced positive net sentiment while Gillette’s was overwhelmingly negative.

Final Thoughts

Implementing the aforementioned strategy will also require brands to understand which brands are doing better than the industry benchmark currently—their brand or one of their competitors. If a competitor is over-indexing in engagement rate, that should serve as an alert to understand by how much they exceed the benchmark and spur a deep dive on their creative. Then comes time for changing and optimizing your creative because as Leibovich noted, all marketing is performance marketing.

“There’s no dichotomy between brand marketing and performance marketing. It’s up to us to make all marketing performance marketing. This is how it should be,” said Leibovich.