Let’s Get Real (Measurement) About Social Impact

Picture of Julie Davitz
Julie Davitz
social impact, ESG
August 29, 2022 11:42:00 AM EDT


In the midst of raising awareness for a cause, do you ever stop and wonder if your efforts are actually helping? There are many powerful tools for inspiring change, but how effective are purpose-driven campaigns in reality?

As pressure mounts for companies to act on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, corporate social responsibility and marketing teams are leaning into purpose-driven campaigns as an innovative way to tell their brand’s story. They know that a clear, authentic ESG message builds brand equity, ROI, and has the potential to drive real social impact.

Making a Difference While Building a Brand

Impact is broadly defined as “a marked effect or influence.” In the context of purpose-driven marketing, impact is the progress you make toward solving a social or environmental issue. Social impact marketing is catching on as a way to make a difference while simultaneously building your brand.

Social impact is critical. It’s a place where companies can put people first. It’s a chance to make a difference in a community and within your brand’s constituency. Banks don’t make furniture; they exist to make money. But even financial institutions must know their customers and their employees. Human capital metrics impact all industries’ bottom lines through attraction, retention, promotion, pay equity, and even supply chain efforts. This clear moral imperative also makes a strong case for good business practices. So while climate controversy builds around the “E” in ESG, the “S” is fast becoming the primary focus for brands.


Certified B Corporations are businesses that do more than make a profit. Discover how B Corps are using business as a force for good by prioritizing people and planet in everything they do.

But it’s not only companies that are seeking social impact. There is an abundance of evidence that consumers want measurable impact. Right now, the greatest obstacle standing in the way of transparent marketing and communication is a lack of defined and captured impact metrics. Avoiding greenwashing and providing all stakeholders with social impact results of purpose-driven advertising campaigns requires a thoughtful strategy, transparency, and targeted measurement tools.

ESG claims are meaningless without data. And where the “S” is concerned, it can be even more difficult for businesses to capture and report tangible social outcomes that are internally and externally relevant. After all the time, effort, and resources poured into unmeasured marketing campaigns, marketing technology (or martech) stands ready to fill this impact data gap. Combining the plethora of impact content across platforms with today’s technology is key to unlocking market insights and driving real change.

Digital marketing campaigns generally deliver ambiguous results at best and tend to be divorced from measurement. A case in point: 88.5% of marketers said they could not quantitatively demonstrate the influence of social media on their business goals.

Combining impact content of all forms with today’s technology, Plus Media Solutions (+Media) is among the new martech companies filling the data capture gap. But +Media goes even further by engaging audiences at the moment of inspiration to maximize engagement.

Take +Media’s work with Finish Line Features in enhancing their social impact. The independent filmmaker created the award-winning documentary $avvy to encourage female empowerment through financial literacy. +Media designed an +Impact HubTM filled with personal finance resources to extend the impact of the film. At screenings and film festivals, viewers visited the $avvy +Impact HubTM to learn more about the issue and take action.


Finish Line Features leveraged the +Media martech to fundraise for future social impact productions while advancing financial literacy and independence. The $avvy +Impact HubTM provides educational materials, investment opportunities and other avenues for women to learn and act to close the financial inclusion gap. The audience was highly engaged with the $avvy +Impact HubTM — about half of the total attendees utilized the resources in the +HubTM across several events.

Managing and Measuring to Maximize Positive Impact

Martech encompasses software and other digital tools marketers can use to improve campaign effectiveness through better planning, execution and measurement. +Media’s technology is particularly relevant to impact marketing as it can help marketing and communications professionals more easily capture, visualize, and report on cause-oriented campaign results.

Certified B Corporations have used a third-party verification of their impact. Use the free B Impact Assessment to evaluate your company’s impact on all stakeholders, including the environment, your workers, your community, and your customers.

Leveraging social impact digital marketing to inspire consumers and audiences extends beyond the corporate sphere. Many nonprofits also rely on digital advertising for awareness campaigns and fundraising. But again, the lack of easy viewer engagement at the moment of inspiration linked to concrete impact measurement leaves the nonprofit missing huge swaths of potential volunteers and donors. +Media’s martech can be utilized by nonprofit organizations and corporations alike.

Social and environmental impact content is growing in popularity, and social impact digital advertising spending is climbing steadily for both nonprofits and enterprises. Corporations can harness these trends for brand development and more transparent stakeholder communications. Nonprofits can mobilize purpose-driven marketing efforts to exponentially accelerate their impact. However, these campaigns will only be effective if they are properly measured and managed.

Directly tying awareness to action in digital marketing campaigns the way +Media does, via martech tools, is the key to demonstrating evidence-based impact. ESG data provides value to all stakeholders — consumers, employees, investors, etc. — and shows that your company is following through on its purpose and promises related to social impact and sustainable development. Measuring impact campaigns means you can prove your efforts have made a tangible difference.

It is time to face the truth and find out whether the longstanding advertising campaign you have put blood, sweat and tears into is actually effective. If the answer is not what you hoped for, there is still time to turn things around. By using martech tools to concretely measure audience engagement, you can take a data-driven approach to impact — adjusting systems, messaging and spend — to improve results.

True social impact requires data-driven campaigns. +Media recognizes that it is time to leverage technology for impact marketing and move the needle on pressing social and environmental issues to create real change.