Tag Archives: advertising effectiveness

Spot the difference – 1957 vs. now

The one thing that HRH Queen Elizabeth II is probably most proud of in her now diamond-encrusted reign is, of course, the development of British TV over her reign into the world-class industry it is today.  Her coronation was the prompt for many British families to invest in their first TV set, so they could gather round and squint at tiny TV screens that the average tablet would now put to shame.  Three years of set growth later, and the jewel in HRH’s TV crown, commercial TV, was born in 1955.  She must be thrilled at how well it has performed since then.

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Fannying about with fans

Facebook fans; they’re fantastic. They’re every marketer’s fantasy. We all fancy as many as we can get. But not all marketers are fanatics; for some it is fandabbydozy, for others it is all still new-fangled and unproven.

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There, but for the grace of God, went I

So I join Thinkbox to oversee its research and, at almost exactly the same time, Tess Alps posts a scathing blog sending up bad media research. Was this some sort of timely hint? I’ve barely discovered where the kettle is and it has been made publicly very clear to me that any research I do is subject to the highest standards. A hint of hypocrisy and I’m toast. No pressure then.

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Milking TV’s goodness

Well, Yeo Valley nailed it, they gave it 120%, they took that ad break and they made it their own. They even, to use a couple of Kelly Rowland-isms, both “brought it” and “put it dowwwn!”

BBH’s new TV ad for Yeo Valley is an impeccable and affectionate parody of boy band videos that was hugely entertaining and extremely well branded, but it was also a masterclass on how and why great creative TV advertising works as well as it does. Read more on Milking TV’s goodness…

Quality time

Time to look at time again.  As we await the IAB’s half-yearly update on internet ad revenue, Sir Martin Sorrell’s recent comments about the proportion of people’s time spent online compared to the proportion of online advertising money have come to mind.  His belief is that online media are being under-invested in compared to the time spent online.

Is the amount of time spent with a medium the most important reason for advertising money to follow?  It is certainly a sign of a medium’s vitality and popularity if we are choosing to spend time with it – and if no one is using your medium they can’t be exposed to any advertising on it. But is quantity the be all and end all? Read more on Quality time…

Men hate apples but love pears, says International Pear Bureau

Men hate apples but love pears, according to new research from the International Pear Bureau (IPB).

The wide-ranging study – the fifth in an infinite series trying to prove that pears are somehow ‘better’ – asked one man (Alan Perry) who was found eating a pear in a pear orchard.

Among the key findings was the fact that he reckoned he ate at least one pear a day, but couldn’t recall the last time he had eaten an apple.  His general pear awareness was 79.9%, compared with only 41% generated by apples. However, the research did find that the man thoroughly enjoyed pies in which apples and pears had been combined and integrated with sugar and pastry, although not labeled as such. These ‘pear’ pies were found to satisfy him more effectively (some 89% vs. a 61% average for an apple or a pear eaten in isolation). Read more on Men hate apples but love pears, says International Pear Bureau…

Online research: the crack cocaine of media evaluation

The low cost, fast turnaround and ease of doing online research has turned it into the crack cocaine of media evaluation; we know it’s bad for us but it is also addictive and gives us an instant high.

So a big thumbs up and round of applause should go to the IAB in the USA. They have just released an independent review of the methods used to measure online advertising’s effectiveness via the internet.

This was a very brave move indeed by the IAB, given that these ‘surveys’ consistently claim that online advertising spend is significantly more effective than spend on established media. The IAB across the Atlantic took aim at many of its members’ own feet.

I doubt there was the sound of champagne corks hitting the ceiling when the results came in. Conducted by one of the leading research specialists in the USA, the review concluded that much of online effectiveness research is seriously undermined by extremely low response rates, problems of survey design and a lack of evidence that it is weighting the data to account for inherent biases in the system.

Most of these surveys work on an ‘intercept’ approach, which means that respondents are invited to take part in a survey via web pages which are serving the online ads of the brands being evaluated. It is a bit like asking people sitting in Burger King and eating Whoppers if they prefer Burger King and Whoppers to McDonalds and Big Macs.

Talking of whoppers, I am regularly shocked by how many people in our industry take these studies’ findings seriously. I was at the MRG Conference in London when one such online study was presented. It demonstrated that expenditure on a series of banner ads had been around twice as effective as spend on TV. In a moment of frustration, I asked the media agency presenting the research the following question:

“If, twenty years ago, I had presented research selling the effectiveness of newspaper advertising by saying we had recruited a sample of readers of a newspaper, they had responded to an invitation to take part in a survey that was on the same page as the ad being evaluated, and they had completed the survey in their newspaper before sending it off by post, and the research then concluded that newspaper advertising was by far the most effective for that brand, would I have been taken seriously?”

I never got a satisfactory answer.

Research into advertising effectiveness needs to be scrupulously fair. It needs to be unbiased and comprehensive. We cannot restrict our questions to online panels, as they only represent the 70-odd per cent of the population that are regularly online and also skew towards heavier online users. We cannot recruit them via the pages on which the advertising to be evaluated sits, as that introduces yet another level of bias. And we shouldn’t even be asking them to complete the survey online, as the context of the questions will add another bias towards online.

In short, and in line with the results of the IAB’s investigation, there are far too many biases to make the research even remotely viable. It is flawed before it starts – and that is before we factor in additional failings such as the short-term nature of the research (some media channels, most notably television, carry on delivering value many months after the campaign ends), or the fact that a single exposure to the online creative is given as much of a weighting as multiple exposures to other media channels.

This is an issue that Ipsos has already raised in the UK.  Studies that have previously always demanded intellectual rigour and methodological discipline have been dumbed-down, seduced by the instant ‘hit’ of data showing the results that were wanted in the first place. In the area of advertising effectiveness, which should surely be the most rigorous and scientific of all advertising research activities, we have developed an approach that offers plenty of data but very little insight, and that is fundamentally wrong.

But it is crack cocaine, so it is hard to wean people off it. So, well done the State-side IAB for tackling this issue – as it puts much of the data of its supporters under the spotlight – and for offering rehab.  Media research relies on mutual trust between the commissioner of that research and its audience, and it is only by taking a leadership role, as the IAB has done in the States, that we can ensure the many positive advantages of online research are not misused and that we have a set of insights we can trust and use.

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Action TV stations

It is important to respond, to act. Ask Gordon Brown about biscuits and he’d better respond with something – anything – or else there will be trouble. Deafening silence rarely suggests success.

Advertising doesn’t always expect an instant response; often it is trying to change the way people feel or think about a brand.  But if advertising doesn’t eventually lead to a response (ideally a purchase or a change in behaviour), then it is difficult to see its point.

But the issue of attribution is a tricky one; how can you identify everything that has contributed to a response?  This is just as true in online media, despite their supposed easy accountability.  The online world is trying to ditch the ‘last click wins’ model in order to assign value to other online ad exposures that precede the final response.  Fair enough, but once the online world has opened that particular can of worms they must acknowledge the contribution of the radio ad, the PR coverage in the paper and, most significantly, the TV campaign that is running, or has previously run.  Is, in fact, the supposed accountability of online more misleading than enlightening?  This question of credit going where it is due is crucial if advertisers are to gain a better understanding of how advertising works.

So it is rather handy that a new econometric study from MediaCom, commissioned by Thinkbox, has measured TV advertising’s ability to send people online. It is the first time that the instant effect TV ads have on web response has been measured and made publically available.

Over a period of three months MediaCom analysed over 175,000 TV spots and the activity they caused on different advertisers’ websites in 10 minute intervals for seven leading brands across six different markets. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

Two of the headline findings from their analysis are:

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A qualified hurrah

No other awards do what the IPA Effectiveness Awards do – honour the actual, transformational effect that good advertising can have. For this reason above all they remain the gold standard in awards.  And for that reason Thinkbox is extremely proud to sponsor them.

At Monday night’s awards do, all winners were deserving of praise. The campaigns had worked brilliantly and the brains behind them had gone the extra mile to show how they worked. They proved the influence of advertising on the bottom line and they deserve our thanks for that effort.  

And there was also great jubilation to see history being made when Mediaedge:CIA won both the Grand Prix for Morrisons Let’s Grow and Effectiveness Agency of the Year.  I hope many other media agencies will follow them by taking more responsibility for effectiveness in the coming years.

However, there was one thing that puzzles me – why were entries restricted to campaigns that had cost less than a total of £2.5 million?

£2.5 million is still a hefty amount of money – especially at the moment – but isn’t effectiveness still effectiveness whatever the budget? A campaign spending £2.5m  should have absolutely no problem demonstrating its effectiveness against a campaign spending £25m.  Indeed, the way most entries seemed to define ROI (return divided by investment), the smaller the budget the easier the task I reckon.  Let me explain.

Generally speaking, as you start to invest in advertising the efficiency of your spend will be very high, but as your brand matures, increases its market share and you spend more, the efficiency of your spend is likely to reduce leading to the phenomenon of ‘diminishing returns’.   However, effectiveness is not the same thing as efficiency and respected gurus such as Tim Ambler, Les Binet and Peter Field have shown how, if we persist in defining ROI as Return divided by Investment it can lead to falling brand shares, declining profit and a disappearing marketing budget.  Return minus investment should be our goal; by pursuing this definition brands will focus on what really matters which is increasing market share and profit growth.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with diminishing returns, as long as there is still a return, the brands that understand this become market leaders.  However if you set your goal as ‘how can I get the most impressive ratio between what I spend and the incremental profit it generates?’ you are likely to spend less and remain a small brand (a bit like Arsenal).

Restricting the budget restricts those eligible to enter and, in an inadvertent way, sort of paints advertising as a cost rather than an investment. In a perfect world advertisers would invest more and more because they would make more and more profit. We don’t live in a perfect world, of course.

I’m also mystified by a few of the Special Awards.  Why have an award for best integration, or best use of media?  Either they were effective campaigns or not.  100% use of PR or outdoor or anything else would be unlikely to win either of those awards, but if it delivered the best business results then why reward other less successful campaigns.

There is obviously a bit of vested interest in all my concerns; the restricted budget meant that broadcast TV featured in fewer of the winners than in other years, though, despite this, the Grand Prix and two of the three golds went to campaigns with TV at their heart.  For next year’s awards, it’s business as usual: all-comers and all shapes and sizes of campaigns will be eligible, so start gathering the evidence now.

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A graph that made me laugh

I’m supposed to be having a day off.  Fat chance. 
 
You might have noticed a story put out by our cousins at the IAB that claims online advertising has now overtaken TV to become the ‘biggest single advertising medium in the UK’ (by spend).  We find the IAB’s story odd because the internet is not a single anything; it is a fantastic technology that is home to many different marketing activities that do different things.  It even delivers TV.  It is a pretty meaningless statistic but it has garnered plenty of headlines and no small amount of apocalyptic predictions.  Journalists expect us to respond, so here I am blogging instead of planting my daffs.
 
As I have said many times before, I love the internet. I love the way that it complements TV – nothing else works better. I love the way people can respond instantly to TV ads via search and websites; I love the way social media helps make the buzz around TV programmes so visible and so much more fun.  I’m happy for online advertising to increase – so long as it is not at TV’s expense.  And so far it isn’t.  (I can almost hear your eyebrows rising at this point).
 
That’s the depressing part of this story; the implication that online advertising is taking broadcast TV’s money is just not true.  Last year broadcast TV spot advertising declined 2.9% compared to total advertising declines of 4.2% and display declines of 5%.  Not the spectacular share growth of online maybe but growth nonetheless and in the horrific ad market that is 2009 the same pattern is emerging; TV and online are increasing their shares, mostly at the expense of print and DM, though print remains the biggest overall advertising medium, not online.
 
If the IAB can’t resist making comparisons with TV then the fairest would be to compare all forms of online display with all forms of broadcast TV – spot, sponsorship, AFP, Interactive etc. – not an easy number to get hold of because TV has never bothered to lump its own advertising revenues together. TV would never try to compare itself with any form of classified advertising, DM or search because it wouldn’t make any sense.  
 
Anyway, Thinkbox’s thoughts on this are already out there so I won’t repeat them all here.
 
But I would like to draw your attention to The Guardian’s coverage of the story today. They produced a little graph that made me laugh (it isn’t online though). Along the x axis we had a list of advertising sectors, each with a bar representing revenue that got a bit taller as it went along. We had cinema, radio (spot only), business magazines, consumer magazines, directories, outdoor, national newspapers, press classified, direct mail, regional newspapers, press display, television (spot only), and then…internet. Just internet. No more explanation than that.
 
We think these numbers would be more meaningfully represented in one of two ways, either by technology/platform or by the genuine distinctive advertising sectors .  We’ve had a go, based just on the IAB’s figures.  Take your pick.

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