Couch Or Stool?


(By McCurdy) Couch or stool. Which would you prefer to be sitting on?

The easy and logical answer would be the couch. But before choosing, it might be a good idea to check and see how many people might already be sitting there. If it’s jammed, the stool might be the better choice.

What does this have to do with advertising? More than one might initially realize. Just as in the example above, there are times when the easy and logical choice for station selection might not always end up being the best choice. Like the couch, it might depend on who’s currently “there,” the extent and length of their presence, their budget, and previous advertising history.

Research over the years has shown that competing commercials tend to reduce recall and neutralize impact, but this reduction of recall/impact is typically greater for the smaller, newer, less-established retailer/brand, unless in those rare instances where the offer is truly outstanding and the creative world-class.

Due to the consumer “confusion” brought about by largely similar messaging and offers, it’s not unusual for them to attribute the messaging and offers they hear (or see) to the most familiar, larger players, the ones with the current and historical share-of-voice and share-of-mind advantage. I saw this “misattribution” phenomenon clearly at work in a number of studies I did with OTX a while back. As a result, if the smaller advertiser is not careful, they can actually end up advertising/marketing for the larger advertiser, with the greater share-of-voice/-mind.

Additionally, larger advertisers’ legacy advertising should not be given short shrift during the station selection process, as larger advertisers not only have the “legacy” advantage (month or years of ad spend) but a “penetration” advantage (many customers over the years) and a “loyalty” advantage (satisfied customers). This fact behooves the smaller advertiser, who wants to maximize the impact of each ad dollar, to be more circumspect as to where they place their messaging. It’s not only about the correct station selection but identifying where they can generate a greater share-of-voice that is worthy of some consideration.

What can these smaller, less established retailers/brands do to compete more effectively? Consider going where “the big boys” are not.

Smaller advertisers typically have fewer commercials airing due to a smaller budget and are generally less top-of-mind, so it is important for them to avoid having their “voice” squelched. Since most advertisers in the same product vertical target the same consumer, often on the same stations, this means it is generally to the smaller advertiser’s advantage to advertise where their larger competitors have little to no presence. This could mean buying slightly “off demo target” or selecting less popular (according to Nielsen) stations where it is easier for their “voice” to stand out.

When buying, we search our memory for a reason to select a particular product. This is called “cued retrieval” which is largely dependent upon share-of-voice. This share-of-voice leads to the all-important share-of-mind (mental availability) which is the only way to impact share-of-market. Tactically, buying slightly “off demo target” or on stations where their larger competitors have no or a limited presence, enables the smaller advertiser to own a larger piece of the spotlight.

The takeaway is that for smaller advertisers, it might make sense to not only evaluate the track record and qualitative profile of each station’s audience under purchase consideration, but who also might be competing for their ears.


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