(By Bob McCurdy) As we work with clients to create effective ad campaigns, the takeaways from the following could assist. WARC recently published an article titled, “The Top Ten Drivers Of Marketing Effectiveness From The Effie Awards — And Beyond.” The author, Mark Ritson, assisted by a team of MBA students, analyzed several thousand Effie case studies. The Effie Awards were launched in 1968 by the New York American Marketing Association as an awards program to honor the most effective advertising efforts. The award now honors all forms of effective marketing and the companies and individuals creating effective work across the globe. What follows are Ritson’s and his team’s findings as to what factors contributed most to these campaigns’ performance in rank order.
When you think about this, this makes sense. Larger advertisers not only have the legacy advertising advantage of months, or in some cases, years of previous ad spend which not only has a “carryover” effect but a penetration advantage. For example, the many customers who’ve used the product or service over the years, as well as a loyalty advantage — likely numerous satisfied customers. It is much easier to refresh an existing memory than to create a new one, which is why legacy advertising is so impactful. For smaller brands/retailers, the lesson is clear: get ready to compete, get aggressive, and be prepared to match wits, if not budget. A guerilla’s mindset will also come in handy for “challengers.”
Studies by Nielsen Catalina Solutions in 2016-2017 of 500 campaigns across all media platforms, and the Advertising Research Foundation several years prior, both confirmed ad impact was largely determined by creative quality. Creative matters — a lot. It’s been said that if you want more sales, generate better creative. Creative is the “economic multiplier” that creates demand and reconsideration, turning facts and figures into value and revenue.
“Codes” meaning logos, audio logos, taglines, packaging, mascots, etc. Audio logos increase the overall impact of a radio commercial. Several years back, ad agency Mindshare and Neurensics conducted a study using fMRI technology and concluded that an audio logo magnifies the impact of the radio commercial, increasing both the attention and emotional response to the ad. This positive impact was evident for every brand tested. Their takeaway was that advertisers should strongly consider the use of an audio logo as they engage, command attention, and generate a powerful emotional response. An audio logo could be as simple as the consistent use of a voice, jingle, or sound (Taco Bell’s Bong) and need not cost much, if anything, to create.
Successful advertisers consistently keep their advertising share-of-voice above that of competitor’s regardless of circumstances, as share-of-voice relates directly to “mental availability.” For example, recalling a brand/business at the purchasing moment-of-truth. As much as an advertiser might like to believe that what their competitors do doesn’t greatly impact their own advertising, it does. No brand/business competes in a vacuum. If a brand/business wants to compete with a larger, more established competitor it will require a consistent ad expenditure to generate the desired results. In fact, their “share-of-voice” will likely need to be greater due to the larger competitor’s legacy advertising advantage.
Balancing mass and targeted advertising
Targeting too tightly decreases return-on-ad-spend. A certain amount of targeting is good but targeting too tightly than all category buyers is a recipe for negative growth. Big sales require big reach. A sample of 5,646 papers from the Effies indicated that award-winning entries (those that produced quantifiable sales results) favored mass marketing over targeting.
Long- and short-term communications
It is not “either/or,” it’s “and.” Coincidentally, this past week WARC also published an article titled, “2020 Is The Year Marketers Re-invest In Their Brands,” which highlighted that advertisers are reassessing their spending and embracing a renewed focus on brand-building with long-term impact over performance (promotional) marketing with short-term payoffs.
Ritson concluded that the more media channels in the mix, the more effective the campaign is likely to be. The Advertising Research Foundation also concluded the same thing several years earlier. There are likely several reasons for this. First, each medium has its heavy and light users and the more media used, the greater the effective reach. The second is synergy between media channels (synergy between radio and digital). The more channels used, the greater the synergy and the more effective the ad campaign.
Don’t exaggerate. Ritson said, “This is not an acceptance of defeat. It’s realism.”
Set meaningful strategic objectives
Do not strive to boil the ocean with any single campaign.
Know how much research to do
Analyze but don’t go overboard. Do the proper due diligence in terms of target, offer, campaign length, and creative and then move forward. Avoid analysis paralysis.
An advertiser’s previous advertising history, share-of-voice, size relative to competitors, and creative (among other variables) all play a role in determining how effective an ad campaign will be. It would be wise to keep them in mind when coaching clients. The more “boxes” our clients can check off from the 10 drivers above, the greater the chances of launching an effective ad campaign.