YouTube is launching a 40-channel network, while traditional TV viewing keeps falling. The use of ad blockers has reached the 47 percent level worldwide, while Google admits that 92 percent of viewers skip pre-rolls when they can. Long-leading brands are seeing huge brand share erosion, while “natural,” “organic,” and imported brands are taking over store shelves. Coke and Pepsi are out, water and club soda are in. Beer and Craft drinks are out, wine and whisky are in.
What’s a marketer to do?
1. Forget what was. Look to what’s next
Hoping for the return of the past—high TV show ratings, newspapers, retail stores, and respect for “authority figures” endorsing your brands—is pointless. Instead, look for the next trends, and reshape your marketing plans and new products. Be quick and take risks, because the former trial time lines don’t exist anymore.
2. Don’t use the “standard” metrics for measuring success
Brand recall isn’t as important for online ad performance because there are no commercial pods to break through. Instead, engagement is the key, because if you don’t capture consumers’ attention within the first few seconds, you have lost your audience. Likewise, stop testing package designs strictly for in-store, on-shelf performance. More and more products are being purchased online, without high SKU visuals. If your individual package doesn’t have high engagement on the eCommerce page, you lose the sale.
3. Think about new ways to reach your audience
Advertisers are experimenting with ways of directly delivering discounts, coupons, and information through signals embedded in standard content—TV, radio, online, in-store, and so on. These signals are inaudible and don’t require the phone owner to activate their apps or WIFI. The messages are customized to the phone owner and the offers are “invited in” instead of being pushed on them. This will be the future of engaging target audiences if the old advertising model starts to fail.
4. Understand how consumers really shop and interact with your brand
Using nondescript glasses, advertisers are learning exactly what engages or turns off shoppers as they go through stores or surf the Internet. Small changes have been found to make substantial differences in product sales.
5. Stop partnering with suppliers who cling to the “old world”
You are fighting a new marketing war with new rules. Using suppliers who are fighting with outdated weapons will prevent you from achieving your goals. Focus groups cannot tell you how your audience will react in the real world or to real media. Likewise, “forced exposure” testing systems are providing “ideal” results, not what will happen in a competitive world.
If you are going to try to understand the new marketing world, align yourself with partners who share your goals and have tools to engage.
I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or email@example.com.
Over the years, PTG has conducted numerous media environment tests for clients. Since the topic has come up again, I thought I would share some of our learning.
Proceed with Caution
Historically, advertising campaigns have been evaluated according to a thumb up or down rate card that assesses performance myopically. For example, high recall scores collected under forced exposure have long been considered the currency of copy testing. However, we would argue that recall measures only provide a portion of the predictive data required to truly evaluate an ad’s success.
We believe it’s vital that marketing decisions be evaluated more holistically. For instance, it’s important to incorporate media placement, emotional response and real world involvement alongside more traditional key performance metrics. By addressing all external factors that can lead to the success of a television spot, you will undoubtedly identify opportunities for optimization that far exceed traditional pass/fail systems.
General Trends in Media Placement
Our experience has shown that the selection of media environment impacts zapping (aka: involvement), believability, engagement and follow up. However, this impact presents itself in different ways depending on the type of environment, type of ad message and number of competitive ads in the program’s commercial pods.
For instance, among younger viewers, there is more ad tolerance (less zapping and less second screen attendance) when watching sports and comedy shows. However, our research has also shown that attention to the message and engagement is lower as it pertains to commercial specifics (i.e. readership of copy, noting brand name at end of the ad etc.). Among this audience we have also found message believability to fall below average.
On the other side of the coin, older viewers have much more involvement with news, documentaries and crime/drama shows, and are far more engaged with commercial specifics and the believability of their messages. This tendency is especially true for DTC commercials.
- PTG data shows an increase in ad zapping among younger viewers and less ad recall among older viewers when there are too many similar category commercials within the same 30 minute program.
- Commercials that reference the same content as the programming often lead to much greater engagement and follow through.
- Having a TV show’s character appear in your commercial, while the program is airing, is an incredible engagement tool.
- Interestingly, we have found that “breaking the rules” can also pay off. For instance, placing an ad or a commercial in a media environment where one wouldn’t necessarily expect to see it has shown to deliver breakthrough attention, engagement and serious consideration. The moral of the story is as long as the target audience is present, marketers may see better engagement even if a commercial doesn’t necessarily “belong”.
Use Cases and In-Market Examples
- An AARP commercial, showing elder folk fighting neighborhood crime did especially well in a Criminal Minds show.
- A Discover commercial that promoted the ability to freeze an account when lost also performed very well during NCIS and CSI programs that addressed lost wallets and identity theft.
- DTC commercials do much better in medical drama programs.
- Engagement skyrocketed when Joe Mantegna appeared as a spokesperson for an insurance company ad within the one hour airing of Criminal Minds (in which he was a principal character).
- Dennis Haysbert, the “President” of the TV show “24” proved to be an exceptional Allstate Insurance spokesperson, especially when his ads appeared during the airing of “24.”
- Nikon camera ads performed very well in Businessweek magazine and weight loss and ED product ads did well in Sports Illustrated (apparently not all couch-potato sports players are in the best of shape).
- SUV commercials do very well in children’s programming because Moms often watch the shows alongside their children.
- The moral of the story is as long as the target audience is present, one may see better engagement even if a commercial doesn’t necessarily “belong”.
To learn more, feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.