In this series of blog posts, researchers from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute share the major marketing science discoveries from the past fifty years, and explain the practical implications. In this two-part post senior research associate Dr Virginia Beal explains why understanding marketing science can make your advertising more effective.
Last post we wrote about how marketing can be viewed as a science and discussed the need for marketers to make decisions based on evidence, not just rely on common practice (or common sense).
This week we’re applying those ideas to advertising. Understanding how advertising works is critical, because it takes up such a large part of the marketing budget. Even small improvements in effectiveness can create large incremental returns for a company when such large budgets are deployed.
Use advertising to build mental availability
Mental availability means how easily a brand is thought of across all likely buying and consumption situations.
Mental availability is formed in consumers’ minds in three ways:
1. By using the brand
2. By seeing the brand in their environment (e.g. on a shelf, in the street, others using it, word of mouth)
3. Through exposure to advertising for the brand
It’s this third way—using advertising—that marketers have the most control over, and it is this function that a business can leverage to create greater success for their brands. This makes advertising vital to maximising a brand’s success! In the first half of this two-part post, we share the first two of our five insights to help maximise advertising effectiveness.
Create your ads for the most inattentive consumer
The media multi-tasker is commonplace—we text or use iPads while watching TV and surf the Internet when lounging with friends. This behaviour is normal and media has long been consumed this way. While the technology may have changed (in the 70s it was the newspaper, today the iPad consumed in front of the TV) the implication has not. What’s important is that this low level of attention to media is the norm and must be kept in mind when designing your advertising.
For example, marketers should avoid creative techniques that use cumulative story lines or require full attention across an ad – this is particularly important for branding - does your brand appear throughout the ad? Or is it just at the beginning or the end? If someone only saw the start of your ad would they have a chance to know who was advertising? Advertising created with the most inattentive consumer in mind will increase the odds of a successful campaign.
An optimal scheduling strategy aims to reach all category buyers at least once
Evidence to date shows that advertising’s greatest sales effect occurs when an individual moves from no exposure to an ad, to having one exposure (Taylor, Kennedy, Sharp, 2009). While subsequent close by exposures can have a positive effect, the impact is generally much lower. Figure 1 shows the typical advertising response curve.
Since we all have finite media budgets, this means that the most effective scheduling strategy should aim to reach as many category buyers as possible once without wasting dollars hitting the same consumers multiple times with the same stimuli within a short window.
Five dos and don'ts for effective advertising
Although this post only scratches the surface, it’s clear that evidence-based marketing can teach us a lot about how advertising works, and what we should (and shouldn’t) do to maximise the effectiveness of our ads.
DON’T use cumulative storylines
DON’T use creative techniques that require full attention across an ad
DO create ads that are designed for an inattentive viewer
DO start with achieving as much 1+ reach as possible among category buyers, as only those who are reached by the campaign can be influenced by it
Next post the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute will cover more insights (and several more dos and don’ts) that can help you create more effective advertising.
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