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Effectiveness lessons from BoJo’s boo-boos

by Emily Underhill

19 May 2020 10:55am

We’re going ask you to spare a moments pity for Boris

If the stories from TV producers are correct, the PM’s address to the nation last Sunday had been carefully crafted. Hours spent filming multiple takes over two days tell the story that this “client” wanted his “audience” to not only become aware of his message, but also to act upon it.

If that was his intention, he failed. Dismally, if we are to believe the verdict of the opposition; the unions; the media; and the assembled ranks of the creative industries on Monday morning.

Having collected performance data from hundreds of clients and tens of thousands of campaigns over the last 20 years (and supported by academic and effectiveness research), our view at The Kite Factory, is that as with many campaigns, you can’t judge success by the launch ad. So, what else could Boris have done to land his message?

He could have used more than one media channel

There’s no doubt that we’re all in favour of TV as a lead channel. TKF invest more of our clients’ money on TV than any other channel because we see it as the most effective channel for most (and Binet & Field agree with us) but we don’t just use TV.

As the IPA effectiveness databank confirms, if audiences see a message in different forms in different channels, they are more likely to act, and an investment will yield better returns. Use just one channel and only 58% of award-winning campaigns report a very large effect on the business. Add another three channels and that jumps to 74%. Plough on and use eight channels and now 80% of campaigns have a big impact on the business.

As expected, we have seen the multiple-media effect help cut through the confusion for the government this week, with rational media amplifying and clarifying the emotional foundations from the first TV broadcast.

He (as we all do) will benefit from frequency

Some bright US academics caused a bit of a storm in 2019 with research that said, “more frequency is more effective”, going against conventional wisdom that stated “maximise 1+ reach for performance (response); and 4-6 frequency for consideration (brand).

But what Jennifer Lee Burton and her team in Tampa found was that audiences who responded to an ad having only seen it once or twice saw the message as fulfilling a need they knew they had. In other words, that’s the “Harvesting” strategy that most performance advertisers pursue.

The audiences who responded to the ad having seen it between three and ten times are in the research stage of decision making, with the ads helping to guide them through search and evaluation. The audiences who responded to the ad having seen it more than ten times needed to be reminded and reassured of the decision they are about to take or have just taken.

The activation of each of these audiences is cumulative (and only comes with more investment). But given Boris needs to convince us all that the government’s message is right, and his cost per response is probably the least of his worries, expect more frequency, and more of us to accept the new “Stay alert” message as the weeks unfold.

How is this useful for you when choosing how much and where you should spend?

There is a temptation in pure performance advertising to restrict investments to one channel and limit frequency to ensure the cost of recruiting each new customer is as low as possible. However, this also limits the number of customers that can be recruited before ROI’s (or effectiveness) plummet.

We have some useful tools that can help determine effective frequency and channel mix for campaigns, to help determine where and how you might spend. We also have tools to help calculate statistical significance to help with performance analysis and spend recommendations. So, if you are worried that a forthcoming campaign might be in line for the sort of bashing Boris has had this week, please get in touch.

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