And now a word from the left brain

August 19th, 2009

open head

May I offer a delightful – okay, useful – array of advertising insights from the latest issue of the Journal of Advertising Research. These key points are the result of empirical studies done by a number of different teams who then submitted their findings to the publication.  Get ready, some of these will reinforce your thinking, and some may change your thinking.  Here goes:

1. The following strategies increase advertising effectiveness in terms of sales and profit performance:

a.  Focusing on “hard” objectives – campaigns that have “soft” objectives (e.g., to increase brand awareness or improve brand image) underperform compared to campaigns with a detailed strategy that links “soft” measures to business results (e.g., to increase market share to 11 percent by recruiting 14,500 new users via repositioning ourselves as the most authentic Italian brand);
b.  Influencing consumers on an emotional, rather than rational level – the most effective ads of all are those with little or no rational content, and emotional advertising appears particularly good at reducing price sensitivity which therefore leads to particularly large profit gains (for a personal experience on this from Dave Rathbun, see his post, “Why I spent $20 on a water bottle” here);
c.  Creating “talk” value – ask yourself, “would the press write about this?”;
d.  Including TV in the media mix; the data also suggests that the addition of online advertising to the mix increases the effectiveness of TV.

2. Even with no clicks or minimal clicks, online display ads (banners) can generate substantial lift in site visitation, trademark search queries, and both online and offline sales.

3. Approximately 20 percent of “Word-of-Mouth” mentions about brands refer to paid advertising in media.  The level of and effectiveness of WOM is substantially increased when stimulated, encouraged and/or supported by advertising – increasing the probability by about 20 percent that a consumer will make a strong recommendation to buy or try a product.

4. Spaced multiple exposures of messages (online and offline) produce greater learning than repeated exposures with short intervals.  Longer intervals between exposures result in better learning than shorter intervals.

5. Television still has very high reach.  Declining ratings are due to fragmentation (more channels) not to reduced TV viewing levels, which are remarkably resilient to social and technological changes and to the emergence of “new media.”

6. Over the past 15 years, TV has not declined in its effectiveness at generating sales lift and appears to be more effective than either online or print at generating brand awareness and recognition.

7. Fast forwarding TV commercials results in little difference in advertising recall and likability.  To fast forward, one must give keen attention to the screen.  By giving attention, people not only recognize the ad, but in the process they experience similar emotional memories as when they first noticed the ad at normal speed.

And there you have it.  If you’d like to view the deep, dark empirical evidence in its entirety, please send me an email ( Excuse me now while I return to more comfortable territory – the right brain.

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