Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If Not Sales, Then What Should We Be Measuring To Validate Creative's Effectiveness?

If we want to get advertisers to shift their branding dollars into the digital marketplace, it is imperative to find a way to make branding accountable.

After all, the main reason for the large shift of advertising dollars from offline to online is due to the greater accountability that one offers versus the other.

As was pointed out to me at a recent lunch, advertisers especially like online advertising because they can see an immediate correlation between the advertising effort and intent to purchase. If that correlation can't be made, advertisers see less benefit in online advertising.

Branding offers an unique problem in that there is seldom an immediate, short-term correlation between branding and sales. The objective of branding is usually long term, to build equity in the brand so that when a sale does occur down the road, it can be done so at a higher margin.

Which is why many designate branding to be more art than science.

So, if not sales, then what should we be using to validate the effectiveness of a piece of creative so that more brand dollars can be shifted to the online platform?

Well, let's look at a couple of givens.

Each commercial message is of a certain length. While in the offline marketplace this length is usually :30, in the online world, no such restrictions exist. The length of the spot is only limited by the strength of the creativity, or lack of such, that the agency exhibits in making it.

The question is, should the advertiser care, once their spot is opted into by viewers, whether their spot is watched to completion or not? If the objective is an immediate sale or request for more information, then no, not really. All that matters is that the viewer moves on to the next step and calls the number or asks for the brochure.

Length of view is irrelevant.

But in the case of branding, isn't there more value offered to the advertiser if their two-minute spot is watched for the full two minutes rather then, say, just the first ten seconds?

From a strictly dollars and sense point of view, there certainly seems to be. An average produced second for a commercial these days costs around $12,000. If data comes back saying that these seconds are not being watched, is the advertiser getting his or her money's worth?

I think most would argue no.

Especially in regards to branding. If the objective of the spot is to build equity in the brand, then wouldn't more equity be built up if people watched more of the spot rather than less?

The equity of a brand is the value of a brand beyond what it costs. It is something that is created over time.

If so, then doesn't viewer time spent, all other things being equal, become a measurement of equity? And wouldn't viewer time spent become a way to make agencies accountable for the efficacy of the brand messaging that they charge so much to create?

If online wants to attract the larger branding budget of advertisers, then it needs to find a way to make branding accountable. To do that, online needs to find a way to make the objective of branding accountable.

If the objective is equity, then what is the measurement?

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