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The Folly of Brand Advertising on Snapchat
Jan24

The Folly of Brand Advertising on Snapchat

Sir Martin Sorrell recently made an astonishing revelation: WPP’s clients spent $90 million on Snapchat ads in 2016. Our CEO, Jeri Smith, writes for MediaPost’s Marketing Daily on why most brands should steer clear of advertising on Snapchat. An excerpt: I will say something for digital advertising: One of its best qualities is how it can lead a consumer down the latter stages of the path to purchase. Unfortunately, for CPG brands like the ones filling Snapchat’s coffers, their products have a much shorter, less considered purchase process. Even worse, that path is less likely to be traveled online. I would love to see how CMOs from the CPG brands making up 19% of Snapchat’s revenue managed to justify that disconnect. Ditto the beverage brands that comprise a further 16% of the platform’s ad buys. And that’s without holding to account the first movers who bought Snapchat ads at a 93% mark-up when they debuted, eager to be seen as ahead of the curve. To find out why brands are splashing out on such an ill-advised investment, read the whole...

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Does Your Brand Have a Story?
Jun21

Does Your Brand Have a Story?

As brands struggle to break through with their ads and commercials, many strive to tell a story. Storytelling can lure people into an ad, and a well-constructed story can result in the viewer learning something new about, or feeling differently towards the brand. Advertisers who create ad stories that engage and persuade should feel justifiably proud of their accomplishments. That said, for the brand to thrive, and for the advertising and agency to succeed on a deeper and far more powerful level, the brand should have a story that transcends individual ad content and lives across communications platforms and over the years. Brands that tell stories in their ads win at awards shows and in Super Bowl competitions. But in the real world, where the rubber hits the road and the marketing mix results tell the sales story, many commercials that tell stories lose focus on the brand. The common result is a commercial that is highly engaging but isn’t well-linked to the brand, and thus does not produce the attitudinal or behavior changes intended by the advertiser. This shortcoming can be addressed by developing a campaign in which the brand tells similar stories across ads and platforms, and over some period of time, these particular stories become connected to the brand. This is all good, and a fine set of stories that is engaging and connected to the brand can clearly enable the brand to achieve strong marketplace results. However, there’s even more benefit to be achieved if the brand – rather than just telling stories – itself has a story, and the entire body of communications is tasked with telling this story. Here’s the difference: brands that tell stories need to keep coming up with new stories. Brands that have stories speak from a particular position, and every story told about the brand validates and deepens the authenticity of that story. Brands with stories develop connections with consumers that are based on familiarity and trust, not just on the entertainment value of the current commercial or campaign pool. Often, a story about a brand will come from a particular creative concept developed by the ad agency. But once the campaign has run its course, the series of stories is over and a new story is created. It’s fresh, it’s new, and it might sell product. And if it’s consistent with what the consumer already believes about the brand, it builds the brand’s story. If not, it takes more time to build marketplace momentum (‘wear in’), and probably in the course of wearing in, destroys some of what the consumer came to believe about the brand based on...

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Taglines as Tag-Alongs
May05

Taglines as Tag-Alongs

We’ve commented in this space before about how brand marketers care more about their taglines than consumers do. Not only do consumers typically not care, they are mostly unable to link taglines with the brands to which they are attached. Sure, there some exceptions – Just do it; Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there; I’m lovin it to name a few. These are unquestionably strong, sticky lines – and they’ve had billions of advertising dollars in advertising support over the years. But most taglines never earn this kind of notice or acclaim. Taglines often serve to unite the brand team and the agency behind a what they’ve all agreed is a core brand truth. But when the team conceives of the tagline as the uniting force across ad elements that otherwise have little to nothing in common, that’s where the unfounded belief in the power of the tagline goes seriously awry. Recently released ARF research highlights two important insights that are relevant to this topic – two insights that we also have found to be true over many years of studying how advertising works. First, the best performing cross-platform campaigns contain common creative elements across platforms. We know that these common elements help consumers to link all of the different pieces of content to the same brand – an important function given the widespread problems with brand linkage in today’s advertising environment. Additionally, these common elements act as memory triggers – reminding consumers when they see an ad in one venue of the brand communications they’ve seen elsewhere – thus producing an amplification of persuasive impact. And second, using brain wave analysis, the ARF observed that consumers pay hardly any attention to the taglines that appear at the end of video ads. The story’s over, time to tune out. We’ve seen the same thing – which also by the way is true of commercial end tags, but that’s another story for another day. Our observation has been that the tagline acts like the period at the end of the sentence. ‘Okay, that’s over – what’s next?’ This helps to explain why taglines, unless they are incorporated into the story, or unless they are central to the telling of the story, are so often not remembered at all. Let’s put these two observations side by side – campaigns need common threads and taglines aren’t noticed or remembered. This tells us that campaigns that are tied together through the use of a tagline aren’t really tied together at all, and thus are not going to work as hard for a brand as the brand team hopes. The moral of...

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How Advertising Works Today
Mar21

How Advertising Works Today

The ARF just released the results of their ‘How Advertising Works Today’ study, touted as the most extensive industry study in more than 25 years. We were gratified to see that their findings line up very closely with ours – and mirror how we have for years been advising clients to optimize their advertising campaigns and spending allocations. Headlines from the study, and from Communicus, include the observation that campaigns that include a diversified media mix are far more effective than those that use just one or two media venues. The worst case scenario is to use just TV, with campaigns that utilize additional media performing far better than TV-only campaigns. We also have found that campaigns that only include one video execution are seriously handicapped as compared to those that use a larger number of TV spots – which parallels the ARF finding that overexposure to too few executions reduces campaign ROI. But while investing too much in TV can be problematic, this old-school, traditional medium is a must-have as the foundation for an effective campaign. Not only does TV continue to provide more broad-based awareness (even among Millennials) than any other medium, but helps to amplify the impact of other campaign media. In their attempts to keep up with changing consumer behavior patterns, we – and the ARF – find that a lot of advertisers overspend on digital. What’s worse, this overspending is exacerbated by the fact that many are running too few creative executions – far beyond the point of saturation and even straying into the territory of negative impact. Campaigns achieve the best results when they include a lot of different executions, but maintaining consistency across media types is key. We’ve seen time after time how carrying strong Brand Linked Equities throughout boosts awareness, branding and impact. The ARF found the same, both through their in-market and neuro-based approaches to measuring advertising performance. And, finally creative quality matters a lot more than media spending. Advertisers who create campaigns that are engaging and persuasive, and who employ creative best practices to ensure that consumers know what brand is being advertised no matter where they might see the brand’s messaging can achieve far better results with a relatively modest budget than their competitors who overspend on creative that isn’t up to par. The good news is that there aren’t a lot of surprises in the ARF findings. Advertisers who pay attention to this best practices advice can surely optimize their results without the trial and error that plagued many of the poor-performing brands that served as the ‘what not to do’ cases in this large, multi-brand research...

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The Perils of Copy Testing in Today’s Advertising Environment
Mar16

The Perils of Copy Testing in Today’s Advertising Environment

Advertisers spend millions of dollars copy testing ad executions before in-market launch, often testing in rough stages to avoid producing a commercial that could potentially be a weak performer. This research investment is widely regarded as prudent, to ensure that the investment isn’t wasted on advertising that may not perform. However, for the copy testing investment to be sound, it has to result in good decisions – which means that the predictive metrics that are provided must be solid. Unfortunately, the underlying principles upon which the major copy testing systems are built are no longer suited to today’s advertising environment. This mismatch between how advertising works and what copy testing measures has resulted in predictive margins of error so wide as to be nearly unacceptable. Copy testing can identify some of the losers but it gives far too many ill-performing ads a passing grade, resulting in millions, even billions, in wasted ad dollars. Click HERE for...

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