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Tag Archives | advertising research

Game Plan: Narrative versus Non-narrative in Super Bowl Advertising

G&R research shows that narrative advertising helps Super Bowl advertisers improve the return they earn on their multi-million dollars investment

A recently published study by communications research firm G&R shows that Super Bowl advertising is more effective when it tells a story than when it presents information.

At the broad level, there are two forms of advertising: informative and narrative. Informative ads present the consumer with what the advertiser thinks are well-constructed arguments for purchasing a particular brand and use personal self-interest to mediate response. Narrative ads, on the other hand, use stories to model how consumers can use products and create meaning. They typically include two key elements: chronology, a temporal organization of events with a beginning, middle and an end, and causality, the structuring of story elements that establishes relationships between the elements and allows for causal inference, both presented in an entertaining and engaging way.

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G&R Game Changers: Social Media and Super Bowl Advertising

Social Media helps advertisers improve the return they earn on their multi-million dollars investments

Social Media has changed the game for Super Bowl advertisers. A recent study by communications research firm, G&R, shows that social media enables advertisers to multiply the efficiency of their advertising investment by increasing the number of people who see the advertising (reach), the number of times that a person sees the advertising (frequency), and how well an ad registers with a person (ad engagement).

Traditionally, running advertising on the Super Bowl has been for the young and for the strong. New companies looking to get noticed in a hurry and established companies seeking to communicate with large sections of their markets simultaneously have fronted the now $4.5 million per :30 ad costs because of the unique advertising opportunity that the Super Bowl presents. No other advertising venue delivers as large an audience, has more opportunity for water cooler and press replay, and associates the product with such an esteemed event. Plus, viewers pay additional attention to Super Bowl commercials than they do the regular advertisement, as they search for the most entertaining spots and the regrettable but inevitable failures. Continue Reading →

Framing Research for a Pharmaceutical Messaging Campaign

A leading biopharmaceutical company was preparing to launch a new product into the U.S. market. Concerned about the fallout from potential negative news reports about the product, they developed a consumer directed messaging program to help answer potential consumer questions and concerns about the product. They enlisted G&R to pre-test the communications program. G&R recommended a two test cell plus control design that framed the different mindsets that consumers might bring to the communications by stimulating exposure to either a negative or neutral news article about the product, before exposing the messaging strategy. To evaluate the effectiveness of the communications, G&R measured levels of consumer concern on key dimensions before and after each framing cell of respondents was shown the messaging.

The research showed that the communications were successful in reducing overall concern levels by over 20%and answering the prevailing consumer question about the product by over half in both cells. The research also found areas where the messaging program did not adequately address consumer questions and suggested additional content strategies to help alleviate those concerns.

If you would like to learn about G&R’s Framing Research, please Read More >

What the New Facebook Research Teaches Us about Advertising Effectiveness

It’s been about a year since GM made the big announcement that it was pulling its Facebook advertising. GM cited advertising on Facebook as being “ineffective” just days before Facebook went public. Since then, Facebook shares are down about 30% and about 15% so far this year as doubts about its business model remain. Social Media Examiner’s 2013 survey of 3,000 marketers found that only 32% said that Facebook advertising was effective, with 41% saying they were uncertain and 17% saying it was ineffective. New research from Facebook starts to address this perception.

It has been long-known that click-through rates for Facebook are lower than for other sites, most notably, Google AdWords. Facebook and others argue that clicks are not a valid measure of Internet or mobile advertising effectiveness. There is considerable face validity to this – of the few people who click on anything, many do not buy and of the majority of people who do not click, many do buy. Recently, Facebook has begun to develop an extensive body of research that shows that sponsored messages in a Facebook feed change behavior by getting people and their friends to buy certain products instead of others. The new Facebook information is based on linking actual product purchase behavior from an independent source with its own ad exposure data. In essence, buying behaviors among those who have exposed to a brand’s advertising are compared to those who are not to determine incremental lift. According to Sean Burick, Facebook’s head of measurement, “Of the first 60 campaigns we looked at, 70 percent had a 3X or better return-on-investment—that means that 70 percent of advertisers got back three times as many dollars in purchases as they spent on ads” and half of the campaigns showed a 5X return. Farhad Manjoo of Slate has an excellent recap of the interesting research.

What’s most striking about the Facebook research is that it shows that not only does advertising have the ability to drive website traffic and Likes, but it also has the ability to generate sales without clicks and despite that perception that many users have that they are ignoring the ads that they are served. Advertising has always had the ability to produce specific transactional or intermediate behaviors (e.g., promotion-based selling, incoming calls) and some forms of it have been particularly effective at doing so (e.g., FSIs, Yellow Pages advertising). But it has always been advertising that has also has a long term effect that has had the most value. Television campaigns in particular, as well as print and radio, have historically been able to offer the best and most consistent balance between content, form and placement to strengthen demand and build brand preference for the long run. With Facebook research now demonstrating the ability of the messaging that it carries to do the same, it is showing that it has the potential to be at least as powerful, and perhaps more so, as traditional advertising media platforms.

Oh, and a little less than a year later, GM is back advertising on Facebook.

Game Time: DICK’S versus Scotts

Spring has arrived and with it major league baseball, game broadcasts, and warm weather advertisements. It’s a great time for baseball fans and for advertising fans. The contrasts between the commercials that air between innings and pitching changes are almost as compelling as games between teams dominated by Moneyball influences versus those driven by old school beliefs.

DICKS Sporting Goods - Every Pitch - Screen Grab

This year’s commercial equivalent of Moneyball might be the “Every Pitch” spot from DICK’S Sporting Goods which opens with a batter swinging and missing at a pitch and then takes the viewer on a tour of the field to experience the “dead time” between pitches. We watch the third baseman feint to keep the runner on third close to the bag. The shortstop turns to the outfield, tells them, “no doubles,” and gestures with his hand not to let a ball get hit over their heads. An outfielder jumps in place to keep his muscles loose. The pitcher throws to first to keep that runner close. Meanwhile the camera moves onto the field itself, taking all this activity in before honing in on the pitcher as he prepares to release the next pitch. We are enveloped in the inner world of a game in progress, the dynamic that occurs between pitches that immediately connects with every athlete who has ever played the game at any level. It’s as atmospheric as any commercial in recent memory. The closing billboards simply take us from the game through “Every Pitch. Every Game. Every Season starts at DICK’S.” to form an indelible connection to the brand.

Scott - SNAP spreader - Screen CaptureThe pleasant reverie created by the Dick’s spot rarely lasts long thanks to the Scotts Lawn Care advertising, which has been as subtle as a Nolan Ryan “bowtie.” Few commercial breaks occur during games on the MLB network or ESPN that do not have a Scotts commercial. Each commercial features Scott, the Scot spokesman for Scotts. Get it? Are you sure you GET IT??? Scott the Scot from Scotts lectures unknowledgeable homeowners on the virtues of Scotts fertilizer, grass seed and spreader, ending not just with an encouragement to “Feed your lawn” but with an insistent follow-up to “Feed it!” In the advertising world of Scott’s Lawn Care, you cannot belabor a point too much. Kudos to the rational voice in the copy review meeting that talked the team out of putting Scott the Scot from Scotts in a kilt and tam o’shanter. But it’s a shame he or she could not have encouraged a little more subtlety in the media schedule, the tagline, or the actor’s intended-to-be-friendly smile that has all the sincerity of a ravenous wolf seeing you as dinner.

Usually, we are proponents of the “old school” rationally oriented commercials that present a USP to create brand distinction and provide consumers with a reason to buy. The Scotts commercials all present strong appeals and it’s often the case that well-visualized product advantages will outweigh grating presentational aspects in the consumer’s mind. Plus there is always the concern that risking a media budget on something as elusive as forming an emotional connection with consumers for a brand through something as fundamentally and recognizably commercial as an advertising spot is a high stakes gamble. But when one connects, as does the DICK’S commercial, arching home runs have more glory than grunted-out singles.

This weekend I had planned to stop by my local Home Depot to load up on my yard care needs for the season but I think instead I’ll just head on over to the nearby DICK’S for some Neatsfoot. My glove needs oiling. And maybe I’ll pick up a few other things while I am there.

Content Marketing Research for a Leading Hospital

Many companies use Content Marketing to supplement traditional marcom channels and communicate new information via a variety of alternative media contexts. Recently, a prominent hospital launched a custom magazine publication in an effort to grow awareness in the healthcare market, communicate with leading medical, academic, and business influencers, and position the hospital as the definitive resource and leader in the medical and biotechnology fields. The company engaged Gallup & Robinson to design and conduct research to help the hospital better understand the magazine’s effectiveness, including the characteristics and needs of its audience, their attitudes towards the custom magazine, and the publication’s influence on perceptions about the hospital. The research provided benchmarks for quantifying performance and revealed how the audience thought and felt about the magazine. It resulted in new insights about how to improve lower-rated elements, adjust delivery methods and strengthen engagement moving forward. Learn More >

Cause Marketing Research for an Adolescent Health Initiative

Raising awareness or encouraging behavior modification for a social or public health issue is quite a different communications challenge than persuading consumers to purchase commercial products. Campaign designers and funding sources face two underlying questions: 1) is a campaign worth the investment of time and resources; and 2) how does one increase the chances that the campaign will be effective?

G&R was recently enlisted to evaluate a campaign which sought to establish a comprehensive community health model aimed at promoting healthy adolescent development and preventing dating violence. The initiative’s co-sponsors wanted to understand the target audience reactions to 8 concept executions and to determine which of the executions might be considered stronger or weaker candidates for the campaign. The research identified the strongest campaign ads based on overall stopping power, behavioral disposition, and emotional engagement. Select executions were recommended for strategic positioning in order to reach target subgroups and ways to optimize campaign communication were presented.

If you would like to learn about G&R’s Cause Marketing capabilities, please Read More >

The Transportation of “Mean” Joe Greene: A good tell is a good sell

Quietly tucked away, in the moments before kick-off, “Mean” Joe Greene returned to the Super Bowl this year. In a new ad for Downy, the former football pro reprised his role from the classic Coca-Cola commercial that originally aired in 1980. Only this time, Greene is sniffing fabric freshener instead of gulping Coke.

Created for the Coca-Cola Company, the first “Mean” Joe Greene spot appeared in Super Bowl XIV in 1980. In that commercial, a starry-eyed boy offers his Coke to the injured defensive tackle, “Mean” Joe Greene. The refreshing Coke prompts a smile from the intimidating Steeler and he tosses the boy his game jersey.

The Downy spot is also charming and witty. Using strong story-telling that includes celebrity and humor, it maintains its freshness by an engaging “twist” that has Greene’s fan played by funny gal Amy Sedaris, who says thanks- but-no-thanks to his sweaty, stinky game jersey.

Regardless of whether people know who Greene was, when he played, or how he earned his nickname, the powerful story-telling framework lends itself to continuous adaption and successive callbacks. The host of “Mean Joe Greene” remakes over the years has ranged from adaptations in which other countries’ star athletes play Greene’s role to references in popular television to a number of parodies.

In one of the most unexpected, Coca-Cola competitor, Pepsi, offered up its own twist. David Beckham, then with Manchester United, trudges off the field following a particularly rough match. He requests a sip from a young fan’s Pepsi. Before David walks off, the boy requests his game jersey. As it turns out, the young boy just needs to wipe off the rim of his can before continuing to enjoy the drink himself!

In another charming take, the Coca-Cola Company revisited “Mean Joe Greene” in Pittsburgh Steeler, Troy Palomalu. This time, a young fan tries to offer Palomalu his Coke Zero, only to have it intercepted by Coke brand managers who claim the newest addition to the Coca-Cola family has stolen Coke’s taste.

The Coke, Downy, Pepsi, and Coke Zero reincarnations of the original “Mean” Joe Greene spot show that a well-told story can be a powerful means of strengthening brand meaning with consumers. Effective story-telling influences underlying beliefs through a process called Transportation. “Stories sell,” not only through well-known recall and persuasion devices like benefit-centric messaging, creditable support, and news, which target cognitive processing, but also through transportation devices like character identification, empathizing, and narrative flow, which target deep seated beliefs towards the featured brand or promoted behavior. What makes “Mean” Joe Greene so special, both as a commercial and as the model for so many successful progeny, is that it accomplishes all of those things, achieving both short- and long-term effects.

To learn more about about measuring audience response to narrative advertising, visit G&R’s Transportation Research page.

Claims Substantiation Study for Major International Manufacturer

In a competitive marketplace, many advertisers make claims against similar companies and brands to influence customers to choose their product over those of their competitors. At the foundation of this communication is the requirement that the claims be true. Survey research is often used to provide the basis of the claim and to challenge the basis of a competitor’s claim. However, between January 2006 and June 2011, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureaus found that 71 percent of the consumer perception surveys introduced by parties to an NAD proceeding were unreliable and, therefore, had little or no impact on the final outcome of case. Claims research needs to be carefully constructed and executed if it is to have much value for the advertiser.

Recently, a major international manufacturer hired G&R to test several claims made in a competitor’s advertising campaign, alleging that the competitor’s products were widely preferred by consumers on a number of criteria. In order to test these clams, G&R launched an exacting and rigorous four-stage study where participants were asked to use and evaluate comparable products from different manufacturers and rate the products on a range of qualities. Stimulus exposure and questionnaire administration were carefully controlled. The study showed that the competitor’s claims were not reliable and was used as part of a successful challenge to the NAD.

If you would like to learn about G&R’s Claims Substantiation capabilities, please Read More >