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Advertising Effectiveness: Problem #30

Problem: Settling for Engagement.

As media choices grow, engagement has received interest as a metric for elevating cross-media assessment. All eyeballs are not equal and some media channels, particularly digital ones, assert they are better than others at delivering eyeballs that matter more to a particular brand. Engagement focuses on the qualitative side of communication and deepens traditional reach and frequency discussions.

But engagement is only a partial measure of total advertising effect. Engagement is loosely defined as producing a positive brand experience. It is often operationalized through such measures as views, clicks, likes, shares and comments. Knowing whether an ad experience has been engaging is more actionable than knowing where and when an ad ran, but it is not as actionable as knowing whether an ad influenced buying behavior. Achieving sustained performance improvement and brand building requires more than engagement. Continue Reading →

Advertising Effectiveness: Problem #12

Problem: Using Short-Term Measures to Determine Advertising Performance.

Marketing ROI calculations often measure activities such as sales, inquires, and clicks to gauge the effectiveness of a program. The strength is that these measure what someone actually does, as opposed to what he or she says they will do. However, activities, even ones as concrete as sales, are short-term behaviors; what someone does today is not always predictive of what he or she will do tomorrow. As a result, analyses that are based on activities tend to support programs that produce short-term effects at the expense of programs that also have material long-term benefits. For example, using sales data alone, couponing generally outperforms advertising, but this conclusion would not make for a sound marketing practice. Continue Reading →

Advertising Effectiveness: Problem #16

Problem: Too Much Ad Liking

Many of today’s commercials over-use entertainment to engage audiences. A well-known celebrity, an amusing spokesperson, a well-told story, a parade of appealing images will attract audiences and increase ad liking. But when a TV spot or a print ad relies too heavily on liking, the core selling message is often missed and the full power of the advertising is reduced. 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 >

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 >

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 >

Michael Imperioli is onto Something

Every year, an instructor at a large state university acquaints students to the Criminal Justice degree program. In the midst of the talk, a student enters the room, whispers a few words to the instructor and leaves, whereupon the instructor resumes his talk. After a while, he asks his audience to take a sheet of paper and write down the answers to a few questions. What color shirt had the student who had entered the room a few moments before been wearing? Had he been carrying anything in his hand? What color and length of hair did he have? Was he wearing eyewear?

The point of the exercise, in fact the point of the staged “exposure,” is to illustrate that eyewitnesses to events are unreliable and just how few details we recall from events that occur in our daily lives.

This point is well taken for the criminal justice system and for marketers. As we go through each day, we are bombarded with stimuli that we instinctively sift through, retaining what has meaning for us and discarding what does not. Whether we are sitting in a classroom listening to an instructor talk, driving along a city street listening to the radio and keeping an eye on signs, pedestrians, and other drivers, or sitting at home watching a favorite TV program, a plenitude of stimuli are there for our attention yet we internally process what to attend to and what to disregard, what to retain and what to dismiss: we focus our attention on an instructor and dismiss the message bearer; we stop for a school crossing guard and lose track of the radio program; we watch a TV program and divert attention when commercials come on.

How different our experiences would be if someone were directing our attention to aspects of our lives we might not otherwise consider important. What if someone in on the instructor’s ploy was sitting next to us and said, “Pay attention to this person.” With our focus honed in on the student, details we might not notice or might quickly dismiss would become items of scrutiny. We might not only remember the shirt color, but note whether it is a t-shirt, pullover, or a button-down type. We might notice not only that he had a few pages of paper in his hand but also that they were covered in notes written on yellow legal paper. Ordinary details that would otherwise be of no particular importance would attract our attention, worthy of some notice and perhaps consideration.

The story of the university lecturer came to mind when thinking about Michael Imperioli asking in a recent 1800 Tequila commercial, “Whatever happened to commercials? So many of them don’t make any sense and you can hardly tell what anyone’s selling.” Mr. Imperioli could be onto something because over the past few years, a sea change has occurred in the way companies evaluate the content of their advertising which embodies the contrast between how we normally observe events and how we might see things if our attention were abnormally directed to things we would otherwise dismiss.

Historically, companies relied heavily on day-after recall (DAR) methodologies to evaluate their advertising. DAR tests are designed to replicate, as closely as possible, the real-world environment in which people are exposed to an advertising message. In a DAR test, respondents watch a television program or read a magazine in their own homes, under natural conditions. The following day, a research interviewer contacts them and asks about the content of the program or publication, including the advertising. A DAR test provides insight into what people attend to and what is sufficiently important and meaningful to them that they retain it for at least 24 hours, despite all the other events going on in their lives that demand attention and occupy their minds.

In recent years the trend has been away from DAR testing toward more expedient diagnostic designs as marketers look to save money and time. In a diagnostic test, respondents are shown advertising, usually in a clutter environment of a few other advertisements and occasionally in a faux media environment. Testing is done in an unnatural viewing/reading context, often via the internet or occasionally in a research facility such as those located in shopping malls. Respondents are directed to look over the advertisements and often the test advertisement is shown more than once to provide respondents with an opportunity for further study and scrutiny. Interviewing about respondents’ thoughts about the ad takes place immediately after exposure.

The differences between these methodologies are dramatic.

  • In a DAR test, respondents experience media in a normal environment under typical viewing/reading conditions. They are in their own homes, in the company of family members, in their favorite armchair by the lamp they typically use when reading or watching TV. A diagnostic test, by contrast, occurs in an environment in which the advertising appears out of context and in an artificial setting, either over the internet or in a research facility.
  • In DAR tests, respondents see advertising in real time, as it occurs when media is purchased, within the context of other messages competing for attention and against normal household distractions. In some DAR tests, respondents know only that they have been asked to watch a TV program or read a magazine. In others, they are not pre-contacted to participate in research; the recruitment will not occur until the following day so that their viewing/reading behavior is entirely normal. In diagnostic tests respondents are recruited from a shopping mall or from an Internet panel and are fully aware they are participating in an advertising test. They are usually re-exposed to a test advertisement more than once and have the opportunity to focus their full attention on the message in a manner they may never do normally since they are anticipating that they are about to be interviewed about it and wish to appear knowledgeable.
  • Respondents in a DAR test attend to media as they normally would, focusing upon things that interest them and ignoring or dismissing things that do not. In this regard, they are very much like the audience watching the university instructor who may or may not attend closely to an interruption (the instructor interrupted by a student is in some regards similar to the way an advertisement interrupts a program or a magazine feature). People in a diagnostic test have their focus deliberately directed to the advertising, just as though someone told them to what they should pay attention. If only companies had someone telling consumers to pay attention to the upcoming advertisement!
  • About 24 hours pass before respondents are interviewed in a DAR test, allowing time for inconsequential events to fade from memory and for more lasting impressions that remain to inform buying inclinations. Diagnostic interviews occur immediately after exposure determining less what people retain and more what is recognized.

As a consequence, the perspective that respondents have of advertising based on their participation in DAR tests and diagnostic tests is as vastly different as how the student in the lecture hall is normally regarded and how he is seen when people are tipped off beforehand. It’s like the difference between seeing the world as it is and looking through a distorting lens. The lens changes the way people see things and these differences distort what companies learn about their advertising from the type of testing they do.

  • Communication of the strategic message is usually much higher among those who prove recall of an advertisement in a DAR test than among participants of a diagnostic test despite the fact that respondents in a diagnostic test have just seen the advertisement. In a DAR test, those who recall the commercial have done so because the message has engaged them. When the advertisement’s message resonates among consumers, that advertisement has a better chance of forming a connection with the individual and of being remembered. Consumers for whom the message has little relevance dismiss the message and are not as likely to remember it. The DAR test effectively identifies the prospects most likely to be affected by an advertisement because recallers connect with the message. Communications effectiveness is being measured among this select group. The diagnostic test, by contrast, determines how well an advertisement’s message can be recognized and reiterated by a sample of consumers who have just seen the message and can only report on what they recognize the message to be. Since some proportion of respondents included in the diagnostic test are those for whom the ad has little meaning and who would ignore or dismiss it in a DAR test, they often fail to connect with the key message, leading to lower levels of message registration. While message communication levels in a diagnostic test has value, particularly during early message development phases, it tells marketers less about how well the message forms a connection with the reader since consumers are responding with what they have just seen, not describing an impression that has connected with them that they have chosen to retain.
  • Measures of intrusiveness between the systems are very different and generally do not correlate. Aided brand recall levels in a diagnostic test approach 100%. Respondents have just seen the advertisements so the task of identifying what appeared in clutter is a snap. Recalling an ad in a DAR test of respondents is tougher since an ad must connect with the consumer in a meaningful and lasting manner. Claimed recall to an aided brand prompt is often in the 20-40% range, depending on the DAR methodology, and the percent that can accurately “prove” that they have seen the advertisement that actually appeared is somewhat less than that. Respondents in a DAR test do not know that they are participating in a test of advertising and yet must recall the ad and accurately describe it 24 hours later despite the tens of thousands of other stimuli that have clamored for attention in the meantime. For an ad to be accurately recalled in a DAR test, it must truly “break through.” In a diagnostic test, it must only be identified as something seen a few moments earlier.
  • Not surprisingly, ads that recall well in a small diagnostic clutter environment may not do well in a rigorous DAR test. Some research has indicated that established, familiar brands are more highly recalled in diagnostic tests while no such pattern has been detected in the 60+ years DAR tests have been used and studied. While branding may be recognized in a diagnostic test, the linkage between a brand and the ad concept may not be sufficiently strong for respondents to recall the ad in the name of the advertiser after 24 hours have passed.

There is a place in communications evaluations for both DAR tests and diagnostic evaluations. Diagnostic tests help spot when key messages fail to communicate or when an ad’s tonality is not consistent with a brand’s image. These tests are useful for screening and refining alternative concepts early in the developmental process. But diagnostic tests do not assess how the ad will perform in a real world environment nor do they provide essential insight into whether the advertisement is capable of breaking through sufficiently with consumers that a meaningful impression has been formed that can last until some action can be taken. One research expert has estimated that close to 70% of CPG advertising plays out with near-zero ad effects and blames this largely on advertising that has failed to break through.

Advertisers have opted for diagnostic tests in recent years for a variety of reasons – low cost and quick turnaround prominent among them. By saving money and time, many have risked multi-million dollar media budgets on messages that leave both Michael Imperioli as well as their target customers wondering what that advertising was all about.

To learn more about G&R’s real-world testing solutions, go to Real-World Testing, and, to learn more about G&R’s better online system for measuring breakthrough, go to Web24.

Why Your Persuasion Measure is Out of Date

This morning when I got up and went into the bathroom, there were 4 brands of soap, 2 brands of shampoo and 2 brands of conditioner from which to choose. After showering and dressing, I went into the kitchen and selected breakfast from 15 different boxes of cold cereal that sit on our pantry shelves. When I packaged my lunch, I had three brands of yogurt in the refrigerator from which to choose. Fortunately my wife and I are empty nesters; were our daughters still living at home, our product arrays would doubtless be even broader.

Such proliferation of brands within our household repertoire might suggest to many marketers that we do not represent particularly brand loyal consumers when in fact the opposite is true. Most of the cereals, yogurts, soaps, shampoos and conditioners are brands we have purchased repeatedly and even advocated to our family and friends. But our loyalty does not take the form of loyalty to a single brand within any given category and we are hardly alone.

Andrew Ehrenberg, late of the London Business School, when talking about brand loyalty, said that consumers select from a “portfolio of brands” often simply because they want a change. This observation has significant implication for brand managers. Building brand usership levels is not merely a matter of winning dedicated customers over to your brand. It is a far more complicated process as brand users switch between a favored set of brands for a variety of reasons. The classic tagline from the famous Peter Paul commercials for their Mounds and Almond Joy brands, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t,” is indicative of consumer spontaneous decision making that takes place in a wide array of product and service categories, not just impulse purchase categories like candy bars. Brand managers in the new marketing landscape are challenged with the creation of advertising that breaks through, reminds consumers of the availability of their brand, and primes it in their minds. But advertising must also reinforce brand traits that keep the brand within the consumer’s portfolio, and informs them of news about the brand, such as product improvements and line extensions in order to invigorate the brand and broaden its appeal over other portfolio brands. Both of these ends, priming and meaning reinforcement, contribute to creating preference and passion, which deliver substantial monetary value through loyalty and advocacy.

However, as marketing communications have become more sophisticated in their appeals to consumers, encouraging them to engage more deeply with the brand, persuasion measures used to gauge the effectiveness of those communications have not kept pace and remain rooted in the 1970s. Standard persuasion measures employed by many of the more popular copy testing methods are pre/post attitudinal change measures. Diagnostic tests rely on even more basic one-dimensional rating scales.

Pre/post attitudinal change measures grew in popularity in the 1970s as researchers began to believe that recall-based systems needed an additional measurement to provide insight into how well an advertisement helped develop a preference in the consumer’s mind for the advertised brands. The marketing model in vogue in those days was still focused on winning customers to the brand in the belief that, once there, they would become exclusively loyal users. Consequently, these persuasion measures saw the world in simple, brand-switching terms.

In a standard pre/post persuasion measure, respondents participating in an ad test are asked to indicate the brand they prefer in the test category as well as a number of masking categories prior to seeing the program or reading the magazine and accompanying advertising. Typical question wording instructs the consumer to “select the brand you truly want.” After exposure to advertising, respondents are asked again to select their preferred brand in each category using identical question wording. “Persuasion” occurs when a respondent who did not select the test brand initially selects the brand after ad exposure. This model intends to mimic the circumstance of a consumer with no prior preference for a given brand being “persuaded” by advertising to “truly” want the brand to the exclusion of other category brand choices. As such, it purports to measure the extent that consumers who formerly selected a competing category brand are persuaded to “switch” to the advertised test brand.

However, a “brand switching” mechanism of this type provides little information about how persuasive the advertisement has been in the realistic, far more complex world wherein consumers accustomed to preferring a portfolio of brands may have been influenced. In a “brand switching” mechanism, respondents who indicate preference for the test brand before seeing the advertising are not investigated further; their preference is taken for granted.

By the same token, many very basic diagnostic-style copy systems use a unidimensional scale, which asks respondents to simply indicate how likely they are to buy the brand after seeing the advertisement. For consumers with the brand already in their portfolio, intention levels are high and greater insight into the effect of the advertisement on brand purchase intentions cannot be derived with this measure.

In order to provide greater insight into this complex persuasion dynamic missing from standard persuasion measures, Gallup & Robinson developed Advanced Persuasion, a multi-dimensional metric grounded in engagement theory. Advanced Persuasion incorporates the entire persuasion dynamic, investigating ad effect among both consumers who already include the brand in their portfolio as well as those persuaded to the brand for the first time. Research has shown that standard persuasion measures can miss as much as 82% of the persuasive effect of an ad by failing to consider consumers with the brand already in their portfolios. These are the consumers standard persuasion measures fail to investigate and for many established brands, they represent the foundation of brand profitability, returning to the brand again and again.

Moreover, these consumers may be influenced by an ad along any of a number of dimensions, consequently Advanced Persuasion incorporates multiple measures in order to capture changes in consumer attitudes toward the brand along a number of key fronts where response has proven to be both sensitive to ad messaging and indicative of subsequent purchasing.

For those brands whose advertising needs to be about more than breakthrough, buzz, and liking, Advanced Persuasion provides an important new measurement option that will help lead to better, more informed advertising copy decisions.

Why Your Persuasion Measure is Out of Date

This morning when I got up and went into the bathroom, there were 4 brands of soap, 2 brands of shampoo and 2 brands of conditioner from which to choose. After showering and dressing, I went into the kitchen and selected breakfast from 15 different boxes of cold cereal that sit on our pantry shelves. When I packaged my lunch, I had three brands of yogurt in the refrigerator from which to choose. Fortunately my wife and I are empty nesters; were our daughters still living at home, our product arrays would doubtless be even broader.

Such proliferation of brands within our household repertoire might suggest to many marketers that we do not represent particularly brand loyal consumers when in fact the opposite is true. Most of the cereals, yogurts, soaps, shampoos and conditioners are brands we have purchased repeatedly and even advocated to our family and friends. But our loyalty does not take the form of loyalty to a single brand within any given category and we are hardly alone.

Andrew Ehrenberg, late of the London Business School, when talking about brand loyalty, said that consumers select from a “portfolio of brands” often simply because they want a change. This observation has significant implication for brand managers. Building brand usership levels is not merely a matter of winning dedicated customers over to your brand. It is a far more complicated process as brand users switch between a favored set of brands for a variety of reasons. The classic tagline from the famous Peter Paul commercials for their Mounds and Almond Joy brands, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t,” is indicative of consumer spontaneous decision making that takes place in a wide array of product and service categories, not just impulse purchase categories like candy bars. Brand managers in the new marketing landscape are challenged with the creation of advertising that breaks through, reminds consumers of the availability of their brand, and primes it in their minds. But advertising must also reinforce brand traits that keep the brand within the consumer’s portfolio, and informs them of news about the brand, such as product improvements and line extensions in order to invigorate the brand and broaden its appeal over other portfolio brands. Both of these ends, priming and meaning reinforcement, contribute to creating preference and passion, which deliver substantial monetary value through loyalty and advocacy.

However, as marketing communications have become more sophisticated in their appeals to consumers, encouraging them to engage more deeply with the brand, persuasion measures used to gauge the effectiveness of those communications have not kept pace and remain rooted in the 1970s. Standard persuasion measures employed by many of the more popular copy testing methods are pre/post attitudinal change measures. Diagnostic tests rely on even more basic one-dimensional rating scales.

Pre/post attitudinal change measures grew in popularity in the 1970s as researchers began to believe that recall-based systems needed an additional measurement to provide insight into how well an advertisement helped develop a preference in the consumer’s mind for the advertised brands. The marketing model in vogue in those days was still focused on winning customers to the brand in the belief that, once there, they would become exclusively loyal users. Consequently, these persuasion measures saw the world in simple, brand-switching terms.

In a standard pre/post persuasion measure, respondents participating in an ad test are asked to indicate the brand they prefer in the test category as well as a number of masking categories prior to seeing the program or reading the magazine and accompanying advertising. Typical question wording instructs the consumer to “select the brand you truly want.” After exposure to advertising, respondents are asked again to select their preferred brand in each category using identical question wording. “Persuasion” occurs when a respondent who did not select the test brand initially selects the brand after ad exposure. This model intends to mimic the circumstance of a consumer with no prior preference for a given brand being “persuaded” by advertising to “truly” want the brand to the exclusion of other category brand choices. As such, it purports to measure the extent that consumers who formerly selected a competing category brand are persuaded to “switch” to the advertised test brand.

However, a “brand switching” mechanism of this type provides little information about how persuasive the advertisement has been in the realistic, far more complex world wherein consumers accustomed to preferring a portfolio of brands may have been influenced. In a “brand switching” mechanism, respondents who indicate preference for the test brand before seeing the advertising are not investigated further; their preference is taken for granted.

By the same token, many very basic diagnostic-style copy systems use a unidimensional scale, which asks respondents to simply indicate how likely they are to buy the brand after seeing the advertisement. For consumers with the brand already in their portfolio, intention levels are high and greater insight into the effect of the advertisement on brand purchase intentions cannot be derived with this measure.

In order to provide greater insight into this complex persuasion dynamic missing from standard persuasion measures, Gallup & Robinson developed Advanced Persuasion, a multi-dimensional metric grounded in engagement theory. Advanced Persuasion incorporates the entire persuasion dynamic, investigating ad effect among both consumers who already include the brand in their portfolio as well as those persuaded to the brand for the first time. Research has shown that standard persuasion measures can miss as much as 82% of the persuasive effect of an ad by failing to consider consumers with the brand already in their portfolios. These are the consumers standard persuasion measures fail to investigate and for many established brands, they represent the foundation of brand profitability, returning to the brand again and again.

Moreover, these consumers may be influenced by an ad along any of a number of dimensions, consequently Advanced Persuasion incorporates multiple measures in order to capture changes in consumer attitudes toward the brand along a number of key fronts where response has proven to be both sensitive to ad messaging and indicative of subsequent purchasing.

For those brands whose advertising needs to be about more than breakthrough, buzz, and liking, Advanced Persuasion provides an important new measurement option that will help lead to better, more informed advertising copy decisions.