Sticking with tried-and-true media vehicles that have performed reliably may be one way marketers can alleviate advertising ROI anxiety. We have five more solutions to knock it out all together in 2012.
As 2011 winds down, forecasters are out in force with prognostications for ad spending in 2012 and beyond. With U.S. presidential elections, the summer Olympics, and European soccer championships on the horizon for next year, not surprisingly, so is growth in ad expenditures.
“There has been some downgrade in spending in the fourth quarter, but we are quite reassured,” Steve King, CEO of media firm ZenithOptimedia, explained to The Hollywood Reporter about current ad market trends. “There has been no dramatic change like we saw in 2008.”
He described the 2012 ad market as one characterized not by “the exuberance of the 1980s and ’90s, but continued spending on proven, trusted ways of getting returns” like TV and the web.
Likewise, Brian Wieser, senior research analyst at Pivotal Research Group, predicts that in 2012, “ad media will feel a ‘haves versus have-nots crunch.’” As he clarified, “simply put, in scarce times, marketers are concentrating their budgets among their primary medium (often network TV for large brands seeking awareness) and a secondary medium (often digital platforms for traditional brand marketers, who typically pursue engagement-based outcomes among a subset of the population who are aware of their brand attributes).”
Our takeaway from these observations: yielding a highly-positive return on investment has not decreased at all in importance. Marketing accountability is as important as it has ever been.
Sticking with tried-and-true media vehicles that have performed reliably may be one way marketers can alleviate advertising ROI anxiety. We have five more solutions to knock it out all together in 2012:
1. Get a revolutionary selling message.
As much as many marketers rely on TV and the web to yield a solid ROI, much of traditional and online advertising remains a complete mystery to target customers. A shocking number of prime-time television spots, for example, consist of 27 seconds of an unrelated, irrelevant, perhaps humorous story and 3 seconds of brand mention. You can’t build sales or a brand by communicating either a non-message or a message that no one understands. You HAVE TO give people a reason to buy your brand.
2. To find a revolutionary selling message, start with an audit of brand perceptions and preferences.
Any firm or organization can ask target customers what they think of your brand and its competitors—does it have a clear or fuzzy brand image? How does your brand compare to competitors on characteristics that your target customers would like to see in a product or service in the category or industry? It’s also possible to ask which brands they prefer.
3. Communicate the SAME revolutionary selling message across all mediums.
If you’re a McDonald’s and you’re spending, for the sake of argument, $300M in measured media, you can afford to communicate a somewhat different message through different media. But there are very few McDonald’s. The overwhelming majority of brands, in the overwhelming majority of product categories should communicate the same message. It should be the same message in every media and in every communications vehicle. Not just advertising, but packaging, PR, the website, everything.
4. Test your way to a 3-sigma execution.
Research firm Dynamic Logic found creative quality is 50% to 75% responsible for a campaign’s success or failure. Yet more often than not, companies develop and test too few commercials. While many companies regularly test hundreds of product and service concepts, getting a read on only one or maybe two ad campaign concepts is pretty commonplace. Expanding the number of ad concepts tested BEFORE developing a campaign will dramatically increase the probability of finding truly breakthrough creative.
5. Get to know digital behaviors.
Taking the time to research the digital behaviors of your target customers–where they go, what they do, what they search for, how they search, and what they need in a website–is absolutely necessary to dominating the internet. With all the attention on social media, “websites haven’t been bright and shiny for years now; they’re more de rigueur,” wrote David Armano on the Harvard Business Review blog. “I have to conclude that getting your website to completely satisfy business, brand and user goals is still elusive for many companies.” As a result, many marketers are increasingly coming back to their websites and evaluating them in terms of untapped ROI opportunities.
As Scott Briskman, now of Signal to Voice, once famously wrote, “It doesn’t matter how good your delivery system is if the creative sucks.” Using consistently-performing media certainly makes sense as far as taking steps to ensure you achieve highly positive ROI. Going a few paces further to get other inputs to performance in exceptional working order will greatly enhance the power of your advertising in the year ahead.
Isobar Marketing Intelligence Practice
- Boston, Massachusetts
- A Practice area of Isobar operating as a full-service consulting and research firm recognized for our segmentation and emotion measurement approaches.