MOST MARKETING IS BAD BECAUSE IT IGNORES THE MOST BASIC DATA

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Despite data being one of marketing’s current obsessions, most brands aren’t extracting value from 11 of the most basic data-points available to everyone, writes Tom Roach, Managing Partner, Effectiveness, BBH.

‘How did Facebook, which prides itself on being able to process billions of data-points…somehow not make the connection that electoral ads paid for in roubles were coming from Russia. Those are two data-points. You put billions of data-points together – you can’t put together roubles with a political ad.’

[Sen. Al Franken to Facebook’s General Counsel at the Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing 31.10.17]

Facebook’s inability to spot Russian involvement in the US election shows that even for the most advanced, data-driven businesses, the ones involved in the really deep drilling, there’s still a load of important data lying close to the surface, ignored and untapped.

Marketing suffers from a similar problem.

Only a minority of brands make highly creative and highly effective marketing communications. Work that’s distinctive, well-branded, emotional, fame-driving, maybe even award-winning. Work that will drive sales today, sales for years in the future, and deliver returns far beyond what the CFO would get if she kept the money in the bank.

And far from needing terabytes of data – the big data that so many marketers now talk such a good game about – it’s perfectly possible to make highly effective communications that do all the above with the help of just a few kilobytes of data.

So here are some of the simplest, most basic, but most fundamental data-points that could transform the effectiveness of any brand’s marketing, if only they were more universally known and used:

1. Start with the number 0 in mind, or start wrong.

 

 

For most brands, the biggest opportunity for growth comes from taking people from buying it zero times to buying it once in a typical purchase cycle[1]. Starting with zero means you’ll start from the right place – a place which assumes most of your customers don’t often buy your brand, don’t think much or care about it and certainly don’t give a s**t about your advertising.

2. Start wrong and you’ll end up making some of the 84% of advertising that doesn’t even get past the first hurdle of being noticed and remembered.

Only 16% of advertising is both recalled and correctly attributed to the brand (according to a study by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of 143 TV ads[2]) suggesting 84% of ad spend could be going to waste if that’s replicated in the real world. It’s another sobering reminder that your audience don’t care about your advertising, so you’d better make it distinctive enough to make an impact and well-branded enough so people remember who it’s from.

3. Don’t expect customers to notice you, remember you and remember more than 1 message.

An analysis by Millward Brown of their Link test database[3] provides evidence of something advertising people have always known instinctively: the more messages you try and communicate, the less likelihood there is of any single message being communicated (‘throw people one tennis ball and they’ll catch it, throw them lots and they’ll drop them all’). And remember this is from people who are being forced to watch your ads in pre-testing research: real people in the real world will remember even less.

4. Emotional campaigns are 2x as likely to be effective as rational ones in achieving all this.

 According to Binet & Field’s work, emotional campaigns are twice as likely to be profitable as rational campaigns, more than twice as efficient at driving market share, and work especially well over the long-term[4].

5. Campaigns that aim for fame work 4x harder than the average.

Fame-driving campaigns are 4x as efficient as the average campaign, driving 4x the market share growth per 10 points of extra SOV[5]. In fact, the data in ‘The Long and the short of it’ supports a long-held belief at BBH which is that fame is a magic ingredient that can massively enhance the performance of your campaigns.

6. Creative execution matters a lot: it’s the 2nd biggest driver of ROI.

Market and brand size are together the biggest driver of advertising profitability, but the 2nd biggest factor is the quality of creative execution[6]. In fact it can impact ROI by a factor of 12. Creative execution is not ‘colouring in’: it matters more than nearly everything else.

7. Highly creatively-awarded work is 16x as efficient.

Creative awards aren’t important. But Binet & Field’s work suggests that highly awarded-work is dramatically more efficient at driving market share growth than non-awarded work[7]. It’s more likely to get talked about, be remembered and most importantly, deliver a much stronger commercial impact.

8. For maximum effectiveness you’ll need to find the right balance between brand-building and sales activation, which is on average 60:40[8].

Getting the balance right between long-term brand-building and short-term sales activation, between creating memories and activating them, is important for maximum commercial effectiveness. You’ll have to experiment to work out what’s best for your brand, though.

9. Perhaps the most often ignored data-point is this: 10%pts of excess share of voice drives 0.5% market share on average.

 All of this theory has essentially boiled down to an argument for ‘doing bloody good work’ so far. And obviously that’s not enough: if you don’t put decent money behind it, it can’t work. The data supporting this comes from various IPA studies linking share of voice with market share. On average, a 10%pt difference between SOV and SOM leads to 0.5% of extra market share growth[9].

10. Once you’re seeing an impact on brand consideration, you’ve got to keep going as it will drop 15% per week on average following a campaign.

A study by Mediacom business science modelling suggests that on average improvements in consideration will begin to drop at the quite alarming rate of 15% per week, and will be back at pre-campaign levels after 4 months[10]. Don’t be tempted to blow your media budget in ego-boosting bursts: reach your audience as continuously as possible.

11The good news is the impact you can see from even tiny shifts in brand consideration can be enormous: a +1%pt shift is worth on average 0.5-1.5% total sales according to Gain Theory’s analysis[11].

These 11 numbers take up just a few kilobytes of data. But employing the principles behind them could help transform the effectiveness of any brand’s advertising.

The average UK advertising campaign delivers £1.51 of short-term profit and £3.24 in long-term profit for every £1 spent, according to Thinkbox’s latest study of 1954 campaigns across 150 advertisers[12]. And the strongest short-term profit ROI recorded for a single campaign in this analysis was a massive £12.96.

With potential returns like this on offer, even for merely average marketing, it seems unbelievable that any brand would choose to either not advertise, not spend enough, or to not make good work.

Because making bad work is a choice: a choice that too many marketing teams make all the time by focusing on fashionable marketing buzzwords and ignoring the basics.


Full deck


[1] Byron Sharp, ‘How Brands Grow’, Chapter 4

[2] Ehrenberg-Bass Institute study, quoted in ‘How Brands Grow’

[3] Kantar Millward Brown analysis the Link ad test database

[4] Binet & Field, The IPA, The Long and the Short of It

[5] Binet & Field, The IPA The Long and the Short of It

[6] Paul Dyson, Admap, Sept 2014,  ‘The Top 10 Drivers of Advertising Profitability’

[7] Binet & Field, The IPA, Selling Creativity Short

[8] Binet & Field, The IPA The Long and the Short of It

[9] Nielsen, Budgeting for the upturn does share of voice matter

[10] Mediacom Business Science Modelling

[11] Thinkbox, Ebiquity & Gain Theory, ‘Profit Ability: The business case for advertising

[12] Thinkbox, Ebiquity & Gain Theory, ‘Profit Ability: The business case for advertising

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