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Uncommon Sense: The Case for Resonance

3 minute read | Randall Beard, President, North America | April 2015

Advertisers spend an awful lot of time and money on reaching the right audience. Of course, once they have done that, they try to make their ads hit home with audiences as much as possible—but there’s clear room for improvement. Investing a little more heavily in determining how much ads resonate and working to improve campaigns accordingly have the potential to dramatically improve overall advertising effectiveness.

Advertising campaigns start with reach and end with a hope for reaction. The goals are simple: reach as many of your target audience as possible, and then generate a sales response.

Marketing mix modeling and single-source measurement have become increasingly common and sophisticated. And marketers can easily be seduced into thinking that they’ve found the holy grail of measurement and that there’s minimal room left for improving advertising effectiveness.

But what happens “in between” may be just as important as reach and reaction. Because what’s in between can make the difference between a really strong reaction or almost no reaction at all.

Here’s a fun marketing fact that should get every advertiser’s attention: On average, only 25% of consumers exposed to an ad the previous day can correctly remember the ad and the brand it was for, based on Nielsen’s measurement of 1.7 million TV ads over the past 13 years.

Let me say it differently: Fully 75% of consumers could not remember the ad and the brand correctly. That’s a real problem. You’ve reached your audience, but the majority of consumers you just reached can’t remember your ad or incorrectly attribute the ad to one of your competitors.

What is in between reach and reaction that explains these results? Resonance. What’s resonance? We define resonance as the ability of your advertising to break through clutter, deliver your message to consumers and change consumers’ attitudes or opinions about your brand.

Now I know what many of you are thinking: “I copy test my advertising, so doesn’t this cover me for resonance?” The answer is yes and no.

Yes, because the creative itself will always be the most important determinant of whether your advertising will resonate or not. In fact, Nielsen’s own multivariate models show that creative explains more of the in-market resonance score variation than any other factor.

No, because few advertisers copy test all their creative or even the final versions. In addition, copy testing is not the real world. The real world is filled with programming content that surrounds your ad, crying babies and screaming teens, DVRs, channel surfing, competitive advertising and other annoying things that might disturb your ad’s ability to resonate. And these are many of the reasons for the 75% slippage number above.

We’ve clearly established the problem. Is there a solution? Yes. The answer is to assess your advertising resonance in the real world—every day—and then use the results to improve your advertising performance. Four key measures can help set your campaign up for success:

  • Identify your highest performing creative units and put more weight behind them.
  • Evaluate copy wear-out and only take great creative off air when it’s truly worn out. Meanwhile, take worn-out copy off air as soon as audiences tire of it.
  • Understand the effect genres, programs and websites have on your ad resonance, and then optimize your media plans for improved results.
  • Determine the impact of media weight and exposure frequency on resonance, and adjust your plans or cap frequency accordingly.

Our clients routinely increase their in-market resonance scores, sometimes by as much as 20% or more, by implementing some or all of the actions above.

Resonance matters. In fact, while it’s not exactly mathematically correct, I like to think of it this way: reach x resonance = reaction. Therefore, start with reach, but ensure you have the best possible resonance. This will ensure that your mix modeling or single-source results generate the maximum reaction, which will ultimately determine your ROI.

Save your ads. Learn more about how you can measure your advertising’s resonance

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