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Reaching the Desired Audience Doesn’t Always Mean the Digital Campaign Will Resonate

3 minute read | August 2016

Digital advertising occupies 34% of brand-focused marketing dollars in Canada and continues to gain share from offline media. That’s no small slice of pie, but actually a pretty healthy heaping of ad dollars. Sure, focusing on reach efficiency allows a greater opportunity for a digital ad campaign to find its desired audience, but this doesn’t guarantee that these creatives will resonate with consumers.

Savvy marketers use “brand lift” to measure advertising resonance beyond just reach metrics, and rightfully so. Brand lift measures the percentage increase in the primary marketing objective (e.g., awareness, favorability and purchase intent) that a brand advertising campaign drives. It’s a pretty significant metric. In fact, 73% of marketers consider brand lift the most appropriate metric for measuring brand advertising resonance.

In a recent analysis of Canadian digital advertising campaigns measured by Nielsen, 37% of campaign ads did not resonate with their audience. In other words, more than one in three campaigns failed to drive any brand lift in consumer awareness, favorability or intent among consumers who saw them.

Why could this be?

Just as reaching a campaign’s intended audience is highly dependent on factors like media mix, industry vertical and the audience itself, the ability to drive brand lift depends on your campaign’s primary marketing objective. Marketers must ensure that their success metric ties back to a campaign’s messaging and true campaign objective. For example, it’s possible that a campaign’s creative and marketing message aren’t aligned. If the creative focuses on product awareness while the marketing team is seeking increased brand lift, the execution could yield  a disconnect that can lead to low or no brand lift. It’s also possible to have alignment between creative and marketing objective, but misalignment with product maturity. For example, it might not be realistic to aim to boost brand awareness for a brand that’s been around for over a century, given that baseline awareness is likely already high. In a case like this, trying to influence favorability might be more appropriate.

In Canada, campaign success varies depending on the primary marketing objective. According to Nielsen, three out of four brand awareness campaigns positively affected brand awareness, but a smaller proportion of intent and favorability campaigns drove brand lift (59% and 38%, respectively). This highlights the importance of ensuring the marketing objective brands are measuring is actually the marketing objective that campaigns are trying to influence. Understanding the brand’s maturity in the marketplace, creating messaging that aligns with those marketing goals and measuring the campaign’s actual marketing objective will help advertisers in their quest to drive audiences down the purchase funnel.

Choosing the right objective to measure is the first step in driving brand lift, but there is more that marketers can do once the campaign starts.

Nielsen found that different combinations of creative, sites, placements and frequency work differently to drive brand lift for specific marketing objectives, verticals and individual brands. For example, imagine that an awareness campaign runs display banners and videos across two different sites. In this example, the advertiser finds that videos drive higher brand lift in awareness than display banners across both sites and decides to shift impressions away from the display banners and toward videos in an effort to improve overall brand lift. In another intent campaign example, however, the advertiser finds that display banners outperform videos when consumers are exposed to the campaign only three times. As a result, the advertiser can cap the frequency of the campaign to three exposures and shift the remaining impressions to better-performing display banners. In both examples, acquiring granular measurement of the different factors that make up the campaign—creative, site, placement, frequency—and how they contribute to brand lift in real time allows marketers to course correct while the campaign is still running. In turn, this will improve media spend efficiency and  boost ROI because the campaign will reach and engage a larger share of the campaign audience.

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