THE LITMUS TEST FOR ADVERTISING
How tough is driving e ectiveness of an ad campaign in an era of decreasing attention spans and short format ads?
Effectiveness - in short, how a company’s marketing campaigns achieve its business and brand objectives - their end goal of advertising. Companies spend huge monies to build interest about their brand and attract action from the target audience. However, with the changing industry ecosystem and increasingly short attention spans of the consumer, there are challenges galore in ensuring effectiveness. We attempt to find out just what those challenges are and how admen and marketers are tackling them.
WHAT MAKES A CAMPAIGN EFFECTIVE?
What are the parameters that make a campaign effective? According to Madison Media Group CEO (Media and OOH) Vikram Sakhuja, who is also President of The Advertising Club and Chairperson of the Effie awards that honour effectiveness in advertising, “The four pillars of effectiveness are strategy, idea, execution and results. At the Effies, we are finding that effectiveness in advertising is getting increasingly medium agnostic. Accordingly, ideas are being brought to scale in a remarkable number of ways.”
It is imperative to clearly lay down all the metrics before a campaign, says Rabe Iyer, Managing Director, Motivator. “There should be complete alignment on what we are going after, and it should be clearly stated too. Effectiveness would be delivering on a set metric, either as expected or beyond. Ultimately, changing behaviours or increasing sales and awareness, helping people understand about a certain feature or a product better, are the metrics,” he says.
So how difficult is it for marketers to promote their products and drive effectiveness in the bargain?
Effectiveness can be measured at three levels - Business outcome – i.e., sales, distribution, profitability, etc; Brand outcome – i.e., brand
awareness, brand preference, brand liking; etc., and Activity measures – i.e., GRPs, reach, etc. Typically, when making a media plan, the activity measures are intended to reach as many people as possible in a specified time period that will then result in brand measures, which in turn result in business measures. In this scenario, are sales figures the best way to measure effectiveness? “Yes,” says Sudip Ghose, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Services, VIP Industries, “A campaign is meant to sell products and if the campaign is effective, sales will go up. That is the ultimate measure of any campaign. Good campaigns are the ones which move the sales needle and the brand salience and preferences. I haven’t come across a campaign which does all that and doesn’t show the result in sales. For me, sales is the ultimate measure of effectiveness of a campaign.”
Reiterating the same point, Kaacon Sethi, Chief Corporate Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar
Group says, “For us, effectiveness is about how closely we can relate a campaign to revenues. Every campaign has a distinct task with a specific objective; it could be to generate leads, or to bring ‘x’ number of people to a venue and you just measure yourself against that. So, if you do a brand campaign, then you are obviously measuring it against the positive, the affinity that your brand is developing with your reader base. Or if you are doing a tactical campaign, then how many responses did you get, what did you want them to do - it’s very clear, precise, ROI-driven objectives these days.”
One big challenge is attribution of advertising to effectiveness and identifying which medium is more effective. Says Shekhar Banerjee, COO, Madison Media, “If you are able to pinpoint and articulate the advertising and the media platform or touchpoint that works more effectively for the brand and for the task, you will be able to optimize your plan mix and therefore deliver more effectiveness. It’s more about doing the right attribution, knowing what is working for your brand, and then reworking your media mix
accordingly. That will give you better results than thinking that the overall effectiveness has reduced.”
Mogae Group Chairman Sandeep Goyal adds another dimension to effectiveness - brand perception. Goyal says, “Effectiveness in the marketplace is creating a brand differentiation which will eventually create market success. Unless you are seen and perceived to be different, you will never be able to command anything which is close to a premium in the marketplace. The first requirement of performance is visible brand differentiation. Communication, pricing and the product can create that, and that can be the driver for performance.”
MARKETING: A COMBINATION OF ART AND SCIENCE
In an era when marketers are increasingly becoming reliant on data, is it the go-to tool to drive greater effectiveness? For marketing veteran V Chandramouli, CEO (Special Projects), Pidilite Industries, marketing is a combination of art and science and if one were to only look at it as science, then it will not work. Chandramouli explains, “The biggest challenge of effectiveness is to improve the art side of marketing. The science side of marketing, on a scale of 1 to 10, is at 9. The art side of marketing on a scale of 1 to 10 is at 5 or 6, and this has to improve if we have to keep getting better as businesses and as marketers. The consumer is not a scientific entity, and your appreciation and your ability to truly have that insight is important to lead the consumer. That is the real challenge. It’s not just creative, it starts with business understanding.” Giving the example of Dr Fixit – Pidilite’s water-proofing solutions business – Chandramouli says, “In our communication for Dr Fixit, the greatest effectiveness challenge is that the bulk of the advertising is aimed at people who are going to construct a new house. However, only one consumer out of 100 is probably looking at constructing a house. A lot of media is wasted because I don’t have a mechanism of reaching out to only those who construct their house. How do we get creative then? That’s also an effectiveness challenge.” This is a challenge faced by many big advertisers, spanning Consumer Durables, Auto, Realty, etc. Once a consumer makes a big-ticket purchase, such as a car, it is unlikely that they will look at buying
another car for another five to 10 years. In this case, what is the role of marketing to this consumer in this period? This is also an effectiveness issue.
Another hurdle in driving effectiveness is the diminishing attention span of the consumer and fragmentation. According to Karthik Raman, Chief Marketing Officer, IDBI Federal, a big challenge for marketers is the fragmented environment, be it in the proliferation of brands in various categories, consumer interests or the way they engage in those interests. He says, “Earlier, you could advertise on the networks or sponsor a few big sports or entertainment events and rest assured that your brand message was being delivered. Now, you have dozens of media avenues with content that draws passionate followers. The landscape today is much more diverse, and with social media impact,new trends and passions are emerging every day.”
For Ankur Agarwal, Marketing Manager, TTK Prestige, the challenge to catch the micro-second attention in the cluttered ad space and time available, throws up interesting opportunities. He says, “If we happen to study consumer behaviour closely, we would understand that urban and rural populations in our country consume communication differently. There is a shift to content marketing today, which is leading to creation of innovative and interesting prospects for marketers like us in the urban market. In the rural markets, we still witness high advertising consumption.”
POWER OF AN IDEA
Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia has a contrarian view. He says it’s a myth that consumers have short attention spans. The fact that more and more people are increasingly binge-watching content shows proves that it is imperative to tell an engaging story that captures the viewer’s interest and talk about them rather than just talking about your brand. Says Sinha, “Gone are the days when you could make a piece of ad, fill it with features and benefits and load it with huge media money to build a brand. Engagement and being useful and meaningful to people in their lives, is what is becoming important. If you are engaging, attention span is not an issue. That is the key factor for effectiveness. Does your content engage people? Is it something that they want to watch, play and share?”
In addition, ensuring customized content for the platform of delivery is a challenge. “It fuels a need to create customized content for custom audience sets based on the content consumption patterns of the vehicle. It is not only the duration but also the whole treatment of a content piece which needs to be tailor-made for each channel. In traditional media, the shorter duration works well for building recall and urgency. A fivesecond slot coming every five minutes on Television or Radio gets etched in the consumer’s memory to the point of it being either irritating or hummed,” says Amrith Gopinath, Brand Marketing Director, Adidas.
GO SHORT OR LONG?
While the debate of short-format and long-format ads and which is more effective continues, experts say that both have their place in the sun. According to Sonal Dabral, Group Chief Creative Officer and Vice-Chairman, Ogilvy India, “The short ad formats while being a challenge are also a great opportunity of telling stories differently. It’s just a question of how you utilize that time correctly, be it 60 seconds, 30 seconds or 5 seconds. As creative people, it’s up to us that we use our intelligence and creativity in a way that we make the best use of that, to deliver the message in the most impactful manner.”
Tarun Jha, Head of Marketing and Product, Skoda Auto India, also says that short-format ads and long format ads both,
have their own purpose. “The short format has snappy, short messages. You can give one quick message and get out, but you still need the long format if you have to establish a story and make it more emotional. It’s difficult to bring in the ‘emotional’ in short-format. For example, our recent Kodiaq commercial was long-format because we wanted to tell a long story that was human and touching,” Jha explains.
DIGITAL = ROI Looking at the Digital medium, though it has multiple metrics – impressions, clicks, click to website, lead, conversion - when compared to Television, the impact of an ad run on Digital and its brand uptick is not fully developed. However, on a positive note, Digital has now started growing into a reach frequency medium and with it, building brand effectiveness and impact.
Traditionally, media and creative are separate functions; the creative agency crafts the communication while the media agency puts out - even a bad ad sometimes - on reach and frequency and blares it out to generate awareness. It doesn’t work that way in Digital. Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult explains, “In Digital, the creative and media cannot be separated; both need to be equally good for a campaign to work. If somebody came to me with the ad and asked what its effectiveness is, I would first look at whether the message is telling a compelling story. If it tells a compelling story, then there are a 100 ways to deliver effectiveness. It really depends on what’s the budget and what’s the overall objective of exposing that theme or that creative. If the objective is awareness among a small group of people, it’s possible through Digital because of targeting. If the objective is to reach a large audience, that’s also possible today with Digital.”
Expressing a contrarian view on Digital creativity, Raj Kamble, Founder and CCO, Famous Innovations, says, “About 90% of the digital companies in this country are media buying companies. Show me one digital company in this country that does only digital ideas and not media buying. They are not creative. If they want to sustain, they have to have good creative people.”
While the jury is still out on what makes a campaign effective, one thing that everyone agrees on is the power of an idea; and a compelling and engaging one at that. Adding a totally new aspect to the effectiveness debate, Prasoon Joshi, CEO & CCO of McCann-Worldgroup India & Chairman McCann Asia Pacific questions the way agencies, particularly specialized agencies, work today. He believes that for a campaign to be effective, it’s important for creative people to not work in silos and rather constantly think about their brand. Joshi says, “Sometimes we feel that everything should come out of a brief... No! A true agency is not looking and asking for a brief and a true brand thinker will tell you what a brand should be doing. If you are not constantly thinking about your brands, you won’t come up with ideas. We do operate like a a slot machine where you put a brief in and an idea comes out. You should be constantly thinking about your brand and how the brand fits into the lives of people. Then you don’t need a brief. In fact, sometimes you could go to the client and tell them, why not do this?”
Summing up the entire debate, Arun Iyer, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas, says that everything simply boils down to one thing - keeping consumers engaged. “While there have been debates about whether the 6-8 second ads are effective, I believe it has never really been a conversation about duration. It has always been a conversation about quality. If the quality is good, you will engage people with whatever time you have. If the quality is not good, a six-seconder or even a longer format is a wasted effort, because there is nothing significant happening and you are not getting the required attention. It is not as theoretical and mathematical as it’s made out to be.”
The Nayi Soch campaign from Star Plus, crafted by Ogilvy & Mather India