Achtung Baby | The Blogfather | ...Gasp!

Achtung Baby

How the Dickens do you create and measure good ads correctly?

The Blogfather gets right royally stuck into the topic of what makes a good ad and how the hell do you measure it this week, falling arse-first down a rabbit hole of ad efficiency & effectiveness, wastage, attention as a metric and more.

“Significant numbers of ads that appear to be efficient are not effective.”

Ah, the good old days. When things were easier. Advertising media planning in the heyday of the 80s. Print and TV. If you had a higher reaching publication or TV channel it meant it worked better.

Then digital came along.

Of course, in reality, and as The Libertines sing, “there were no good old days,” as that period had its own challenges, not least the need for a serious budget to advertise.

Everything, in reality, is a lot more nuanced, and creating ads that work in the year 2022 (and having even the merest inkling that they are working), is still bloody tough.

WARC’s recent article; ‘Why ad view numbers may mean little’, looks at how using behavioural metrics to make creative optimisation decisions is not necessarily a good basis for media planning.

We’re talking metrics such as views and clicks, and how they often do not correlate to sales or market share. The WARC article states that relying on them alone could result in $5.5 billion in wasted ad spend, according to research firm Ipsos.

Amongst the article's takeaways one stood out, and it is not a new tale: “Significant numbers of ads that appear to be efficient are not effective.”

The fact that advertisers need to distinguish between ad efficiency and ad effectiveness is not new; ...Gasp! has long been discussing and enlightening clients with it, as well as chatting to guests on our podcast on the subject. The problem is we are in the era of efficiency and, as Alex Murrell says: 

“The advertising industry is infatuated with it. Intoxicated by it. Enamoured and enthralled by it.”
“Mass media cannot command the most attention. But it can bypass an audiences’ cognitive defences and lodge a brand in the audience’s long-term memory."

What’s the key to creating effective ads? Entire books have been written on this complex subject, but one thing that is vital is that gold-dust commodity; creativity. A recent article by Faris Yakob for WARC is a great starting point for further reading on this subject, but here’s a choice cut for you:

“We mostly recognize ‘good creative’ by its impact, because advertising is creativity in the service of commerce. ‘Good creative’ drives fame, because people are more likely to talk about it and share it, it is more likely to get mainstream press coverage, all of which are SOV multipliers, and it creates price premiums over time by establishing notions of quality, which decrease price sensitivity.”

The issues and concerns around what you are spending your ad budget on have been around for years, this is not a new thing. A hundred years ago, the American industrialist John Wanamaker allegedly said: 

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

Yet it is that wastage can be the very thing that works. Confused much? Well, here’s the eloquent Rory Sutherland to explain:

“Highly targeted advertising merely finds customers, less well-targeted advertising can actually create customers.”

How? Well here is a tasty wastage hors d'oeuvre from Alex Murrell to get your chops around, Rodney my son:

“Mass media cannot command the most attention. But it can bypass an audiences’ cognitive defences and lodge a brand in the audience’s long-term memory. Traditional channels cannot compete when it comes to cost. But they can use expensive media to signal the strength, security, and stability of the brands that advertise on them.”

If you want a hugely informative deep dive into a mine of informative nuggets on why wastage is no bad thing, then you need to read this full article by Alex here.

Alex will be a guest on our Call to Action podcast in the near future, so keep an eye out for that, as no doubt we’ll get stuck into this meaty topic further.

There is also very effective signaling to spending a lot on advertising. We blogged on this before in more depth here, but if people perceive you as having the money to splash the cash, you must be a legit, top brand to begin with.

"If an advertiser wants to measure attention, they need humans to do it and continued access to that data."

In talking of advertising effectiveness, Rory Sutherland also talks of a mysterious 30%; a ‘something’ that cannot be accounted for, that is not targeting and creative. That something is human behaviour.

Behavioural Science is another huge discipline and area of study outside of marketing, but in terms of trying to understand human behaviour in regards to ad effectiveness in the here and now, there’s a new metric in town: attention.

Our recent Call to Action pod guest Prof. Karen Nelson-Field, founder and CEO at Amplified Intelligence, told us all about this metric.

More active ‘attentions’, the actual looking at the ads, play a greater role in memory retention. We know humans need to pay attention for an ad to work. We know engagement is different across different platforms (context, people), so what is the measure that transcends that? It is human attention.

Karen’s work has validated that attention is an important metric. If an advertiser wants to measure attention, they need humans to do it and continued access to that data.

But a lot of this isn’t new, we haven’t just recently discovered all this. The proper way to do marketing and execute good advertising has long been established. Over 6 years ago now, Gasp produced a '6 Common Fails to avoid in marketing', and every single one of those fails is just as pertinent now as it was when first published.

So, you’ve got this far, well done, for in a world of dwindling attention spans, getting to the end of a long-form blog is something of a foreign country. We do things differently here.

And to reward your over-worked eyeballs, he is a single piece of advice from Karen to marketers on how to better understand attention:

“If you accept that viewability metrics are your gold and you do not look into attention metrics, you are doing a disservice to procurement and the bottom line. Just minor media planning changes can double the amount of eyeball time.”

But of course, you’d be a right tool-fool to not catch the whole episode here

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