Get the answer of: How to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns!
Measurement of advertising effectiveness is extremely important. Effective advertisements have a positive impact on the sales of a product. Several clients or advertising agencies may not set stringent standards to measure advertising effectiveness because all the players involved have some vested interests.
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The agency earns money and will hate the idea of being paid only for effective advertisements. The advertising/marketing manager is responsible for the advertising investment and obviously would not like to be told that he has wasted precious resources on an ineffective advertisement. And at the end of the day, even the company may not want to admit that the advertisement was a failure.
Quite often, the likeability of the advertisement is equated with its success. And most companies and agencies believe that advertising can do no harm. At the worst, it may be ineffective. But research reveals that bad advertising is capable of decreasing sales. The three relevant questions about measuring effectiveness are what, when and how to evaluate advertising.
What should be measured?
Advertising research needs to ascertain whether an advertising campaign has been successful or otherwise. What measures advertising research uses to determine a campaign’s success, depends on the objectives the advertising campaign is trying to achieve. A company’s advertising objectives may include gaining awareness, product trial, positioning, removing misconceptions, reminding prospects and providing support to salespeople.
Advertising research sets targets for each objective, and then determines whether those objectives have been achieved. For instance, a campaign may have the objective of increasing awareness from 20 to 30 per cent. If advertising objectives are in terms of sales or market share, advertising research finds out if there has been increase in sales or market share, and if they can be attributed to the campaign.
If advertisement objectives included enrolling new retailers and distributors, and motivating current ones to stock more of the advertised brand, advertising research would monitor if new distributors and retailers have signed to stock the brand, and if the existing retailers and distributors are stocking more than they did earlier, and if the changes in attitude of trade can be attributed to the campaign.
However, the objective of advertising is not to merely make people remember or like the advertisements. Recall of advertisements can at best be the first step leading to sales. Sometimes, it may be very easy to create an advertisement with high recall or liking (by using celebrities or other gimmicks), though the ad may be completely useless in generating sales. Therefore, the best measure of effectiveness of advertising is its ability to generate sales (while post-testing) or cause a change in brand preference (while pre-testing).
When and how to measure?
Measurement can take place before, during and after campaign execution. Pre-testing takes place before the campaign is run and is a part of the creative process. In TV advertising, rough ads are created and tested with the target audience.
A focus group is shown alternative commercials and asked to discuss their likes, dislikes and understanding of each one. Stills from the proposed commercial are shown on a TV screen with a voiceover. This is an inexpensive but realistic portrayal of what the commercial will be like if it is shot. The method provides important inputs from target customers themselves rather than solely relying on view of the advertising agency.
But critics say that the impact of a commercial that is repeated many times cannot be captured in a two hour group discussion. There are campaigns which were rejected by target consumers in pre-tests but were enormously successful when they were executed.
When pre-testing TV commercials, agencies pay great attention to the way in which the advertisement communicates to its limited target audience. Attitudes to the brand, copy comprehension and measurement of interest created in the brand by the advertisement are monitored by the agencies.
Press advertisements are pre-tested using folder techniques. If two advertisements are being compared, two folders are prepared containing a number of advertisements with which test ads will have to compete for attention. The test ads are placed in the same position in each folder.
Two matched samples of around 50-100 target consumers are given one of the folders and asked to go through it. Respondents are then asked to state which advertisements they have noticed (unaided recall). They are then shown a list of advertised brands and asked such questions as which one was most liked, which was least disliked and which they intend to buy. Attention is gradually focused on the test advertisement and respondents are asked to recall its content.
Once the campaign has run, post testing can be used to assess its effectiveness. Checking how well an advertisement has worked, can provide the information necessary to plan future campaigns. Image/attitude changes, statistical analysis of sales data, usage rate and changes in usage are popular TV post testing techniques.
Image/attitude change is a sensitive measure that is a good predictor of behavioural change. Agencies which favour actual sales measures argue that despite difficulties in establishing cause and effect, sales change is the ultimate objective of advertising, and therefore is the only meaningful measure.
Recall is also popular, despite evidence suggesting that recall may not be a valid measure of advertising effectiveness. But if the advertisement is seen and remembered, it is reassuring to the client, though it may only measure effective media planning and execution than suggesting any increase in sales.
In press advertisements, spontaneous recall of a brand name can be measured before and after a press campaign. Readers of periodicals in which the advertisement appeared could be asked to recall the advertisements they saw. And specific questions can be directed at the test ad and its content. Press ads that incorporate coupons to promote enquiries or actual sales can be evaluated by totalling the number of enquiries or value of sales generated.
It still may not be possible to measure the real effectiveness of an advertisement because other communications are reaching the customers simultaneously and it is impossible to isolate the effect of the advertisement. But it helps to have in place a system of measuring advertising effectiveness.
The advertisers become clear about what they have to achieve for the brand, and they realize that they cannot spend their client’s money to pursue their own creative urges. They will eventually learn to channelize their creativity to earn revenues for their clients.
It is always a tough job to make a creative person accountable, but having a system to measure the effectiveness of his creative output brings some sort of responsibility to the way he pursues his craft. Some of them may resent being evaluated and may opt out, but then they should have realized that advertising represents a frontier where creativity and commerce meet. One without the other is simply untenable.