Advertising Effectiveness – 3 points of relevance for Perth businesses

I recently joined the excellent webinar hosted by Advertising Council Australia for a look at the latest report by industry heavyweights Rob Brittain and Peter Field on the rules for effective advertising in Australia. It was fascinating and reassuring. Fascinating because I’m a career ad guy and love academically robust analysis of our discipline; reassuring because the latest research evidences and affirms what we intuitively know.

Here are three takeaways from my perspective that we can apply in Perth and WA.

1.     The fundamentals of brand strategy hold true – even if you’re not really a brand.

How relevant is ‘brand’ to Perth anyway? Many Perth clients are not really brands, despite our best efforts to build them! Regardless, awareness and recognition often underpin our local choices for services and products. And there is a brand strategy term we can use to describe this awareness and recognition – mental availability.

Byron Sharp and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Effectiveness turned the FMCG world on its head a few years ago with its evidence-based principles to build and maintain mental availability. It’s a measure of the strength and depth of perceptions about a brand (or service, or company, or product, or brewery) and how well it competes in our minds with others.

The latest Australian data shows that the brand with the greatest mental availability outperforms across five key business metrics:

·       Increased market share

·       Increased sales volume

·       Increased brand value

·       Increased price margin

·       Increased profitability

That list looks relevant to most Perth businesses to me. So how do we build and maintain mental availability?

2.     The most precious and elusive driver of market success is attention.

Brittain and Field identify three driving forces for mental availability. The first two are the level of advertising media spend, and the selection of media channels. There are flaws in the metrics used to measure these forces, notably the opaqueness of the big digital walled gardens, but there are guiding principles to get it close to right.

The most effective level of spend is known as Extra Share of Voice (ESOV). Share of Voice (SOV) is the brand's share of working media investment in the category, but ESOV is when the brand's share of voice is higher than its share of market. The research shows that brands with ESOV are more likely to grow – and because smaller brands require smaller spend to reach that level, it is available to every brand. Even here in Perth.

The most effective channel mix heavily favours video. For spends up to $1.5m, greater investment in video provides a greater return. No real surprise given the emotional engagement possible with video, and the prevalence of screens everywhere you look, and now evidenced with data.

The third driving force is the strength of the creative. This is measured by something much harder to quantify, without which all other efforts are wasted. Attention. Brands need to be noticed. No attention, no notice, no nothing. So how do we get it?

3.     Attention is driven almost purely by the strength of the creative.

Our attention has never been more fragmented, precious, personal. Attention can be active or passive, obviously active attention is more valuable for brands. Likewise zero attention has zero effect. If you are not noticed, you are wallpaper, no matter how many walls you are pasted on.

This is where I’m most reassured. Because this is what we try to do, what we’ve always tried to do. Regardless of channel, or platform, or latest way to reach millennials, this is what matters. The word advertising means 'turn toward'. Advertising is – literally at its core – about attention. Great creative work is remembered, recognised and recited, even loved.

The brand with the greatest share of attention, wins.

There was a lovely quote during the research webinar from Peter Field, who said our goal should be "well guided investment in creative that gets attention." We could put that above the door at Likeable Creative. And we can all be assured in our conversations with clients that our recommendations are grounded in evidence and relevant for all brands, in Perth or anywhere else.

Rod Killick has held senior roles at leading creative agencies in Perth, Sydney and London. He has been a guest speaker at universities and conferences, course lecturer for Advertising Council Australia and judged the national Effies and News Corp Young Lions competitions.