How tough is driving effectiveness of an ad campaign in an era of decreasing attention spans and short format ads?
BY SIMRAN SABHERWAL & SAMARPITA BANERJEE with input from Dipali Banka, Beryl Menezes and Christina Moniz
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.”
A FEW WINNERS @EFFIES ...And what makes up their effectiveness quotient
(One97 Communication Limited, the parent company of Paytm, won the Effie India Client of The Year award)
“Paytm came across as a brand that understands the change and we were their partners who responded to that change very fast. If you look at the Paytm campaign, it straightaway entered people’s lives and explained what demonetization would mean to them, and how it would impact their lives. Being genuine and honest and in sync with life has paid off.”
CEO & CCO, McCann Worldgroup India & Chairman, McCann Asia Pacific
(Ogilvy & Mather Group, India and Star Plus won the Grand Effie for the Nayi Soch campaign)
“Star Plus wished to appeal more strongly to the younger generation of viewers. The Nayi Soch campaign was able to do precisely that. These women have different hopes and aspirations compared to the previous generation. They have self-belief and know that they can achieve their potential as long as society does not stand in their way. The Nayi Soch campaign connected with them because it not only reflected their mindset, but also acted as a powerful exhortation to patriarchal society to change. When cricketers and actors back a message, the nation listens. It is like sharing your message on a powerful megaphone. Conversations about the brand and affinity to it increased and viewership went up dramatically.”
Chairman & CCO, Soho Square, Ogilvy Group, India
(The ‘Dominos Loves Pizza Hut!’ campaign by Ogilvy & Mather for Yum Restaurants Marketing Pvt. Ltd. won the Gold in the Consumer Products - Confectionary & Food category)
“Today, pizza has become a nofuss food that revolves around convenience, coupons and deals. Taste seems to have taken a backseat. But isn’t taste the reason we love pizza? That’s what this campaign set out to do - shake people out of their default habit and get them to choose Pizza Hut - because when it comes to pizza, taste is all that matters, and when it comes to QSR pizzas - Pizza Hut tastes the best!”
President, Planning, Ogilvy Gurugram
(Chonkpur Cheetahs for Amazon during IPL 2017 won a Gold Effie in the Integrated category)
“Chonkpur Cheetahs was an conceptualized to be a fully integrated campaign – the journey of a bunch of dreamers to get an entry into a T20 big league, from forming a team to naming it to having an anthem to practising hard for it. Every element of the campaign flowed from one single and simple big idea. The client believed in it and the passionate set of agency folks who made sure that we got the scale and the legs that the campaign truly deserved.”
Executive Vice President, Ogilvy Bangalore
(The ‘Every Half Counts’ campaign by J Walter Thompson for UNICEF won the Gold in the Small Town & Rural Marketing category)
“India’s immunization programme is one of the largest in the world but it also has a high drop-out rate and that is what this particular communication campaign had to address. It took some extremely innovative thinking to build awareness of the immunization process. The key to success was the ‘half-toy’- it cut right through the language and literacy barriers. It conveyed the futility of an incomplete immunization and drew people to the education sessions, where they came to collect the other half of the toy. Kids also invested in the process, because they wanted the complete toy! This one half-toy is what made this campaign a truly effective one. The results exceeded all set targets.”
CEO, J Walter Thompson, South Asia
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 McCannWorldgroup 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.”
“There are two kinds of brands – those that feel completely awestruck and unsettled with change; and brands that see the change, get into a rhythm with the change and become a change agent. Are you a victim of the change or an agent of the change? Brands which understand change and align themselves with the change will do well. If brands are slow to move, they won’t be able to be in sync with the change and reflect that in their campaigns.”
CEO & CCO of McCann Worldgroup India & Chairman, McCann Asia Pacific
“With so many avenues and channels to connect with the audience, we have to be careful that we don’t get too distracted and focus on where we can catch our specific target audience with full efficiency of budget and time. That’s the challenge. We have to be focused on telling the story to the consumer, telling it really well in the selected channels and not wasting client’s money or client’s time.”
Group Chief Creative Officer & Vice-Chairman, Ogilvy and Mather India
“There is no trick to make an ad effective. You need a good idea that engages and connects with people and a disruptive, unique point of view. A bad ad, even if seen 10 times, will not hold the consumer’s attention, but the consumer will remember a good ad and connect with it.”
Founder and CCO, Famous Innovations
“Your proposition may not be sharp and engaging. The communication could be too much about yourself and very little about the people that you want to talk to. If you try to talk to everybody, you could end up not talking to anybody. Many times, boring communication or communication which doesn’t engage people’s interest is a waste of money and that is the biggest challenge.”
Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia
“Attention spans have gone down, but I come from a place where we are all about working on grabbing the consumer’s attention. We are wrong in saying people are not interested. They are distracted. In such a case, how do you keep the attention going? That’s what we need to work on.”
Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas
“You have to craft the message for the medium. You have to be clear on the audience that you are targeting because on Digital, sharp microtargeting and micro-messaging is possible and detailing is required. The challenge with marketers is that they are not willing to invest time to drive great effectiveness from Digital. That time is directly proportionate to how much they spend. They spend three months coming up with the TVC, debating the brand ambassador and every frame of the film, but they don’t even deliberate three minutes while putting up digital content.”
Founder & CEO, WATConsult
“The most important challenge is getting the right audience. Unless you reach the right consumer, everything else doesn’t matter. If you reach the wrong consumers multiple times, it’s of no use. Right targeting is the most important part of the communication. Get to the right consumer, convey the right message and convey it adequate number of times. Don’t overdo it because half the problem with advertising is you can overdo it and this increases your price.”
Chairman, Mogae Group
“The touch-points for consumers are going up, but overall media effectiveness on growing client’s business has not gone down. You have to get the right mix and that is what attribution is. You have higher statistical modelling, analytics backed by research and science. When you apply this, you actually start learning what is working for the brand, and then you optimize the plan. There has to be a science from where you take a leap. Science will give you the foundation, from there the ideas jump.”
COO, Madison Media
“Marketing is about getting the consumer to do something different from what they are doing and bring about a change in consumer behaviour. Crystal clarity on why you are doing marketing and what are the consumer behaviour changes you want, and then measuring the consumer behaviour change, and then working back to say what my campaign did to build that consumer behaviour change, is the paradigm.”
CEO (Special Projects), Pidilite Industries
“Attention has become maddeningly elusive, the ways to reach the consumer has multiplied, but what hasn’t changed is the power of insight and the magic of a story well told. It’s not the strength of the hammer but the sharpness of the nail. Further, brands need to move beyond proposition and have a sharply articulated purpose. I think these are the factors that made the Star Plus Nayi Soch campaign stand out in a cluttered environment.”
President & Head - Consumer Strategy & Innovation, Star India
“The most important step is to select the best KPIs and then set up campaign tracking and select the different segments to focus on, and all of these have to be mapped to the overall business objectives and the specific campaign objective. We almost always carry a Brand Lift Study as well as the campaign recall research post the campaign, and also measure if it has been able to tilt the scale for us in terms of consumption and engagement on the platform. The challenge is to keep the viewer engaged and entertained and have him come back for more.”
VP & Head - Marketing, Analytics & Content Syndication - Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India
“For certain campaigns, you can benchmark your ROI immediately. At Dainik Bhaskar, we are a measureoriented company, so our ROIs are clear. Before a campaign, we know what the response we are seeking is and what needs to be delivered.”
Chief Corporate Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group
“We have multiple tools to track results – whether it’s to track website traffic, email or social media campaign effectiveness. This does not leave us guessing if the campaign is moving in the right direction. In fact, an immediate course correction is also possible on campaigns and that’s the best part. Such things weren’t available earlier. We follow this strategy. For years, companies did not have answers to questions concerning a marketing campaign’s effectiveness, with the exception of actual sales.”
Chief Marketing Officer, IDBI Federal
“With space/spots being at a premium today, what becomes critical is the positioning of the communication. TV commercials are shrinking, to match our shorter attention spans. The average television ad is now just 15-20 seconds long, having replaced the 30-second spot, which took over for the fullminute commercial that was the standard decades ago. This short duration content is made to be as effective as the longer one. It also enables the advertiser to plan the spots more frequently.”
Marketing Manager, TTK Prestige
“You can drive effectiveness even in a short time span. You have to connect with the consumer and the communication has to be meaningful. The person you are targeting has to get it in the first 6-8 seconds and there has to be some essential truth. A lot of communications in advertising today are not about truth. It’s about deception and most of us marketers and advertisers are deceiving ourselves, and not the customers. There has to be some honesty and truth in the work.”
Head of Marketing and Product, Skoda Auto India
“The challenge for any campaign is to make it successful every time. That doesn’t happen always. You have to go with some gut feel, some understanding, some research numbers, some analytics, but the challenge is to make it successful.”
Vice President - Sales and Marketing, VIP Industries