Archive for the 'EG Conference Reports' Category

Triggers: Did NASA Mars Mission Lift Mars Candy Bar Sales?

The mind works in mysterious ways. During the NASA Mars mission, sales of Mars candy bars increased, said Jonah Berger of the Wharton School.  In one experiment, subjects were asked to eat a crumbly biscuit. When there was a scent of cleanser in the room, people cleaned up more. In another study in a grocery story, one day they played French music and another day they played German music.  On days when French music was played, people bought more French wine; German music led to higher sales of German wine.  Since dogs and cats are related in people’s minds, when subjects were shown pictures of dogs, they favored Puma sneakers, associated with cats.

“Seemingly irrelevant stimuli in the environment can act as triggers and impact consumer behavior,” he said. “The stimuli can activate related concepts and increase evaluation and choice. These findings have been shown across a variety of triggers.”

Priming on websites (such as different backgrounds) might activate triggers. There are also implications for testing campaigns. “We often test campaigns at a particular moment but there may be cues in the environment to remind people of the campaign,” he said. “So campaigns should not just be catchy but also cued.”

Jack Wakshlag, CRO of Turner Broadcasting, said advertisement placement on television can also take advantage of such triggers. For example, a scene in Hitch where Will Smith is having allergic reaction and seeking an antihistamine is an effective spot for a drug store ad, or a breakfast scene is a good spot for an ad for eggs (but not following a scene of an auto accident).

Robert Gunther


Raiding the “Cookie” Jar, and Does it Make Sense to Count Clicks Anyway?

Consumers who delete cookies from their computers can skew advertising data, said Gian Fulgoni, Chairman, comScore, Inc, reporting research based on their panel of more than 2 million people. About 30 percent of users delete their cookies in a month, and these deleters do so an average of four times a month. This means there are 5 different cookies for the same site in a month on one computer. “If cookie has been deleted you think you are reaching a new machine when you are really just delivering additional exposure,” Fulgoni said. This results in an overstatement of up to 2.5 times in unique visitors and an understatement of frequency.

Of course, counting clicks might not be so important after all. Fulgoni’s research found that online ads have a positive impact even without clickthroughs. There is a lift in site visitation of 4 to 6 percent from display ads, even without a click. The increase in lift over a control is 65 percent in the first week and 45.7% in weeks 1 to 4.

“The number of clicks on display ads is not an accurate predictor of the effectiveness of online display ads,” he said. “Even with no clicks or minimal clicks, online display ads can generate substantial lift in site visitation, trademark search queries and lift in both online and offline sales.”

“You don’t expect a reaction every time a print ad is viewed or a TV ad is viewed,” he said. “The only reason we have the focus on clicks is that they can be measured. The Internet measures came out of the minds of technical people, not advertising people.”

He points out that this impact of online ads beyond clicks is particularly important to recognize as advertisers are moving to performance-based contracts based on clickthroughs. “In these economically stressful times, pay for performance deals are becoming more common. If you want to pay on the basis of clicks, it may be a great deal for the advertiser but not so great for the publisher.”

Robert Gunther

Advertising Stimulates Word of Mouth

Is there a role for advertising in a Word of Mouth world? Ed Keller, CEO of the The Keller Fay Group, said approximately 20 percent of word of mouth is stimulated by advertising. Influencers are three times as likely to talk about ads. Their studies, based on interviews since 2006 where individuals where asked what they talked about the day before, found 21. 6 percent of conversations included some reference to advertising. Ad-influenced WOM is about 20 percent more likely to include an active recommendation to buy or try the product.

“The rise of word of mouth doesn’t portend the end of advertising,” Keller said. “One of the most important roles of advertising in the future will be to stimulate word of mouth. Targeting makes a difference. Targeting influencers gives you three times the impact from that advertising.” Some companies have specifically address word of mouth in their ads. For example, BlackBerry ran ads advising consumers who want to learn about the devices to talk to a current user.

Are there differences in online and offline word of mouth? Keller said not only is there much more offline word of mouth than online, but offline tends to be more positive and include more active recommendations. About half of online word of mouth is teenagers and much more of it is negative.

“While people talk about online impressions, there are 3.5 billion brand impressions created every day through word of mouth,” he said.

Robert Gunther

TiVo, Friend or Foe? Rumors of the Death of TV Advertising May Be Greatly Exaggerated

Penetration of TiVo and other DVR players has reached 25 to 30 percent. Half of all DVR owners fast forward through ads and 50 percent of television viewers multitask. TV couldn’t possible be working right? Not according to presenters at the Future of Advertising Empirical Generalizations Conference at the Wharton School.

“TV advertising is at least as effective as it has ever been,” said Joel Rubinson, CRO of The Advertising Research Foundation, who looked across 388 cases in 7 key databases. “It works best in generating brand awareness and recognition.” New technologies may make it even more effective. “The future for TV is that it is going to get more effective as technology allows you to use the ad serving environment in the TV environment.”

The 2008 U.S. political elections offer a case in point. TNS  found that of a total of $900 million in presidential marketing (including the primaries), $700 million was spent on TV (as reported at an ARF event). “The most empirical marketers I know are political advertisers,” said Chuck Porter. “They test and poll every night and they spent on TV. Obama raised the money online but he spent it on TV.”

Consumers who fast forward through ads on TiVo may actually pay more attention to them. Studies by Erik du Plessis, presented at the conference, found that while TiVo and other DVR equipment were expected to erode the impact of advertising — after all users buy the devices to fast-forward through ads — the abbreviated ads can be just as effective.

“To fast forward ads you must give attention,” du Pleissis said in prerecorded comments. Users have to pay attention to when they start and stop the process, and they see compressed versions of the ads. This quick glimpse can be as effective as a full ad, he found in studies with subjects in theaters and other research. “If an ad has been seen before, a fast forward ad is as effective as a full ad.”

Multitasking may also not necessarily be a distraction. “I’m working on this document on my laptop at 5 in the morning and I caught the last 7 seconds of a Pillsbury commercial,” said Rubinson. “I totally got the message.”

On the other hand, Duane Varan, Director, Interactive Television Research Institute, Murdoch University, cautioned that the impact of DVRs may be more complex. He pointed out that there are differences in ad recall from TiVoed ads immediately after and the day after, so these quick impressions may erode more quickly. Studies comparing households with DVRs to those without are quite different patterns raising further concern (although cause and effect are not clear). He also said that studies of multitasking also show that the distraction of other activities can be  “devastating” to advertising impact. “This stuff is a little bit more complicated,” he said. “It is difficult to draw empirical generalizations because we are in the early stages of a lot of these things.”

Of course, people were ignoring ads long before Tivo. “About a third of the time people were actively avoiding ads by leaving the room and a third of the time they were passively avoiding ads by doing other things,” Byron Sharp, Professor of Marketing Science & Director of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for
Marketing Science. “So the DVR may be replacing other avoidance behaviors.

“Don’t underestimate the future of TV,” Sharp said. “People are extremely habitual users of TV. It is part of their lives and there are more screens than ever.”

Robert Gunther

EG Day 1: Importance of Creative

Two of the studies presented in the first panel of the Empirical Generalizations conference found that content is very significant. A study of television advertising effectiveness by Len Lodish and colleagues concluded that: If television advertising doesn’t work in the short term, it doesn’t work in the long-term either. If it works in the first year, its impact is doubled over the next two years. The implication is that companies should generate more than one campaign (3-6 campaigns in 3-5 test markets were indicated by studies at Campbell’s ) and screen with pretests to choose the best one to run.

A study presented by Leslie Wood found that the most dramatic influence on the effect of advertising in influencing brand purchases is creative copy. She said they could tell within 6 to 8 weeks whether creative was working in the market. She said companies often pull effective creative too soon. “We don’t see advertising on long enough to wear out,” Wood said. “They will pull it when it is doing well and put in something that is poor.”

Creative is a hugely important variable and lack of testing is critical issue for the industry. One of the reasons testing is not used more extensively is that some pre-testing is ineffective and impact of content is often overshadowed by brands. Lodish urged using in-market pre-testing as a more effective approach.

Chuck Porter of Crispin Porter + Bogusky gave several examples of effective creative

A Burger King Ad was very successful when it ran in US, and was the best spot of the month when it ran in Germany in English.

Coke Zero Copyright Infringement, with actual unprepped lawyers. The product was the most successful new launch ever.

Robert Gunther