The Advertising Council of Australia’s major report, Australian Advertising Effectiveness Rules: To ESOV and Beyond, reveals vital new evidence, says Lionize’s head of strategy, Dan Machen.
“If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic,” Bill Bernbach.
Given he was a Creative God, it’s fair to suspect Bill Bernbach’s oft-cited quote points squarely at the alchemy of creative as the driver of advertising effectiveness. But even Bill might have had his head turned by new, evidence-based findings from the Advertising Council Australia. The ACA’s latest report, ‘To ESOV and Beyond’, shows that creative, whilst undoubtedly the art that supercharges effectiveness, must work together with the right science around advertising investment and media mix to really command attention.
In ‘To ESOV and Beyond’ researchers Rob Brittain, Peter Field and – world-renowned attention expert – Professor Karen Nelson-Field, paint a new picture of the interrelationship between intentionally setting investment for market growth, building mental availability, and a media mix that places quality of attention centre stage. As an agency that embraces new investment models, creative, and media all under one roof, Lionize was all ears.
Based on a first-of-its-kind analysis of the ACA’s effectiveness database, the report is founded on three key principles that most marketers will already be familiar with:
1. ESOV to SOM ratio – founded on the work of Professor John Phillip Jones from Harvard, this model is an evidence-based demonstration that if a brand’s share of voice, (SOV), exceeds their share of market, (SOM), then the brand’s share of market should typically grow. The % by which SOV exceeds SOM is called a positive ‘extra share of voice’, or ESOV. Jones demonstrated that if a brand had a 20% SOV versus a 10% SOM, they had a positive ESOV of +10%. On average, a brand with an ESOV of +10%, should grow their SOM by 0.5%, over a year.
2. ‘Mental availability’ is a core element of Ehrenberg-Bass Institute’s theory of how brands grow. It describes how well a brand competes in memory – the ability to be brought to mind by individuals in the most buying occasions, e.g., Vegemite might be associated with – being Australian, being eaten on toast, being healthy. Mental availability is a function of three factors: creative messaging, the ESOV the brand enjoys, to amplify messaging and a media mix that delivers quality attention.
3. Active Attention – this relates to Karen Nelson-Field’s work that demonstrates that the quality of attention for advertising varies significantly across media platforms and even within platforms. As a simple rule of thumb, active attention is paid when advertising is staged in the main focal area of a platform, low attention is when ads are off to one side with lots of distraction. ‘Viewability’, especially online, does not equal eyeballs and if your advertising goes unnoticed, it won’t build mental availability – even if the creative is world-class.
ESOV shown to drive mental availability and be a growth lever for business effects
The gold in the report was that, for the first time, the researchers used the ACA’s Effectiveness Database to demonstrate ESOV’s value over-and-above pure SOM gains. ESOV was shown to elevate mental availability (Fig. 1), one of the key outcomes of effective advertising, which in turn promotes key business growth drivers – such as customer acquisition, pricing power and long-term value. The report also showed that it was the level of ESOV, not the absolute budget spend that was key to building mental availability and advertising effectiveness – great news for smaller brands, aiming to punch above their weight.
Share of attention is a key quality filter on the true share of voice
In another first, the report highlights the importance of considering the kind of attention we are investing in as a key indicator of potential effectiveness. While brand size can drive ESOV, media choices can amplify its effects. With marginal ESOV plus a media mix with a high percentage of video, the report showed a significant positive impact on building mental availability up to an optimal budget point. (Fig 2.) Given the moving nature of video as a medium – both emotionally and in terms of attention – it is perhaps logical that video is a key ingredient. What is new shit Sherlock about this however, is just how important video is. A campaign with a budget of $500K, an ESOV of +3, and a media mix including 62% versus 49% video was found to have almost double the impact on building mental availability. . Same spend, totally different outcomes for effectiveness.
The ability of media choices to amplify or undermine share of voice effectiveness was the perfect segue into the work of Karen Nelson-Field on share of attention being a vital measure of true share of voice. The need for the extra lens of attention on share of voice being driven by the increase of digital walled gardens and the inequity of reporting dollars per impression, versus effectiveness per impression, (quality of attention). In this context, Nelson-Field rightly demands the need to add ‘human data’ to SOV planning to adjust for the fact that attention paid is a touchstone of share of voice value. When active attention is paid mental availability is positive. If attention is passive, mental availability is negative. If brand A spends in high attention platforms, while Brand B does the opposite, Brand A’s share of voice will be more effective, even if the spend is the same.
‘To ESOV and Beyond’ represents a real step forward in creative art meets evidence-based marketing science. There are three golden take-outs that span investment setting, media and creating planning:
1. ESOV frames advertising investment as a growth lever not a cost
ESOV has been linked to driving mental availability and is a growth lever for business growth drivers such as customer acquisition, pricing power and long-term brand value.
2. Media mix planning should balance quality of attention over quantity
Our media choices can significantly amplify ESOV and a campaign’s potential effectiveness – especially the percentage invested in video, (up to an optimal budget point).
3. Creative is strongest with the right media weight and quality of attention
Data shows creative effectiveness is amplified by the quality of attention different platforms enable – emotion, unexpectedness and higher arousal driven by audio has more positive impact versus ad length
In the final analysis, while amazing creative remains a vital ingredient in driving effectiveness, even Bernbach might concede that it needs to work with the right share of voice and quality media platforms to drive winning mental availability. ‘To ESOV and Beyond’ proves that the new centre of attention is a smarter combination of creative, media mix and intentional investment all working in symphony for business growth. The way forward for marketers is to be across all three elements, or work with a partner that is, to make sure your brand or product is first to the surface in your next buying opportunity.