In this weeks edition of Marketing, Raymond Snoddy draws attention to the latest research from the Newspaper Marketing Agency which reaches following five conclusions:
- TV plus newspapers drives 5 times the increase in bonding versus TV alone
- Newspapers create a more powerful emotional response than TV
- Creative pre-testing of newspaper advertising doubles performance
- Newspaper advertising drives sales and web traffic
- Multiple executions are significantly more effective than single ads
There are two key things that bother me about this research - firstly the agency runs the exercise has a vested interest. Secondly that the methodology employed for much of the research analyses soft metrics rather than more meaningful sales or revenue based metrics.
Whilst some of the research has been conducted by a highly respected scientist called Dr Lawrence Farwell and his company Brainwave Science, i’m sure that even he will agree that the conclusions drawn from the research may be a slight “stretch” based on the research techniques actually employed.
Let’s look at these points one by one:
TV plus newspapers drives 5 times the increase in bonding versus TV alone – I’m not exactly sure what “bonding” is but we’re told that it’s strongly correlated with sales. I’d love to know what this level of correlation was and whether there was still a strong relationship between changes in bonding and changes in sales performance. The report fails to tell us what the impact was on other measures in the Millward Brown’s Brand Dynamics Pyramid.
Newspapers create a more powerful emotional response than TV – for me this is the most interesting finding from the study. I’m unsure of the monetary value to advertisers of an emotional response but there’s hardly any reason for not wanting advertising to generate an emotional response. This plus associated research will certainly help advertisers thing carefully about the type of messages they run in press
Creative pre-testing of newspaper advertising doubles performance – well it was unlikely to reduce performance so the increase isn’t surprising. What the study being referenced appears to have researched is not performance in terms of ROI but rather advertising recognition. These are very different beasts and this needs to be considered when reading the results. Furthermore, the study appears to be anecdotal rather than scientific – by this i mean that in 2005 they measured awareness measures across 13 campaigns with only limited pre-testing then in 2006 all campaigns were fully evaluated before being published – however only 6 campaigns were released. To me this suggests that the poorly performing types of campaigns were dropped and potentially more funding was spent per campaign in 2006. Without knowing the details of the report the conclusion that pre-testing helps make campaigns twice as effective is very difficult to justify.
Newspaper advertising drives sales and web traffic – and if they didn’t there wouldn’t be much of a newspaper industry to speak of would there? If anyone doubted this finding then I’d question their sanity. However this analysis differs from much of the other analysis in that it doesn’t compare results with the other media. Not sure why? As for the web traffic, there’s lots of data to show that consumers of Newspapers are exactly the demographic groups which are hard to reach through other media such as TV. Mixed media wins the day when you want to raise awareness and press hits some demographics exceptionally well.
Multiple executions are significantly more effective than single ads – again this is great advice on how to run a campaign. Newspapers are inherently a medium where coverage is limited but frequency is high. Running the same execution over and over limits the opportunity to continue to inform – it’s a case of being sensible and understanding the medium.
I guess these comments appear to suggest that I’ve either a) got something against the Newspaper industry or b) i’m a sceptic about the value of such “groundbreaking” research. Neither are really the case. The problem in this case is the body which is conducting the research lacks the credibility to say “our media channel is better than yours”. When Coke say that independent research shows people prefer Coke over Pepsi (or vice versa from what i hear) then most people roll their eyes and question whether they would have published a conflicting result. In the case of this NPA research, I question whether it’s over promoting a great medium as part of some internal industry politics of Newspapers vs. TV vs. Online vs. ....etc. and really wonder what the overall benefit is to marketers. There is a ton of media research out there which is objective and well researched (IPA touchpoints?) and i’d suggest people with a real interest in understanding the relevant benefits of one channel over another take great care when looking at channel specific reports.