A Renewed Focus on What Works

Justin Mowday, Chief Executive Officer - DDB

​Forget likes, shares, positive sentiment, dwell time, opportunity to see, reach, frequency and the industry benchmark of 0.3-0.5 percent click-through rates on digital ads (to spell it out, this means 99.5 percent of people don’t click on the ad), and let’s get back to focusing on what really matters: changing real human behaviour, increasing sales and market share, and achieving growth for businesses.

The number of new marketing techniques and measures has continued to grow unchecked across the industry. Many people spend lots of time counting various things that could potentially lead to a real outcome – but do they? We have a TV audience measurement system that still only takes a measure every 15 minutes (and even then only tells us how many people might be watching). We’ve invented a whole new language of hits, impressions, click-through rates, completion rate, time spent viewing, re-posts, thumbs-up and hearts. But what effect is all of this truly having on your business?

In 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that 54 per cent of online display ads weren’t seen by anyone – rather, the impressions were based on fake traffic. It’s been reported that more than 400 million people now have adblockers on their devices. Professor Mark Ritson from Melbourne Business School has proven that just 64,000 people (out of the 108 million Americans watching) viewed the most ‘famous’ tweet of all time during Super Bowl XLVII, when Oreo tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” when the stadium lights went out 22 minutes into the game. Programmatic buying will certainly help reach a large audience quickly and efficiently, and short video content will definitely result in a higher number of people who complete the view, but will any of these things have a real impact, and even spur someone to buy your product?

Shareholders, boards, CEOs and CFOs count real business results, and while many of the measures above might be worthy indicators, if we can’t close the loop and truly show that marketing and advertising drive tangible business outcomes then we risk talking amongst ourselves in a marketing bubble.

What we do know, from empirical research around the world, is that if your brand is famous (instantly and easily recalled by people off the top of their head), they will buy it. Brand fame correlates directly with sales and market share.

We also know, again from empirical data, that if you connect with your customers emotionally you will also see a real impact on sales. More than 95 per cent of human decision-making is emotional, yet marketing and advertising continues to bombard people with rational reasons to buy a certain product or service. As Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman said, “We are feeling beings who can think, not thinking beings who can feel.”

The brands that we know the best, and the brands that make us feel something, are the ones we respond to on an instinctive level, and buy time and time again. Think about the Anchor Family (I bet you remember it from 20 years ago), or consider Steinlager and the All Blacks, or perhaps for you it’s imagining what you would do with a huge Lotto win. These brands (and unfortunately only a few more), have high salience and elicit emotion in us all. And in all these cases, real business growth has been achieved as a result.

It’s time for an effectiveness re-set, and for all marketers and agencies to prove the impact we can have on the business measures that really matter: sales, market share and growth. Proven effectiveness leads to maximum efficiency, not the other way around.