For Eff’s Sake: Looking at the Latest Report from Binet & Field

Five years ago Binet & Field shot to marketing effectiveness fame with the launch of their first paper – The Long and Short of It, a meta-analysis of the IPA’s databank of effectiveness case studies.

Binet & Field’s recommendation was – famously – for a 60:40 media spend split, in favour of branding activity. As the most comprehensive and evidence-based theory on marketing effectiveness, it’s difficult to argue with the results.

However, despite their rallying-cry to encourage brands and marketers to invest in brands, the industry continued to veer towards short-termism.

Last year Binet & Field released the first part of their follow-up, Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, with the key takeout being that there was no place for an offline/online media spend battle, as the new and old were proven to work more effectively together.

This month, part two was released: Effectiveness in Context. The weighty manual aims to break down the nuances around brand and activation and the old 60:40 rule across different categories, consideration types, brand types and even life stages.

Given the numerous factors analysed across the 20-year databank, the take-outs will differ by brand.

However, a couple of headline factors should be heeded by all. For one, the optimum spend on branding is increasing. Where in 1998-2010 the recommended split was 55:45 brand:activation, in the most recent period analysed, 2004-16, the percentage of branding required in for-profit sectors has increased to 76:24.

The main reason for this shift is digital. Just as online media has made offline media more effective, the rise of online has made it easier than ever for brands to activate.

With more research and sales happening online, where the consumer has more control and access to more competitive brands, investing in brand is critical to cut through.

You might think that the infinite information on the internet would make our System 2 rational decisioning more prevalent. But in fact, when overwhelmed with options, we’re more guided by the emotional cues formed in branding.

As a result, categories either researched or bought online require a higher investment – close to three-quarters of spend – on branding.

But it’s not just online brands needing to be mindful of overinvesting in the short-term. In the paper’s final blow, Binet & Field demonstrate a 76% correlation between categories increasingly reliance on short-termism and a loss of effectiveness of marketing spend.

Once more the takeout is: whatever the short-term targets, focusing on longer-term brand building is all-important for brand health and marketing effectiveness.