For the last 18 years, the IPA Databank has been measuring effectiveness of campaigns. Les Binet and Peter Field’s latest report, ‘Media in Focus’, has just been released. It’s a real corker this time. They’ve admirably been painstakingly scouring the amassed 497 case studies to revisit media’s founding principles and the impact of digital marketing. Key among its findings was that short-termism still remains a serious issue in our industry.

Most worryingly, actual campaign effectiveness has declined as a result. Marketers since the global financial crisis have been pulling back from brand activity in favour of channels that provide immediate ROI and hard weekly numbers.
As an industry, we’ve focused budget on bottom-of-the-funnel communications and direct response channels, neglecting longer-term brand activity. And it’s not just Binet and Field saying this, with May’s well-received Enders Analysis/Magnetic study corroborating.

This wasn’t the only interesting finding:

  • Activation/direct response’s share of campaign spend increased from 39% in 2000 to 49% in 2016, exceeding optimum levels
  • Advertisers are advised to re-address the 60:40 (Brand:Activation media spend) balance recommendation that still applies
  • Focusing on ROMI encourages budget reductions through the pursuit of short-term sales
  • You have to spend to grow your brand – SOV = SOM still stands

Interestingly, Binet and Field have revised their recommendations concerning media channel effectiveness. Whereas TV-only was considered in 2013 the most effective medium to build your brand, it’s now ‘video’ as a whole. This nuanced re-categorisation only strengthens previous suggestions that TV and online video work harder when used together.

In terms of brand growth, broadcast channels come out on top, while TV and OOH are the hero channels for delivering mass reach. Paid search and email, meanwhile, are the most effective activation channels.

The industry suffering from short-termism reveals another important insight – this approach is affecting long-term brand health and business success. What the research tells us is that we need to rebalance our focus of brand and activation campaigns.

The digital and data evolution is largely to blame for this, as marketers are able to demonstrate immediate results. Consequently budgets have shifted from traditional channels in favour of digital and DR channels.

Undeniably, digital channels can be efficient and are effective both in terms of accountability and targeting capabilities. However, we shouldn’t forget the channels that help us reach the masses and build those all-important emotional connections with brands.