Are you thinking about submitting an entry for this year’s IPA Effectiveness Awards, but not sure where to start? Les Binet, Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, gives his advice for the whole process – from start to finish.
Review all possible cases to identify likely candidates. Use IPA Effectiveness Resources especially old papers, to prompt your thinking. Can you prove the activity worked? Is the case interesting? Did it have a (profitable) impact? Do you have the client’s permission?
The first section equates to about 1/3 of the paper, and the second section equates to about 2/3 of the paper.
The perfect proof would show a logical, causal chain from communications activity to sales, in line with the brand’s strategy. All along the chain, show that changes in brand performance correlate with exposure to the communications activity. For each correlation, show significance and direction of causality and eliminate other factors. But don’t worry, no proof is actually this perfect.
Econometrics detects and measures communications effects, even when other factors are confusing the picture. Get an expert econometrician and involve them in the process early. Look at all variables that affect sales and test models thoroughly. As econometrics is difficult to understand, use it for quantification rather than as the core of the argument. Integrate findings into your main case, but put the workings in the appendix. Ensure your econometrician also reads the econometric appendix guidelines.
Soft data is good, but hard data is essential. Value data is usually better than volume, and market share is usually better than sales. Look for correlations between brand activity and performance over time.
The more data points the better. Show correlations are statistically significant, and the more correlations the better.
Build up a ‘causal chain’ of correlations. Measures used should reflect the way the activity worked. Standard measures like awareness are not always the right ones. Ideally show that the activity worked more or less as planned.
If A correlates with B, there are four possible explanations: A causes B, it’s a coincidence, B causes A or A and B are caused by a third factor C. Therefore to prove A causes B, you need to rule out the other three possibilities.
The Rosser Reeves Fallacy: this is the commonest example of confusion between cause and effect. An example of this is “sales gains correlated with activity (e.g. ads) therefore activity increased sales.” The problem here is that sales increases can cause increases in ad awareness. The solution is to show that sales increases correlated with exposure to the activity, not just awareness of it.
Some factors to rule out: seasonality (look at market share, year-on-year changes or MATs), market size effects, improvements to products, packaging, etc., increases in distribution, other channels, price, and reduced competitive activity (ideally show that the competition got tougher).
Writing an IPA Effectiveness Awards paper is no easy feat but it is an invaluable exercise in its own right in terms of being able to see the power of your communications activity and the value that you give to your clients. Best of luck.Find out more about the Effectiveness Awards
Les Binet is Group Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB. Please download his full presentation on how to write a paper.