“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Author Michael Pollan’s advice on how to eat has echoed down the ages ever since its first outing in a New York Times essay in 2007. Despite the complexity of the modern advertising industry, and thanks largely to the IPA, we are able to summarise best advertising practice equally concisely: “Advertise. Not too cautiously. Mostly brand.”
Because this much we know…
Brands that advertise fare better than those that don’t. (Even when they are off air.)
Advertisers that invest in excess share of voice (ie. ahead of their market share) fare even better. One way of thinking about this is that the actual market begins to resemble the market of the mind.
And advertisers that on average commit about 60% of their budget to brand building and about 40% to short-term sales activation will tend to hit the profit hotspot.
These evidence-based truths are the fruits of anyone who’s ever submitted an Effectiveness Awards case (and so contributed to a world-beating Databank) and more specifically of course to the likes of Marilyn Baxter, Janet Hull, Les Binet, and Peter Field.
And in a world turning mercilessly short, the compelling case for brand advertising is our industry’s prophylactic against lower returns for advertisers (because the really big rewards roll up over time) and lower levels of consent from our audiences (because always being sold to is exhausting).
I’m delighted to be the new bearer of the effectiveness flag here at no. 44. In changing times - not least in an industry where just five players now account for more than half of global adspend - our job is not just to honour our previous findings and guidance but to continually test, update and iterate them.
The job of brand management, one of my favourite clients once told me, is to “keep the timeless timely”, whether that might be in terms of product formulation, service design or brand presentation.
It’s as true for effectiveness as it is of Guinness, or British Airways.
We need to tell new effectiveness stories, embrace new formats and find new effectiveness audiences. (There’s no point, or at least little upside, preaching to the choir: as Byron Sharp has taught us, it’s penetration that matters.)
We need to more routinely celebrate the power of brands (the outcome of what we do) not just the power of advertising (our output).
And we need to make sure that we are helping agencies and clients to make more effective work, not just to become more expert at measuring.
IPA Effectiveness Accreditation has been awarded to 30 agencies - creative and media, national and regional - who have convinced some unforgiving judges that an effectiveness culture has genuinely taken root in their respective organisations. The most compelling papers - those that vault rather than belly flop over the hurdle - evidence precisely that: better client outcomes as the consequence of a true ‘making and measuring’ effectiveness mindset.
Hot on its heels, our annual Effectiveness Conference - EffWorks Global 2023 - boasts its usual proud gathering of strategists, clients, researchers and econometricians…and, I hope, perhaps even the odd creative (see new audiences, above).
Together with new learning from next year’s Awards, my challenge to all in the effectiveness big tent is this: let’s work alongside one another to lower the drawbridge on our respective findings and our unparalleled expertise… without in any way dumbing it down.Find out more about IPA Advertising Effectiveness initiatives
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.