Breaking out of advertising’s zero-sum game


LONDON: Campaign effectiveness has been declining even as the levers are in place to increase it – a consequence, two industry figures suggest, of focusing on either targeting or context but not both together.

Writing in the June issue of Admap, Rebecca Burchnall and Andrew McLean, jointheads of planning at media agency PHD UK, note that campaign effectiveness, as measured by the IPA Databank of case studies, has seen a fall in recent years.

But surely, they ask, the opposite should be the case, given a technology-enhanced ability to reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with the right message?

“We seem to have created a zero-sum game between targeting and context, as if neither of those facets have previously been achieved without trading one off against the other,” they say.

A better approach, they argue, is to apply more rigour and understanding to the lives of an audience in order to “plan around not just the anticipated context, but the received context”.

The questions media planners need to ask, then, is “how do we ally data with context to build a more predictive and realistic notion of what the likely context will be?”

An example is PHD’s own work in promoting The LEGO Batman Movie, which saw LEGO Batman take over Channel 4’s continuity announcements with specially written intros to its most popular shows.

“We were able to introduce LEGO Batman to 40% of the UK population in a highly contextual environment in just four days,” the authors report.

“Underrated mediums, those that often don’t find themselves on a typical media plan because no one asked whether it was possible, tend to be led by audience context,” they observe.

Ultimately, planners can control where an ad is seen but “not the sum-of-its-parts interpretation of the entire experience” – and that is where they need to build a more realistic understanding of an audience backed by data.

“Neither context nor technology are the ending or the beginning; they are the means to answering problems,” Burchall and McLean conclude.

Sourced from Admap

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