Advertisers out of step with consumers

23 July 2009

NEW YORK: Marketers and consumers in the US have different views when it comes to identifying "effective" advertising, says a new poll by Harris Interactive, the research firm, and LinkedIn, the social network.

Measuring the effectiveness of commercial communications has greatly increased in importance over the last decade, and particularly during the current financial crisis, although it has also been argued that this approach is not without risk.

Harris Interactive and LinkedIn surveyed 2,025 consumers and 1,015 respondents from ad agencies and "corporations who are involved in the advertising decision-making process."

Some 53% of industry professionals argued that "ads that make me stop and think" could be classed as being "very effective", compared with just 29% of the general public who shared this view.

Figures were similar for "ads that give me new information", with 51% of adland insiders rating this material as having a high level of efficacy, measured against 29% of the broader panel.

The gap was closer for "ads that are entertaining", at 41% and 34% respectively, and for "ads that are informative", where these totals stood at 37% and 30% for the two groups in turn.

By contrast, 32% of advertisers thought "ads that are funny" were among the most impactful, while 33% of the general sample agreed with this statement.

Among the other formats assessed, executions featuring a product demonstration were seen as being influential by 27% of marketing professionals and 20% of shoppers.

Some 26% of the former group also argued ads with a similar "feel" and "tone" to the show they were broadcast around were "very effective", with 7% of their audience saying the same.

In rating the role of "ads that reinforce a message I already know", 21% of specialists praised such efforts, as did 10% of consumers.

When assessing tools that were "somewhat effective", a majority of Americans said this was true of ads which were entertaining, funny, informative, demonstrated a product and "made me stop and think".

This figure reached a peak of 60% for "ads that give me new information", while "scary" spots were seen as the least effective, with 41% of viewers saying they had no impact, as did 32% of marketers.

On the advertiser side, 61% of participants stated that their communications were focusing more on "value propositions" during the economic downturn.

This figure fell to 39% for those emphasising "empathy" with their customers, 25% who were "cheerleading", and 18% offering "luxuries for less."

Some 57% of consumers said a strategy based around lower prices worked well as a marketing tool, with 24% saying the same for a sympathetic approach, 19% for "cheerleading" and 34% for promoting affordable luxuries.

Data sourced from Harris Interactive; additional content by WARC staff