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Mass media still key to success

News, 02 November 2016

LONDON: Use of mass-reach paid media is increasingly important for delivering long-term effectiveness, but many marketers are instead concentrating on short-term activations with short-term results, according to a new report from Les Binet and Peter Field.

Marketing in the Digital Age, published by the IPA, the UK agency trade body, was launched this week at an event in London supported by Thinkbox and Google. Warc subscribers can read a full discussion of the report's findings in Marketing in the Digital Age: Binet and Field on how media choices impact effectiveness.

The report analysed case studies in the IPA Databank, made up of entrants to the IPA Effectiveness Awards. It found that penetration, rather than loyalty, is the key driver of effectiveness.

Specifically, very large business impacts were seen in 7% of "loyalty" campaigns analysed by Binet and Field, a proportion that grew to 22% of "penetration" campaigns.

This in turn means that mass media with mass reach tend to deliver bigger results. Adding TV to a campaign's media mix increases its effectiveness by 40%, a bigger impact than any other medium.

Earned and owned media, activated through digital channels, far from being a replacement for mass media, instead act as an important supplement. Binet and Field's data shows that adding owned media increases the business effects of a paid media campaign by 13%. Adding earned media boosts effectiveness by 26%.

But in the IPA Databank, there are almost no examples of campaigns generating these effects without having paid media in place.

“Having viral success without any budget, and generating significant profit for brands, very, very rarely happens,” Binet said. “Earned media is a consequence of paid media, by and large.”

Despite these digitally-driven opportunities to reinvent the paid-owned-earned model, marketers are falling short in delivering effectiveness. In fact, effectiveness has actually fallen “very significantly” over recent years, Field said, laying the blame at an increasing focus on short-term success metrics.

Campaigns in the Databank are increasingly skewing towards short-term activations, which lead to an initial impact that quickly dissipates, rather than long-term brand building.

In the latest set of IPA cases from 2016, 47% of communications budgets were spent on activation, up from 31% in 2014. Binet and Field suggest that the best ratio is 60/40 in favour of brand-building.

“Clearly the [financial] crisis has altered the mindset of general management,” Field said. “Digital metrics are very short-term focused, and that has led marketers into a short-term mindset. A lot of people in management do not have marketing backgrounds, and find the short term argument seductive. They are judged by the quarter and they want results by the quarter. I wish we had more CEOs and CFOs that understand if we restrain marketing to the quarterly cycle, we stuff it!”

Marketing in the Digital Age is a follow up to two previous landmark studies from the authors - 2007's Marketing in the Era of Accountability and 2013's The Long and Short of it. Binet and Field launched the report as part of the IPA's Eff Week event.

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff