LONDON: Consumers use a mix of media, so brands must follow suit. However, an effective multichannel strategy needs to maintain clarity around the task and target audience in relation to brand growth, and be media neutral in opportunity evaluation, an industry figure has argued.

In a Warc Best Practice paper, How to develop an effective multichannel advertising strategy, Sue Elms, a consultant with Skin The Cat, explains that the idea of a simple advertising campaign has been consigned to history.

That world has been superseded by "brand connections ecosystems" – where managed communications sit alongside every consumer touchpoint that could influence consumers towards a brand's marketing goals.

"Done well," she says, "channel planning starts from a deep and unbiased understanding of the target consumer's media choices, what they do and how they feel when they are doing it."

But a media-neutral evaluation of all opportunities per campaign objectives doesn't always happen for various reasons – clients can be risk averse or fixated on following rivals and industry headlines, for example.

"Time-pressed planners can rely on heuristics and averages which could be limiting; 'bubble thinking' mistakes planners' media lives with the real target consumer, and over-reliance on media consumption averages can hide the variety of opportunities within each media."

As well as teasing out potential new openings for brands, planners also need to be aware that while the use of multiple channels increases reach and opportunities to see, there comes a point where spending in any particular media has a diminishing reach curve.

At that point it becomes better to add another media than keep spending in the same channel, Elms advises.

In terms of the target audience, this, she declares, "should be whoever drives the highest potential for the brand or whoever is most strategically important".

And, Elms adds, the Receiver – the final part of the 60-year-old 'Sender, Message, Channel, Receiver' model – remains "the alpha and omega of effectiveness".

Measuring campaign effectiveness, she says, is a matter of clarifying the advertising objectives – a clear brief is essential – and drawing together the required data and analytic resources to work out both the returns and the drivers of those returns.

Four areas to investigate, Elms suggests, are Audience (campaign and content reach and targeting), Engagement (how the campaign and content are being received), Attitude change (towards the Brand or Idea e.g. this brand is worth the premium, dirt is good) and Behaviour change (e.g. changing eating habits, going into a showroom).

Data sourced from WARC