NEW YORK: Rising standards of creativity have increased the importance of media strategy for brands that run TV ads, according to research from CBS Vision and Nielsen Catalina Solutions.

Leslie Wood, Chief Research Officer at Nielsen Catalina Solutions, and David Poltrack, President/CBS Vision and Chief Research Officer at CBS Corp., discussed this study at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) 2017 Audience Measurement Conference.

"The quality of creative is so good across the board that, because it's pretty much constant [in television advertising], it has become less of a variable than other competitive variables. And the media effects, therefore, are becoming much, much more significant," Poltrack said. (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: CBS/Nielsen Catalina: Creative commodity drives media influence.)

Drilling down into the analysis behind this conclusion, creative contributions were reported to be the top driver of advertising performance on 49%, ahead of media with 36%, and elements like brand reputation on 15%.

But this still marked a meaningful change from 2006, when analysis from Nielsen and Arbitron pegged the contribution of creative at 65%, with media on 15%.

Such a trend is clearer on television, where creative standards are consistent, than on digital, where the gaps in creative quality are typically wider, the CBS Vision/Nielsen Catalina study suggested.

And Wood emphasised that the shift witnessed for TV ads is a testament to their creative strength. "It isn't that creativity isn't as good. It's just that it is not as variable. It is more consistent, so it gives you a consistent pattern," she said.

In this context – where creative standards are consistently high – the potential for media to make a difference becomes much stronger.

And the importance of where and when an ad runs – not what's in it – can thus have a greater relative impact. "It has the tools to make major contributions [to driving increments in sales], but it doesn't necessarily use them," said Wood.

Data sourced from WARC