This weeks IPA Bellwether report was encouraging for the marketing industry, but there's no time to rest on laurels. Analytic Partners Justine ONeill explains how to future-proof your brand and keep growing. 

The latest IPA Bellwether report is showing real signs of industry recovery with marketing budgets increasing at the strongest rate since Q2 2017 and ad spend expected to grow sharply. After the turmoil of the past 18 months, this is a welcome sight and a relief for many marketers. We had already seen some green shoots, but it is very reassuring to see the optimism return to the market as confidence is regained.

However, marketers can’t just sit back and relax. Now is a key time for brands to evaluate and maximise their return on marketing spend. They must keep on moving in order to future-proof their brand.

Act, don’t react

The pandemic has taught brands and marketers that “necessity is the mother of invention”. When faced with unprecedented challenges, like constant shifts in consumer behaviour and demand, many of them found new, innovative ways to market their products and successfully achieve their goals.

We had seen similar trends during the recession in 2009, when brands that increased media investment saw stronger ROI, business growth and brand building than those that didn’t.

But no matter if in a recession or an upwards trend, brands will always need to actively adapt to their surroundings and anticipate the next steps by planning for and evaluating different scenarios. When “normality” knocks at the door marketing has got to be ready to roll.

Test and learn

As the market continues to grow it will naturally bring both new opportunities and challenges: new opportunities to test new activities or to increase investment weights, and potential challenges in maximizing return in a more crowded marketplace.

While planning and adapting to market dynamics, brands will therefore need to test which tactics, campaigns or messaging are really working for them and which are not. Consumer demand may shift again, but some behaviours might stick. It is essential to employ a test and learn strategy to ensure additional or relocated investment is not wasted.

Thinking a couple months ahead, this approach will also be crucial when it comes to choosing the right technology in light of data deprecation and the cookie-less future. Some brands might still think that there will be an easy solution, but they need to start looking for a mix of solutions now that fit their needs and can give them a holistic view of how marketing activities are impacting their business.

Stick to the marketing truths

Marketing has always been complicated, but the levels of complexity it has reached over the past several years have created an unparalleled environment. The number of channels being used and measured has grown 3x since 2016.

It is no surprise that some marketers might be overwhelmed by the events of the past months and what is about to happen in the future. The long-standing debate about the role of marketing in driving business performance has been compounded by ever-evolving advertising offerings, platforms and new ways to reach consumers.

When planning for increasing ad spend and rising marketing budgets, brands need to be aware of the true impact of their media – where, when and to whom it happens. Because there are universal truths that have remained throughout the years, such as:

  • Use the power of video: Video has 2x the half-life of non-video advertising and its cumulative impact after the week on air is 160% higher than non-video advertising.
  • Leverage the Halo Effect: 45% of advertising’s impact is halo onto the rest of a brand’s portfolio.
  • Be aware of lagged impact: Two-thirds of the impact of advertising happens after the week of advertising.
  • Use a unified measurement approach: Last Click and similar performance metrics overstate the role of activities such as search and display by up to 10x and consistently understate the role of video.

As the green shoots become visible, continued action, adaption and learnings – alongside trust in the known components for success – will help ensure further growth and future protection against any storms ahead.

Further information on how brands that adopt measurement programmes and test and learn can achieve 25-75% ROI gains can be found in Analytic Partners’ latest report: ROI Genome, The Advertising Evolution: Media Trends, Truths and Taking Action for Tomorrow, which is available to download here