Five Keys To Advertising Effectiveness, According To Nielsen


What is the relative contribution that a campaign’s creative and media factors might have on sales? That’s the key question recently put to the test by Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) as part of a report that quantifies the impact of advertising.

NCS looked at nearly 500 CPG campaigns that ran in 2016 and in Q1 of 2017 on linear and addressable television, online digital and video, mobile, magazines and radio.

It offered five key takeaways, the biggest perhaps being the following conclusion: For large cross media campaigns, reach still comes primarily from television.

Furthermore, Nielsen Catalina Solutions makes TV look a lot rosier than digital media:

• Less than half of all campaigns are doing a good job of targeting buyers of the brand or category. Some 80% of TV campaigns are On-Buyer Target, and 31% of digital campaigns are On-Buyer Target.

• TV ads generally have consistently high-quality creative—as opposed to digital ads, which have a wider range of quality, including both much higher and much lower.

The goal of the NCS study was to understand the reach of TV and digital campaigns, and  to measure the unduplicated reach of cross media campaigns.

Nielsen examined 863 campaigns that ran on both linear TV and digital platforms and were tagged by Nielsen Total Audience Ratings (TAR) and Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR).

These included all cross-media campaigns that ran in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017, regardless of vertical or television network. While the intended targets for these campaigns varied, the reach curve for these analyses are shown for people 13+.

Commenting on the top-line findings, Nielsen Catalina Solutions said, “We tend to think of advertising as an incredibly stable industry. Ad expenditures rise and fall with the economy but have hovered around 1.5% of GDP for nearly a century. But, we stand at a critical juncture. People are splitting their time among more media platforms than ever before—TV, of course, but also digital, mobile, radio, over-the-top, social, magazines, etc.—and thousands of new brands are launched every year to com-pete for attention and hard-earned dollars. It’s become an enormous jigsaw puzzle for advertisers to reach consumers convincingly.”

Meanwhile, research and measurement tools have progressed by leaps and bounds, and NCS notes, “Many advertisers today expect complete accountability for their ad investments.”

That said, NCS had a clear purpose for its work.

“The project was created to prove that advertising not only works, but works well, and can be as accountable to sales as other elements in the marketing mix,” it says. “Promotion, for instance, had been gaining much traction until the last two years, when the tide was stemmed and advertising began to regain a small bit of share back. If the ad industry wants to really grow its share in the mix, it needs to demonstrate a strong return on investment and the ability to capitalize on the latest tools, technologies and best practices.”

“The mantra for digital reach has been that digital extends the reach of television,” NCS says, referring to Figure G above, which shows that “this is not true for television campaigns with lower reach.”

As Nielsen notes, random duplication estimates the contribution one medium can have on another if the audiences are randomly duplicated.

“Instead of digital delivering non-TV viewers, the reach of the combined media is consistently lower than random for campaigns with less than 60% reach,” NCS says. “One would expect the opposite if digital were extending reach. It isn’t until the campaigns are very large (over 60%) that we see the combination of digital and TV deliver both higher and lower than random reach. In other words, when digital campaigns are ‘large,’ meaning reach that is greater than 60%, we see that digital does sometimes add incremental reach.”


How can media use this information to improve its advertising?

• Be accountable to sales—measure, measure, measure—or lose the dollars.

• Rethink your targeting approach—there’s a lot of room for improvement, and big potential payoffs.

• Pay attention to the quality of your creative, especially for digital ads. Getting it right can increase digital ROAS significantly.

• Test and optimize your digital creative; use TV strategically tobuild reach; don’t assume that targeting is working.

• TV creative is generally good (but don’t lower your expectations and make sure you continue to test them thoroughly); TV is still the best way to get reach (despite a fragmented landscape); don’t assume that age and gender are the only games in town.

• Study your consumers’ buying patterns, and time your media exposures to be delivered within 48 hours of an anticipated purchase occasion.