Advertising Guest Columns
4 mins read

Publishers may know their worth, but they still need the metrics to prove it

Stop the press! Using newsbrands in campaigns boosts trust: Peter Field’s latest study may have told us something we instinctively knew, but having our assumptions confirmed with hard data is an invaluable process, nevertheless.

His recent study, conducted with the IPA and Newsworks, and based on 182 award-winning campaigns, helps reinforce commonly held beliefs in the media industry around the need to balance performance advertising and brand-building activity.

Since 2014, Field, in partnership with Les Binet, has conducted several important analyses exploring the role of brand-building activity on long-term brand health. The central tenet of his work has shown how investing in brand communications results in sustained business benefits. Their landmark piece of work – The Long and The Short of It – is often quoted by marketers when emphasising the need to balance short term and long terms strategies. Indeed, while rational, performance-led messaging can have an immediate effect, this rapidly decays, whereas longer term brand-building activities often have an enduring effect.  

But now we also know, thanks to this latest study, that advertisers are seeing more positive and longer-term business effects when they invest in newsbrands. Over the period from 2012 to 2020, it shows there has been an increase in both the ‘trust’ and ‘quality’ metrics for brands that advertise in newsbrands as part of their media mix.

What’s more, a combination of print and digital formats provides advertisers with a very strong multiplier effect. For instance, the study found that newsbrands make TV advertising 61% more effective and social media almost two times as effective.

Indeed, while one of the key contributors to short-termism has been the rise of digital, with its instant numbers and real-time trackability, it is also true that not all digital is equal. Quality, high-attention contexts, such as those provided by newsbrands provide a favourable environment for delivering longer-term business effects as well as short-term sales boosts, confirms the report.

We have intuitively known about the link between branding and trusted environments for some time, yet, for too long, publishers have lacked consistent, ongoing data to prove their effectiveness. But this is no longer the case.

Brand Metrics works with many of the UK’s leading news publishers including The Guardian, Financial Times, The Telegraph, JPIMedia and ESI Media – measuring the brand lift effect of hundreds of their campaigns each year. This has generated a huge amount of effectiveness data to help understand the relationship more clearly.

With so much recent brand lift data available to us, we wanted to conduct our own analysis to explore the themes raised by Field and Binet. In particular, we wanted to examine the differences between brand-building activity (driving brand awareness) and performance activity (driving action intent).

Looking at 100 recently measured campaigns and +30K survey responses, two interesting themes emerged which helped to reinforce Field & Binet’s findings:

Firstly, we found that consistent advertising in brand helps to grow overall levels of brand awareness, thereby providing a stronger base for other down funnel metrics to work more effectively.

This example shows the pattern for 12 different advertisers, consistently advertising on the same publisher site and measuring their campaigns via Brand Metrics.

The data shows patterns are similar when looking at brand awareness metrics, a steady increase in baseline levels over time for most of these advertisers, with each new campaign building on the higher baseline established by the previous campaign. This is a testament to consistent support for brand activity over the longer term.

However, when it comes to action intent, the pattern is far more erratic. Each campaign seems to operate in isolation, with no sense of overall growth in purchase intent levels over time. You are only as good as your last offer.

Secondly, we looked at our data in terms of the decay in campaign lift over time and here our findings revealed a similar pattern to Field and Binet.

By extrapolating our data, we found that, on average, any action-/purchase intent lift identified as generated by the campaigns saw a decay in the lift achieved in around 5 weeks, whereas identified awareness lift was retained for much longer, on average around 3 months.

The implications are that, whilst performance/sales activation activities may enjoy short term growth in ROI, investing in brand activity, and doing so when levels are still high, is a good way for advertisers to keep building the long term strength of their brands. And as Field and Binet tell us, strong brands = strong business effects too.

In order to do this though, it is important that publishers and brands can measure the impact of advertising on their sites, consistently and comprehensively. The work of Field and Binet is brilliant and highly respected, but it is based on the best of the best who have all been able to provide masses of data to support their case.

These hero campaigns certainly help to fly the flag for publishers wanting to reinforce the benefits of advertising in their media environments, but what about the everyday campaigns? How are they performing?

Fortunately now, with measurement solutions like ours enabling publishers to measure the brand lift impact of campaigns consistently and at scale, publishers are generating much more data to help them better understand how these effects are taking place.

This in turn enables a more granular level of insight, and provides more confidence in helping advertisers plan future strategies. During tough times, it’s all too easy to take a short-term view, but accessible brand lift data is helping to make a case for investing strongly in their brands too.

And by monitoring these key brand measures over time, we can better understand how these effects are taking place and thereby contribute to a more granular level of understanding of the evolving and often complex media world.

Sean Adams
Global Insight Director, Brand Metrics

Brand Metrics provides a simple, inexpensive software solution run on publisher sites, designed to consistently and continuously measure campaign brand lift effect to fuel richer conversations and support brand investment in digital advertising. Brand Metrics’ platform can measure all four key effectiveness metrics: brand awareness, consideration, preference and action intent for nearly any digital ad campaign, no matter its size, and compares these scores against Brand Metrics’ global benchmarks. Based in Sweden, Brand Metrics has offices in New York, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Milan and Sydney.