December 16, 2017

by Nigel Hollis

A new article on our website explores why testing ads is just as important in the digital domain as it is for TV. But I cannot help but wonder if the authors are not being too rational in their analysis. Yes, testing will improve sales response but some marketers just don’t seem to think that is important.

Stephen Phillips, CEO of ZappiStore, and Daren Poole, Global Brand Director Creative Development at Kantar Millward Brown, acknowledge that some marketers have doubts about testing digital ads but assert that testing not only improves performance now it helps build learning for the future. They give the example of RB which, working with Kantar Millward Brown and ZappiStore, rolled out a fully automated creative testing process allowing RB to test more content, more quickly and improve results at the same time.

This sort of system will no doubt be regarded as a waste of time by some marketers. Why test your advertising ahead of time when you can see what the response is in-market and adjust accordingly? And besides, isn’t the real measure of success whether the campaign has an impact on social media, is that not where the true power of advertising lies today? Well, it all depends on whether you want to ensure your advertising is as effective as possible and that applies to generating a positive social response too.

Yes, social campaigns can be effective but too many marketers misinterpret the scale of social media coverage versus the scale of a brand’s user base. Yes, we can measure the degree to which people are talking about a new campaign and use it to quickly assess its likely effectiveness but that does not mean everyone is talking about it. Based on digital campaigns we have researched in nearly 90 percent of cases no one clicks on the share button. And most ads and stories that do ‘go viral’ rarely reach more than a tiny fraction of potential brand users. It takes a full scale integrated media strategy and compelling creative to ensure that a brand gains any benefit from social media coverage.

Of course, if you really want to get people talking then one of the most powerful influences on social is actually good, old fashioned TV. If you have a well-branded and compelling TV ad then people will talk about it. Of course, you might want to check out ahead of time how the audience is likely to react before airing because if you really believe social is all powerful you would not want to risk a negative reaction would you? Unfortunately, most of obvious examples of social’s power come when a brand has made a serious misstep and sparks a social media backlash.



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