It turns out that the increasingly popular digital advertising is, in some cases, not enough for consumers to buy our brand. Companies also have a problem with determining whether this communication channel is appropriate for their brand. Even data analytics-managed businesses are in the dark when it comes to evaluating the benefit of digital ad spending.
Digital media is a perfect solution if we want to reach a specific set of consumers quickly, efficiently, and at a low cost with a precisely addressed message. However, new research from Bain & Company shows that digital media is far less effective than traditional media in terms of the ability of customers to recall advertising for an established FMCG product. Or, the use of digital media may simply not be enough to increase customer interest in purchasing the product. This is essential information for companies trying to calculate their return on investment to determine the appropriate proportion of digital and traditional media use.
We compared four types of media: web banner ads, online videos, TV, and in-store advertising looking at the cost of increasing reach and the percentage of viewers remembering the ad for each additional 1 percent.
As expected, digital carriers make it cheaper to reach a limited group of consumers. However, the percentage of the general audience reached by the campaign who can recall the ad is the lowest for digital media (web banners and videos), with a maximum score of around 30%. By comparison, TV advertising is much more scalable. Although it is more expensive than digital media, when you need to reach relatively few consumers, our research shows that many more consumers remember TV messages – up to 60%. By repeating the same advertisement, a traditional media brand gains additional reach and increases rememberability among people who have seen the advertisement before.
The next question is: will remembering actually cause changes in customer purchasing behavior? So we also looked at consumer intent to buy to get the answer. While brands may assume that digital media is better because they engage people more, and a brand message can reach a more specific target audience, our research shows that buying intent increases with multiple exposures to different types of media – not just digital. It reached as much as 80% in the group of people who came across advertising in many different types of media, including digital and traditional.
The consequences are different for different types of brands. Those who enjoy the recognition of the mass market and high awareness benefit from building coverage and repeating the message; the experience of working with companies from the consumer goods sector around the world shows that the best manage to effectively anchor the brand in the long-term memory of consumers by broadcasting brand messages as widely as possible to the largest possible group of consumers. Since a person can only remember a limited number of brands and only remember a few messages, consistency, persistence, and repetition are needed to stay at the top of mind, given the scalability of traditional media and the limitations of digital media in terms of rememberability, it is in traditional media that large brands will get a better return on investment when it comes to refreshing already existing consumer memories.
Smaller brands that are potentially attractive to the mass audience can benefit most by starting with digital media, which is initially cheaper. Then, as it grows stronger, it adds traditional media. Niche brands should focus on precisely targeting and engaging their customers. In this case, the emphasis on digital media will bring the greatest benefits.
This state of affairs does not necessarily persist. The world of media is changing very fast. Less rememberability in digital media may be due to the fact that the current format and content of online advertisements are not intended to be scalable by design. However, if the Internet media develops new formats that will be able to improve memory and reach, their attractiveness will increase. However, for many brands, traditional media is still an indispensable channel. At least for now.
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