How to measure effectiveness against ad sizes?

  • How do you measure the effectiveness of a print ad – in terms of sizes? I’ve looked at both Nielsen and Gartner for this data, to no avail. I’m hoping that my fellow networkers can shed some light on this topic. If a Client elects to shift from running one full-page print ad to running three separate quarter page ads, repeatedly, what type of results would this typically yield? Question by: Carson Hornsby

An interesting question indeed, and till today I’m yet to find some formally researched numbers or formula that establishes the ad-size to campaign-effectiveness. However, any advertising specialist or media strategist would tell you that the rule of the thumb is: “Make Impact with Size; Gain recall with frequency“.

Following the simplest of communication processes, AIDA (Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action), when any new campaign is launched for the first time, the primary media objective is to first draw attention and impact among the defined target audience for the campaign. Unless attention is drawn memorably, it’s more likely that the Interest in the campaign messages will not be developed.

Therefore, every campaign – whether print type or multimedia type – usually is launched with a bang, drawing attention among the target audience and more! In Print, the IMPACT is ensured through bigger sizes, teasers before the launch day, special operations (covers, peep-ins, or any other means) or a combination of 2-3 modes together.

Next, it’s important to generate and retain interest. Part of this objective is met if the launch ad is impactful. However it’s necessary to sustain the interest level for some time, in order to develop desire. Ways to sustain interest are – interesting creative in terms of copy, visual, delivering same messages in different modes and formats, engaging the audience, etc.

In most cases, due to the shortage of time or money, agencies / advertisers are unable to test out campaign creatives among test audience before release or engage audience in other ways and in other media. Therefore the next best method – that of repeating the same messages in the media – ensures recall plus generates interest in the advertised product / brand.

However due to high media costs in almost every market, multiple repeats are possible only if the ad sizes are reduced in such a way that optimum sizes are maintained to have the repeats throughout the campaign period.

Now to answer your question, assuming your creatives are okay, the campaign effectiveness will surely depend upon impact and recall.

Assuming that you have sufficient budgets, you need to have bigger size print ads for IMPACT – at least during the launch stage. For RECALL, you need to increase the “Opportunity to See” or more simply the frequency of the ads – preferably in reduced sizes, to save on budgets.

However, if your budgets are limited, you should aim to have more frequency through smaller sizes, since it has been proved in the past that even below-average messages get well registered and recalled if they are hammered again and again. In such a case, the IMPACT of the campaign is actually developed by the sheer power of repeats – even if slowly, and definitely, by huge numbers that run for months.

In case you’re forced by a situation to run either one-ad or a 3-ad campaign within the same budget, you should be successful if you go in for the latter, since this would ensure the minimum frequency* required for recall – however small! But then the frequency gained at the cost of minimum size further can also affect the campaign by its noticeability, as well as affect brand image adversely.

*It has been proven by research that 1st insertion of an ad gives impression, 2nd gives registration while the 3rd one gives recall.

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How to simplify design, yet maintain functionality?

  • How can you bring simplicity into the design of products – taking out complexity while not compromising capabilities? Question by: Hitesh Parashar;

Well… frankly, I’m not a designer; but I guess any profession involves some kind of “design” – e.g. the day-to-day life is also some sort of “design” formulated by the creator of all! I feel that following approach is quite universal, regardless the field or profession you are in:

1st step – Forget you’re designing!!! Think you’re solving a problem!
2nd step – Once a solution is found, don’t stop… look for more solutions – at least 5 more!
3rd step – Apply logic and reason to see if the solutions are different and address the problem fully
4th step – If yes, see if they’re simple enough for applying in reality, and go ahead!

In daily life, we see problems and try to solve them – not just see if the solution was easy, difficult, looked good or satisfied my peers, etc.

Hence the first step always is to stop thinking you’re designing. Good Designs born out of the Philosophy of “Simplicity”.

Some useful links: Google’s Simplicity; Maeda’s Simplicity; Ikea’s Simplicity;

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Note: This post was originally created on 3rd April 2009 @09:28 am. It is also posted under Answers@LinkedIn page

Which recruitment agency to use?

I suppose for this kind of situations, which could be true even in case of hiring for an ad agency, the answer lie within the following universal check-lists / principles:

  1. Does the agency have at least 2 detailed preliminary meetings with you to discuss your requirements? (this will show that they have patience and interest in giving you the best service)
  2. Once done, do they come up with their view of your requirements, not fearing to give you some market insights which you didn’t know, or you’ve never accepted yourself? (this will show that they just don’t want to get business)
  3. Once insights are shared, do they come up with a plan of action to source out the best available in the market? (this will show that they are not just internet searchers, and really do give you value for the money they charge)
  4. Once approach has been agreed upon, do they screen candidates before sending them to you? Do they share the screening questionnaire and method of screening to you? (this will again show that they value your involvement in the process)
  5. When the candidates are sent, they usually give details which are NOT included in the CV – usually based on their screening interviews. They also provide info. and recommendations about min and max salary this candidate is worth.
  6. Finally, they also give you commitment that the candidate would not leave within the probation period; and the same is expected out of you too!

Many would point out that the above is too idealistic way of looking at a recruitment service provider agency. However, once you’re in the industry, you’d definitely utilize your network to gain information about any recruitment agency you call-in to brief. The above points can be probed into EVEN BEFORE you call for briefing – from the people you get references about the agency (LinkedIn could be one source)

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Note: This post was originally created on 8th April 2009 @09:16 am. It is also posted under Answers@LinkedIn page

Finding the effective tools to communicate with customers

What do you think is the most effective way to communicate with your consumers? LinkedIn question by: Fang Lu

This is a very broad question, for which there’s no one-line answer! In marketing communications planning, the tools to communicate are often the last things to decide. I’d try to give a perspective which might empower you to decide for yourself, the most effective ways to communicate.

Here’s a step-by-step methodology you MUST consider, before deciding upon your various options:

1) Gain a perspective of your battlefield – What’s the business environment you’re in? what’s the product category? Who are your competitors? How are they communicating? Is there anything eye-catching about their tools? Is there anything that you think is not right about them? Is there any rule or law that encourages or discourages certain type of communication? etc. More the knowledge you gain about your marketing battlefield, more empowered will you be in making your decision.

2) Gain differential knowledge of your product – By this I mean the strengths and opportunities your product have / offer, vis-a-vis competitors. Does your product really enjoy an exclusivity? Or is it s me-too? Does it really force customers to think different, or is it just a “better” product? Is it a category killer? Is it a price killer? Is it a market innovator? etc. etc. More the knowledge you have on your own product within the given market perspective, more empowered will you be in deciding on the effective message, which incidentally is as important as the tools to communicate.

3) Gain insights about your customers – This is the most crucial of all steps. In social media, it’s a part of the LISTENING process. Who’s your ideal customer (not “consumers”)? What’s his / her demographic and psychographic profile? How does he / she consume your proposed product? Is there any gap area, which still exists in his / consumption pattern? What are his/her hidden motivations, desires, ambitions? if you do not have a ready knowledge about him/her, you may need to have a Qualitative Research to find these out. Once done, you’d have more clearer indications about ways to communicate with your customer.

4) Develop key messages – All the above 3 steps would give you enough perspective to draw the unique product message that would make sense to your customer(s) within the battlefield of your product category and competition. Every type of message has its own best / optimal ways of communicating, for effective comprehension by the customers. For example, some messages are better delivered by means of an Audio Visual (TVC) while some by means of a web banner ad.

5) Identify the effective tools to communicate – Once you’re done with developing key messages and insights about customers, you may need to re-explore the current means by which the customers gain their product / market knowledge. You may realize from step (3) that though a net-gen individual falls within your customer profile, is actually not interested in using the websites reviews for product knowledge. Rather he/she is getting this info. through his closely held cafe-club network. So your most ideal tool could be perhaps a cafe-club event that engages these captive customers for about an hour and a half!

Therefore, to reiterate, effective communication tools / ways cannot be decided unless you explore steps (1) to (4) above. Not to forget that you can also consider any kind of “co-creation” tool before-hand (during steps 1-3), to let your customers decide the ways and means they would like themselves to be addressed by your company / brand.

Given the complex and ever-changing nature of the customers today, it’s natural and more effective to design a communications plan, which makes use of a combination of tools and media consumed by your customers.

Also look for Other Answers in LinkedIn. and Strategies for Effective Business Communication

How to build trust when competitors created skepticism?

  • A company wants to get in to market like air purifiers, detox products, or gas addittives. Its predecessors have created some skepticism with non-performing products, because they are a very ethical company and believe their product does just what it is supposed to do. How would you advise the newcomer to move ahead and buid trust with consumers? What must they do? What must they not do? LinkedIn Question by: Jeffri Epps

First and foremost, you need to do an in-depth research of customers, and specifically try to probe on the effects of competitor communication on them. It’s likely that one of the 3 results might emerge:

  • A – Consumers agree to competitors’ skepticism, and are content with that position, taking actions accordingly
  • B – Consumers are skeptical of competitors’ activities, but have decided to carry on with competition – because of herd mentality or due to no other alternatives available
  • C – Consumers neither agree or are skeptical about competitors’ position / messages – hence are not bothered who offers the products or services

In case of A, it might need further probe on additional factors they are looking for, which are currently not addressed by competitors. Depending on how strong and sustainable advantages these factors are, you may decide to take a course of action

In case of B, you might like to explore ways in which you’re able to present yourself (your product) as something that makes a difference in the attitudes towards the product.

In case of C, you might like to see in what ways the product could be seen – not necessarily in terms of benefits, but in terms of value. e.g. something like “well, you know, people say many things about this, but who cares!!”. But you’d have to really see how the values associate to the brand in the long term.

Long ago in India, domestic TV advertising started going the route of being “also ran” stereotyped communication. After all all TVs gave comparable picture an audio performances. At that time an imported TV was considered much superior, but was not available to 99% of the population! On researching, one brand discovered that actually, an imported TV immediately created an element of envy among the peer circle. this element was capitalized with huge success thru the “Neighbour’s envy; Owner’s Pride” campaign – even though “envy” was depicted with all its negative connotation.

I’m not sure what product category you’re in, but maybe by research, you’d get some insights that truly justify a “negative against the negative” approach, which ultimately could work positive for the brand.

(Please contact me should you need elaboration / clarification) Also Look for Other Answers.

What’s more important in an AD: words, graphic design, or both?

  • Essentially the question is – when you see an ad, or a TVC or a DM piece, what catches your eye more? Words? Design? Or are both equally important? LinkedIn Question by: Steve Olenski

Advertising, even in its most basic form, is expected to “influence” human behaviour in some way. To do this, advertising should first attempt to stimulate at least one of the 5 senses of the target – eg. see, hear, touch, smell and taste – in order for him/her to develop a perception about the ad. This stimulation will contribute to development of “A” or the “Awareness” stage of the simple AIDA (Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action) process / model.

In case of print advertising (eg. Press ad, DM) the first stimulant is the visual appeal whether by image / typography / graphic / color / layout, etc. that attracts human attention first. If this stimulant is powerful enough, the target goes on to the 2nd stage – i.e. taking Interest in the piece of communication (or simply, reading the headline and trying to relate Visuals with the headline to understand message).

In case of TV too the opening visual / scene draws attention first – but here, due to uniqueness of the medium, sound (eg. music, dialogue, or both) – or sometimes “silence” – also plays an important role, albeit marginally less than visual.

In case of Radio, the sound is the first stimulant. In experiential advertising / marketing, taste and smell could be the first stimulant too in some cases.

However, once the first stage is successfully addressed, the use of words / text (in case of Print) script / storyline / characters (TV and Radio), etc. become extremely important for sustaining Interest, generating desire and driving action among the target. For total advertising message delivery, other / additional elements complement / contribute to the importance of the ad.

Or in other words, for an advertising to be successful, visual, words, graphic design, message, context, etc. are all important – even though what catches eye / senses first could be visual (print)/ sound (radio) or both (TV).

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Do companies / brands fear to differentiate?

  • There is a lot of average and mediocre brands around today. As if brands lost their guts and courage to stand out and stand for something crisp. Is this caused by fear? What are its sources or drivers? LinkedIn Question by:  Lucia  Tarbajovska.

Well, I feel it’s not the fear… primarily it’s the failure and lethargy to identify a differentiator that:
– truly falls in line with the short term and long-term profit objectives of the company
– succeeds in convincing the decision makers that it’s an “opportunity” worth exploring
– gives them an understanding / courage that it has a sustainable competitive advantage

Additionally majority of the companies who are in a particular product / service category, have a tendency to have a “herd” mentality – “everyone is going that way… they could not be wrong!”. In short they tend to embrace mediocrity, if this gives them short term gains or saves them the hassles of taking risks.

In today’s ever-changing business / economic battleground, you’d rarely find a Bill Gates and Richard Branson who stick to their guns / dreams or who are not bothered about short term results as long as keeps their long-term goals intact.

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