Effectiveness measures more than Advertising
Effectiveness measures more than Advertising
Janet Hull is probably one of the better apologists for the advertising industry. As head of the advertising effectiveness program attached to British adland’s Institute for Practising Advertisers (IPA), she is spearheading a successful push for advertising to become more “scientific” in the broader battle of enterprise.
Ironically, the advancement of the UK’s advertising effectiveness program has been largely fuelled by clients, rather than the fruit of lasting passion among ad agencies. The corporate community’s more urgent need to justify corporate expenditure has nudged agencies into embracing effectiveness measurements.
“This is the award scheme that client’s find most relevant to them, not surprisingly because they do understand it’s not quite the advertising industry patting itself on the back,” says Hull. “It’s much more the advertising industry trying to make the business case to the client community. Marketing people are finding that there is more pressure than there used to be for them to justify what they’re doing. Culturally they’re not very interested in doing that, and to be honest, neither is the ad business, so they’re being pushed into it. What we can provide them with is therefore quite helpful. What we’re learning is that in today’s business climate, we’ve got to apply a bit more of a professional approach and actually you get brownie points for doing it. Our whole program is there to develop that cultural change. And really it’s as much a culture change program as anything.
“The sort of holy pole we’re moving towards, really, is to create a bit more discipline in the approach so that we’re a bit more convincing and we sound a bit more scientific.”
Hull, in some ways, is attempting to steer the advertising industry ; through the effectiveness awards ; in the direction of the legal system and its fetish for precedent. In an ideal world, every agency would be feeding its own databank with scores of measurements demonstrating how particular advertising campaigns impacted on the clients’ business. When required to project what an advertiser should expect from its marketing investment, Hull says agencies could point to detailed case histories with similar or relevant competitive characteristics and results.
On the macro level, the IPA is also pushing the development of the World Advertising Research Centre, which will soon document case studies from the UK, Canada, Australia, France and Germany.
“I suppose traditionally we would be quite one dimensional,” says Hull. “Most agencies tended to do advertising and they didn’t really do sales promotion or direct marketing. ‘Only advertising can do this’ was the sort of message, if you like. We’re increasingly fostering how advertising contributes to the message. The ideal message in a commercial sense would be the power of advertising to make lots of other things really happen well, which seems to us to be the state of the market now.”
This was essentially the objective of the IPA 1998 Advertising Effectiveness Awards where the old formula of structured applications and preset effectiveness perimeters were spiked. Instead, an open brief prevailed where each 5,000 word case would be judged on its merit with no established judgment criteria.
“What we’re trying to get out of it is a broader view of how advertising impacts on business,” says Hull. “There’s consumer demand which might lead to increased sales, increased profitability, increased return on investment and increased revenue and market share. But what else is happening?
“Everybody is so aware of advertising, the dynamics of advertising stretch to other audiences. What do agency and client employees think about it? What do suppliers think about it, and is it being used effectively against them? Because they’re damn well seeing it and they’re creating a point of view about you on the back of it.
“So this time around we sort of upped the ante ; we’ve said think of it in bigger terms. People in client companies are expressing interest in how their marketing investment is working. More and more people are beginning to say it impacts on what they do because companies are segmenting down ; customer service is an enormous thing now, internal communication is an enormous thing and all of that is food for thought on what you’re marketing and advertising.”