Carat @ Eff Week: Measuring the Effectiveness of Brand Campaigns
Anita Lohan, Head of Analytics, Carat UK
As advertisers, we are well aware of the different roles of brand building and activation. That is broadly speaking activation campaigns focus on those who are in market currently, or likely to buy in the near future, whilst brand campaigns focus on building strong perceptions and brand values about your brand, helping to differentiate it from your competitors. Both are essential to maximise the profit of your business and when planned well work in synergy with each other; with activation driving the short-term cash flow and brand building driving the longer-term sales growth by predisposing audiences to your brand, therefore making subsequent activation more successful.
Why the impact of brand campaigns can be difficult to measure
There are many ways that advertisers try to address the question on how best to measure the effectiveness of a brand campaign, including using tracking studies (pre/post), social listening or quantitative surveys asking questions about advertising recall, campaign diagnostics or message out-takes. Each of these, however, has specific limitations when trying to attribute a quantifiable brand impact to media.
The difficulty that most advertisers have is that while activation campaigns tend to be strongly linked with spikes in sales which makes it easier to identify and attribute an effect to media; branding activity tend to drive smaller impacts over a much longer time frame. Research from the IPA, shown here, indicates that brand impact builds over time in small increments and this makes it much more difficult to disaggregate the impact of media, and even more difficult to isolate the effect of the different components of a campaign.
Changing people’s perceptions of a brand takes time, and this is something which r in the fact that most brand tracking studies show very slow movement on their metrics. This is because it generally involves making an emotional connection which requires multiple exposures to the message over a period, each re-enforcing and building the mental structures consumers associate with your brand. While it is indeed possible to use tracking studies, or other quantitative studies to measure these shifts in brand perceptions, it is often difficult to exclude the influence of external factors on the brand metrics, e.g. what were your competitors doing at the same time? Has there been any bad PR? Therefore, getting meaningful, granular or actionable campaign results can be challenging by just looking at changes over time.
Another factor which compounds the complexity of evaluating a brand campaign is the fact that many of these campaigns target those who are not currently in market, as their objective is to prime consumers for future purchases. As these consumers are not in market, it is likely that they are only paying little, if any, attention to the advertising. This is not, however, to say that the advertising will have no impact. As Robert Heath, an academic at Bath University, concluded in his research, brand building occurs through emotional connections, not persuasion, and that emotional content is processed most efficiently at low levels of attention. This, he claimed is because emotions are processed without using our working memory so advertising could be working without people recalling seeing the advertising!! If this is true, then the traditional advertising metrics which judge the success of an advertising campaign through advertising recall will grossly underestimate the impact of a brand campaign.
In addition, the brand is constructed in the consumers mind in a complex and multi-faceted way, and as such it can be very difficult for consumers to articulate what it is about a brand that is most important at driving their consideration; e.g. is it perceptions of its modernity, quality or innovation that is most important? And how much more important is it that other perceptions? As consumers, we like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, however, given the importance of emotions in decision making this is not always true. As discussed in Dan Arierly’s book, Predictably Irrational, consumers often make choices which on the face of it are irrational. Therefore, asking consumers which are the key drivers of consideration, and how individual pieces of communication and experiences have driven these perceptions is not a reliable form of insight to base future plans on!
So, if there are limitations to using tracking studies, advertising recall metrics or consumer engagement metrics, how should we measure the brand impact of our communications? How can we identify which of the multiple brand association consumers have with our brand are the biggest driver of consideration and how effective our campaign has been at driving these?
Brand evaluation at DAN
At DAN we have developed a technique called Integrated Communications Evaluation (ICE) to address these issues. ICE uses advanced modelling to identify which brand perceptions are the most influential and to attribute the impact of each component of our brand campaign, and consumer experience. The output of this modelling can be fully integrated with DAN proprietary media planning and optimisation tool which ensures that all findings are totally actionable.
How does Integrated Communication Evaluation work
By combining bespoke primary research with Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) and regression, we can evaluate:
1) Which brand values are most influential at driving brand KPIs and quantifying how much equity our clients have already in each of these values.
- We collect data using a bespoke questionnaire in which respondents are asked for their level of agreement with 25-30 brand statements and brand KPIs
- To get a comprehensive view of how the brand is viewed the questionnaire is designed using a robustly designed framework, ensuring brand perception questions are asked which cover the four core components of how a brand is built ( perceptions on awareness, cultural association, emotional and rational connections)
- Then SEM is used to statistically quantify which of these brand perceptions are most important to leverage to drive brand engagement
This provides us with an empirical understanding of how the brand system works, enabling us to identify which brand perceptions are most influential at driving brand engagement and which messages our clients need to focus on to maximise the impact of their communications.
By combining the results of the SEM modelling with the level agreement respondents gave for each statement identifies where a brand has most equity and where they are under performing. We use our database to provide benchmark figures for our clients.
2) Which brand touchpoints, media and experiences, had the greatest impact on these brand values. Results are analysed at a granular level – meaning we can evaluate the effectiveness of each creative execution, identifying which messages work best in each channel
- As part of the survey respondents are shown examples of each of the campaign creatives in situ and asked whether they have seen the advertising before
- Data about their experiences of the brand and the category also collected
- Regression modelling is used to quantify how much each of the experiences and creative executions impacts on the brand perceptions and ultimately on the brand KPI
ICE uses recognition as opposed to recall to identify whether someone has been exposed to a piece of advertising as this has been shown to be a more accurate measure, especially for advertising with low involvement. Using regression to model the impact of campaign recognition on each of the brand perceptions enables us to quantify not only how much it drives the overall KPI but also HOW it does this – which particular brand perception does it influence, e.g. in the example below Sponsorship was particularly effective at driving perceptions of Value for Money and Product range. As the modelling is done at a creative level, we can compare the brand impact of each creative execution, identifying which aspects work well and provide direction for creative improvements.
3) How each of these media executions should be scaled up or dialled down to maximise the impact on overall the brand KPI in future activity
- The output of ICE is then integrated with M1 Planner, DAN’s media planning system which is powered by the world’s largest single source media survey. Integrating this into our planning system ensures that the outputs are truly actionable; giving precise recommendations on how activity can be scaled up to maximise impact on the brand KPI.
By using ICE, we can provide our clients with meaningful, actionable insights that feed into both the creative and media planning process.