With everything from the daily grind to after-hours entertainment and even religious life markers like weddings and funerals having shifted location from the real world to our ever-present screens, it’s little wonder the ‘screen queens’ – that’s TV, mobile and digital out-of-home (OOH) – are marketers’ primary platforms of choice in 2021.
In fact, our CrossMedia database reveals that South Africans watch almost double the global average when it comes to linear TV, with streaming content hot on its heels.
Our CrossMedia database also tells us that globally, the key levers for paid media driving greater brand salience in cut-through campaigns comprise two crucial elements: sufficient investment to drive exposure within the core target audience; and stand-out creative to drive brand engagement and communicate core messages. So the best way to ensure media ROI is to start with great creative.
From test patterns to streaming video
TV advertising remains the most effective way to reach mass audiences, with the highest average reach among all paid media touchpoints, despite digital leapfrogging traditional platforms to reach further corners of our country. Advertisers have taken note and scrambled to optimise content for the full range of linear channels and streaming platforms now available, but the IPA clarifies in its The Crisis in Creative Effectiveness report that there’s just too much content that’s narrowly targeted and lacks brand building across TV, OOH and online video.
You want your audience to do more than rush to click on your latest digital promo or dash in-store after your prime time ad airs; you want them to keep your brand top-of-mind long after the ad has been seen and to become long-term advocates of what your brand stands for. That means going beyond simply taking the same video across TV and digital formats to understanding how the content will be consumed, and adapting it to the right channel and media to increase its impact.
Unfortunately, the budget allocated to brand building among the world’s most creatively awarded campaigns has fallen to just 66% over the last four years, 10 percentage points below optimum. No wonder creativity is facing an effectiveness crisis. But if your brand is willing to learn from the best-performing creatively awarded campaigns, you can solve this before the next ad break.
Maximising content also maximises in-market sales performance, tying in with the latest WARC learning that highly creative and effective ideas are more than twice as likely to lead with TV as any other channel. So, before you rewrite the script and get ready for ‘Lights, camera, action!’, remember the key lever of paid media driving greater brand exposure is consistency and quality of creative. Is your brand investing enough time and budget to ensure incredible creative quality? Do you know what to include in your creative?
What South African audiences want from advertisers in 2021
Kantar’s syndicated Covid-19 Barometer study into how the pandemic influences consumer behaviour, attitudes and expectations among more than 150 000 people globally found that only 8% of South Africans wanted advertising to stop when the pandemic first hit. Instead, the need for media to provide an escape hatch while shining a light to guide us shone through – so much so that the advertisers who held their resolve in the creative investment downturn saw their bravery rewarded, with a clear hierarchy of response to advertising content appearing in the first waves of lockdown.
This was supported by Kantar’s Link database, based on 4 824 global TV, digital and static ads tested from May to November 2020. While the pandemic certainly dominated last year’s ad landscape, it’s the ads that showed how brands are taking concrete action, tangibly helping people, with ‘business as usual’ ads bearing no reference at all to Covid-19 performing second-best.
Despite stimulating good emotional response, emotional support ads of the ‘We’re there for you’ type actually performed poorly in terms of effectiveness. Meanwhile, ads that merely referenced the pandemic as an aside needn’t have bothered, as our data shows it’s better to stick to established campaigns when you don’t have anything concrete to say.
These prevailing sentiments have continued with the end of the pandemic a vague and hazy prospect down the line. Audiences want things to return to normal but they’re not as sensitive as they were a few months ago, so there’s no need to cut back on ads on the funnier side of life. Because while brands should obviously avoid mocking or making fun of the situation, having a sense of humour during what’s been a dangerous and difficult time for many may help us all smile a little more readily.
Looking at the other end of the spectrum, brands that went dark and pulled the plug on all advertising quickly saw the light as they noticed significant declines in saliency or ability to come to mind compared to brands that maintained a level of in-market presence. It’s therefore vital that marketers consider how they continue to build longer-term preference, so they are prepared for when the situation eventually recovers, as brands that hold their nerve while competitors reduce spend are likely to benefit strongly.
But what should your creative focus on, to hit the right note with your audience? That’s where Kantar’s global Creative Effectiveness Awards come in.
Now playing on a screen near you … Takeaways from Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards
Successful advertisers know the hard work starts long before the ad is produced. You need to build on consumer insights to identify a creative territory for the brand, as a foundation for ads that run across channels, markets, cultures and time. Now in its second year, Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards celebrate this, highlighting the top characteristics that make ads effective with consumers today, based on analysis of 10 000+ ads around the world throughout 2020 through our ad-testing solution, Link.
1. Be distinctive. Stand out from the clutter to be noticed and remembered, as you’re competing for attention against numerous multiple screens. Be distinctive in a way that makes sense for your brand, whether that’s a catchy backing track or breaking the mould of what audiences expect from your category.
2. Brand intrinsically. Get your branding cues right, as most advertising only works a while after exposure. Instead of flashing your logo at the end of the ad, aim for strong integration in the storyline and a consistent creative approach across your brand portfolio. Think along the lines of Old Spice, Volvo Trucks and Heineken.
3. Be meaningfully different. Grow market share and defend premium pricing by going beyond fulfilling consumers’ functional needs to also meeting emotional and social needs. Illustrate your uniqueness to position your brand in a meaningful and different way in people’s memories.
4. Trigger an emotional response. People feel before they think, so that’s the key to winning engagement and bypassing the natural tendency to screen out advertising. Leave impressions of the brand as caring, funny, loveable or ‘a brand for me’ through sharing heart-warming stories that generate more impact, driving short-term sales while building long-term brand equity.
5. Talk with the audience. It’s easy to get so close to the brand that you lose perspective. Test your ads with your target audience and take their feedback onboard throughout the creative development process to refine your ads accordingly.
But beware! Simply copying these tactics may break the first one of being distinctive. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to creativity, so do what’s right for your brand, in your market. Use this as inspiration around what’s already proven effective for brands all over the world and recognise the power of creative to build stronger brands for the South Africa ad landscape.
Head of Kantar’s Media & Digital Practice in South Africa, Monique Claassen’s knowledge of complex media projects coupled with her insatiable appetite for digital trends maximises clients’ media investment decisions.
As Kantar’s director of creative development, Natalie Botha works with marketers and agencies to create effective and impactful advertising that leaves a lasting impression and delivers strong ROI for brands.
As global head of creative, Daren Poole is responsible for Kantar’s creative development and testing solutions, as well as thought leadership based on his extensive experience in optimising creative content with data.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.