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Independent Audit Confirms MSW-ARS TouchPoint® Copy Test System’s Powerful Linkage to Financial Performance

February 20th, 2018 Comments off

Last week the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) announced that TouchPoint®, MSW-ARS’s advertising copy test solution, has completed the Marketing Metric Audit Protocol (MMAP) – MASB’s formal process for validating the relationship between a marketing measurement and financial performance.

TouchPoint uses a behavioral, multi-media experience to collect the criterion CCPersuasion® metric. This unique approach avoids common pitfalls, such as cooperation bias, of more direct approaches and thus allows for a more meaningful measurement of consumer preferences.  In fact, CCPersuasion utilizes the patented CCPreference® system (also successfully audited by MASB) as its foundation.  The TouchPoint system is flexible enough to measure individual ads as well as full multi-execution campaigns across a wide variety of media types, and integrates extensive diagnostic feedback demonstrated in the audit to have a strong track record in helping to improve the effectiveness of tested copy.

In the MMAP audit, the CCPersuasion metric was assessed against the MMAP ten characteristics of an ideal metric, as well as MASB’s guidelines for measures of marketing productivity.

Most vitally, the audit requires metrics to substantiate a specific link to financial performance. Regarding the TouchPoint system, the MMAP audit concluded that the CCPersuasion metric is able to quantify the likelihood and magnitude of an ad’s impact on future sales volume and market share.  This is based on a wealth of information collected over many years proving the predictive validity of the CCPersuasion metric.

Specifically, the audit indicates that the CCPersuasion measure predicts TV advertising’s impact on market results at ~0.90 correlation level when the effect of the ad is isolated from the other elements of the marketing mix. One published study that substantiates this conclusion relates the predicted sales volume impacted by advertising to the actual sales volume impacted from independent Marketing Mix Modeling analysis:

 

What does this mean for advertisers? Well, there are a number of different aspects of the TouchPoint system that have been demonstrated to help improve advertising’s Return on Investment.

On the most basic level, an advertising copy test system is used to qualify specific executions for airing or is applied upstream to determine which initiatives should precede for further development. Since TouchPoint uses a criterion measure strongly related to sales impact, advertisers can have confidence that these decisions will be made on the basis of improving advertising’s return.  TouchPoint takes this a step further by providing the Fair Share® benchmark, a unique modeled norm that is superior to traditional normative approaches.  Fair Share represents an estimate of the sales effectiveness, in terms of CCPersuasion level, for a typical ad for the advertised brand, given the category environment and the brand’s position in that environment.

In addition to giving a meaninfgul go/no-go indication on copy, the magnitude validation of the CCPersuasion metric allows for a forecast of an ad’s expected impact when aired. This is implemented through use of an easy to use elasticity grid which sets expectations based on the CCPersuasion level.

 

 

In addition, MSW-ARS has decades of experience researching and publishing on the topic of advertising wearout. By marrying the findings of validation studies with these wearout learnings, we developed the patented Outlook® media planner.   The Outlook planner, which has been cited in numerous award winning case studies, enables brands to forecast sales impact, plan the number of executions needed to meet business objectives, and allocate media spend among multiple tested executions so as to optimize return on advertising investment.

 

 

The TouchPoint system is also capable of assessing early stage stimuli using the same validated methodology to raise the odds of success before costly development on specific executions has begun. This is demonstrated through a study linking the test results of early stage video value propositions with the CCPersuasion levels of finished executions developed from these propositions.  The results show that ads based on strong value propositions are much more likely to perform above benchmark at the finished execution stage.

 

 

As noted earlier, the TouchPoint system incorporates extensive diagnostics that have been shown to significantly relate to the criterion CCPersuasion measure and which have been shown to provide guidance for improving the effectiveness of tested copy. This diagnostic learning is also key in helping brands understand what is working and how it can best be deployed.  The potential for improvement fueled by validated diagnostic feedback over the course of time is illustrated by a four year case study in which a global MSW-ARS client was able to improve both qualification rate and average CCPersuasion level year-over-year for each year of the study.

 

 

Finally, it should be noted that CCPreference, the foundation of TouchPoint’s CCPersuasion metric, is a common metric running throughout the range of MSW-ARS solutions from early stage creative development through copy testing and creative and brand health tracking. This provides marketers with a unique ability to better connect research from one stage of the advertising process to the next, avoiding potential outages that can occur when attempting to move between different stages in the research process which are assessed using different systems and metrics.

 

 

To learn more about the TouchPoint copy test system, it’s performance on the MMAP audit and how it can help improve your brand’s financial return from advertising, please contact us at aklein@mswarsresearch.com.

 

Evidence-Based, Customer Journey Management to Build Brands

January 23rd, 2018 Comments off

Evidence-Based, Customer Journey Management to Build Brands

The Opportunity for Marketers

As customers become exposed to a cascading list of product choices, store choices, and information sources, the opportunity exists to connect all the communications about any specific brand and product into a single consistent, coherent message relevant to the individual customer’s needs.  The customer journey has emerged as the concept that provides the opportunity to best deliver an integrated marketing communications approach at an enterprise level.

The various customer-facing functions in organizations now have the opportunity to integrate their individual, principal goals to deliver a single voice for building brands:

  • Customer Experience — Every daily contact point a moment-of-truth to opportunity to exceed expectations
  • Digital Communications — Automated intelligence and delivery to enhance daily relationships
  • Traditional Communications — Process creation and delivery fully integrated with digital in driving marketing ROI
  • Experiential — Events and sponsorships to cut-through clutter and energize the brand
  • Corporate Communications — One unfavorable rating or post can undo the entire marketing plan; authentic information content drives brand growth
  • Purchase site — Online and offline, 24/7 access and critical convergence of messaging

Common Ground toward Effective Brand-Building

All these functions have been departing from their parallel paths and converging based around the following premises:

  • All brands are vulnerable to losing customers through a single bad experience.
  • Brand strength is created through a history of positive experiences.
  • Every characteristic of the brand involves communications and relies upon communications for success.
  • The customer journey concept is an extension of past models for consumer decision-making.
  • Traditional and digital communications must be integrated which requires their development processes to become integrated.
  • All the functions involved still rely upon key, evidence-based, branding concepts – The MSW-ARS RDE model for brand-building links closely to the customer journey map for any defined product segment.

The opportunity exists to apply common metrics that measure short-term and long-term communications success across functions, within functions, and within elements of each function, across a customer journey.

Evidence-Based Metrics; the Common Language for Integration

Metrics that truly capture the reality of the interactive contact at each touch point along the customer journey must be evidence-based to ensure unified direction and consistent execution across organization functions for delivering an integrated communications approach.

MSW-ARS solutions for each step of the journey contain the Customer Commitment Preference metric that is more sensitive to immediate unit share and brand franchise shifts than any other metric in the market.

Source:  MASB

The validated connection between Customer Commitment Preference and customer lifetime value enables the team to know precise return-on-investment for each individual element and the collective program across functions.

To develop insights to addressing continuous improvement within each touch point, any customer journey analysis must address three basic questions:

To capture thinking (cognitive) and feeling (emotive) measurement requires empirically proven metrics that can uncover both the stated and derived importance of each touch point and communications for assessment of both expectations and delivery to expectations.

Convergence around Customer Journey as the Key to Brand Building

MSW-ARS has developed empirical evidence of how communications work that can accurately connect short-term sales and long-term brand development to the performance of the individual and collective touch points in the journey.

Taking Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning to another Level

Previous brand experience is a principal characteristic for segmentation and target opportunity determination at the need generation stage of the customer journey:

  • Neuroscience-based, unconscious measurement of derived importance uncovers un-voiced concerns before they become lapsed or lost customers.
  • Category measurement of attitudes and usage across all measurements and media formats to identify opportunities to get things right at the beginning and deliver a consistent, coherent message.

Linking the Big Idea and Content Development

Research on how communications works has been conducted across the MSW-ARS, fifty-year, database.  The evidence clearly indicates that the key message of any product is built into the product design.  This was reported most recently by the MASB, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board at the 2017 Annual Conference for the Advertising Research Foundation.

Therefore, the opportunity for integration of the various communications programs must start at the beginning.

The MSW-ARS Sifter product has been designed specifically to measure the strength of the Value Proposition.  Additionally, the approach provides an assessment of effectiveness in delivering this value proposition that can be attributed to various communications elements and that can be applied in long-form and short-form content for scaling across every customer touch point.

Sifter is not intended to replace AI in the CRM/Marketing Automation system.  Sifter complements AI by:

  • Ensuring that the communications program has an effective launch.
  • Supports first mover growth opportunities for the brand.
  • Provides the foundation for insights at the need generation stage and future learning from AI contacts.
  • Can be integrated into decision-support, desktop applications to help serve as a cross-functional theme for coordinated, daily message responses.
  • Ensures delivery of the fundamental, brand value proposition across all touch points.

Touch Point Effectiveness

The MSW-ARS TouchPoint product is also founded on more than fifty years of empirical evidence for how communications work.  The successful application of this solution and the certainty of its ability to predict results and lower business risk have been proven in a study by the MASB involving multiple communications research firms across twelve categories.   The MASB study results have been presented to the ARF and the AMA, written about in The Economist, The International Finance Review, The Journal of Brand Management and CFO Magazine, and has been discussed with the IASB (The International Accounting Standards Board).  Customer Commitment Preference is linked to Market Share & Cash Flow and hence to the NPV of the brand.

The Touch Point solution is flexible to allow brand teams to intervene and test any point along the journey at any time to develop empirical knowledge for continuous improvement.

Success at the Moments of Truth

Effective communications during the consideration, engagement and evaluation stages lead to inclusion in the consideration set at the first moment of truth when the purchase is made.  Communications then strengthen the purchase and remove dissonance at the second moment of truth when the customer receives service for the product.

Application of the MSW-ARS ACCU*TRAK solution allows company and brand teams to invest resources at a precise point in the journey that will most effectively improve both the contribution of that single touch point, but, more importantly, the overall unit share results sought by each of the various marketing functions.

Conclusion

Organizational changes indicate that brands fully understand the need to integrate the various functions, but, don’t yet fully understand how to link them in an effective manner.  MSW-ARS has an answer to this need that will allow brands to move ahead of their competitors in making this critical adjustment to finding common ground… cross-functional, evidence-based metrics that will enable marketing organizations to successfully implement integrated marketing plans across each customer journey.

Why won’t TV advertising just die already?

September 9th, 2016 Comments off

The answer…  Synergy – the compelling reason why television advertising is as relevant as ever.

For the last two decades it has been fashionable to prognosticate the death of television advertising whether delivered by broadcast, cable, satellite, or stream.  The general storyline has been that emerging digital channels will displace television advertising through a combination of lower costs per exposure and better ability to target specific audiences both demographically and by exhibited category interest.  But while digital advertising has seen explosive growth it has not yet toppled television from the top of the media spend hill.  Television still maintains a one percent edge over digital with 2016 U.S. ad spending for traditional, non-digital television projected to be $70.6 billion versus combined digital at $68.8 billion.

 

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Source: www.emarketer.com

Given the above cited advantages of digital how can this be?  Part of the answer lies in the richness of the television exposure.  Television provides a ‘lean back’ experience that combines smooth full motion video with high quality sound.  The typical digital display ‘lean forward’ experience with smaller screens and less dynamic speakers doesn’t provide the same level of emergence.  Another part is the interruptive nature of television advertising which occurs in stream with the programming and seamlessly takes over the whole experience.  In many digital forms the advertising exposure occurs simultaneously with the content, effectively having to compete for attention with that content.  And digital also has a significant viewability problem with served ads appearing off-screen, being blocked, or viewed by non-human bots.  According to the latest comScore benchmark study in the U.S., only 48% of desktop display and 41% of desktop video are non-fraud, viewable impressions.  And this is not confined to the U.S.; according to comScore similar rates are occurring worldwide as shown in their infographic.

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In aggregate this means that television still typically delivers the highest sales return on a per reach basis.  A recent single-source meta-analysis by Nielsen Catalina Solutions dramatically illustrates this point.  Spanning fourteen hundred campaigns conducted by four hundred fifty CPG brands over eleven years, the analysis calculated incremental sales per household reached.  Compared to three common digital formats, television campaigns returned approximately 40% more incremental sales per reached household.

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However, when looked at on a per-cost basis the results are much closer.  Essentially the lower cost for digital (except for digital video) and its ability to better target brings it into parity with television on average.

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But this should not be interpreted to mean that spend can be moved from one channel to another without implications.  One thing we know for certain is that media channels are not an “either this or that” proposition.  In fact, confining advertising to just one channel can have a substantial, negative impact on advertising returns.   A new quantification of this synergy was included in the How Advertising Works study sponsored by the Advertising Research Foundation.  A meta-analysis of 3,200 campaigns whose sales impact was modeled by Analytic Partners showed a substantial increase in incremental return-on-investment for campaigns using more than one platform.  The additional lift over the single platform ROI ranged from +19% for campaigns using two up to +35% for campaigns using five.  Especially synergistic was the combination of TV and digital.  When digital was layered with TV the average increase in ROI was +60%!

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But this just begs the questions: From where does this synergy arise? and Why is TV advertising so synergistic with other forms of advertising?  Surprisingly, four distinct sources of synergy have been identified and all are in play for television advertising.

Advertising Wearout and Refreshment

As media spend is placed behind an ad its ability to generate sales diminishes.  This wearout has been proven to occur at an individual execution level.  Within a single media channel this is typically managed by identifying the strongest ad from the available pool (via pretesting) and then refreshing it with new versions after it has worn out.  In this way media dollars are not wasted by being placed behind ineffective ads.  The below example shows how this refreshment approach can be successfully used to drive share higher and higher within one channel, in this case television.

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Source: www.emarketer.com

This effect is inherently built into cross-media campaigns.  Because different platforms typically use a different ad format there is a natural tendency for this diversity to minimize wearout.  There are, however, two caveats to this.  First is that television and online video need to be managed collectively if the same executions are used.  The second, less obvious issue is that highly targeted campaigns can increase wearout by concentrating spend on a smaller number of consumers.  For example, a brand which heavy ups on digital may find itself over saturating a specific target at the expense of reach among a broader audience.  As cited in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the Procter and Gamble company recently faced this issue and will now “move away from ads on Facebook that target specific consumers, concluding that the practice has limited effectiveness.”  As explained by P&G CMO Marc Pritchard: “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow, and now we’re looking at: What is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision?”  This reportedly includes ramping up spending on multiple digital sites and traditional media channels.

Recency of Exposure to Purchase Occasion

Another dimension of media plan effectiveness is recency – the time between exposure to advertising and the shopping occasion.  While numerous single-source studies have verified this effect, the classic examination of Nielsen data by Colin McDonald perhaps still best illustrates it.  In it the impact of advertising on share was shown to steadily decline as the time following potential ad exposure increased.  This includes a drop of 16% from the first day following exposure to the second day.

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This decline can be partially explained by a rapid decay in advertising memories.  An MSW●ARS study showed that proven ad recall after incidental advertising exposure faded by nearly fifty percent in the first three days after exposure.

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Since each channel exhibits a different pattern of engagement time in terms of both days and hours, the use of multiple channels can increase the probability of reaching the consumer close to a buying period.  In particular, prime-time television viewing coincides with peak online shopping times for many categories.  And even more compelling, online brand search volume has been directly linked to television exposure.

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In fact, in one attribution analysis conducted by MSW•ARS eighty-two percent of one brand’s online search conversions were first set in motion from a television exposure.  This is the primary reason some brands have experienced substantial, unexpected drop-offs in search ROI when television spending is reduced; their attribution models did not take into account that television advertising was driving substantial portions of their search activity.

Priming

The increased use of neuroscience techniques has driven a greater appreciation for the effect of cross-media priming.  In a recent interview Gayle Fuguitt, President of the ARF, summarized many of the learnings from the How Advertising Works initiatives.  In it she touches on the subject of priming effects:

“…if you see the same advertisement on a mobile phone and then on television it will have even more effectiveness. It resonates better.  We know brands are built in the brain.  That work was done using neuroscience.  And so it’s really unlocking consumers’ emotional connection, literal emotional connection, right?  Their heart and their pulse in their heads not just their feet, their behavior…buying behavior, to understand how advertising interactions can help build brand loyalty.”

Television advertising has been proven to be especially sensitive to these types of priming effects.  The more familiar people are with a brand, the more attentive they are to television advertising.  Even prior product use leads to greater attentiveness to, and recall of, the advertising.  Illustrating this point the below graph compares proven brand recall levels of brand users and non-brand users for ninety-seven television ads.  Across the ads, on average forty-two percent of non-brand users recalled both the ad and featured brand.  The corresponding number for brand users was fifty-one percent.

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Given this sensitivity to priming and its ability to reach broad audiences, television plays an especially important role in the retention of existing customers.  Laying down a consistent brand dialogue via television facilitates all other media channels in effectively contributing to this retention.

Message Ratcheting

One of the most interesting forms of synergies arises from the internalization of brand messaging across multiple advertising exposures. When consumers become exposed to the first ad of a new campaign they tend to take away specific “lower level” messages.  But as the consumer is exposed to new ad executions they tend to generalize to “higher level” messages.  As an example, the below blinded “green” campaign included three ads each focused on an environmental initiative; ‘Waste Reduction’, ‘Energy Efficiency’, and ‘Reduction in Emissions’.  Viewers of individual ads primarily took away only messaging related to the specific environmental initiative whereas those exposed to the entire campaign took away broader message of a “sustainability-focused company”.

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This “ratcheting” of messaging can be used to great effect in conveying difficult and vague concepts or in tying the brand to aspirational sentiments.  But it requires that consumers be exposed to multiple, effective ad versions.  One of the most cost effective ways to do this is to use television’s reach to introduce the campaign and then use other, less expensive channels to activate the message synergy.

The net of this discussion is that while television advertising is effective on its own, its synergies with other media channels make it a sine qua non – an essential tool for brand building.  For this reason the future of television looks as bright as ever.

Please contact your MSW●ARS representative to learn more about how our cross-media suite of tools can help your brand grow.