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Television’s Brand Building Power – How It Has Changed Over the Years

June 20th, 2017

Radical changes continue to shape the media landscape. While much recent research has been conducted on the effectiveness of new platforms, less attention has been given to that media plan staple, television advertising. Is television as effective as it was in the 1980s? Or has its role diminished to the point of non-viability? And if still effective, how does it compare to other media platform options available today?

Last week, research that directly answers these questions was presented at the annual ARF Audience Measurement Conference in New Jersey. This research includes an update of MSW●ARS’s landmark advertising wearout study, An Empirical Investigation of Advertising Wearin and Wearout (which was chosen by the Journal of Advertising Research as one of “18 Articles That Have Withstood the Test of Time”).  The analysis was a joint effort by MSW●ARS Research, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MSAB) and Nielsen Research.  ESPN’s Kelly Johnson joined MASB Executive Director Frank Findley on the podium to deliver not only the latest findings on advertising wearout but also other important new learning and case studies.

The major conclusions from the study include the following:

  • On a single, quality exposure basis the television ad format is as effective now as it was in the 1980s (based on copy-testing for 30-second television ads collected within the United States for typical categories with brands advertising throughout the years 1980 to 2014 using a consistent methodology, MSW●ARS Research’s CCPersuasionTM measure).

wearout chart 1


  • The rate of delivery of ad selling power per GRP has slowed, requiring approximately 25% more GRPs to deliver the same power to market as it did in the 1980s.

wearout chart 2


  • More than mitigating this decline, the number of U.S. households has increased by 45%.

wearout chart 3


  • Despite a potential increase in distracted viewing, television advertising still maintains an effective frequency profile that is comparable to other media channels including digital.

wearout chart 4


The study also explores how advertising wearout learning can be combined with advertising effectiveness testing to create a metric highly predictive of in-market outcomes and which allows for media planning guidance and optimization of media spend.

For a copy of the full MSW●ARS Research white paper, Television’s Brand Building Power – How It Has Changed Over the Years, please contact us at aklein@mswarsresearch.com.

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