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Long-term or short-term? Brand or direct response TV?

Here are a few facts that go some way in demonstrating that TV is, and will remain, the most effective advertising medium in the complex and ever-changing media landscape:

  • “Investing in TV increases effectiveness by 40%, making it the most effective medium”. – IPA ‘Effectiveness in a changing media landscape’, 2017
  • “TV advertising best is at generating top-line growth that drives profit, with a 2.6% average market share point gained per year when using TV advertising”. – IPA ‘Effectiveness in a changing media landscape’, 2017
  • “TV advertising is, on average, twice more effective at increasing sales per equivalent exposure than the next best performing medium, which is press”. – Ebiquity, ‘Payback 4’, 2014
  • “Including TV advertising in a campaign increases its efficiency six-fold”. – IPA, ‘Advertising Effectiveness: the long and short of it’, 2013

As an industry, we don’t seem to agree on a lot, but this is one point that every major study into advertising effectiveness agrees on. TV stands head and shoulders above other media in driving business results from generating profits, growing sales, creating awareness, building brand values, and spanning mass coverage. And with that, it’s no surprise that the world of TV planning has become increasingly complex, especially with the ever-so-public debate over short-term vs. long-term. In the most prominent report “The long and the short of it”; advertising practitioners argue that focusing on achieving short-term results will undermine long-term performance and vice versa.

All Response Media viewpoint
We agree with the industry that TV continues to excel as a brand-building medium. But we also stress that thanks to growing synergies with online and the affordability of direct response TV (DRTV), it also has a powerful role in driving customer acquisition. Sadly, we found that of the many articles written on this subject, opinion often boils down to short-term being perceived negatively and long-term as the ultimate solution. Our thought process takes a more pragmatic approach: generating scalable and sustainable short-term results will always contribute to the success of long-term goals. At the end of the day, sales still matter. They’re a key contributing factor to the health of any company. Thus, where required, we believe that both phenomena can co-exist simultaneously once businesses address their needs, identify their objectives and aim for their targets all whilst balancing strategies accordingly.

The IPA suggests that the optimum balance for effectiveness is a 60:40 ratio for brand and activation, subject to category and category expenditure. However, one size does not fit all (even within the same category) and it is subject to the business’s focus, challenges, KPIs, and business-cycle. TV effectiveness is the search for truth and recognising your own business truth should inform all your TV planning decisions whether it be over the short, medium or long-term. For example, a lot of ARM clients, particularly those starting on TV, are mainly concerned with delivering on immediate KPIs and quite frankly rightly so. Of course, they need to prove the channel works and is returning responsible investment back ahead of jumping on the costly brand bandwagon at a 60% share of investment.

That said, we like others in the industry do also see the value of objectives like brand building and mass awareness for medium to larger advertisers. Especially those that are at the growth stage, but still focused on attributable returns. However, our long-term for our clients is different to that of the industry. And as such our holistic buys trigger many elements of long-term i.e. using different touchpoints to prove the worth of the channel mix on a plan. We optimise and buy both volume and efficiency drivers for audience affinity, reach, awareness and to achieve cost per views (CPVs) respectively.

To simplify this thought process, we gathered a brief outline to aid our clients in efficient decision making when it comes to media buys, advertising messages and other critical campaign components. Please note that there are always exceptions to the rule and for further guidance on approach please liaise directly with your respective ARM contact.

While both brand and DRTV advertising have their merits, in most cases they work best together to jointly address long-term brand health as well as delivering real-time performance. Companies that run multimillion-pound advertising campaigns without DRTV leave a big piece of the pie on the table for their competitors to eat up. DRTV provides a distinct channel of communication and distribution that supplements any current marketing program already in place.