It is axiomatic in advertising that if your ad isn’t noticed or remembered, you’re wasting your money. Simply put, consumers can’t buy your brand if they don’t notice or remember your ad. Thus, “breakthrough,” or how well consumers remember your ad, is THE foundational metric for in-market advertising effectiveness.
There’s a second important reason for you to want the highest advertising breakthrough possible: efficiency. A dollar of your media spending buys more with a higher breakthrough ad than a lower one. Breakthrough is not just about effectiveness, it’s also about efficiency.
Example: early in my career, I worked on the Bounty Paper Towel brand. We tested a new ad which scored a spectacular ~60% day after recall, almost twice the norm at the time. “Great!” I thought.
What I didn’t think about at the time was the fact that this ad would require only ½ as much spending as an average recall ad to achieve the same result. More ad breakthrough means less spending and higher ROI. What a deal.
Getting More for Your Advertising Money
What drives breakthrough? How do you develop ads that generate high breakthrough? How can you spend less to achieve the same business result?
Well, it doesn’t require that you fire your agency—the first response of many new CMO’s. It does require a more in-depth understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Nielsen (disclosure: I work at Nielsen) analyzed the most common creative factors associated with high breakthrough ads using their Brand Effect TV ad effectiveness service. The Brand Effect TV database is enormous: 47 categories, 22k brands, 230k ads, and 9.2MM airings. And while the learnings are from TV ads, they almost certainly apply to other mediums.
6 Ways to Drive Higher Advertising Breakthrough
- Create an Iconic Character – Ads with iconic characters like the Energizer Bunny, the Progressive “blue lady,” etc. almost always have an edge over other ads. Think of great ad campaigns, and you’re more likely than not going to remember iconic characters.
- Brand Early and Often – Creatives love to create “surprise” advertising. The surprise is that the brand is only revealed at the end of the spot. Their argument is that the suspense and drama this creates makes ads more effective. They’re wrong. The best recalled ads show and tell the brand early and often—no real surprise.
- Create a Relatable Character – People like people they can relate to. Many of the best recalled ads feature relatable characters that are part of a continuing campaign. Remember the cool Apple Mac dude who was always contrasted to the Windows PC guy?
- Use Target Appropriate Humor – Being funny is in the eyes of your target. What’s funny to some people is not funny at all to others. The Geico Cavemen are probably more appealing to young men than elderly women. Understand your target audience’s preferences for humor—and then use the right approach in your ads to get better recall.
- Make it Simple – Simple and easy make it more memorable. Apple ads are almost always simple, easy to understand and visually elegant. Avoid confusing storylines (or no storylines at all), fast cuts, jumbled images, and other executional foibles that creatives love to foist on unsuspecting clients. Simple ads recall better, period.
- Get to the Point – Ads that quickly get to their main selling point tend to be better recalled. This is also true for shorter length ads. Shorter :15 TV spots often recall just as well as more expensive :30 ads. Make your point—quickly.
Better breakthrough won’t solve all of your brands advertising problems. But, it’s an oft-neglected foundational ad effectiveness metric that drives both effectiveness and efficiency. More people remembering your ad means more people being influenced to buy your brand—and less ad spend required to achieve the same sales result.
Go for breakthrough: your consumers will remember you for it !