Beyond Reach, Frequency & GRP’s: How Media Influences Your Brands Advertising

June 21, 2010

How much does media really matter once your brand has great advertising? Is “reach” all that counts? We now know from research that media “form factors” and “personality” likely matter greatly to advertising performance—they are performance amplifiers whose volume can either dial up or dial down your ads’ performance.

Consumer Psychographics: Media Form Factors (Image courtesy of

So, for example, we know that the same ad in On-Line Video outperforms the same ad on TV across key ad metrics like ad recall, brand recall, etc. The question is why? And why does this matter to Marketers?

Media Perceptual Mapping

Let’s start with how consumers “perceive” different media types. In a recent AOL/Questus study, 1800 SmartPhone users were asked questions in a correspondence analysis to generate a perceptual map of six different media channels. Granted, this is not a rep sample, but it is instructive nonetheless.

AOL/Questus Study: Media Perceptual Mapping

Observations from the Perceptual Map

• Unsurprisingly, newspapers, radio and magazines are grouped on the right side as “established media,” but with newspaper by itself—indicating lagging status.

Print News Media: Outdated?

• Electronic media, including Mobile, PC and TV are all on the left side as “leading media,” with TV and PC’s grouped together as “lagging” media.

• Interestingly, TV is separated from PC and Mobile, and from Print, Radio and Newspapers, almost in a category by itself. TV is more leading than lagging and more digital than established. TV is in a world of its own.

When you overlay attributes to the quadrants, you see that each media or media group has its own characteristics:

Newspapers:   Boring, old-fashioned, but trustworthy and credible

Magazines and Radio:   Passive, relaxing and influential

PC and Mobile:   Cutting edge, cool and timely

Television:    Powerful, entertaining and vital

Beyond “Brand Character” to “Media Character”

Clearly, each group has its own personality and characteristics. Just as brands have “brand characters” and “brand personalities,” it turns out that the 6 different media have “media characters” too. And just like brands, I think it’s highly likely that these character traits influence how consumers view the content and ads that flow through each media.

Think about it:  are you more or less likely to say the same ad is believable when delivered via an “influential” media versus a “cool” one? And which is more effective in communicating your brands special offer which ends on Saturday—a “passive” one or one that is viewed as “timely”?

Neural Based Learnings Across the 3 Screens

Let’s take this a step further. NeuroFocus, a leading neural based marketing measurement service, has done some interesting work in assessing how the 3 screens are processed by consumers. At a recent Advertising Research Foundation meeting, Dr. A.K. Pradeep of NeuroFocus outlined their learning about consumers pre-cognitive responses—e.g. those that take place in advance of conscious thinking—to TV, PC and Mobile.

Pre-Cognitive Thinking Influences Effectiveness of Ads

NeuroFocus research indicates that consumers react differently to different media. This is because consumers:

• View TV as excellent for communicating action and emotional depth

• Better engage with PC’s on dynamic content and highly personal communications

• Get a memory boost from Mobile’s small screen and concomitant focus

What Does This Mean For Marketers?

1.  Ad Performance Differs by Form Factor – Ad performance differs by form factor. The same video ad performs differently on TV versus On-Line Video. I think it’s safe to predict that when we measure it, the same ad will also perform differently on a Mobile phone or an iPad.

Form factors matter, and Marketers need to measure and understand the differences in performance to develop the most impactful media plans. Imagine the day when you have 4 different ad performance scores: one each for TV, Web, iPad, and Mobile – all for the same ad.

Ad Performance & Media Form Factor

2.  Media Character Influences Performance – Different media have different “media characters” and physical characteristics and consumers process them differently. This needs to be taken into account when thinking through how to translate your brand strategy into a media strategy.

• Television — If TV is better for emotional depth, then it’s probably more effective for brands with strong emotional benefit messages. TV also seems superior for action, especially given the ever-expanding screen sizes; brands that need to visually demonstrate their benefit in action are also likely to do better in TV. Google’s “Parisian Love” ad offers viewers both emotional depth and a call to action:

• Personal Computers – PC based communication provides depth and interactivity. This is key for educational driven brand strategies. As well, brands with highly personal and sensitive messages ought to perform better in this environment.

• Mobile – Since Mobile communication tends to drive greater memory retention, brands with a totally new message, or with limited spending, could benefit from this medium. And, of course, brands with timely and urgent calls to action should definitely be in the Mobile space.

Starbucks' Call to Action Ads: Mobile Platform

Media – More Than Reach, Frequency and GRP’s

The point is this. Media is a lot more than reach, frequency and GRP’s. The media type, the delivery form factor, and personality characteristics all influence how your advertising works.

And, of course, these are all just tendencies, not absolutes. TV can clearly deliver memorable ads, PC’s can communicate emotional depth, and Mobile can deliver emotionally laden messaging.

The key is to know each media types relative strengths and profiles, augment this with real performance data when possible, and use this knowledge to optimize your efforts in building your Brand and your Marketing ROI.

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