New Patterns Call for New Measures

Jan 1, 2007  •  Post A Comment

By Adam Armbruster

Special to TelevisionWeek

Our clients report that all of the drastic changes in consumer media usage have caused confusion about how to measure retail multimedia electronic advertising campaigns.

If you are the advertiser, you may have already discovered that the old standby measurement tool, the customer survey, is becoming irrelevant due to the fact that consumers are spending more and more time “virtually shopping” before actually buying.

In other words, by the time they finally come into your store, they may have forgotten what advertising medium brought them there.

Due to today’s longer ad-exposure-to-purchase cycles, consumers may not be able to accurately recall what motivated them to shop your store. This phenomenon is reflected in increasingly high error rates in retail customer surveys. Case in point: Nielsen, and more recently Arbitron, switched over to digital audience measurement because of massive human error in recalling even “same day” media use.

We all know that consumers already have a foggy idea of what media they think they are using versus what Nielsen and Arbitron report that they actually use. As such, consumer recall rates of your original television ad may be diminishing due to the dramatic changes in their shopping habits. Clearly, it’s time for a new measurement tool.

We already know that consumers begin all major purchases by viewing the seller’s Web site and we also know that something motivated them to visit that Web site in the first place.

Make no mistake about it: Television is just as effective or even more effective than ever before. Consumers have shifted to using video and electronic media as their media of choice. But new standards of campaign measurement are now necessary since consumers are also “using” television advertising in new ways.

In the 1980s, television ads generated immediate store visits, and then in the 1990s, television ads generated phone calls. Now television ads generate Web site hits. Today consumers are beginning their shopping pattern virtually before physically.

Try it yourself. Tell a friend about a great new store you just found and most likely the first question they will ask is, “What’s the Web site?”

We also know that once a television message is seen and heard by consumers, they immediately make a decision to act or not to act. Assuming they act on your television message and perhaps log on to your Web site that very same day, then visit your business a week later, then return another week later to actually buy, they may not be able to accurately recall how they originally found you.

So if you are still asking current customers the question, “How did you hear of us?” expect confusion when you sit down to go over the final research data.

How can you eliminate the human error and begin to accurately measure the impact of these new multiple media television/Internet campaigns?

First off, you need to design new measurement metrics. Here are the best metrics for measurement as reported by a mixture of our automotive, furniture, home builder, home contractor, health care and financial clients:

1. Organic (non-sourced; also called non-searched) Web site hits.

2. Overall Web site traffic volume during TV ad flights.

3. Click-through rates of linked television station Web site ads.

4. Positive/negative relationships of incoming phone calls to television ad flights.

5. Closing/conversion ratios of television leads generated

6. Gross sales during television ad flights

7. Net profitability during television ad flights

8. Increase/decrease in the usage of printed media run during TV ad flights

Did you notice that none of these measurement tools involve talking to actual customers?

The fact is that today consumers are deluged with so many ads each day that asking them what brought them to your business is for them like you trying to remember what you had for lunch yesterday. Also, the metrics above are easily measurable so you can build a measurement graph using some or all of these campaign measurement metrics.

Next you need to design “measurability” into your TV and Web message.

To generate measurement, your television message needs to be promotional in nature and not an image ad. Image ads are not easily measurable as they require a very long, horizontal-style campaign and most advertisers are not willing to invest this level of television spending without an immediate payback.

In your promotional television message you also should include a clear and bold Web site mention both in the middle of the script and most importantly at the end of the commercial. Your Web site address should always be the last thing the consumer sees and hears. Why? Because we already know that interested consumers will go to their computer next. Don’t be passive and make consumers Google to find you, since your competition will most likely show up on the first Google page as well.

Next, your television flight needs to be planned around consumers’ lifestyle patterns so that they can act immediately after seeing your commercial. An example of this is to run high levels of early-morning news to reach working women so that they can see your television Web-driver message and then log on to your Web site at work that same morning.

Lastly, you need to design your commercial so that it’s congruent in style and tone with your Web site. Here, generous use of video versus text is the answer. Consider airing a television commercial and also welcome consumers to your Web site with a video using the same style of creative and the same on-camera talent. This will help build frequency of message along with higher ad recall levels.

Getting accurate feedback about your television campaign is crucial to knowing which ad concepts and media plans are most effective. Today, however, asking the consumer may be the worst place to start. So for 2007 let’s change our measurement metrics to align with the way that today’s consumer really shops.

Adam Armbruster is a partner in the Red Bank, N.J-based, retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster and Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.