How Does the Digital Environment Impact Advertising Creativity?


Does the digital environment support or constrain advertising creativity? The answer is both. But how? Researchers in Australia relied on two seminal methods—the rigorous Delphi recruitment method through which research queried creative experts worldwide, and the Four P’s model of creativity. These were applied to investigate “place” (the digital environment) and its impact on the remaining P's: process, person and product. What they found was that technology both enhances and represses creativity.  

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Today’s TV is “Amazing”

In conversation with Scott McDonald, PhD., President & CEO, ARF, and Radha Subramanyam, PhD., President & Chief Research & Analytics Officer, CBS Corporation. Subramanyam gave today’s TV an A+.

  • “From where we sit things are kind of amazing. Things are great if you love creative, if you make television. And if you love getting your product out there to more and more people you are beyond a Golden or Platinum or Diamond Age. There’s so much content, there’s so much opportunity for creativity, there are so many screens.
  • “I think about who wins and loses based on who makes something that’s awesome for the consumer.”

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The Best JAR Papers

The editors and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Advertising Research have selected the JAR’s best papers of 2021. Both the winner and the runner-up were featured in News You Can Use when they were first published.   

  • Accounting for Causality when Measuring Sales Lift: A new study by Henry Assael and Masakazu Ishihara (both at New York University), and Baek Jung Kim (University of British Columbia) on “Accounting for Causality when Measuring Sales Lift from Television Advertising: TV Campaigns Are Shown to be More Effective for Lighter Brand Users” explores the feasibility of using observational data, rather than controlled experimentation, to assess causality. The authors’ study demonstrates the importance of controlled experimentation by showing that lack of controls can lead to misleading findings.
  • When Brands Go Dark: Examining Sales Trends when Brands Stop Broad-Reach Advertising for Long Periods”, by Nicole Hartnett (Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, University of South Australia), Adam Gelzinis (Endeavour Group), Virginia Beal (Ehrenberg-Bass), Rachel Kennedy (Ehrenberg-Bass) and Byron Sharp (Ehrenberg-Bass). In sum, their study examined the sales performance of beer, cider, and spirit brands that advertised intermittently over almost two decades. The researchers analyzed changes in sales for the years when brands stopped advertising relative to the last advertised year. On average, brand sales declined immediately in the first year and every subsequent year without advertising. The sales decline was faster for smaller brands and for brands that already were declining in sales before advertising cessation.
The authors will be honored at the 2022 ARF Great Mind Awards. Sources: Assael, H., Ishihara, M., Kim, J. (2021, March). Accounting for Causality When Measuring Sales Lift from Television Advertising: TV Campaigns Are Shown to Be More Effective for Lighter Brand Users. The Journal of Advertising Research, (Volume 61), Issue 1 Hartnett, N., Beal, V., Kennedy, R., Sharp, B., Gelzinis, A. (2021, September). Examining Sales Trends when Brands Stop Broad-Reach Advertising for Long Periods. The Journal of Advertising Research. (Volume 61), Issue 3. (Also see “News You Can Use” March 5 and August 13, 2021) Also note: Go Inside the recent JAR at a special Insights Studio on May 4. Learn more and register.

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Best Papers from AUDIENCExSCIENCE 2022

Misfits: Why Not Fitting In Matters to Creativity in Advertising Adam Sheridan, IPSOS Marketers are gravitating more to media efficiency and data management and less on the time and resources to create high-quality advertising to drive effectiveness. The value of “Creativity” is often pitched as the argument to invest in hiring creative agencies to produce advertising to drive end business sales and market share gains. But the problem with creativity is there is not a shared language as to what it means, nor the strength of contribution it makes to end effectiveness. Ipsos ran a meta-analysis measuring end effects and the presence of creativity across thousands of video ads, with the goal of identifying what creativity really means in advertising and the role it plays in delivering end business effects. The application of the research is to help marketers better understand how they can leverage creativity to fuel business effects in their campaigns. Are Your Distribution Strategies Working?  Measuring Cross-Platform Audience Delivery Across All Distribution End-Points Joan Fitzgerald, Management Science Associates Programming decisions about video licensing, acquisition and scheduling are increasingly complex due to fragmentation across DTC/O&O, AVOD, SVOD, FAST, Live, VOD, MVPD and vMVPD. Programming executives require apples-to-apples comparisons between each distribution endpoint, for clear line-of-sight to how much audience is delivered and how audience delivery translates into ROI. The challenge is data. 1st, 2nd and 3rd-party data must be co-mingled and transformed into standardized metrics. The reality is that each distribution partner delivers their own version of performance data -- inconsistent, aggregated, non-standard and even measuring different things. The data rarely matches the publishers own Master data. The FAST and the Furious: Does the Rise of SVODs Imply Consumers Reject Ad-Supported Content? David Tice, HUB Entertainment Research The evolving marketplace for premium video content has created fears that the initial swing of the pendulum – from “traditional” ad-supported linear networks towards subscription-based streaming services featuring no advertising – has substantively undermined the ad-supported model, demonstrating audience’s distaste for ads, which has even driven viewers to non-television media alternatives with no ads. While consumers are indeed making use of no-ad or reduced-ad options previously unavailable to them, we believe there appears to be little evidence they are abandoning ad-supported television or media altogether. These changes may indeed make accumulating audiences of the size used in the past more challenging. Learn more and register for next week’s AUDIENCExSCIENCE conference on the ARF website.  

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Best Papers from AUDIENCExSCIENCE 2022

Here is a preview of some of the best papers to be presented during the ARF’s upcoming AUDIENCExSCIENCE conference, which will be held April 12-14 and is open to all in the industry. Dentsu’s Attention Economy Project: From Theory to Practice (Mike Follet) This is the largest cross-media attention measurement study ever conducted. It assesses the attentional impact of video advertising across TV, desktop and mobile screens in the US and UK. But while the basic learnings have immense importance for how the researchers conceptualized and evaluated advertising, the presentation will show that the true importance lies in what was done with the data. Working with their partners at TVision and Lumen, Dentsu created a predictive model of attention that can be deployed as a post-bid, reporting tag and a pre-bid, contextual targeting tool. The presentation will review the methodology and fundamental insights from the initial research: how attention to advertising differs across media, how viewability is a poor proxy for actual attention and how the relationship between attention and brand recall is complex and nuanced. Not All Frequency is Created Equal (Leslie Woods, Amy Crooks) When reach and frequency moved from being measured at the 1-week or 4-week level to the campaign level, frequency became a hodge-podge of the value of repeat exposure. Exposure (reach) within 1-4 weeks prior to purchase exerts a powerful influence on sales.  So, the exposures that re-reach a consumer 4-weeks after the first exposure are actually recency exposures rather than pure frequency exposures. This presentation will introduce a way to separate the two types of frequency and share the difference in value between them . Understanding the differences in value will dramatically change how advertisers and publishers deliver exposures across time. Getting Creative Right: The Dynamics of Interactive Video Ads (Duane Varan) With the rise of OTT, interactive video ads represent a new frontier in advertising. But which new formats work best and why?  How do these compare to linear ads?  How do we best understand what works and what doesn't in this new frontier? This presentation will compare interactive and linear video ad formats, highlighting new challenges and opportunities, based on extensive (over 100 studies and over 10,000 test sessions) and deep (incorporating neuroscience methods) research on a wide range of new interactive ad formats. Register now to hear these presentations and much more at AUDIENCExSCIENCE 2022. Your event registration includes an invitation to an in-person cocktail reception and exclusive access to event content for four weeks. Learn more and register on the ARF website

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News You Can Use Topics

We analyzed the topics featured in News You Can Use during the last nine months. This is what we found. The goal of this e-newsletter is to cover a wide range of topics that are of interest to the ARF’s membership. We provide summaries of ARF, MSI and CIMM events and JAR papers, but most articles are gathered from many other sources. We think this analysis gives insights into the ARF members’ key issues during the last year.

  • Over 45% of all NYCU topics fell into three categories: Video (Measurement, TV, Streaming), Ad Effectiveness (creative, targeting, attention) and Brands/Advertisers. ALL CAPS for Video, Ad Effectiveness, Brands/Advertisers
This is how another 42% of topics ranked (in order): Consumer Attitudes/Behavior, Social Media/FAANG, Ad Industry, Research Methods/Quality, Diversity, Agencies, Forecasting, Tech/AI, Audio. Miscellaneous subjects accounted for the remaining 13%. Our analysis method: We went through nine recent months of NYCU articles, including this edition. For each we assigned an article either one point (the article is clearly a single subject, e.g., it was clearly about consumer behavior), or a half-point (the material could include up to two topics, e.g., consumer behavior & video). We ended up with 150 points.

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Ad Time Duration and Attention to Ads

A two-day, ARF Town Hall explored how measures of time spent watching ads and of attention to ads, are related to the quality of impressions. Here are key takeaways from the research presentations and discussions:

  • Ad time duration, attention to an ad, and, therefore, the quality of an ad impression, are impacted by many factors, such as the ad creative, platform and consumer characteristics (see chart). For example, a large body of research has shown that creative aspects of advertising have a large influence on keeping viewer attention. Also, ad length is an important influence on exposure and attention.
  • The relationship between duration of ad exposure and outcomes is nonlinear. Research shows that the first few seconds of viewing an ad are most valuable and have the highest level of engagement.
  • Ad time exposure is likely to be related to ad attention, but attention to an ad is widely considered a better proxy for the value of exposure.
  • Attention metrics are starting to become part of the toolkit of buy-side advertisers and agencies, as well as the industry. They are used to augment existing KPIs, measure ad effectiveness, and for media optimization and planning. But there are obstacles.
Discussants highlighted several barriers to the adoption of attention measures. First, the complexities of measurement (Does it indicate positive engagement? What is the role of aural attention?). Second , there is a need for a simple metric (despite complexities) to employ such metrics. Third, more research is needed to show the attention measures’ relationship to ad effectiveness. There was agreement that, as these issues are being addressed, attention measures will become increasingly important For more information we recommend accessing: What is the Value of Time in Advertising? (Part I: How Value is Created) – The ARF What is the Value of Time in Advertising? (Part II: Implications of Value Research for Industry) – The ARF

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NYCU: Perspectives on the Future of Advertising

When two industry heavyweights meet and talk about the future of the advertising industry, it's worth it to stop and listen. Marla Kaplowitz, President and CEO of the 4A's for the past five years, probed industry issues earlier this month with Philippe Krakowsky, a 20-year veteran of IPG who recently completed his first year as CEO. This is an edited interview (Ms. Kaplowitz asks the questions, Mr. Krakowsky replies):

  • The biggest industry challenge? I would say that it's keeping pace with the changes that technology is driving in every facet of our lives.
  • The talent issue? We want our people to be in a company that innovates—a company that cares about inclusion and diversity, a creative business that on the media side takes a point of view and a stand on media responsibility. So, it's a mix of a lot of things. I don't think there's a moment where you can solve this issue.
  • The myths? I don't think about myths.
  • The future agency model? The future agency is more precise, more impactful and accountable, with a greater ability to understand the audiences that clients are trying to connect with or impact or engage with. But it's not one thing; there is no future model.
  • Core growth areas for agencies? Healthcare's been really strong, and I think it probably stays that way. There's an opportunity for all our creative agencies because they're more and more connected. I don't see any places where you can't get to. There are many interesting places for growth.

Source: Farmer, M. (2022, February 15). Marla Kaplowitz Engages Philippe Krakowsky At 4A's Decisions 2022MediaVillage.

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NYCU: ARF Members’ Priority Issues

The ARF’s Knowledge Center answered 471 member questions in 2021. These provide good insights into the issues that are most important to our members. The heaviest users of the Knowledge Center continue to be marketers (41%), followed by agency members (26%), media (15%) and research companies (7%). Most member questions in 2021, as in previous years, were unique to the very specific business needs of the member. Many questions were about various marketing and media research issues, target audiences, the impact of COVID-19, creative issues and testing and media issues (such as the use of and impact of different platforms). Here are some other questions asked:

  • What are the latest trends, challenges and best practices with in-house agencies?
  • What are the opportunities of reaching consumers through the connected home?
  • What are the positive effects of corporate brand campaigns on underlying product campaigns?
  • How are brands today and tomorrow engaging and connecting with culture and consumers?
  • What is the optimal average frequency for an ad campaign? What is under-exposure?
  • Does advertising on platforms focused on wellness have an impact on brand ROI?
  • What channels and ad formats are seeing increased or decreased prioritization in ad buys?
  • What are best practices for CPGs during inflation?
 As an ARF member, you too can ask our Research Professionals specific questions to gain clarity on your most pressing issues and help propel your business forward. Click here to make a Knowledge Center request.  

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