Consumers favor offline ads, but Covid quickly changing the world
Before the Covid-19 flu pandemic, cinema ads were most popular among consumers. Waiting for a movie to start, ads fill in time and with highly entertaining media. But like everything else, marketing has changed, and it may never be normalized, according to new Kantar research, “Media Reactions 2020.”
The pandemic impact is significant. No one is going to movies and marketers are cutting spend. About 60% of marketers say they have reduced marketing investments and 30% have cut a lot. While 64% say they are optimistic that business will recover in 6-12 months, the rapid and extreme change will shift everything.
Nearly all marketers (90%) expect that consumers will spend online more, Kantar reports, and 62% of them say consumers will spend a lot more online than before the pandemic. This signals increases in online marketing and advertising spend. More than half of companies (54%) said they will increase e-commerce capabilities and 26% said they will launch them to catch up.
Kantar, a global data and consulting company, polled 1,500 consumers and 733 marketers for its report. The findings introduce the company’s first global ad-equity ranking for media channels and media brands to help marketers and advertisers improve campaign effectiveness.
“The report explores three divides in media equity, which the industry needs to address,” said Duncan Southgate, Kantar’s global brand director, Media, Insight Division. In a recent webinar, he said major gaps exist in channel and brand performance online and offline. The study also found significant mismatches between consumers’ and marketers’ views, and that mismatched selection of media and ad platforms might irritate and confuse consumers diminishing ad effectiveness.
“The medium is part of the message,” Southgate said. Eyeballs and cost-per-impression don’t tell the full story in the new media landscape. “Media shapes and flavors how advertising is perceived,” he said. “Context influences people’s differing perceptions and attitudes towards different channels.”
Southgate said the report was designed to address marketers’ top two budgeting factors: channels appropriate for campaign objectives and selecting channels where consumers are most receptive.
While exploring these factors, Kantar’s analysis revealed three important themes:
- The online-offline divide
- The consumer and marketer divide
- The brand- and ad-equity divide
Offline channels dominated the overall ranking, with the top three in order as cinema ads, sponsored events, and magazine ads.
Seemingly an unlikely ranking, cinema ads are low reach but high in consumer impact because they’re fun, entertaining and good quality, the report says. Consumers appreciate sponsored-events ads because they support what consumers are passionate about.
Magazine and print ads enjoy strength because of trust and relevance to consumers and they have low intrusiveness – something marketers contrarily favor most. Consumers especially like style and fashion magazines because the content complements the ads.
A key consideration in comparing online and offline is that consumers hate the intrusiveness of digital ads, both because of interrupting content and wariness of personal tracking.
TikTok topped the global ad equity ranking for online media brands because participants believe the ads are fun and innovative, and it has fewer ads. Instagram and SnapChat follow for similar reasons. Kantar cautions that TikTok may have a newness bias that may affect ongoing rankings. Challenges from political shifts regarding the Chinese platform’s sale also may impact opinions. Google and Twitter ranked fourth and fifth.
For online channels, influencer-branded content tops the ranking followed by Podcast ads, streaming TV ads, online display ads, and social media story ads. These channels avoid the negative associations seen with more intrusive online formats and cluttered online presentations because of consumer affinity.
Influencers attract consumers because they are directly relevant to followers and appeal to their specific passions. Kantar found influencers are especially appropriate for luxury goods and travel categories.
This finding also supports why content marketing is becoming more critical as part of an overall marketing strategy, as content relates more than a brash ad.
Facebook ads didn’t rank well with consumers, but ranked higher with marketers. The study suggests Facebook might be used best as part of cross-channel campaigns.
While consumers prefer cinema, events, and print ad formats, marketers prefer TV and digital formats. Marketers want impactful ads that consumers can’t miss. They avoid print because of declining print circulations, but the report points out that “just because print audiences are shrinking doesn’t mean these ads have stopped working.”
Both marketers and consumers trust TV ads, TV sponsorship, and radio ads, but marketers trust online video much more and trust print much less, compared to what consumers trust, Kantar reports.
Kantar thinks marketing and advertising companies will become more agile mixing up media spend strategies as the new normal settles in. Media companies can expect reduced long-term ad buys so marketers have greater ability to respond to unsuitable formats and unforeseen events. Marketers will become even more focused on campaign effectiveness, requiring more optimization and making ROI measuring more vital, Southgate said.
Brand and Equity Divide
Kate Ginsberg, Kantar’s Insights Division media and content marketing VP, pointed out that people will spend time visiting and revisiting a media environment if they find it relevant, useful, and better than other media.
Google, Netflix, and YouTube rank highest in Kantar’s global brand-equity rankings, followed by Amazon and Instagram.
Ginsberg said, “You can’t create a passionate long-term audience without a meaningful difference.”
She advised marketers to measure attributes that consumers see in a platform or brand and match up advertising appropriately. Are ads fun or utilitarian?
“Between intrusion and relevancy, marketers must find new online approaches that appeal to the consumer and to the marketer,” she said. Find out what is good and appropriate for your brand in the context of the platform being considered.
Because no single brand can be all things to all people, Ginsberg suggests marketers blend “media personality types” to provide the optimal mix for their campaigns. Know what your considered brand platform is known for among its users – its personality – to design your marketing.
Just buying floods of ads can reduce your brand equity and loyalty because consumers see them as intrusive, irritating, repetitive, and plain boring. Digital brands generally have higher ad equity because they are more fun, entertaining, and innovative, Ginbserg said.
Kantar suggests tailoring advertising approaches based on consumer expectations, and to keep pace with changing consumer habits and expectations. Invest in media that reflect your brand aspirations and adapt advertising to platform expectations, Ginsberg said.
Media companies should be aware of the balance between relevancy and privacy and avoid excessive targeting and intrusiveness. Offline channels should consider generating new and fun online approaches to meet new consumer expectations.
Innovate advertising formats to satisfy marketer needs, Kantar recommends, but also keep consumers entertained and engaged. Understand your brand’s value to your consumers and understand the type of halo effect you provide as a result for advertisers.