Awareness fallacy


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A summary of the principle arguments against the use of awareness as a measure of the success of advertising.

Published in: Business
  • Thanks Miguel.. and agreed!
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  • So smart. So right. So simple. Now the hard part is getting agency and brand executives to do something about it.
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  • Thanks for reading Brock. I certainly think you raise an interesting question on media and creative spending ratios. Surely, given all the changes in media over the last 10 years they need re-examined? That's coming from a media guy as well!

    I'm definitely no expert on pre-testing copy but intuitively I feel that media and creative people should be working more closely to give creative real world testing in the digital space before rolling it out more broadly.
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  • A really interesting presentation, Mark. So much of the advertising dollar is spent on media (to achieve both reach and frequency), but your presentation makes me wonder if more dollars should be spent on the message (or better yet, multiple messages). Generally, we're asked to keep the ad production budget at about a tenth of the media spend. What would happen if we reduced that media spend so that we could spend more on pretesting (and improving) the creative product? But of course, there are also plenty of folks who say that pretesting is also flawed. I think most agencies spend more time rushing to get an ad on air than we do insuring we have the most persuasive work.
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  • Hi Pete,

    Thanks for the comment! Totally agree with your point, in some ways this presentation is a slight cop out as it doesn't take the argument all the way through to the conclusion of definitively suggesting a metric to replace awareness.

    I do argue that persuasion is generally preferable but clearly this itself has issues which are highlighted within the document. Balancing simple answers that allow clients to talk with confidence within their businesses against recognizing the real complexity of decision making is going to be a tough challenge for the industry.

    The way we're sometimes still using awareness as a single measure of effectiveness or even to forecast sales clearly needs to be challenged but that doesn't necessarily mean abandoning it altogether.

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Awareness fallacy

  1. 1. AWARENESS Fallacy.(mark lester 8.26.10.)<br />
  2. 2. Driving AWARENESS is still a default objective for many advertisers.<br />This is a summary/reminder of why it shouldn’t be.<br />
  3. 3. The traditional model of advertising (AIDA).<br />AWARENESS<br />INTEREST<br />DESIRE<br />ACTION<br />Est.1898<br />
  4. 4. Problem #1. Common Sense.<br />
  5. 5. AWARENESS<br />A presumption that AWARENESS necessarily converts into INTEREST is flawed.<br />They’re two very different things.<br />?<br />INTEREST<br />
  6. 6. Unprompted AWARENESS went through the roof.<br />
  7. 7. Problem #2. It’s not the 1950’s anymore.<br />
  8. 8. In the mid 20th century, innovation was rife and break through products ubiquitous.<br />Advertising’s primary role was to make consumers aware of these new products and educate them on their benefits.<br />
  9. 9. This approach continues to be successful in the technology sector where breakthrough products are still commonplace.<br />
  10. 10. AWARENESS<br />However, most markets are now mature.<br />Product differentiation is marginal and advertising and retail environments are cluttered.<br />In this environment a direct relationship between AWARENESS and these other three measures can no longer be assumed.<br />One solution is to measure DESIRE (PERSUASION) instead, which AIDA claims to have a more direct relationship to ACTION (SALES).<br />INTEREST<br />DESIRE<br />ACTION<br />
  11. 11. “[Of] 1165 aired TV commercials in 16 different product categories, brand recall's contribution to brand sales is, on average, 25%, while persuasion's is 75%.”<br /> Journal of Advertising Research  US validation study, 2005 <br />“The correlation between awareness and sales is relatively weak… This is good enough to say there is a relationship but not good enough to construct a predictive model.”<br /> Greg Clark, Buy (c) Test<br />“‘[There is] little or no association between the campaigns' short-term volume sales effectiveness and their ad awareness effectiveness.”<br /> Broadbent and Colman, Advertising Effectiveness Across Brands<br />
  12. 12. Some studies go even further:<br />“It is unlikely that there is a strong relationship between standard measures of TV commercial recall and persuasion for established brands and their ability to predict sales impact.”<br />IRI Behavior Scan data examining 103 individual advertising tests between 1982-1988<br />
  13. 13. Problem #3(a).Low Attention Processing.<br />
  14. 14. AIDA = Common sense<br />Common Sense =<br />“The collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen”<br />Albert Einstein<br />
  15. 15. Neuroscience has demonstrated the entire AIDA model is inaccurate.<br />Our unconscious brain takes care of most decision making, generating feelings which help guide behavior.<br />The average person is only aware of about 5% of their thoughts and feelings on a topic.<br />(Norretranders, 1999)<br />
  16. 16. Using AWARENESSto measure the effects of advertising is like watching fishing from the surface.<br />We need to get into how the brain processes advertising.<br />deeper<br />
  17. 17. The Iowa Gambling Task.<br />Researchers played a simple card game with volunteers.<br />Participants were asked to pick between different decks of cards which had different levels of winnings attributed to them.<br />Participants developed an unconscious hunch (which they acted upon) after an average of 50 cards but it generally took 80 cards before they could consciously articulate their change in strategy.<br />
  18. 18. In one study, Stella Artois advertising tracked at only 4% AWARENESS (compared with 29% for a competitor).<br />It’s quality rating was 45% (compared with 19% for the competitor).<br />Econometric analysis demonstrated this effect could only have been caused by the advertising.<br />
  19. 19. Problem #3(b). The (confusing) relationship between attitudes and behavior.<br />
  20. 20. [We are] very well trained and very good at finding reasons for what we do, but not very good at doing what we find reasons for.”<br />Robert Abelson (1972)<br />
  21. 21. Attitudes<br />AIDA effectively assumes =<br />Behavior<br />Behavior<br />Attitudes<br />But the evidence shows =<br />(Festinger, 1964)<br />Behavior<br />And to some degree =<br />(Festinger, 1964)<br />Attitudes<br />
  22. 22. The Batson Experiments.<br />Daniel Batson and a series of colleagues set out in the late 90’s to investigate the relationship between attitudes and behavior.<br />A typical example of the experiments: people were asked to assign a fun task with a reward and a boring task with no reward to themselves and another participant. <br />95% said the moral thing to do was give the fun task to the other person. Only 20% gave the fun task to the other person.<br />People don’t play the game they talk.<br />
  23. 23. People say they want more black females on magazine front covers but then no-one buys them.<br />People say drink driving is wrong but then do it.<br />People say they value their health above all else but continue to smoke.<br />People say time is better spent not watching TV but they watch 5 hours a night.<br />
  24. 24. Specificity matters.(Fishbein and Azjen)<br />General attitudes have poor correlation with specific behaviors.<br />Attitudes on health are poor predictors of likelihood to go running.<br />Attitudes more directly pertinent to the situation can show stronger correlations.<br />Attitudes on running are a better predictor of likelihood to go running<br />
  25. 25. In the 1980s and 1990s seatbelts became mandatory. Initially these laws were opposed by many, now most people in these jurisdictions favor mandatory seat belt laws.<br />How<br />Behavior<br />Attitudes<br />In the 1970s many National Hockey League players did not wear helmets. They became mandatory and now <br />players see them<br /> as an important<br /> safety measure.<br />Since desegregation the percentage of Whites in the US <br />favoring integrated schools <br />has more than doubled and <br />now includes nearly everyone.<br />
  26. 26. What are the implications for research in practical terms?<br />
  27. 27. PERSUASION and AWARENESS data is generally collated simultaneously from the same source. A shift in emphasis from one to the other is practically actionable.<br />Finding practical alternatives to survey data is a larger problem.<br />Alternatives such as IAT, Semiotics and Andrew Ehrenberg’s Saliency model are available but still need more widespread testing. Digital data also potentially offers an opportunity, the full extent of which is not yet currently known.<br />Given the poor correlation between claimed and actual behavior, legitimate alternatives must be found.<br />
  28. 28. "We do things much the same way as we did 50,60 or even 70 years ago. The answers may not be wrong, but we haven't experimented to see whether they are or not."Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP Group<br />
  29. 29. Summary<br />Measuring PERSUASION should be almost universally preferred to AWARNESS.<br />AWARENESS can no longer be presumed to convert to INTEREST/DESIRE/ACTION. The majority of studies show it’s statistical relationship to SALES is in most cases, at best, weak. <br />Neuroscience appears to explain the phenomenon that advertising can be effective without being remembered.<br />A large body of research also shows that attitudes and behavior have a volatile relationship, challenging the validity of surveying as method.<br />Alternatives need to be explored further, ensuring measured attitudes are as specific as possible may help to increase the correlation with a specific behavior in the meantime.<br />