A Peek into the Future of Advertising
This month marks a milestone of sorts for the advertising industry. The June 2009 issue of the Journal of Advertising Research will include 23 papers (pdf) on advertising. These papers document, according to the Journal, â€œthe evidence for empirical generalizations (substantive findings that have been evaluated to advance the application of marketing knowledge).â€
The findings shed light on current advertising practices and imply what may be most effective in the future.
For example, if you believe television is on the decline because of digital media, think again. One study suggests that â€œTV appears to retain its perceived clout among target audiences in Asia, Europe and North America and holds across recent years. While the influence of digital media has grown, it has not caused a corresponding decrease in TV influence.â€
And as for the long-term sales effect of advertising, another paper shows that it â€œdepends (positively) on the size of the initial effect and (negatively) on competitive advertising. An advertising exposure typically has a half-life of three to four weeks.â€
Other papers address such topics as advertising impacts in a marketing mix, the role of advertising in word of mouth, behavioral effects of digital signage, how clutter affects advertising effectiveness, and whether todayâ€™s advertising laws will survive the digital revolution.
The papers are the result of a project called, appropriately enough, â€œThe Future of Advertising,â€ conducted by the Wharton School and supported by the Advertising Research Foundation.
One study will be of special interest to online advertisers â€“ and it could have a fairly dramatic impact on the way we measure effectiveness. According to a large research study conducted by comScore, online display ads â€œhave a positive impact even without clickthroughs. There is a lift in site visitation of 4 to 6 percent from display ads, even without a click. The increase in lift over a control is 65 percent in the first week and 45.7% in weeks 1 to 4.â€
Gian Fulgoni, comScoreâ€™s chairman, explains:
â€œThe number of clicks on display ads is not an accurate predictor of the effectiveness of online display ads. Even with no clicks or minimal clicks, online display ads can generate substantial lift in site visitation, trademark search queries and lift in both online and offline salesâ€¦ The only reason we have the focus on clicks is that they can be measured. The Internet measures came out of the minds of technical people, not advertising people.â€
This study disputes the commonly accepted standard that counting clicks is the best measure of the effectiveness of online ads. One positive way to interpret the results is to recognize that click-counting may present hard evidence of ad response, but there is an important â€œsofterâ€ dimension â€“ the visibility and awareness generated by online advertising.
This is encouraging, especially at a time when search is all the rage and online ads have come under fire. Isnâ€™t it nice to get good news about advertising for a change?