When was the last time you saw an ad for Coke or Apple on TV? You probably don’t remember, since you gave up on watching TV a long time ago. But then, how come you remember ads you saw 20 years ago, like this one or this one. Guessing on the audience of this blog, you probably saw them when someone shared it to highlight how creative their agency is and how their advertising is so evergreen. But normal consumers remember those ads too. This post is not a piece about word of mouth; it is about the long term impact of advertising.
Every single impression your brand delivers on TV, on YouTube or Social platforms, builds memory structures, irrespective of the audience is aware or not, if they remember it next week or not. Every view of the brand’s logo – sound – distinctive assets, builds salience. At times it might trigger the unexpected in-store gesture to pick up the product and add it to your basket. That’s what we recognize as a short term sales impact. That’s what we became obsessed with as an industry. Nonetheless, the more powerful effect is the long term impact of advertising.
Let’s get the thing straight. There is no long term sales effect if your advertising is bad short term. That’s why managing your creative portfolio by measuring the short term effect and acting upon the measurement is enough. The long term can be measured; it’s not easy. If you put the effort in, you might end up with an effect multiplier that uncovers the sales impact in the long term. At Mars, we prioritized measuring the short term, while using multipliers to estimate the long term and highlight the longer-term damages of a media spend reduction to brand growth.
There is a second brand effect that you can expect long term, and that one is in the territory of brand equity. It’s very difficult, even impossible, to measure this equity effect and attribute it to advertising simply because advertising is one of the vehicles a brand leverages to speak to consumers. Over the long term, advertising competes with product taste, packaging, shelf availability, shelf standout, price-value equation, social mentions, sponsoring activities, secondary shelf placements, retailer catalog listings, and word of mouth. Therefore, when a certain equity KPI goes up (say – awareness), to conclude it’s advertising that drives its growth would be an overstatement.
The long term is real; it comes in 2 forms sales and equity, it’s partially measurable, and you should try to mention it when the CFO calls.