Measuring recall

Ruth Payne on why she finds fault with a new RTE media recall study

Having recently attended RTE’s ‘The Power of Integration’ presentation, I was left feeling a little under-whelmed. The premise of the study was that running an ad on different platforms increases the likelihood of recall, cut through and buying intent. The research used a statistically representative sample of 500 adults and was conducted by B&A last November.

From seven groups, three watched/listened to one medium – RTE TV, RTE Radio or the iPlayer; three who watched/listened to combinations of two of the above and one group who watched/listened to all three. It concluded that seeing/hearing the ad on two or three platforms increased the brand recall – from 62 per cent who saw it on RTE TV only, to 80 per cent who saw/heard it on RTE TV and radio, to 84 per cent who saw/heard it on all three.

It also threw up some interesting information with regard to how people view ads and what is the main message they get from different media. Functional messages come across more strongly on radio, whereas emotive messages do better on the visual mediums. Advertising on the Player, while effective, did not reach the same levels of recall as advertising on TV.

Information shortfall: Ruth Payne says that on radio there has been talk about buying on a cost per thousand basis, as they do in the UK, but there is not yet enough access to information to allow agencies to plan in this way. On the digital side, which is supposed to be the most accountable medium, a powerful behemoth like Google is allowed to mark its own homework.

The purchase intent results were most positive. The results are backed up by a recent article in Forbes magazine from Bain & Co who conducted studies on behalf of a major consumer goods marketer. The research investigated whether advertising in traditional media and specifically television is more effective than digital at driving consumer recall and purchase intent for mainstream FMCG brands. While it was not the main goal of the research, Bain concluded that buying intent increases with multiple exposures to different types of media.

However, for me, the glaring problem with the RTE research was that at no time was there any acknowledgement that higher levels of recall may be due to increased viewing of the ad.  It is reasonable to suggest that the same results could have been achieved had people watched the same medium for longer and were exposed to two rather than one ad break.

That said, RTE are to be applauded for their intent and their preparedness to invest time and money into trying to get a better handle on how people consume advertising these days and its effectiveness. However, having reorganised the sales department in Montrose to manage integrated cross platform selling, without some form of integrated research which gives us comprehensive coverage and frequency information, agencies will probably continue to plan and buy in silos – the only difference being we will be talking to one team instead of three.

What this research does is highlight that in the increasingly diversified world we live in, advertising research in Ireland has simply not kept up. Seventeen years in, there has been no root and branch look at the existing surveys we have and what needs to be done to haul them into the 21st century. There has been a lot of talk, but no agreement with regard to linking them together with a Touchpoints type of research. That is, when there is research to link.

It is now two years since the JNRS has been published and the likelihood is that it will be another year before we see anything meaningful. This, at a time of unprecedented change in how people are consuming media. As agencies, we are left to rely on TGI for any form of press readership information and that is not what this survey was designed to do.

Effective planning and accountability will help marketing directors in making their case for the efficacy of advertising spend. They need to know in advance what the return on investment (ROI) from a multi-media campaign is likely to be. These research tools are available elsewhere so it is not as if we are starting from a blank sheet of paper.

It is understandable that media organisations would prefer to invest their research budget into their own media. That is after all, what they are selling. There is no doubt that the size of the market in Ireland is a barrier to expensive multi-media research, but technology has moved on as have data collection methodologies. The question should also be asked, who is benefitting from the research and thereby who should be involved in funding it?

The issue has been overlooked and has been off the agenda for far too long. It is now past time that a conversation is opened on what should be researched in the future and it is incumbent on the AAI to be part of it as well as IAPI and the media owners.

Ruth Payne is media director at Javelin




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