Weighting Accountability In Advertising

Advertising futurists have consistently pointed to increasing accountability in campaigns. The growth of online advertising and its deepened levels of accountability have foreshadowed this impending change for more than a few years now, as has the growth of direct mail and (unfortunately) telemarketing. Now that more advertisers are starting to ask to see tangible results of their advertising, we are also beginning to see the evolution of some of the other more traditional forms of advertising into a hybrid accountability that did not previously exist.

Interactive TV has been the one that most people point to as an impending increase in the accountability of television. The "Cue Cat" was supposed to make print more accountable, but that never took off. There was even a similar tool for tracking ad exposures through radio programming, but this crashed and burned as well as it was a change in lifestyle and required the consumer to carry another tool, which was of no initial benefit to them directly.



The most interesting idea that I recently read about was the accountability that may arise for Outdoor advertising due to the growing proliferation of GPS systems in automobiles. Due to the incorporation of the GPS systems into most new cars, Outdoor can suddenly be proven for the exposures of the audience that are seeing the advertising. The demographic make-up of the car owner can be saved within the profile of that automobile and the GPS system can count the "exposures" to Outdoor advertisements and upload these to a centrally located database that then affects the pricing and accountability for these formerly nebulous forms of advertising.

Outdoor has been used in many campaigns and to very positive results. Altoids is an example of a brand that built itself almost entirely in the initial days on Outdoor advertising. Outdoor can be very effective for certain types of products and services, and now it is trending towards being able to prove it.

If deeper accountability for all advertising is only slightly over the next hill, how can we begin to plan for the inevitable questions of effectiveness across multiple forms of media?

The biggest issue that is being addressed currently is Reach and Frequency. The reason being that we will need to be able to compare apples to apples to determine how the media weight affects the accountability of results that are generated. Once we have been able to compare everything on an even basis, the next step will be to find a way to factor in quality of exposure, length of exposure and environment of exposure.

Specifically we will need to be able to weight more heavily those types of ads that reach the highest composition of the target audience (via a weighted GRP) within a less cluttered environment, and factor in interactivity (passive or aggressive) in order to determine the proper allocation of dollars to achieve the most optimal ROI for your advertising.

Advertising will become more based on facts and data than on instinct and rationale. Is this New School of advertising going to bring about more efficient campaigns and more importantly, will clients be willing to pay for the increased analysis and management that is required of these types of accountable campaigns? Over the last few years' agencies have been beaten up on pricing and staffing levels have been reduced. Interactive has been notorious for requiring more people and being inefficient, but if TV, Print, Outdoor and Radio all follow suit, how will the agencies balance the needs for staffing and profitability with the client's needs for analysis and accountability within their budgets?


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