​NBR Opinion – Jeremy O’Brien, TVNZ Head of Sales and Marketing

Posted 28 September 2015.

Measurement is an input to, not a substitute for, judgment
Einstein reportedly kept a sign in his office that read, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”. He was reminding himself that measurement is not a perfect science and therefore not a panacea to solving problems, it’s an input. Decision making is typically based on a combination of information and insight - it’s not just what you measure and how you measure it, but also the judgment you apply.

I reflected on this point recently while reading an article in a trade publication where the Managing Director of a well respected creative agency made the claim that due to the current decline in TV audiences there is “a tipping point coming where the (TV) networks simply won’t have the audiences to justify huge ad spot rates”.

The statistics tell us that TV audiences year- to-date have declined, relative to the delivery of TV audiences last year. If that was his only source of information, the quote from the author might be correct, but market insights indicate there are a number of other important things to measure before judgments are passed.

Things like Audience reach: how quickly and how many people in the target audience are being reached, and for what price? How does one media option compare to the next best alternative option? Engagement with the message: which environments achieve the highest attention levels? In what type of environments are the people you’re targeting most likely to pay attention to your message? Effectiveness: how likely is it that people who see and hear your message will actually do something? Will it produce a tangible business result - like a sale?

If you asked me these questions this would be my response. The cost in NZ to reach a thousand people in your target audience via television is one of the lowest across any media, traditional or digital; and is one of lowest in the developed world. Speed wise, New Zealand TV is fast, it reaches 2.9 million Kiwi’s daily*. On the question of effectiveness, I’d respond that TV is very effective at driving a sales result, and I would cite a recent Turner Broadcasting and Horizon Media TV Effectiveness study, which compared cross-media campaign performance of similar spending levels and concluded that TV achieved four times the sales lift of Digital.**

Here are a few other media questions that benefit from thinking more like consumers than simply about consumers to aid your judgment.

Questions like; what is the difference in the way an audience engages with shorter vs. longer duration video content?

I question if viewers really want to engage with a 30 second advertising message in front of a one minute online clip? Common sense would suggest that viewers don’t want their short window of viewing time overshadowed by advertising so it comes as little surprise that the majority chose to close the ad when they can after the first 5 seconds.

So, when should an advertising impression count?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines a viewed impression as one that has been viewed for two seconds or more. Does anyone think that two seconds will deliver an audience that is engaged in the advertising message? Common sense would say no.

How much should you pay for key search marketing terms and what is the best way to optimize search?

Bidding on key search terms has become a hotly contested battleground for marketers; there was $100 million growth in spend on search-based advertising in New Zealand last year.

Common sense tells us that the best use of your search marketing spend is to win the bid when a potential customer is about to seek out your business or category.

This can be triggered in a couple of ways: firstly by predictive online behaviour in which case the bid would be constantly and slowly picking up potential prospects overtime through re-targeting. Or, alternatively it can be triggered by an intervention, such as a TV advertisement.

I’ve recently seen stunning results from a client, who having understood that most of their potential customers watch TV with a laptop, smartphone or tablet on hand, fine-tuned their approach to buying search. They purchased a couple of high reach TV spots and then bid to win on their key category search terms for the five minutes immediately post their TV ad screening. This sequence generated the highest volume of searches in the shortest period of time.

It wasn’t measurement that initially led the client to try this approach – it was consumer insight informed common sense. In today’s dynamic business environment I propose that it’s this approach that will produce the best results.

*(Source: Arianna TAM. Last 12 months Apr14 – May 15 AP5+)
**(Source: Why TV Is Still the Most Effective Advertising Medium. Key findings from MarketShare study. Jason Lynch, Ad Week, June 9, 2015)