Advertising Effectiveness considers how well advertising meets its goal(s). It’s a concept that is studied heavily but poorly defined. After all, advertising goals may include ROAS, brand recall, sales lift, purchase intent, or many other things.
Concluding (correctly) that advertising lacked a ‘universal definition’ and ‘shared language’ of effectiveness, in 2019, James Hurman and Peter Field conducted a global study of nearly 5,000 award entrant case studies from 2011 through 2019. The study analysed cases from the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions database (1,031 cases), WARC’s database (3,616) and the IPA databank (216).
The study concluded that marketing effectiveness is heavily impacted by media budget, duration and number of media channels applied, which are collectively referred to ‘creative commitment.’
But above all, the study developed a cascading “Creative Effectiveness Ladder” for defining outcomes correlated to effective advertising. In essence, advertising effectiveness can be defined as the following – with 1 being “entry level” advertising effectiveness, and 6 being the “holy grail” of effectiveness:
- Influential Idea: Advertising which over-achieves on campaign metrics.
- Behavioural Breakthrough: Advertising which changes consumer behaviour.
- Sales Spike: Advertising which delivers short-term, temporary sales growth.
- Brand Builder: Advertising which improves brand health.
- Commercial Triumph: Advertising which creates sustained sales success.1
- Enduring Icon: Advertising which creates long-term brand and sales growth.2
Note: the time-based definitions of “sustained” or “long-term” are unclear. What is clear is that shorter-term and sales-based metrics are on the lower end, and long-term and brand-based value is the highest goal. This parallels research that establishes that long-term brand equity correlates with stronger sales performance over time, yet takes longer to achieve.