Marketers underestimate the role of creativity in effectiveness

New research from Kantar finds that marketers are overestimating the impact of factors such as brand versus performance and multimedia, and underestimating creativity and brand size when it comes to ad effectiveness.

Marketers are underestimating the importance of factors including creativity and brand size, and overestimating the role of brand versus performance and multimedia when it comes to marketing effectiveness.

New research by Kantar, which surveyed 7,000 marketers globally, found that marketers believe ‘multimedia’ is the biggest driver of brand profit followed by brand versus performance strategies. They place target audience in third and creative quality fourth.

By comparison, they placed budget setting across variants at the bottom of the list of 10 options, just behind budget setting across geographies and laydown/phasing.

Kantar contrasted these results with a 2014 study into profit drivers. It found that size and strength of brand was the most important factor in marketing effectiveness, followed by the creative quality of the advertising and budget setting across geographies.

But marketers rank these fifth, ninth and fourth respectively.

Rank Factor Marketers rank
1 Brand size 5
2 Creative quality 4
3 Budget setting across geographies 9
4 Budget setting across portfolios 6
5 Multimedia 1
6 Budget setting across variants 10
7 Cost/product seasonality 7
8 Brand versus performance 2
9 Laydown/phasing 8
10 Target audience 3

Kantar’s global brand director of media Duncan Southgate says: “Marketers generally tend to overestimate the relative importance of media mix allocation, balancing brand versus performance marketing, and targeting, while they tend to underestimate the importance of brand size, creative quality and budget setting across geographies and portfolios.”

Southgate says the results serves as a reminder to consistently check in on what are the actual drivers of profit. He urges larger brands in multiple countries or companies with multiple brands to continually invest in brand strength.

He explains: “To be fair to the Kantar survey respondents, this may in part be due to the levers which they are personally able to control. A media manager for a single brand in a single country can’t do anything about brand size or portfolio allocation, other than to invest for growth so that the brand sees greater long-term returns.

“Nonetheless, this serves as a useful reminder of why CMOs and media managers should continually question how their media investment decisions are being made.”

This is not the first time marketers perceptions have failed to match with reality.

Mark Ritson: Marketers are clueless about media effectiveness – here’s the proof 

A study by Radiocentre in 2018 into perceptions of different media channels found that marketers thought direct media, paid social media and TV were best equipped to target the right people in the right place at the right time, with newspapers, radio and magazines bottom. However, research by Ebiquity found that it was actually radio that should have been top of the list while direct mail came in sixth.

Looking at ROI, marketers put paid social media third when the data suggests it is sixth, and newspapers eighth when the data says third.

Southgate says: “This is the kind of research which makes people stop and think about the big picture. Everyone is thinking about their day to day – if you’re working on a campaign it’s about making your ads as good as they can be and optimising your media spend.

“I hope this allows people to stake stock and ask, ‘Are people doing the right things?’.”