RELEVANCE, REPETITION AND RESIDUE
Creatives Have Trouble With the New Philosophy of Planning
and Art Directors that I meet are somewhat troubled by the new school
of advertising planning called Recency. This school holds that while
there is knowledge to be gained about a brand through advertising,
it is of very little value, unless the consumer is ready and paying
attention. Furthermore, it implies that advertising itself is not
enough to make the consumer pay attention. No wonder creatives are
disturbed. They would prefer to believe that impactful, continuous,
creative advertising generates a presence that has value. Call it
contends that consumers screen out advertising except for what interests
them. Advertising is only acted upon when consumers are ready to
buy. It is a weak, cost effective marketing tool to the general
public, which is only strong on individuals who are ripe. In other
words, if it is not relevant to a consumer at the moment they receive
it, forget it - they do.
new planning model says that one good exposure in the 7 days prior
to a sale is "the" effective piece of communication. This last in
a series of exposures is really the most important one and the one
that sells. A willingness to buy is more important than the number
of exposures delivered and that willingness is not necessarily triggered
by advertising. In many ways, this implies one exposure to advertising
is enough. This replaces effective frequency as the modern day planning
model. Effective frequency told us that 3+ exposures, in the short-term,
were needed to persuade and sell.
work done by John Philip Jones, using Nielsen Single Source Panel
Data, is the most often quoted proof of recency notions. The philosophy
of recency planning has been effectively trumpeted by its father,media
consultant, Errwin Ephron for much of the past decade. Ephron calls
it and "timing" the organizing principle of media planning. The
body of work itself measures STAS (short term advertising strength).
By definition, it measures the effect of advertising on sales mostly
during a seven day short term period.
there is a window of opportunity to sell an individual in the very
short term, once they are predisposed to buying. The problem is
that we never really know, beyond the seasonality of some brands,
when that window will appear. It isn't anchored. It floats, depending
upon the individual. As a result, we must look to deliver as much
short-term reach as possible, over repeatedly short periods of time.
High continuous (redundant) short-term reach sells products. This,
in turn, tells us not to waste money on short-term repetition.
many creative people like to see their work presented in the most
impactful, repetitious way, they are not too happy about Recency.
They refuse to believe that their work can be ignored if it is presented
frequently, in short bursts. It seems to run counter to all existing
logic. They believe that advertising generates awareness, arouses
interest, creates desire and triggers action. Recency holds that
in the short term advertising essentially only performs the last
task, and the other three are left to other forces.
maybe there is a misunderstanding that shrouds a common ground.
STAS (the measure used by Recency advocates) does not identify any
long-term effect of advertising because it simply doesn't measure
it. Recency doesn't say one exposure is enough, it says, in the
short-term, added exposures are a waste, to the consumer who is
ready. The problem is that for those consumers who are not ready,
there is no research linking their eventual purchase readiness to
what prompts their readiness. Is it merely being out of soap or
frustrated by a car that continues to break down that readies consumers?
We don't really know what the forces of readiness are. Maybe creatives
should feel justifiably free to believe in the value of their cumulative
messages, in concert with Recency Theory. There is also no evidence
to dissuade planners from believing that a residue of commercials
delivered over time has a value that eventually helps to, trigger
a readiness to receive that all important last spot that prompts
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Directors Ink : December 2000