It’s been long understood that better ads yield better results, but two new studies by Nielsen prove that better programs have a significant impact on ad performance—and sales.
A recent study of more than 70,000 TV ads (and more than three million ad placements) found a strong relationship between the intensity of a viewer’s engagement with program content and their next-day ability to also remember the content of ads aired during the program. The study found that for every 2 percentage point improvement in a viewer’s program engagement—how well people remember what happened in a TV show they watched the prior evening—advertisers can (on average) expect a 1 percentage point improvement in sustained ad memorability.
Further connecting the dots between program engagement, ad performance and sales, a recent study of consumer packaged goods (CPG) ads from more than 25 different product categories found that the percentage of consumers with sustained/next day memory of an ad is a strong lead-indicator of the ad’s in-market sales impact, as measured by marketing mix modeling. Not surprisingly, when other factors are taken out of the equation, more memorable ads drive more incremental volume.
“For publishers, the clear connection of program engagement and ad memorability reinforces the idea that some content deserves a higher price tag. And, for advertisers and agencies, they should be thinking beyond creative execution to placement,” said Joe Stagaman, Executive Vice President, Ad Effectiveness Analytics, Nielsen. “Since sustained ad memorability is directly tied to sales results, the impact on return on investment is very real.”
The research on program engagement is consistent with Nielsen TV Brand Effect studies over the past 11 years. Program engagement is just one of many factors that affect an ad’s ability to break through the clutter and drive consumer reaction.
The study also found that:
Creative is still king: In most cases, very good ads will be memorable regardless of the show in which they appear. While the quality and engagement of a program can boost an ad’s performance, bad ads will still be trumped by the best ads—even if they run in the most engaging program.
Not all program engagement is equal: Because people watch TV differently during the day, the relationship between program engagement and ad memorability is different than it would be during primetime. Likewise, the relationship changes by genre, type of ad, and type of network. For example, NBC’s “Parenthood,” FOX’s “The Following,” CBS’ “Elementary,” ABC’s “Revenge” and The CW’s “Arrow” were all found to be highly engaging primetime dramas. Likewise, “Porque El Amor Manda” and “El Señor de los Cielos,” on Univision and Telemundo, respectively, were found to be among the most engaging telenovelas with Hispanic audiences ages 18-49.
Only through countless studies over the years—and across thousands of ads and millions of ad placements—has the correlation been proven and re-proven.