Long and Short of Advertising Effectiveness: Great morning at IAPI session with Les Binet


IAPI hosted a great set of sessions last Tuesday morning on Advertising Effectiveness in the Marker Hotel, with a great set of attendees both agency and client side. Les Binet led the session, presenting a synopsis of the thinking behind his most recent published work on the long and short of advertising effectiveness. Strong themes came out on the day, which were all built around building campaigns that focus not exclusively on sales activation or brand building; but that have the right balance of both. Attempting to give you the headlines only, Les presented a number of powerful facts that I think a lot of the audience believed; but was able to showcase the data behind them.

He first talked about the ‘long’ versus ‘short’ element when considering the differences of a direct response sales activation versus a longer term brand building exercise. The decay in effect for a sales activation is much more rapid, whereas consistent brand building activity will not have as rapid a peak in effectiveness; but will last for much longer.

This raised another key point in terms of how we target our audience as well, speaking to our audience differently based on whether they are long term prospect, or someone that is much closer to the purchase point. This is not new news; but how much do we actually consider our future customers? Les talked about a car brand speaking to its future customers as long as 3 years in advance of when they would be ready to buy a car.

Ultimately, this re-emphasises the importance of broad reach. We need to widen the net for long term prospects. From a digital point of view, this means not leaving off those awareness building digital formats that are so often discounted because they don’t deliver immediate or ‘obvious’ return.

Les’s presentation then took a spin into the world of our minds. Again, back to basics…but when is the last time we thought about the ‘mental availability’ of our customers? Les spoke about mental availability at three levels:

Awareness -> Salience -> Fame

I was keen to hear Les’ view on achieving fame, as ultimately, that is where we are always aiming to be for our brands. Reaching brand fame could increase the return on investment by up to 4 times. We see this all the time, with ‘fame’ more evident in the likes of social media where people can so easily spread the word about a brand. But a later question from the audience raised the question: how famous can some brands/sectors ever be? The question was raised in context of Apple versus a brand in the Financial Services sector. Will they ever be famous?

When exploring the minds of our customers further, Les reminded us to think about how our brands is triggering a response at both the conscious (System 2) brain versus the unconscious (System 1), with 95% of our reactions being unconscious. Emotion will be the key driver behind getting your conscious to speak to your unconscious and vice versa.

As advertisers, we mightn’t believe we are as crafty, but when we invest in long term brand building, we are actually conditioning people to feel a certain way about our brands, creating a ‘default’ response for them. So, if you could control it…what would you be conditioning your prospects to say about you?

The later part of Les’s presentation then highlighted achieving the right balance: balance in spend, balance in objective, balance in creativity, balance in long term versus short term metrics, etc. He noted that you need to consider what level of share of voice you are able to achieve, you cannot be effective (even with the best creative) without scale. This was backed up later in the panel discussion, with both April Adams of Kerry Foods and John Davey of Diageo, highlighting scale as a key factor in achieving return.

Les summarised the optimum split in advertising:

60% Brand Building

40% Sales Activation

We often jump straight into Sales Activation; and as a result are decreasing the value of our product and brand over time. We need to bear this in mind when it comes to the metrics we use to evaluate ‘effectiveness.’ We need to take a leap from reviewing our activity based on short term direct response metrics, as we will ultimately be killing our long term brand building focus. Otherwise, we will be optimising everything to achieve short term results.

This was a powerful point for us, as it highlights that less ‘effective’ digital formats (in the short term) are often being left off plans because we are reviewing them in isolation of the long term metrics. Is Digital currently being properly evaluated in your brand or client’s brand tracking?>

As I said at the start, this is my poor attempt to capture some of Les Binet’s key points; but would be very interested to hear from everyone else who was there (or even those that weren’t) how you feel about the points raised on the morning.

IAPI have just released the material from the day, where you can see Les’s presentation. So have a watch; and come back for a chat. :)


2 thoughts on “Long and Short of Advertising Effectiveness: Great morning at IAPI session with Les Binet

    • Thanks Shane. It is very handy they have shared the video from the day. He used loads of hard data to support the bullet notes above. Les Binet has a whole new set of fans in Ireland now!

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