The difference is in the detail

22 Jun 2018  |  Denise Turner 
The difference is in the detail

As much as Denise Turner loves it, media research can sometimes be rather contradictory and confusing...

In our industry, barely a week goes by without a new study breaking onto the scene, helping us to see what advertisers should be doing differently and where opportunities for progress lie. This curiosity and striving to come up with better solutions via research is what makes the world of media so interesting and dynamic.

As someone who spends her days analysing how brands can get the most out of newsbrands, how different media work best together and what needs to change to unlock untapped growth, I love how research can surprise, enlighten and challenge us all to think differently.

Why am I telling you this? Well, as much as I love it, media research can sometimes be contradictory and confusing. One week there will a new project heralding the power of x to change industry fortunes, followed promptly by a study roundly decrying x and promising results if advertisers invest in y. As with many things in life, it becomes hard to see the wood through the trees.

For example, this week, Ebiquity released the results of a new global study stating that $45 billion in profit could be released if brands allocate their budget differently. It suggests that taking money out of press, digital display and OOH and putting it into TV, radio and digital video is what advertisers should be doing.

This work comes a month after Newsworks’ latest study ‘Planning for Profit’, conducted with Benchmarketing, found that advertisers in the UK are missing out on £3 billion in campaign profit by not investing enough in print and digital newsbrands. While both studies recommend reallocation of investment in some form, they differ hugely in their suggestions as to where. So what to believe?

First of all, we have to get beyond the headlines and look at what is being measured, where. Ebiquity’s report is a global study which doesn’t split out individual countries. This means that the specific workings of individual markets isn’t considered. In the UK, the existence of the BBC and the presence of 20 vibrant and partisan mainstream newsbrands makes it a very different model to many other countries.

Tellingly, the results of Ebiquity’s latest work are at odds with studies that it has carried out solely in the UK market. ‘Profit Ability’, conducted with Thinkbox, shows that print is the second best medium at delivering profit, while work conducted with Radiocentre demonstrates that newspapers are up there with TV and radio when it comes to delivering ROI for advertisers.

This being the case in the UK, why would advertisers divert money away from press? The difference in recommendations underlines the fact that practically applicable research has to be focused on a specific market. Condensing numerous countries to a single number is not an accurate reflection of reality.

Equally importantly, in order to truly understand how different media deliver profit, research has to separate out the amorphous mass of digital. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, not all digital is equal. Ebiquity separate out digital display and digital video as single channels, when in reality they are not. What is in fact missing from the equation is an understanding of the myriad environments that digital display encompasses – from premium, engaged environments such as on newsbrands’ sites to general free browsing.

It is becoming increasingly clear that context – particularly in the digital environment where it’s easy to label everything as one entity – is a key factor in the success of advertising. As researchers, we need to be accounting for the same nuances and differences online that we would do in the “real world”.

At Newsworks, we have a wealth evidence proving that the quality environment offered by digital newsbrands drive better consumer response and payback for advertisers than the run of the internet. In particular, Benchmarketing were able to separate out digital newsbrands from the amorphous mass of digital for the first time for ‘Planning for Profit’, allowing for optimum levels of spend to be found.

It’s this sort of detail that we need to build on. Looking forward, the results of a large-scale study with GroupM - to be announced at our Effectiveness Summit on 3 July - will bolster our understating of the digital environment and prove that cheap digital advertising is in fact a false economy.

So, as a media research devotee, it’s my belief that in order to create the best work we need to make sure that we’re digging into the detail – understanding the gradations of environment within platforms and building projects for specific markets. It’s through this level of scrutiny and complexity that valuable, applicable insights are gleaned.



Denise Turner is insight director, Newsworks

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