The debate over whether media or creativity has a greater impact on advertising success was reignited last week after comments from Coca-Cola’s European marketing chief, Javier Sanchez.
He told the Ad Tech event in London that Coca-Cola was shifting its emphasis towards marketing creativity over media choices. He said: "Media is still important but, proportionally speaking, there has been a shift to creativity in a dramatic way."
This flies in the face of comments from Sir Martin Sorrell, who contended last year that the medium is more important than the message in an age of multiple media platforms and fragmenting audiences. He said that the "math men" of media and data were becoming more important than the "mad men" creatives – a fact that "didn’t go down well in established agencies".
However, the view of Sanchez is that, in the new digital world, people can choose whether or not they watch an ad. And, indeed, it is true that they can opt to watch a YouTube pre-roll spot, decide whether to click on a banner or choose not to see any advertisements at all by using ad-blocking technology on their devices.
Thus, developing a well-executed big idea with strong creative appeal that people actually desire to see is the best way to ensure that the advertising is consumed.
But it can be argued that, with so many different touchpoints for brands looking to reach fragmenting audiences, it is more vital than ever to get that beautiful piece of creative in front of the right people – so accurate targeting is fundamental to success.
Research points in different directions. Microsoft Advertising conducted tests in 2009, running a variety of media placements for online ads with the same creative and then varying the creative with the same media placements. It concluded that optimising media placements has more impact on a campaign than optimising the creative alone.
But research from comScore in 2010 showed that creative quality was four times more important in boosting sales than media planning.
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