OPINION: We must find a new way to measure ad efficacy

The national media devoured last week’s Campaign Lifestyle and Salary survey. Sadly, no-one seemed interested in the findings on widespread sexism, nor even that a startling 44 per cent of notoriously Conservative-leaning agency employees would vote Labour. Instead, headlines went to the remarkable statistic that under a third of people working in the industry, and only 17 per cent of planners, believe that ‘most advertising works’.

The national media devoured last week’s Campaign Lifestyle and Salary

survey. Sadly, no-one seemed interested in the findings on widespread

sexism, nor even that a startling 44 per cent of notoriously

Conservative-leaning agency employees would vote Labour. Instead,

headlines went to the remarkable statistic that under a third of people

working in the industry, and only 17 per cent of planners, believe that

‘most advertising works’.



Well that’s planners for you, was the almost universal response. Agency

cynics have long questioned just how much many planners believed in what

they were doing. Now it’s apparent so many of them don’t, that feeling

appears to have some basis in truth.



If so, it is a sad reflection not just on planning but the wider

business. Planners - supposed act as the consumer’s voice in the

advertising process - are expressing dissatisfaction with an end

product, which is too often pulled and sanitised out of all recognition

by indulgent creatives, an over-reliance on pre-testing and scared

clients. Thus does so much wallpaper end up as advertising - or should

that be the other way around?



But the planner statistic may also be viewed positively. It is planners

who best know how little impact so much advertising has. The desultory

percentage could be a sign that many planners know there is an

alternative to safe advertising. It is why they campaign for a greater

emphasis on the strategic idea over the pretty execution; and why they

regard the IPA Effectiveness Awards so highly.



This finding should not spark another round of planner bashing, but

ought to stop the industry in its tracks because it plays into the hands

of advertising’s greatest sceptics - companies’ finance directors. The

industry should get on with developing a uniform methodology for

measuring the efficacy of ads, so that the business - planners included

- can argue the case for the advertising in which it believes.



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