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US Poll Finds Ad People, General Public Out of Sync

If an ad makes you "stop and think," is it apt to be very effective? How about if it gives you "new information"? In a LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll, majorities of professionals involved in decision-making about ad campaigns thought such advertising would work quite well. Alas, their opinion was not shared by the general public. For that matter, few kinds of advertising were regarded as highly by consumers in general as they were by ad people.

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In the polling, people who are "involved in the advertising decision-making process" at agencies or client companies were asked to assess the effectiveness of a dozen genres of advertising. Two were rated as "very effective" by more than half of these respondents: "ads that make me stop and think" (53 percent) and "ads that give me new information" (51 percent). "Ads that are entertaining" outpointed "ads that are informative" (41 percent to 37 percent). But they'd better be entertaining in a serious way, as "ads that are funny" were regarded as very effective by an underwhelming 32 percent of the ad people. Repudiating an old advertising mainstay, just 27 percent lauded the effectiveness of "ads that have a product demonstration" (27 percent). Twenty-six percent rated "ads that are integrated into the feel of the program" as very effective.

Lagging farther behind among the survey´s ad professionals were "ads that show a before/after" (24 percent) or "ads that reinforce a message I already know" (21 percent). Despite the proliferation of self-mocking ads, just 14 percent of the professionals regarded "ads that don´t take themselves seriously" as very effective. And scarcely any said they´re impressed with the effectiveness of "ads about a serious topic that may leave me feeling slightly guilty" (5 percent) or "ads that are scary" (3 percent).

Respondents among the general public shared the professionals´ lack of enthusiasm for these last two kinds of advertising, with just 3 percent saying scary ads are very effective and 6 percent saying the same about ads that make them feel guilty. But their top choices didn´t closely match those of the ad people. The highest vote among the general public went to "ad that are entertaining" (34 percent) and "ads that are funny" (33 percent). "Ads that make me stop and think," of which the professionals were so enamored, were regarded as very effective by 30 percent of general respondents, and "ads that give me new information" got that rating from 29 percent.

While "ads that are informative" got a relatively good score among the general public (30 percent), the tally for product-demonstration ads was just middling (20 percent). There was scant enthusiasm for before-and-after ads (13 percent) and even less for the not-taking-itself-seriously ilk (11 percent). Whether because of or despite advertisers´ penchant for pounding away at the same selling points again and again, just 10 percent of the general public gave a "very effective" rating to ads that reinforce a familiar message. Fewer still were impressed with ads that adopt the feel of the program in which they appear (7 percent).

There were just two kinds of ads regarded as "not at all effective" by double-digit percentages of the respondents with professional involvement in advertising: scary ads (32 percent) and guilt-inducing ads (18 percent). Reflecting the consistently lower regard for ads on the part of the public at large, six genres were rated "not at all effective" by double-digit proportions of these respondents: scary ads (41 percent), guilt-inducing ads (27 percent), ads that don´t take themselves seriously (18 percent), ads integrated into the feel of the program (14 percent), before-and-after ads (12 percent) and ads reinforcing an already-known message (12 percent).

Conducted last month, the polling found ad professionals and consumers slightly more in sync on the matter of how advertisers are dealing (and should deal) with the recession. One question asked the ad people whether they´re taking any of several steps in their ad strategy as a way of "actively addressing the economic downturn." Sixty-one percent said they´re featuring "value propositions," such as lower price tags, sales and coupon discounts. Thirty-nine percent said their strategy now features "empathy -- i.e., we understand what you are going through." Twenty-five percent said they´re going with "cheerleading -- i.e., we´ve made it through tough times before, we´ll do it again, and we can help you do it." Eighteen percent said they´re including a message of "luxuries for less -- i.e., don´t give up your luxuries, get them for less."

When respondents in the general public were asked to say which of these strategies is most effective in selling products and services in today´s economy, "value propositions" was also their top choice, cited by 57 percent as working "well" or "very well." But while few of the ad professionals said they´ve adopted the "luxuries for less" approach, it was the runner-up among the general public, cited by 34 percent. Consumers were less impressed with "empathy" (24 percent) and "cheerleading" (19 percent).

There was considerable variation in how different age cohorts among the general public regarded the effectiveness of these methods. While the "value proposition" was seen as effective by 65 percent of the 18-34-year-olds and 66 percent of the 35-44s, it scored less well among the 45-54s (55 percent) and those 55 and older (48 percent). The split was even wider with regard to the "empathy" approach, rated as working well or very well by 51 percent of the 18-34s but just 19 percent of those 55-plus. "Cheerleading" had its highest score (32 percent) among the 35-44-year-olds, while "luxuries for less" did best among the 18-34s (27 percent).

[Estimated timeframe:Q3 2009-onward]

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Adweek.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4507

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