Understand how long the effects of advertising last

Why, if the effects of advertising can span beyond the immediate to months or years, do we seemingly only focus on the immediate?

Focusing solely on short-term sales responses can significantly underestimate the value of media investments and potentially reduce your long-term ROI.

Heck, the recent Profit Ability 2 study by Thinkbox reinforces this point (see screenshot).

The problem is that you can only measure the long-term effects once they’ve happened or haven’t happened, and by then, it’s too late to change anything.

So, short-term sales responses and indicators or longer-term effects need to be measured at the same time.

If both are positive or negative, the decision is easy.

When they diverge, more challenging decisions ensue (sometimes, even though it falls short on one measure, the other may be so strong as to just “run with it”).

More immediate advertising impacts can be assessed by comparing measures like revenues, traffic, website visits, search levels, etc., against weekly ad spend.

To better understand the potential for longer-term impact, use proxies.

Often, these are known to have some relationship with revenues based on the category.

It could be things like brand consideration, unaided awareness, or even advertising awareness.

In some ways, advertising awareness can be the easiest to see movement in (assuming it is strong, of course), given that the other measures can be more easily blunted through external measures.

For more continuous spending, isolating and evaluating advertising contributions becomes more challenging. Additional methods like geo testing, cross-media research, copy testing, and market mix modeling can be used.

While most brand survey measures change slowly over the long term, advertising can reshape brand perceptions and build strong associations with specific buying contexts and occasions.

Effective advertising can quickly impact brand associations, especially when communicating a compelling fact or claim about the brand.

Ultimately, a holistic approach that balances immediate and long-term metrics is critical to unlocking the true impact of your advertising efforts.