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Radically Better Results

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Earlier this year analysis conducted on the IPA Databank concluded that: 

"Trust and quality are now the two most important brand metrics for profit growth." 

Let that sink in for a moment. It's a bold claim, informed by a robust piece of analysis by effectiveness expert Peter Field. Not only does it provide the entire C-suite of an organisation with two key focus areas, but it also gives marketers a fantastic sense-checking question when it comes to developing their brand strategy. Will this initiative drive the quality of our offering or help to build trust? Strategists around the globe were excited, me included. 

So how did Peter Field come to that conclusion? Let us dive into the methodology, findings, and learnings.

This latest research was the fifth iteration of the study and looked at the latest IPA Databank award submissions based on campaigns that ran across 2020, 2021 and early 2022. All the submissions demonstrate commercial effectiveness alongside compelling evidence of the measurable financial value of marketing.

Side note – What do we mean by effectiveness? 

It’s a broad term used increasingly in marketing with many new job roles appearing that feature it. For the IPA, effectiveness is measured by the average number of substantial business improvements across six metrics: 

  • Sales

  • Profit

  • Market Share

  • Penetration 

  • Loyalty 

  • Pricing Power 

This is the criteria the entries were judged upon. 

One resounding finding that caught the eye of many, was that the use of news brands (via any platform) impacted effectiveness significantly, specifically around positive results for market share and pricing power improvement. 

For clarity, when we talk about news brands, we’re referring to media organisations that broadcast and/or publish news through print, TV, radio or online.

Let us look at the macro factors that offer context to understand why. 

Post the 2008 financial crash there was a surge in short-termism because of tightening budgets and the need to prove ROI, which had a detrimental impact on effectiveness. During that period, the brands that continued to strategise for the future fared better. This trend eventually began to peter out in the mid-2010s, in part thanks to the great work of Les Binet and Peter Field on this topic demonstrating the problem with a short-term strategic outlook. 

Then post-2016 Western society experienced a well-documented crisis in consumer trust thanks to the likes of Trump, Cambridge Analytica and Brexit. A “fake news” era began, where people began to doubt the validity of information they read, particularly online. 

More recently, despite everything we know about the dangers of relying solely on short-termism, the pandemic, fear of recession and war in Ukraine have meant more turbulent economic times, in which we have seen some brands resorting to panic-induced short-term solutions once again. It has been quite the rollercoaster. 

What this period of up-and-down has provided is an interesting dataset that allows for comparison. If we take into account the macro factors at play and compare periods of good versus bad, campaigns using news brands between 2012-2016 (a buoyant period) had an increase in effectiveness of 32%. However, the uplift was even greater during the more trying period of 2018-2022, with an increase in effectiveness of 52%. This demonstrates the use of news brands as an effective method to increase effectiveness, even during a turbulent economic environment. 

Learning #1: Association with news brands is a proven powerful way to drive effectiveness. 

Supporting previous findings, this latest iteration showed that combining print and digital media is the most effective use of news brands. In fact, cases that used multi-channel news brands showed uplifts across all business metrics, compared to those that did not. This was particularly strong for Profit, as a metric, with an 81% uplift in cases that used news brands.

Learning #2: The more channels used in campaign execution, the better the results. 

Bearing in mind that consumer trust was at an all-time low post-2016, the idea that news brands had such a positive impact on effectiveness during this period cannot be overlooked. The last iteration of the study conducted in 2020 showed that the two-brand metrics that received a remarkable boost when associating with news brands were perceived quality and brand trust. Furthermore, when compared with other brand metrics, quality and trust have become increasingly important shown in the IPA data. 

To further strengthen this point, when looking at data from the entire study (since 2012) we can see the increase in consumer trust tied to news brands is a consequence of the fake news era. Campaigns using news brands prior to 2016 saw no notable shifts in trust effects. Yet since then, campaigns using news brands have seen trust effects grow drastically. 

Learning #3: The use of news brands is not solely for effectiveness; the IPA research shows a direct correlation between growing consumer trust and marketing harnessing news brands. 

The next logical step is to determine how to use news brands. Peter Field’s study specifically looked at advertising on news brand platforms with TV and Press creating the biggest trust effects, not a surprise to anyone. 

But paying to appear on these channels is not the only way to benefit from the halo effect that a trusted news brand provides. An alternative is to gain natural PR coverage that links directly through to the brand site, something that the Digital PR team at Yard is well versed in. Given we know the hugely positive impact the association with news brands has at a paid level, where the consumer is aware that visibility is acquired, we can surmise that organic association is even more powerful. 

This idea, combined with everything we know about the positive impact of news brands on effectiveness provides a powerful play for any brand looking to improve sales, profit, market share, penetration, loyalty or pricing power. Is Digital PR part of your current strategy? 

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