Why TV Ads Need Persuasion Rating Points

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Television advertisers could benefit from using the “persuasion rating point” as a metric to understand the impact of their commercials, according to a study published by the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR)

The analysis was undertaken by Frank Findley (Marketing Accountability Standards Board), Kelly Johnson (Disney Advertising Sales), Douglas Crang (MSW Research) and David W. Stewart (Loyola Marymount University).

And their paper – entitled Effectiveness and efficiency of TV’s brand building power: A historical review – why the Persuasion Rating Point (PRP) is a more accurate metric than the GRP – outlined a clear recommendation.

“There is a need for a conceptual shift, from managing advertising solely on the basis of exposure rates to taking into account also the brand-preference-shifting power of the advertising units themselves – that is, a shift from gross rating points to persuasion rating points,” the authors wrote.

One of the main underpinnings for this conclusion is a persuasion metric that has been employed by MSW Research since the 1960s.

This metric effectively captures any shift in brand preference or choice for a brand “among a competitive set of products as the result of a single, quality advertisement exposure in a natural program context”.

A “quality exposure” was defined as being “sufficient to have an impact on the viewer”, in contrast to an incidental or similar type of exposure – a separation, in other words, between “effective reach” and generic, undifferentiated “reach”.

As a starting point, consumers who buy products in a relevant category are presented with images of logos or product packaging before an ad exposure and asked to select the brand they would like to receive as a reward for taking part in the study.

These participants are then exposed to television programming in which advertising is embedded, and subsequently answer questions about the material they viewed.

Finally, these consumers are again presented with pictures of packaging and logos and asked to pick their preferred brand for another product giveaway.

The number of people who switched to a brand that featured in a spot during the TV programming they saw is said to represent a “raw measure of the persuasive power of advertising” that can be adjusted in line with factors like market share and known switching levels in a given vertical.

And, drawing on a series of studies that date back several decades, the analysis found that based “on a single, quality exposure basis, the television advertisement format is as effective now as it was in the 1980s”.

The authors continued, though, that today “it is just more difficult to obtain that quality exposure in today’s media environment” as habits evolve and digital technologies spread.

While the number of households has increased significantly in the last few decades, and TV viewing time remains robust, “it now takes approximately 25 percent more gross rating points to deliver the same power to market as it did in the 1980s.”

Credit: WARC

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