Here’s Why Brand Lift Studies Are Breaking Marketing

Spotify, Google, and Facebook have all released brand lift studies in the past year, but is that good thing? In this episode of Marketing is Broken, we look into the history and purpose of brand lift and ask whether it’s time to take a giant step back to reevaluate the purpose of brand measurement.
09/20/2018

Welcome to Marketing Is Broken, the weekly series where we show you what’s wrong with marketing and how to fix it. Let’s go to the news.

Spotify and Nielsen announced a partnership this week that promises to help advertisers track their branding efforts.

Spotify ads will now integrate with The Nielsen Digital Brand Effect platform, a brand lift service which promises to measure and optimize brand-specific metrics in real-time.

On the surface, giving advertisers that use Spotify the ability to see how effective their ads are in increasing brand awareness, perception, and purchase intent sounds like a great idea.

In fact, the largest advertisers on Google Ads and Facebook have been voicing their concerns to the platforms about issues like brand measurement and safety for nearly two years now to the point where Adweek has called Procter & Gamble’s CMO Mark Pritchard the industry Standard Bearer for transparency.

But what should we really be trying to accomplish with brand measurement and is brand lift the best use of our money in this area? We’ll you’re in luck, because brand lift just happens to be today’s topic.

What's A Brand Lift Study? 

Brand lift studies have been around since at least 2005 when a company named Vizu bought up cheap display advertising inventory and started using the space to recruit people to take surveys about the ads they saw. The goal was to create a parallel for how TV advertisers measured branding.

And it worked. Vizu was acquired by Nielsen in 2012 and turned into The Digital Brand Effect. Since then, this has more or less been the core approach for advertisers to understand how their online branding efforts impact the thoughts and opinions of consumers for a product or category.

Now, while I won’t deny that brand lift studies provide some excellent insight into the effectiveness of specific campaign, it feels like we’re moving towards an overcorrection of brand lift.

Facebook, Google, and now Spotify have all rolled out brand lift tools within the last year? Do we all of a sudden have too much brand lift?

Just like with anything else in life, except for nachos of course, too much measurement can be a bad thing.

More measurement means more cost, which means your insights need to create a higher return in order to justify the investment in the first place. If Google, Facebook, Spotify, Vizu, Nielsen, Ipsos, Survata, and Sholuka’s brand lift studies all are telling you the same thing, do you really need them all?

And as proof that we have too many brand lift studies, we’re guessing you probably didn’t know that Sholuka isn’t even a real brand lift study.

Too much data can also lead to confusion and fights between departments when platform data doesn’t add up. The first time a pie chart ads up to more than 1 in a C-Suite, the CFO is going to declare “data fake news” and you’ll lose the room and your credibility as a marketer.

Lastly, measurement can be counterproductive when it’s more about producing reports instead of producing the insights you need to identify a problem that your marketing can change, put the change into motion, and then measure where your brand stands again.

How To Fix Brand Lift In Marketing

So what brand lift principles should we have, then, if we want to make good use of our analytics effort, time, and money?

First, if you’re just getting into brand measurement, consider running a more comprehensive brand study with a panel of consumers rather than putting money into brand lift right away. You can ask more questions to consumers, get broader opinions about the category as a whole, build personas that are backed by data…. The sky’s the limit.

You’ll have a better opportunity to get the consumer insights you’re really after to become a market leading brand in your category.

Next, as far as how often to run, forget real-time. Brands just don’t change that often unless they’re wrapped up in a scandal. And in that case, you probably want to use brand lift budget for PR and reputation management instead of hitting the gas on advertising.

In reality, the biggest and fastest growing brands grow or decline at a rate that can be detected monthly or quarterly.

Most brands could get away with taking quarterly, biannually, or even yearly snapshots of brand metrics.  Anything more often than that and most companies just can’t move fast enough to shift the thoughts of an entire market fast enough to see any movement.

Lastly, as an industry what’s our purpose for studying brand lift? For years, it’s been about looking at how advertising can affect a consumer’s opinion about a brand.

Peter Minnium is the President of Ipsos Connect, a leading brand measurement company and he says, “brand lift is the increase in the achievement of the main marketing objectives of a brand advertising campaign.”

Brand lift is the increase in the achievement of the main marketing objectives of a brand advertising campaign.

Peter Minnium  -  President, Ipsos U.S.

But as consumers are becoming more selective about the brands they select and more organizations strive for digital transformation, we marketers must begin using brand measurement not just as a way to see subtle differences in advertising but to plot a better path for the business itself.

We have to use it as a way to quantify and leverage input from real consumers in order to shift the very strategy, operations, and tactics of a company. If we can do this, then we can become the brands the that consumers will reward with the majority of the category’s market share and all the revenue that comes with it.

And that’s how you can help fix marketing. We’ll see you next time.

Author: Josh Braaten

CEO - Brandish Insights

Get Free Brand Measurement Resources

Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to get these freebies.