By Jason Monteiro, director of client partnerships and monetisation at MBC Media Solutions.
Covid-19 changed – and continues to change – everything. The way we work, the way we communicate, the way we live. It altered our perception of time and our commitment to the world around us. It also affected our sense of what matters and the time we spend with our families.
From an industry perspective, however, it has also led to substantial increases in the amount of media we consume. Lockdowns, social distancing and a general tendency to remain at home have led to huge increases in the consumption of content. Humans relied on screens of all sizes to give them a sense of escapism. Audiences have never been bigger, and demand for content across all platforms has accelerated. All because of Covid-19 and global demands to stay at home.
This should have been an advertiser’s dream. With such a captive audience and a renewed focus on purpose, companies were well placed to build brand loyalty. However, instead of capitalising on a unique moment in history, many brands have chosen to focus on short-term ‘performance’ (lower funnel) goals.
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In many ways, you can’t blame them. With so many companies fighting to stay afloat and consumers making purchase decisions based on necessity, priorities have shifted towards sales and measurability. This has meant a focus on lead generation, conversion to sales and what are viewed as the typical performance channels.
By channelling marketing efforts into performance, longer-term ‘equity’ (upper funnel) goals have been consciously deprioritised. This has led to dramatic drops in consumer loyalty. All of this has been compounded by a renewed commitment to buying local, a trend that is viewed not only as a more sustainable way of doing business, but one that encourages entrepreneurialism and gives back to local economies. (It was also partly due to logistical limitations during lockdown.)
Within such an environment it has become imperative that brands continue to show their value. This can only be achieved through a renewed focus on brand equity and customer experience, which in turn requires a renewed focus on media that offer brands the ability to share their stories, and ultimately build loyalty. One solution is long-form content on TV.
Historically, the traditional view of TV has been of a medium that falls short when it comes to measurability. However, over the past few years there has been a collective industry-wide effort to bring digital-video-like metrics to TV, leading to far greater utility from the data, and accountability in terms of performance and viewing habits. From classic viewership metrics such as reach and ratings, to more advanced and granular performance measures such as retention, loyalty, completion rate and frequency of exposure, information can now be captured on a second-by-second level.
The reports are now built on outcome performance by channel, programme, time slot and advertiser spots rather than the past’s output data. In addition, household-level data – reported after one day of capture – can be translated into individual viewership data, which allows advanced targeting. All of which is now available in near real-time for all MBC channels in Saudi Arabia.
With this kind of data, a more complete picture of consumer viewing habits is now possible. With more data accessible for TV, brands can measure on multiple tiers – from perception and favourability measured through brand lift studies, to engagement and creative analysis through completion rates using panel+ data, and lower-funnel metrics from attribution studies. All of which makes it easier for brands to ensure their longer-term goals are no longer being temporarily deprioritised in favour of short-term gains.
This data can be used to get your brand storytelling right. I am not trying to suggest that a winning brand can be built solely by using the right media mix, but it is a critical component. Effective storytelling can only be achieved if it is delivered to the right places at the right time.
That is why the application of full-funnel thinking, with the correct messages being delivered at each stage of the funnel, is critical. This is where the most effective media comes into play.
To do this, brands will need to ensure their data and trends are tracked over longer periods, regardless of the channel. Marketers owe it to their brands not to be biased towards any media, especially with more uniformed data becoming increasingly available.
The bad news is there are no shortcuts. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. But there is full-funnel thinking. This helps a company achieve not only its immediate performance goals, but its long-term brand building too. Let’s not forget that while it’s easy to focus on temporary boosts in sales, especially with the readability of real-time data, a focus on short-term performance campaigns can lead to a detrimental impact on the long-term equity of your brand.
The good news is that the playing field is levelling. The data points that matter are now available across key channels, so you no longer have to think TV-versus-digital. This, I believe, is crucial. You should start getting comfortable with navigating a single well of data that is comparable and informative towards how long-form content (distributed on linear or digital infrastructures, from 4” to 65” screens and beyond) can facilitate your brand and business goals.