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Communications and campaign research

Implementing ‘best practice’ effective campaign/advertising tracking research

The concept of campaign/advertising effectiveness is much deeper than establishing whether respondents are ‘aware’ of the campaign/advertisement, or if it is simply ‘liked’. This is because a liked advert/campaign is not necessarily an effective one (and vice versa), nor does awareness have a direct correlation to actual behaviour.

It is a contentious issue to define what it means for an advertisement to be effective. Although different circles may debate the finer points, most will agree that for an advertisement to be effective, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  1. Exposure to the campaign/advertisement
  2. Sensory registration (perception) of the campaign/advertisement by the individual (either consciously or unconsciously)
  3. Exercise influence towards the advertised call to action

The nature of the third condition is obviously dependent on the second condition. Therefore much of the contention surrounding measuring campaign effectiveness surrounds the degree to which behaviour choice (condition 3) is influenced by the sensory registration (condition 2) of a commercial, and if these processes occur on a conscious level or unconscious level.

newfocus know that effective campaign/advertising research involves understanding how the audience processes each campaign and the general behaviour as it relates to the topic of interest. There are a number of both the episodic and semantic considerations that research must engage to understand the predicted behaviour of the target audience.

In our approach to communication and campaign/advertising research, newfocus ensures the following key stages are incorporated into research design:

  1. Measure of the impact on long term memory (values and beliefs) – this will facilitate measurement of attitudinal and behaviour shifts over time
  2. Measure awareness and interest of advertising – this includes measurement of tracking and information objectives such as educating on risks and consequences of their behaviour and being motivated to moderate the consumption
  3. Measure stated behaviour
  4. Link research findings to actual usage, behaviour and consideration – this allows predictive modelling to predict the future impact of the campaign/advert/communications

Common Campaign Characteristics

In our experience, the most effective campaigns in Australia and internationally share the following common characteristics:

  • robust models/frameworks used in development and evaluation of the campaign
  • formative research to inform development of campaign messages
  • strategies in place to manage unintended negative consequences arising
  • campaign messages supported by policy, legislation, regulation
  • combination of mass media and enforcement
  • “new news” part of the campaign
  • personal connection—this could happen to me—messages used
  • targeted community partnerships
  • appropriate channels employed for communication of messages
  • campaign has high status in the media, political and social agendas
  • well regarded, high profile public spokespersons
  • engagement of community, media, professions and opinion leaders
  • campaign portrays people with whom the target audience can clearly identify
  • avoid paternalistic approaches to communication—‘we know what is good for you’
  • avoid mixing messages with moral values—de-stigmatisation of the issue
  • consultative approach with key interest groups to enable effective targeting of sub-groups through use of their own media
  • clear specific objectives which are prioritised
  • targeted approach, not ‘scatter-gun’
  • able to impact on behaviour at the point of behaviour
  • gradual, planned phasing of the campaign
  • achievement of high prompted awareness of campaign
  • appropriate levels of intervention (e.g. from broad mass media intervention, to individual in-depth intervention, such as personal counselling)
  • effective use of emotions to motivate behavioural action
  • use of partnership marketing (including working with industry)
  • including key people of ‘influence’ as a target audience (e.g. family, friends, work colleagues)

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