It is very important to understand that since the online world has matured, activation budgets in above the line media have been more effective than ever before (Media in Focus, Les Binet 2018). This and the opportunity to measure and optimse behavioural data (transaction, intent) has led to an increasing attention and spend on short term campaigns. Binet is warning for short termism, foreseeing that sustainable brand growth will be delayed or simply not happen for many brands in the future.
This is why designing brand-response campaigns are very important. The term was used in The Long and Short of it, by Les Binet and Peter Field in 2014, suggesting to integrate brand and activation campaigns because there was clear evidence that the most effective campaigns did exactly that. For now, let’s start the other way around.
What all brands control best is transaction related data and behaviour, most often with the profiles of their (recurring) customers. Most brands invest in their stores and websites and try to adapt to or influence customer demand, which is easy to obtain because customers are very close by. This is all based on actual data.
Most brands also invest in getting the customer into the shop, knowing intent (assumingly) by investing in SEA and conversion driven campaigns or influencing the retail environment with a range of marcom tactics.
A substantial number of brands in the category spend their resources to create activation campaigns with often a cross media roll out. These are volume driven, in order to realize sales spikes and often that works fine. These activation campaigns have two effects:
- The direct effect on actual sales;
- The indirect effect, where more customers convert via the ‘always on’ layer that has been in place already.
A small number of brands is willing and able to invest in brand campaigns that can last for a longer period and are therefore defined as continuous reach campaigns. This continuous presence in the media, often with emotional messaging, is to influence the whole market and build the brand while buying it is not necessarily directly in scope. These campaigns are baseline driven, expecting to influence base line sales gradually (getting more people to buy the brand at a fixed (high) price).
Continuous reach campaigns are designed for the long term, however they have more effects than that:
- Existing customers that are not in the intent or transaction phase yet are re-affirmed and their memories refreshed;
- Activation flights are embedded and suported by a continuous reach campaign (this is why the design should be integrated);
- The always on layer will report highter conversion rates;
- Actual sales will be higher because of the nudging effects of the continuous reach campaign;
In short, the breakdown of the actual situation in layers of communications with their own objectives shows four levels that should be integrated. You may look for the ‘strategic opportunity’ and develop one creative brand theme that can last for some years. Then integrate activation, always on and transactional communications (point of sale) to increase synergy.