What a waste: ‘CMOs prioritise the wrong channels’

disciplines nMarketers are stubbornly ploughing their budgets into media channels that are simply not the most effective, with a major disconnect between where consumers go and where the professionals think they are, although, much to adland’s despair, CMOs have finally realised TV ads are no longer top dog.

That is just one of the stark conclusions of the latest version of Kantar’s Media Reactions tracking study, the fourth edition of the global ad preference study, based on 16,000 consumer interviews in 23 markets, including the UK and the US, as well as EMEA, APAC and LATIM regions.

The 2023 survey also quizzed around 900 marketing professionals from advertiser, agency and media companies around the world.

It reveals that in-person advertising is making a big splash in 2023, with outdoor channels, both traditional and digital, making the top 5 most preferred ad platforms among consumers.

Digital OOH takes care of the ‘dullness’ issue consumers have with traditional out-of-home advertising, while bringing further innovation into the fold. For once, marketers actually agree. For both groups, digital OOH is the most innovative channel out there – especially as it takes advantage of data insight, high screen resolution and fast developing creative technologies.

Online video, meanwhile, remains the marketer’s darling, despite being towards the bottom of the ad preference rankings for consumers, marketers continue to place their top bets on the channel.

In fact, online video remains the most preferred media channel for marketers for the fourth year in a row. It is also the third most trusted channel by marketers, behind only TV and sponsored events.

This in turn brings in the media spend; a net 74% of marketers say they will increase their spend in the channel in 2024.

But, despite high trust, marketers’ interest in TV is declining. Funnily enough, TV advertising has never a consumer favourite, despite adland’s obsession with the small screen.

However, for marketers, its trustworthiness has spoken volumes – until this year. TV has fallen from 3rd place last year to 12th place, and TV sponsorship has also fallen from 12th to 20th.

Marketers’ trust in TV ads is still high – but it has fallen 5% since 2021, while many other channels’ are going up. Combined with a lack of innovation, TV finds it hard to compete for marketer preference.

Only a net 6% of marketers say they will increase spend in TV in 2024. A thorny issue for the likes of ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky to digest.

In fact, consumers’ top five media channels are sponsored events, cinema ads, out of home ads, point of sale and digital out of home. For marketers they are online video ads, sponsored events, digital out of home ads, video streaming ads and social media story ads.

One area which may not bring too much of a surprise is that marketing in the metaverse has not lived up to the hype. A net 61% of marketers claimed they would increase spend in the metaverse in 2023, however, the actual net increase was only 12%.

And, for 2024, a net of 22% of marketers claim an increase of investment in the metaverse, although Kantar said “let’s see what happens on that one”.

When it comes to consumers’ preferred ad platform, Amazon is top for the second year in a row. Kantar maintains the reasons for its success include the fact that ads on Amazon are seen to be relevant and useful, and with few negative qualities apart from some excessive targeting concerns.

One area where Amazon has made a noticeable improvement in its ads since 2021 is trust – both for consumers and marketers. Marketers’ trust for the brand as an ad platform has increased around 10% since last year, also improving their preference somewhat.

There is still more work to be done from the publisher’s side to be a top ad platform for marketers.

YouTube has taken over Instagram’s previous lead in marketers’ eyes, jumping up two spots in 2023, with a big increase in preference.

The platform has improved trust for its ads compared to last year – a metric highly correlated with marketer preference, and is now the most trusted ad platform. While established brands like YouTube and Google garner trust and receptivity from marketers, this is often not enough for consumers’ top ranks, where YouTube does not even make an appearance.

Google’s ad preference for consumers and marketers has improved steadily since 2021, making a big jump in 2023. A big change in Google’s consumer advertising profile is an improvement in its relevance and usefulness, despite excessive targeting concerns. For marketers, increase in trust is an important factor.

Meanwhile, Instagram moves up for consumers but down for marketers. Consumers find Instagram ads to be more fun and entertaining this year, making up for excessive targeting concerns. For marketers, the innovation of ads on Instagram has fallen 12% since 2021. While preference levels have not been impacted, the platform could not hold onto its crown due to increasing trust on YouTube and Google’s side.

Attention has been a hot topic among marketers but as the number of platforms for advertisers and agencies to choose from increases, the more consumers might be hit by ads that are screaming for attention.

And this is not only true because of the increasing number of digital platforms but also because in-person touchpoints are an important part of the competitive set, contributing to the chaos in the media battleground.

Research has proven that attention helps build brands and drive sales. It is related to ad preference too: there is a 90% correlation between media channels that consumers claim capture their attention, and those in which they prefer seeing advertising, Kantar explains. There is also a strong negative correlation of 97% for preference with “ad formats they try to ignore.”

Therefore, ads that are positively engaging are in a much better position to capture and retain attention, and will, therefore, not be avoided.

However, once again marketers’ receptivity does not correlate as highly to the media channels that they think deliver consumer attention.

This is despite half (51%) of marketers saying attention highly influences their media budget decisions. In addition, 66% and 60% of marketers say attention has an important influence on creative and media effectiveness, respectively.

The flip side is that close to 50% of marketers do not see attention as important as brand or sales outcomes. The metric is not entrenched in marketing systems yet.

What channels marketers think deliver consumer attention, compared to what consumers think capture their attention, is also fairly different.

Influencer content is a surprising number one for marketers, while it does not make the top five for consumers. There are some channels which both groups see as attention-grabbing such as cinema, events and DOOH. However, most of the marketers’ darlings feature low down on the consumer rankings.

The report concludes: “Consumers are settled into a life where digital blends into our surroundings. We don’t need to stay home, or glued to our phones, to witness the full range of experiences and entertainment that media channels have to offer. However, the impact of in-person ad experiences is more pronounced this year.

“All top five channels for consumers require people to ‘go out’. Magazines have fallen out of the top five. Instead, outdoor advertising is making a splash: both traditional and digital OOH rank highly. Marketers’ preferences remain more dynamic, and generally differ from those of consumers.

“In-person media channels should not be underestimated, as many bring consumer receptivity and attention. This can bring more brand impact for ad campaigns with the right content and customisation.

“However, digital’s journey isn’t over, it is now around us in-person as well, transforming and digitising offline channels as we know them.

“In this ever-chaotic battleground, there are always new powers emerging, but marketers also have more ammunition to successfully navigate the landscape. Pay attention to attention; it might not be a go-to measurement system yet, but it is a signal of consumer preference for ad platforms.

“And don’t forget local; any local ad platforms can capture attention over global ones, so marketers need to strike the right balance for their brands.”

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