Study helps chart outdoor impact

The second phase of the much-discussed Mediacom/University of Alberta outdoor study is out.Mediacom, working with the U of A and Harris Media Systems, has developed a proprietary awareness model to help plan and evaluate the effectiveness of outdoor campaigns.FactorsAccording to the...

The second phase of the much-discussed Mediacom/University of Alberta outdoor study is out.

Mediacom, working with the U of A and Harris Media Systems, has developed a proprietary awareness model to help plan and evaluate the effectiveness of outdoor campaigns.

Factors

According to the new research from Mediacom/U of A, using campaign length, grps, message style, type of visual, communication objectives, brand recognition/ad support, product/service price, product/service benefit, legibility and marketing objectives the awareness model can predict the recognition level of an outdoor campaign.

Rosanne Caron, Mediacom’s vice-president of research, and John Bilney, creative director, presented the new findings at a press briefing in Toronto Oct. 22.

Caron said as a control the new research was compared with the actual results of completed campaigns.

Mediacom says grp weight level and campaign length are the strongest factors affecting recall levels of outdoor campaigns.

It says an analysis of the relationship between grps and campaign lengths revealed there is a marginal trade-off when a higher grp weight is bought over a shorter duration than when a lower grp weight is bought over a longer period.

‘The emphasis should be placed on selecting the appropriate total accumulated grp level and ensuring a high level of creative excellence,’ Mediacom says.

For short-term promotions of new product launches or line extensions Mediacom’s research recommends a minimum weight level of 75 grps for eight weeks if outdoor is the sole medium used.

It recommends 50 to 75 grps for eight weeks if outdoor is used in a media mix.

Sustaining campaign

As for a sustaining campaign for an established brand, the research finds a weight level of 50 to 75 grps works best if outdoor only is used.

If there is a media mix, a weight level of 25 to 50 grps for eight weeks is recommended.

Mediacom says transit shelters can deliver as much impact as posters. At an equivalent grp weight and campaign length transit shelters can achieve awareness levels comparable to posters.

The research found the average recall for transit shelters was 34%, with that of posters at 32.5%.

Mediacom says in markets where the two media have significantly different market coverage awareness levels will build at a different rate.

Moreover, there are no significant seasonal differences in awareness levels. Outdoor advertising is an effective medium to use during the summer months when tv viewing declines, the research says.

Caron says, at one time, outdoor was thought to be attractive only to men.

Category interest

However, the Mediacom/U of A study suggests any significant difference in campaign recall is related to product category interest with females, for example, generally more aware of cosmetics ads than males.

Each ad in the study was categorized into at least one of four main message styles: intrigue, esthetic or repetitive, literal and humor.

Mediacom says results show challenging the consumer with humorous or intriguing creative yields the highest recall scores.

‘Message styles are not mutually exclusive and often a combination of styles is used,’ Mediacom says.

‘Esthetic or repetitive ads used in conjunction with humor or intrigue also produce high awareness levels,’ it says.

‘Literal ads were found to produce the lowest awareness levels.’

The new research has also found outdoor campaigns using artwork rather than photography have higher recall levels.

As fewer campaigns use artwork, the novelty of it may also contribute to higher recall, says Mediacom, although it cautions it may not always be appropriate.

When artwork is used it must be of very high quality, it says.

One further thing the Mediacom/U of A study turned up was the importance of single-minded, focussed ads.

The limited viewing time of outdoor advertising requires a more disciplined, succinct creative approach.

‘The audience will learn a little more of the message each time they pass the ad, keeping them involved and interested,’ Mediacom says.

Research shows ads with fewer messages have higher awareness levels, suggesting single-minded, focussed advertisements deliver more impact, it says.

The first phase of the Mediacom/U of A outdoor study appeared early in December 1992.