Advert Effectiveness; The Lasting and Short of It

New research in advertising effectiveness uncovers the impact of brand advertising on both the long & short term performance.
Lasting and short of it

The work of Les Binet and Peter Field on advert effectiveness, highlighting how different types of ads impact brand performance is perhaps the most seminal in decades.

The long and short of it

It showed us that there are two types of advertising; brand and performance, and they achieve different outcomes.

Performance based advertising achieves short-term uplifts for the brand, whilst brand based advertising offers more performance endurance over the long-term.

Beyond, rounding errors it was widely acknowledged that they both have their places and thou shall not cross-over.

Source: Long and Short of It, Les Binet and Peter Field


They carried out further work to determine that when brands try and achieve both objectives in one communication, it leads to being less effective.

So the term 60/40 was coined to show how marketing planners should invest in both these areas to get optimal results. 60% in brand and 40% in performance marketing.

Reality strikes

It went against the grain of what was typically happening in the real world as brands flocked to performance marketing in a bid to cover their short term goals and reporting cycles. For instance, we have seen significant moves towards shortism, where reporting cycles are being squeezed.

As we know, it is a short-sighted and short-lived endeavour, since performance marketing advertising requires an always-on tap of media to keep the lights on. It builds little long-term equity, ensures CACs are kept high and contributes to the decline in overall marketing effectiveness.

Brand-based advertising

On the other hand, we know that by developing brand based advertising we could effect long-term sales and reduce CAC over time. This is because brand based advertising actually influences memory structures, and builds salience for when people actually have a need for what we sell.

For instance, the LinkedIn B2B institute, shows that 95% of buyers are not in market at any time and therefore lays the case nicely for more enduring forms of advertising.

The major issue with brand based advertising was that people assumed in didn’t work in the short-term. However, there is mounting evidence to the contrary. The opposite does not hold true with performance advertising.

This finding is neatly summed up by Orlando Wood from System 1 who said, “listen old chap we must stop saying long term and start saying lasting because as far as I can see the data suggests that brand building advertising has an immediate effect that continues over time”.

A case for brand based advertising in both the short and the long

I recently wrote a case study on how Muller was able to drive both short and long-term sales through its latest iconic brand advertising.

Here is the extract:

Brand advertising drives sales in the short and long term – please don’t overcomplicate it!

I think we as a marketing industry have gotten a little bit carried away with the separation of brand vs performance and their roles in driving both short and long term sales.

Whilst, I think in certain instances building our marketing plans around this different styles of communication can be helpful, it comes with a clear watch-out not to fall into silo’ed thinking.

I think this is particularly the case when we put brand-based advertising solely into the ‘long term’ bucket. This is just plain wrong.  

Brand advertising, can:

– Drive short term sales uplifts
– Reduce customer acquisition costs in the short term due to its halo effect
– It’s emotional appeal can act as a trigger to ‘buy’ now, particularly in CPG and other ‘fast purchase’ categories
– Create medium and long term enduring demand that reinforces the short-term sales pipeline

Take this latest advert by Müller UK & Ireland, its witty, its memorable and has short-term sensory appeal, yum, I’m hungry, I fancy a yogurt. 😋

It’s baked in the right marketing science as well.

Distinct brand assets and ofcourse a take on the iconic song by Vanilla Ice, means it’s hard not to pass it by without you singing it in your head.

Placement near physical distribution is key.

You would not typically associate ‘out of home’ or other broad beam channels, with short term activations and indeed studies show that it is typically used for longer term salient efforts, however, when you mix it in with the right creative it can absolutely achieve both.

Brand’s Role in Driving Lower Funnel Conversion

A study conducted by Meta, using econometrics, found that brand advertising can have an even more powerful effect on lower funnel conversion across a range of sectors.

Interestingly, it shows that brand communications can even be more impactful at generating short-term sales than performance based advertising.


System 1 Research

Mark Ritson, wrote an article showcasing research from System 1, which presents a similar picture. He explains that System 1 use both a short-term ‘spike rating’ and a longer-term ‘star rating’ to determine the effectiveness of every advert.

What they found was that for performance driven ads the ‘spike’ rating shows that only in the most minimal of cases does it have any bearing on the longer term brand building. Whilst, on the other hand brand adverts have a much greater effect on the short-term than first thought.

Source: System 1


Here is what the evidence tells us about the type of advertising and the effects it has:

This has very significant consequences for marketers and the way we think about our advertising distributions. In the main, it makes the case to re-think about the split and effectiveness of brand vs performance advertising and actually skew your effort, resources and money to the former. It has now been proven to generate you greater returns in the short and long and at both the top and bottom of funnel.

Owing to this isn’t it time we re-frame the ‘long and short’ positioning to ‘lasting and short’?

Many industry commentators are calling for this and I think it’s critical to follow their good advice.

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