It’s Effie season, but what is ‘advertising effectiveness’?

When we think about awards for advertising, we probably think of grand events celebrating the cinematic and creative genius that has brought the latest Superbowl ads to our screens, or the larger than life viral campaigns that are shared by our friends and family that make us laugh, cry, recoil in shock or warm our hearts. But what about the primary mission of advertising? At its heart, advertising is about engaging with an audience to share a message that will (ideally) encourage them to connect with your brand, and to eventually buy, shop, visit etc.

Effie worldwide

The Advertising Effectiveness Awards (or the ‘Effies’ as they are affectionately known) celebrate the campaigns that can demonstrate real business impact. The Effie Awards honour the most significant and important aspect of advertising: effectiveness.

This year is the third time I’ve been invited to review a selection of the finalists and to sit on the judging panel for the Australian Effies. The panel is a mix of CMOs, brand managers, media experts, researchers and more. Much like everything in 2020, the Effies in Australia are being run a little differently this year. Originally postponed during the early days of the pandemic, they have now shifted to a completely digital format, with judging and the awards ceremony all being run online.

Judging ‘effectiveness

It feels as though Effie submissions get stronger every year, and each case shows effectiveness in a different way. Whilst sales are definitely a focus for many submissions, it’s not always just about sales impact. For some campaigns, the objectives can focus on shifting consumer perceptions or engaging consumer interactions in a different way; for others it’s about driving brand love, or about reversing declines and securing the future of their brand.

Despite these differences, all award-winning entries show a clear link between the advertising campaign and its impact. Understanding the campaign objectives is critical before studying the evidence of the impact. Typically, a lot of time is spent discussing and debating what else (apart from the advertising) could explain the uplift in sales, or the change in consumer brand perceptions. The results must be driven by the advertising, as that is at the heart of what the Effies are all about – advertising effectiveness!

Measuring brand effectiveness

No two Effie submissions are the same because no two brands are the same. If no two brands are the same, why are they often measured in the same way? Market researchers tend to push standardized research approaches across brands regardless of context. If my role as an Effie judge has taught me anything, it’s that one size does not fit all when it comes to measuring brands and brand success.

As our branding and communications thinking outlines, brands should focus on a ‘religion’ or philosophy which can be one or a mix of five frameworks as detailed in our Brand Religions bookzine: Classic, Influencer, Relationship, Experience and Penetration. This choice of brand religion not only shapes how a brand identifies success, it also outlines how a brand should measure performance, hence guiding its research design.

Find out more on our brand-religion thinking in our free-to-download bookzine, or get in touch to learn what this could mean for your brand research.

And if you’ve been a part of a campaign that has made a real impact on your brand, then think about submitting an entry for next year. It’s a great opportunity to recognise the team that created something that connects with consumers and delivers real impact for your business.

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