How do different ad formats appeal to and engage consumers?

He shares some initial thoughts here, before the release of results, which Mike will talk about more in-depth at FIPP Asia-Pacific in Singapore, taking place from 27-28 September.

Tell us about the research you’ll be presenting…

Our latest research programme, The Format Effect Part I, is the first in a series of surveys based on a partnership between three leading global brands within their respective fields: Publicitas, Millward Brown, a leader in the digital ad effectiveness space, and Huawei – one of Fortune’s top 50 innovative global companies.

The research takes the form of an online mobile-based survey of 1,800 consumers covering four markets: Singapore, the UK, France and the US. This research sets out to test the level of appeal and engagement of different digital mobile ad formats among consumers. It explores the impact different formats have on brand appeal, as well as other key brand measures, and then takes it one step further to look at how these formats make consumers feel — specifically how they feel about the brand.

The primary goal for us is to provide direction to agencies and advertisers on their format selection; based on which brand measures they are trying to shift.

The results of that research aren’t available yet — but what general trends are you seeing around advertising?

The first thing to look at is Zenith ad forecast data. Globally in 2017, digital revenues are set to exceed TV for the first time, making digital the world’s largest advertising medium. Mobile accounts for the bulk of this growth.

Next year, it looks like display will represent almost half of digital ad spend, followed by search, and then classified. Social media is forecast to register the greatest year-on-year increase, followed by online video.

Content marketing is interesting. It really seems to have exploded this year. We recently conducted Marketing Priorities, a global survey among publishers, agencies and brand marketers, to explore the key technology and marketing factors that will drive the media sector into 2017.

The results were unanimous in showing content marketing as the number one marketing priority for global marketers out of 24 considerations measured. More businesses just seem to be doing more content marketing than ever before — and for many businesses it now represents a core marketing revenue stream.

Among advertisers, Marketing Priorities showed that content marketing, content quality and content relevance were the top three marketing priorities, confirming a big appetite for client-side marketers to be part of the content make-up of their brand.

This is because many brands are becoming content publishers — they understand the need for brands to take control of their own content agendas and the importance of creating engaging, interesting and enjoyable content for their customers. Ultimately, they want consumers to opt into content and not block it. Our survey supports this, with more than 80 per cent agreeing, and four in ten strongly agreeing, that ‘relevant content and environment helps prevent ad blocking’. Marketing Priorities also highlighted rich media ad formats as a top ten marketing consideration among global execs, and these can also help create a more engaging experience for the user, and help prevent the blockers! We’ll explore that further in The Format Effect Part I.

Your new research looks specifically at emotional engagement. Tell us a bit more about that…

The Format Effect Part I is all about testing different types of ad formats. When I first showed some of the Publicitas rich media mobile ad formats to our advertising partners, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much enthusiasm and excitement – because they are different… and they do have this ‘lean in’ effect that makes you sit up and take notice. And it was this experience that encouraged us to test these formats among consumers… and gauge their reactions.

So, in this context, emotional engagement is all about whether format types can trigger a reaction, and make consumers feel differently and more engaged in a brand. It’s also about achieving ‘stand out’, or creating something memorable for the consumer, which in turn can help build engagement between the customer and a brand. That’s what we set out to test in The Format Effect Part I.

What are the key ingredients to the content that engages emotionally? Presumably it puts a lot of emphasis on audience insight and profiling etc? You have to much better understand exactly what makes your audience groups tick, do you?

Yes, understanding audiences is hugely important. There’s so much talk at the moment about the importance of making content relevant and creating subject matter that’s going to appeal to consumers. But I think ‘tone’ of content is also important – for example, if a consumer enjoys humorous content, this could be a primary content attraction for some consumers rather than whether it’s a story about travel, cars or technology. So ‘tone’ is an important consideration for brands striving to build a closer connection with the customers.

If brands are increasingly producing content and moving away from traditional advertising, are the publishers in a good position to help or at risk because there is so much content now and everyone is a publisher?

I think a bit of both. On the one hand, many larger brands see the value in being part of the content creation for their brand and have the scale to invest in their own content marketing people. On the other hand, content marketing and sponsored content is an increasingly important revenue stream, and many publishers have set up their own content solutions divisions to assist larger brands, or provide a fuller service for brands that aren’t in a position to take on this as part of their communications activities.

Click here to meet Mike and others at FIPP Asia-Pacific in Singapore. Contact Claire Jones or Natalie Butcher if you are interested in discussing a custom package for a delegation (5+ people)  or have general questions.

More like this

Chart of the week: Magazine ads the least unpopular

Chart of the week: Mobile trials and tribulations faced by publishers

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x