Column Simon McDonald – Managing Director UK


Improving (and proving) Brand Attribution and Message Clarity

A top and tail media buy (or bookending) is a familiar concept where the advertiser buys the first- and the last slot in the commercial break. Advertisers spend big budget to buy these slots – they are advertising twice in a break with all the attendant costs, and need a different ad at the beginning and end. As we dash into Christmas campaigns, I often ponder when I watch the ad breaks whether the outcome justifies the budget – and if anybody has actually tested the outcome to measure how much the extra spend adds… Or are we just relying on gut feeling after all?

Happily, one of our major clients, and one of the biggest advertisers in the UK, recently wanted to understand the value of the “top and tail” media buy.  In this case, the campaign had a “brand” ad first, featuring a well-known actor with an emotional message to warm up viewers, and a “trade” ad with a functional message about how to access the product, price and where to get more info.

DVJ Insights always tests ads in the real, natural environment. So, in this instance, we were able to replicate the media buy by placing the ads in the correct position within a blind reel of other adverts. Viewers are then invited to watch the reel, and zap away at any point – exactly as they do in a normal viewing scenario. This means we can measure at what point people stop watching the ads, and what they remember from the reel.  Spontaneous brand recall and message clarity – or who advertised and what the message was – have been proven to be significant predictors of in market success.

By comparing the results of the top and tail buy with placing the ads on their own, we saw a significant and interesting effect. The standalone ads were already top performers – in the top 20% of ads we have tested.  However, by measuring the effect of the top and tail buy, we found brand attribution increased by +29% and message clarity by +14%. The top and tail media buy helped people to remember the brand advertised and significantly increased the clarity of the product message and offer. Based on these findings, the client was better able to adjust and alter their media buy for future campaigns. But they were not the only ones benefiting from the insights. It seems my own inquisitiveness about whether the spend is justified, has finally been satisfied.


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