Our studies demonstrate that market research is not driving insights regarding the effectiveness of new media platforms. As a result, advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to plan media buys that will engage target consumers in a fragmented media landscape.

It’s time the market research community takes a new approach to measuring ad effectiveness, beyond reach and exposure intangible factors, like engagement. Now that technology empowers consumers to engage with, or avoid, brand advertising consumer choices are based on the relevancy and personalization of messaging.

To answer such questions, we conducted an online survey of 1,400 adults, focused on consumer engagement with advertising, in Q4, 2018.

Start with the audience

To find the right consumer in today’s media environment should heed our mantra, “multicultural America is America,” and recognize that brand growth will come from America’s growing multicultural communities. Indeed, the younger the consumer, the more multicultural their cohort. The simple fact—this is the new America.

Our research was designed to understand where ads are seen and to draw conclusions about strategies and tactics that will drive engagement. Consumers see the most ads on television. One-third (33 percent) of 18 to 34-year-olds, 49 percent of 35 to 49-year-olds, and 50 percent of 50-plus consumers see most ads on television. Among 18 to 34-year-olds, 42 percent report social media is where that they see most ads; more than 33 percent said live TV. Among 35 to 49-year-olds, 41 percent said social media. The 50-plus category is slightly less likely to say social media.

Ads can drive engagement

When we asked consumers if they engage with TV ads, enjoy or find them interesting, about 14 percent engage frequently; higher among Hispanics, black and Asian consumers. This begs the question, are they attentive because they were engaged or engaged because they were attentive?

So, how do we drive engagement when converting viewers into attentive customers is critical? For example, 53 percent of white consumers look for information about products advertised on TV. Hispanic, black and Asian consumers are more likely to search for information about advertised products. One-third (34 percent) of white consumers frequently or occasionally buy a product advertised in an infomercial; 31 percent of white non-Hispanics frequently or occasionally buy products from home shopping networks.

Unpacking videos and reviews resonate younger

Young people see more ads on social media, where user reviews and unpacking videos are the most potent form of brand communications. Celebrity endorsements (39 percent) are on par with product placement, YouTube or social media star videos, sponsored posts and social media.

These new ways to leverage social / digital media communicate about brand in a more personalized way and are becoming increasingly important. In fact, 45 percent of white, 49 percent of Hispanic, 40 percent black, and 50 percent of consumers bought a product based on an unpacking video or YouTube review. Also, multicultural consumers are more likely to click on ads in social media feeds.

To summarize, in an increasingly fragmented media environment, traditional and new media are equally important parts of the marketing mix. Because of media fragmentation and increasing distractions, brand stewards must understand what tactics will move the needle on engagement.

Finally, engagement is driven by personalization, creating resonance and relevance with the target; convincing consumers your company is aligned with their personal values. Brand due diligence is key to understanding customer values, social, political, cultural, and religious, including whether your brand’s values match the market. This alignment will be increasingly important going forward, especially as social media, and media in general, makes it mandatory that companies act transparently.

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Adriana Waterston

Adriana Waterston

Adriana Waterston is Senior Vice President of Insights and Strategy at Horowitz Research, where she oversees millennial, multicultural and Latino research endeavors. Well-known for her leadership in this space, Adriana is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

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