Insight from RAMetrics
The way people buy brands and products today is complex. Decision-making is often irrational, with device laden consumers having access to information 24/7. It can be like a pinball machine – there is a trigger that causes people to enter the decision-making process, but once in, they bounce around from one touchpoint to another, often moving backwards as well as forwards before eventually making a decision. We’re always gathering ideas about brands, things that we might like to buy one day, so passive absorption of brand associations before a journey is a powerful method of influencing purchases.
One of the key findings from our ‘How people buy’ study is that, because of the on-going seeding and absorption of brand associations, most journeys consist of an assumed front runner and the purpose of the journey is to cross-examine that through various touchpoints to ensure its purchase won’t be regretted. Newsbrands and other media shape the parameters of consumers’ consideration sets both before they have even consciously begun a journey and then once they are actively engaged. You could think of this as priming potential customers in the early stages of the purchase journey and then prompting them lower down the funnel, closer to the point of purchase.
This led us to question whether advertising on different days of the week has a greater or lesser impact across key brand metrics, including attention and recognition, engagement metrics and action metrics, reflecting different stages of the purchase journey.
Analysis of the RAMetrics database shows that there is a small difference in recall when we look at ads that appear during the beginning of the week compared with ads appearing near the end of the week (ad recall: 68% vs 72% for Mon – Wed vs Thu – Sat ads). In fact, there are few moderate differences in ad performance overall based on whether they appear at the front or back end of the week.
Of course, Thursday to Saturday are traditionally the most favoured days for ads that seek to prompt immediate action, especially for supermarkets and other retailers. Brands that advertise towards the end of the week certainly tend to be easier to understand (45% vs 48% vs 41%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively), readers find them more interesting (31% vs 33% vs 24%,for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively), and they even provoke more of an emotional reaction (20% vs 23% vs 12%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively).
In addition, there is evidence that people are more likely to take actions that fit with being at the end of the buying process, such as visiting the advertiser’s website (13% vs 14% vs 10%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively), visiting the advertiser (13% vs 16% vs 13%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively) and actual buying (10% vs 14% vs 10%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively).
However, the data for engagement measures suggests that advertising earlier in the week (when perhaps there is less competition) is just as successful in delivering brand building responses, both rational and emotional, such as finding the ads beneficial (16% vs 19% vs 14%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively), appealing (29% vs 30% vs 23%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively) or interesting (31% vs 33% vs 24%, for Mon – Wed, Thu – Sat, Sun, respectively). We know from Peter Field’s recently updated analysis of the IPA Databank that newsbrands are highly effective at delivering very strong business results in the long-term, not just short-term sales that can undermine profitability. This suggests that the early part of the week is perfect for communicating brand values, getting brands on to the mental shortlist and giving gentle reminders prior to the big shopping days at the end of the week.
So what about Sundays? Well the truth is that we have a bit of a conundrum. We expected ads in Sunday papers to perform strongly, as we know from other research we’ve conducted that they are read differently. People spend more time reading on a Sunday and they also keep reading the paper through the week. People are more relaxed, more open to absorbing brand associations and discovering something new. But the data disagrees.
It is quite possible that the Sunday ads tested are simply not very good, as we know that creative has by far the biggest effect on responses. Indeed, the most recalled Sunday ad is noticed by 75% of readers, so it does not seem that the day itself is unconducive to high scores. It is also possible that the online research methodology using digitised papers is at odds with the Sunday reading experience. At the moment, we simply don’t know – so there’s our next challenge!