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Massive new ARF ad study reveals some old truths about how advertising works best

The media dinosaurs have it: advertisers should be spending three quarters of their money on TV, backed up by other media. With the same campaign message throughout. And they should be spending more money – 16 per cent more to be precise – which would mean that US advertisers, for example, upped their collective budget from $196bn to $227bn.

Why? Return on investment (ROI) improves by up to 35 per cent with a consistent multimedia campaign. Moving up from one media platform to two improves ROI by 19 per cent. And don’t spend it on digital banner ads. 57 per cent aren’t seen by humans and a further ten per cent put consumers off through overkill.

These are the headline findings of what’s claimed to be the biggest industry study into advertising in 30 years, ‘How Advertising Works Today,’ carried out by the Advertising Research Foundation. The study looks at $375bn of expenditure on 5000 campaigns for 1000 brands in nearly 50 countries.

On TV specifically the ARF found that a budget with 78 per cent spent on traditional media to 22 per cent on digital worked best for audiences as a whole. For so-called Millenials (people aged 18-34) the split was only slightly different, 71 per cent to 29 per cent.

Which we’ve known all along of course, although it’s very good of the ARF to prove it. Will this change the rush to digital or persuade advertisers to spend more money? There are so many companies with a vested interest in digital witch doctoring that the former is unlikely. And advertisers are seemingly programmed to spend most of their time trying to cut budgets for the latter to happen any time soon.

The ARF is unveiling the full report at its Re!Think event in New York this week.

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