It is rare for an advertiser to measure its advertising creative performance compared to its competitive set, but it can be critically important to do so. Most companies know how a new ad creative compares to its own historical creative. But if that new creative is 5% better than its prior campaign, but 10% below its competition, how does that change one’s prediction of success?
Marketing and advertising professionals are pretty good at collecting competitor data on media spend, digital progress and copies of ads themselves. However, it is much more difficult to get hold of advertising effectiveness data for competitors. Unless they subscribe to a syndicated creative testing program, they can’t fully know which campaigns are working, and which aren’t.
Wikipedia defines CI as the action of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors, and any aspect of the environment needed to support executives and managers in strategic decision making for an organization. Advertising competitive intelligence includes collecting not just creative materials, but testing scores for competitors whenever possible.
Creative Testing provides in-depth scores on a variety of KPIs, and a service like ABX also provides an aggregated and proprietary index. When ad scores are high, one may feel like celebrating. But, is it REALLY good if it has not been benchmarked in some way?
Most advertising effectiveness measurement firms have norms of some kind against which one can compare. The definition of an advertising “norm” is the average score for other ads tested in similar ways. They are essentially the “normal” outcome expected, and show whether or not a result is better, worse or about the same when compared to others.
Many types of norms exist when evaluating ads such as: Industry, Medium; Length of TV or Radio spot; Country; Digital Type; and more. Depending on your category, you'll want competitive intelligence in Fast Food, Restaurants, Personal Care, Retail, Consumer Intelligence, Insurance, Telecom, Household, and so on. That data is available for any needed industry. Here are some examples from past blog posts on the topic:
Accuracy of norms has been a problem in the industry because custom research firms are forced to use ads they’ve measured in the past for other clients which may, or may not, relate well to the current clients’ needs. In addition, those norms are based on only pre-tested ads, many of which are experimental and don’t reflect the norms of ads that are actually put into the marketplace. Custom pre-testing is a “work-for-hire,” so the data is owned by the advertiser and comparisons against competitors are not available. Most clients don’t know to ask for details about a research supplier’s norms before they are hired.
Everyone knows that creative testing norms differ by industry, but probably not by degree. But ABX has tested enough ads across all media types to get a true bird’s eye view (150,000). The chart below shows 25,000 Ads by Industry, designating which are Fair and which are Poor. Good ads are NOT shown on this chart. Clearly, Alcoholic Beverages, Financial Services and Banking ads score the lowest, and Restaurants, Household and Food ads score the highest.
So, comparing one’s ads to one’s industry norm is crucial since it may be a high-scoring industry, or a low-scoring industry, and it’s impossible to really evaluate competitive advertising success without the contextual reference. Note - for Media Norms, see our Integrated Marketing in All Media resource page.
Using Insights from Competitive Advertising Intelligence
If your measurement provider has a rich array of competitive advertising creative, here’s how to use it:
The following are primarily ABX Advisory blog pieces analyzing ads in key industry categories that may provide some insights. Additional external resources of strong creative by industry will be added over time.