How good is your Competitive Intelligence? Do your Ads Measure up Creatively to your Competitors'?
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.
Norms Critical for Competitive Intelligence
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.
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 (365,000+). 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.
Using Insights from Competitive Advertising Intelligence
If your measurement provider has a rich array of competitive advertising creative, here’s how to use it:
- Give your creative team access to the competitive ads for ideation. They should be able to search by KPI, such as Clear Brand or Purchase, and find ads that did well in those areas. Knowing which creative constructs work and which are failures provides strong guidance for new creative. All too often we have seen a creative team presume their current campaign is working and are developing new constructs based on poor performing precedents.
- Check competitive results when new campaigns are launched to see if they are likely to
succeed. If this is done early enough, it is possible to blunt their efforts by launching something even better yourself.
- Build regular creative recaps into your process. Some of the most successful advertisers review new ads every day and include a creative review with every management report.
ABX’s goal is to help our clients rise above the cluttered media landscape by having ABX Scores that are not only above the average ABX Score across all categories, but to outperform their competitors in-market ads at any given time. Because clients will have results on how their newly launched ads are performing within 24 – 48 hours, At any point in time, clients can run numerous automated report as illustrated in the case study below using various criteria to get a quick review on how they are performing based on the selected criteria to make changes both in-market and after the fact for continuous learning and increased ROI and ROAS.
Case Study - Walmart vs Target Q4 2022
In this case study, we will show a few examples of the types of insights that are available through the ABX syndicated platform to evaluate the effectiveness of Walmart vs Target ads during Q4 2022 at both a granular and broad level.
Below you are able to quickly view how 350+ Walmart & Target ads performed during Q4 2022 across media types and channels at a high level (average ABX Index Score) and detailed view (ABX Index Score for every ad). These are live charts, allowing you to click and drill down for additional info on every ad. Every dot on the detail report represents an ad tested. These Waterfall charts also gives you quick view as to when and where your competitors are advertising.
When you look at the average scores, the difference between both brands are very close, with the exception for print. But, when we look at the detailed report, for print, 3 ads were tested for Walmart and 1 ad for Target. Where there is a major difference in ABX Index scores is when you look at detailed report for the individual TV and Internet/Online ads.
For Internet/Online nearly half of the ads were underperforming in their category. While Walmart had the overall highest average ABX Index Score, they also had the lowest performing ad. For Internet/Online, the average ABX Index Score across All Categories = 105, Retail/Department Stores = 100.
When we look at the TV ads, Target has the overall highest average ABX Index Score, with Walmart having a number of ads that had the lowest ABX Score. The average ABX score for TV across All Categories = 107, and for Retail/Department Stores = 100.
Below are two Walmart & Target detailed Black Friday, 15 second TV Ad Reports. Again they were automatically generated 24 – 48 hours of the ads breaking into the marketplace, to give you the ability to make changes to your live campaign versus after the fact. While in the dashboard you can view the actual ads. Walmart’s ABX Score was slightly higher with a score of 113. You can look at the individual KPI scores for additional info. Walmart’s Call To Action scores were overall higher. Verbatims would have also been available for a syndicated client.
Now let’s have a quick comparison between two Black Friday 15 second TV ads using ABX’s Comparison Chart. The Comparison chart allows you to compare individual KPIs between up to 5 ads. The KPIs ABX uses below are the default KPIs that have proven to correlate with sales and help increase sales lift. Clients, have the ability to have KPIs that are important to their business added.