Robert Sawatzky
Sep 24, 2018

BBC News fights back against last click attribution

New global study and ad tool is aimed at countering a “dumb” metric.

BBC News fights back against last click attribution

Publishers have long complained that the digital giants like Google and Facebook are taking too much credit for advertising-driven sales and therefore too big a slice of brand ad spend at the expense of other media channels.

Tired of merely complaining, BBC Global News is fighting back with its own empirical evidence, unveiling a massive new global study and ad optimisation tool in a bid to convince brands that advertising through quality content leads to better outcomes.

“The core driver in why we’re doing this is because there has been a lot of digital misattribution in the industry about necessarily ascribing value and therefore investment to media that can demonstrate a higher level of attribution,” Alistair McEwan, BBC News’ senior vice-president of commercial development for APAC told Campaign. “We feel this is not a fair reflection of the value of premium media companies that have been providing audiences and quality content to brand campaigns for time immemorial.”

A year in the making, the brand content study involves more than 16,000 respondents and nearly 200 campaigns worldwide across seven major sectors: travel, finance, airlines, automotive, technology, B2B and foreign investment. The data came primarily from BBC’s own AdScore results of its campaign effectiveness surveys based on aided and non-aided brand recall of brand awareness, consideration and recommendation. The BBC data was then cross-referenced with third party data sources like Nielsen, Salesforce and IAS to deepen the data pool.

Many of the key findings are hardly earth-shattering and not surprisingly show positive outcomes for brands advertising through premium news publishers. Among the highlights:

  • Campaigns associated with higher news content have a stronger brand impact across the consumer decision-making journey than those with less news.
  • Content-led marketing results in higher levels of consumer persuasion, with a 26% higher impact on consideration and 29% higher impact on recommendation than those without branded content.
  • TV advertising leads to stronger brand familiarity scores (26% more likely to have a TV element).
  • Digital campaigns lead to higher recommendation scores (delivering 1.27x return on impact for every dollar spent).
  • In Asia-Pacific (where three quarters of the campaign data originated) online video was a more effective way to reach audiences than other regions.
  • Apps in mobile-led Asia proved particularly effective in driving brand consideration and recommendation.

Each BBC campaign was scored and benchmarked versus the average. In one case study, Korean Air’s branded content campaign on BBC paired with the airline’s own creative delivered results that scored 50% above average recommendation levels.

ADImpact media planning simulator

Jointly with this study, the BBC then enlisted research partners to help it build its own media planning simulator tool. While McEwan says it’s hardly meant to replace existing media planning channels, it will choose the optimal BBC campaigns for brands based on their objectives, giving clients the performance clarity they’ve been demanding of publishers, especially in the planning stages.

“You can’t just say ‘trust me’ to a brand and expect them to invest,” McEwan says. “Those days are gone. So this study and the launch of the BBC ADImpact tool is designed specifically to deliver that evidence so that they can have confidence and trust in the choices they make.”

While the tool is made strictly for BBC clients, it’s McEwan’s hope that the study lends more legitimacy to all premium publishers in the industry.

“There is no doubt frustration across the industry about the last click attribution metric which is a dumb metric because it does not fully attribute value throughout the media supply chain. However it’s absolutely the responsibility of trusted media like us to be able to demonstrate the value of our media to a brand."

Alistair McEwan, BBC Global News


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