Angeline Lodhia
Sep 17, 2019

How this one lesson from TV can make your digital budget work harder

Advertisers should rediscover the lost art of capitalising on adstock theory, according to InSkin Media's APAC GM.


Forecast to deliver 46% of total ad sales this year, digital advertising is the engine that is driving growth in APAC advertising revenue. But it still suffers from a credibility problem. Questions about ad-fraud and transparency in digital have brands concerned that a substantial percentage of their investment is being wasted.

But there’s another, lesser known side to this story that also should be told—that of the invisible ‘’carry over’’ effect of advertising. 

Measuring the prolonged effect of advertising

Traditionally used in TV, advertising 'adstock' is a term used to describe the prolonged or lagged effect of advertising on purchase behaviour.

Adstock theory states that exposure to repeated television advertising builds up awareness of featured products and brands, influencing subsequent purchase decisions of consumers. Fewer exposures gradually result in diminishing awareness; and with no exposures at all, awareness fades entirely.  

Adstock is a model of how this carry-over effect builds and decays and ultimately allows planners to more effectively invest in TV advertising by flighting their advertising intelligently, so they can leverage this carry-over effect.

Replicating these effects in digital

It’s a clever strategy. But until now, it has not been applied to most other advertising media.

A recent study we conducted with Lumen Research, however, has found it’s possible to replicate the theory with digital advertising, via the intelligent insertion of high-impact formats in digital campaigns.

Flighting in digital advertising hinges on the ability to increase (and sustain) the amount of visual attention consumers give to digital campaigns. This is important, because higher levels of visual engagement correlate with vital metrics like brand recall.

Previous research we conducted with Lumen revealed a relationship between ad formats and visual attention times for viewers. When preempted by a high-impact format, for instance, we found people were 27% more likely to look at a standard ad, and for 39% longer than they otherwise would have. We call this the ‘’amplification’’ effect.  It makes sense, when you consider the fact that humans are naturally programmed to identify patterns.

Unsurprisingly though, this amplification effect fades with time, at a rate of 25% per day. But we can maintain and even strengthen this amplification effect and boost overall visual attention levels significantly by flighting high-impact formats at the right points in the campaign timeline. This could be a key approach to create brand awareness and drive more attention to your campaign.

Choosing the right approach

Different campaigns have different objectives—and similarly, we found that different flighting strategies work best for different campaign lengths.

We found front-loading a campaign with high-impact formats and following with standard formats is well-suited to short, bursty promotions or activations. With this method, the standard formats gain a boost of 57% in terms of attention over the course of a month.

Regular weekly insertions of the high-impact format, coupled with the standard format, resulted in weekly spikes in attention. After two weeks, this approach exceeded the attention provided by the front-loaded one, as attention eventually faded in that scenario given the absence of new high-impact formats. Over the month, this approach delivered 41% additional attention.

Lastly, we doubled the number of high-impact formats, inserting two per week. We saw considerably higher peaks of visual attention, and an overall boost of 87% in visual attention time over the month.

More impact, with no extra spend

It’s no secret that visual attention is important. It’s been shown to increase conversions and brand recall, ultimately benefiting campaign performance and brand building. But with so many distractions on the internet, getting people to pay attention to ads is no easy task. However, as the effects of these flighting scenarios show, simply by employing more intelligent strategies around the needs of each campaign, it is possible to maximise returns without having to increase spend.

Angeline Lodhia is the general manager at Inskin Media Asia.

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