“Consumers don’t get tired of ads, only advertisers do.” Mark Ritson’s comments in Marketing Week are irrefutable: research suggests that marketers are much too quick to pull content off the shelf before it’s had a chance to ‘wear in’, let alone ‘wear out.’
But let’s take one step back.
Theories around content wearing in and out assume that content is launched in the first place. Analysis from our Creative Lifecycle product suggests that over 50% of content produced is never activated, meaning that advertisers spend billions each year on content that consumers never see.
Marketers should prioritize getting the most out of their campaigns, which involves 1. Activating the content they make, and 2. Making sure that content runs for sufficient time to drive impact with consumers.
Ads need to be exposed to consumers multiple times to have a positive impact. With every consumer bombarded with thousands of pieces of content everyday, it takes several repetitions to recognise and remember an ad. Being able to hum the jingle, name the characters, and quote the tagline - all of these are signs of positive ‘wear-in’.
But, within advertising lore, this positive response shifts after only a few exposures to the ad to a neutral or, at worst, negative response. This suggests that the content is experiencing ‘wear-out’, and needs to be replaced with a new campaign.
While the myth of ‘wear-out’ is certainly strong, it is ultimately just that: a myth.
Marketers are much closer to the content they produce than audiences ever will be. Reviewing and refining campaigns over months or even years means that when it ultimately comes to launch, the content no longer feels ‘new’ to the people behind it.
But all studies of ‘wear-out’ indicate that in the real world, it is exceptionally rare. Analytic Partners analyzed more than 50,000 ads in 2020 and found that only 14 of these campaigns were actually experiencing ‘wear-out’ when they were replaced.
Similarly, System1 havedemonstrated that the average rating of an ad in their database does not change for years after it’s first released, and that only ads focused on a specific event (such as the Superbowl or the World Cup) experience some decline in rating once the event is over.
Moreover, in the UK, ads with a higher rating are actually more likely to be pulled earlier. Video ads only air for between 71 and 95 days on average, but the most effective five star ads air for 71 days, while one star ads air for longer.
Kantar summarizes, “wear-out is not some unavoidable destiny for ads, it is possible to create strong ads that can maintain their success.” Kantar’s team looked at ads that have been running for decades, notably the ‘Tealand’ campaign from Twinings, that continue to drive performance and be distinctive.
On the Uncensored CMO podcast with Jon Evans, Les Binet and Sarah Carter discussed Knorr soup campaigns in Scotland, which have also been running for an extended period of time. As Carter pointed out, “consistency leads to popularity”. Despite seeing the Knorr ads sometimes close to 100 times, the target consumer base still reacted positively to them.
Ritson also argued that “we’ve never had this level of advertising clarity.” Which is certainly true. Being able to test ads for digital suitability, audience response and impact over time provides marketers with a huge amount of information that was previously unavailable.
However, all of this testing rests on a fundamental assumption: that content being produced is being launched and can therefore be tested.
CreativeX analysis indicates that this assumption should not be taken so lightly. Over 50% of core assets being produced don’t make it to market at all, with the average F500 brand wasting over $25M annually on creating content that consumers never see.
So while marketers should rightly pay attention to the issue of campaigns being pulled too early, they need to be much more alert to the issue of creative assets not being launched at all. Gaining visibility into their content production ecosystem to see if assets are being activated, as well as where and how, will allow brands to reexamine the budget being put behind content production and activation.
Ritson’s ultimate conclusion was that brands should save on creating new campaigns and invest that spend into media to achieve the ESOV needed to gain a competitive advantage. Brands can also save by only paying for assets they end up using.
The potential for AI to generate more content, faster, generated huge excitement in the advertising realm in 2023. But as the volume of content increases by 10x to 100x, the landfill of unused content is only set to grow.
The irony? Other types of AI (like CreativeX’s Creative Lifecycle product) can be applied to solve the problem that generative AI is creating. Creative Lifecycle uses machine learning to unlock a full view of where and how core assets are localized and activated, and the extent to which they are reused.
The Creative Lifecycle tool was used to analyze 1,284 core assets associated with 422,272 posts across 50+ markets in 2023. Assuming that the working to non-working media spend ratio is 70:30 for the average F500 company.