How Much More Effective Are Experiential Campaigns Than Advertising?

/ 4 min read


In today's world, we give much more careful consideration to every investment in brand support. Closely monitored marketing budgets lead to the reassessment of current communication mixes and their revision for future years. This puts pressure on us marketers to find more effective methods in the fight for people's attention. Methods that can significantly increase ROI and give people content that not only interests them, but engages them so strongly they don't want to miss.

Brands are interested in what they can get for their money. 

Normally, people come in contact with 13,000 to 15,000 brands a year, and think about them much less than marketers and traders often admit. For the brand, this means the task of getting into the customer's field of view and leaving a mark on his or her memory is increasingly demanding. A brand needs attention in order to grow its sales numbers. In other words, the more frequent and memorable encounters with the brand are, the more likely people are to buy it. Therefore, in addition to the number of impressions, their quality and frequency are also a decisive factor. As marketers, therefore, we must naturally be interested in what we really gain in this regard.

Television is an expensive tool. If a brand has a budget of less than 5 million crowns, it has practically no chance of creating a high-quality TV spot and broadcasting it so that it has a reasonable, albeit still theoretical, intervention. All GRP counting depends on less than two thousand peoplemeters placed in "average" households, and the assumption that people have their eyes constantly glued to the screen. However, both millennials and generation Z already smoothly switch their attention between 3-5 devices, and easily shield themselves from most advertising. Many older people, too, behave in the same way. It's only been a few days since I visited my parents, where I observed their normal TV-watching behavior. As soon as the advertisement appeared, they growled with dissatisfaction and started flicking through other channels. Only 10 seconds of the first spot in the ad block was given a chance.

What the purchase of GRPs also hides.

Let's say our target audience is 1.2 million people. And we want 80% of this audience to see the spot an average of 5 times – we need at least 5 repetitions for the brand to reach the audience and give them a chance to notice it. We get to a campaign that has 400 GRPs, which corresponds to a value of about 4 million CZK plus the spot's cost of production. Of course, many other factors come into play - such as the deployment of competition in the category and the overall clutter on television, which affect how the campaign is seen. The mix of TV stations, the affinity of the target group, specific time-of-day coefficients, footage, and seasonality all play a role. For simplicity, however, this calculation will suffice.

And now comes the caveat. Let's forget that every TV station divides target groups a little differently by age, so comparing GRPs between them is slightly redundant analytics. For a moment, let's trust the few devices scattered among 0.1% of Czech households and believe that, in the age of Netflix, HBO and other streaming services, we can make 80% of the target group watch a TV show. Will they also watch the spots just as closely during advertising breaks? We know how they handle device multitasking. Will they remember our spot amongst the large number of other spots that are vying for their attention with the same or higher intensity?

Surveys show that, as a result, only 40% of people register a brand and only 40% of those associate a brand with a specific message. That's 84% of costs thrown out of the window (wasted reach) vs. the 16% that work (impact advertising). For 5 million crowns, we bought a few seconds of passive attention from 155 thousand people. The question is, for what percentage of them does this spot lead to further interaction with the brand, or how strongly does the impression remain in their memory? That is why television is justified, especially in the world of brands with rich marketing budgets. Their daily reality of getting into the top of our minds by making a hole in our heads is a game in which small and medium-sized brands have no chance at all. And even the bigger ones have a chance to play much more effectively.

Digital often lacks active content.

Attracting someone to a microsite can be more of a wish than reality. Web banners that work for desktop computers are very annoying or completely absent on mobile phones. The overall trend is also reflected in the rapidly increasing number of installed ad format blockers, the clickability of which normally lies in the tenths of a percent range. In practice, therefore, 99% of the brand's budget disappears without leaving a trace in people's memory structures. Marketers often see only one way out - to massively strengthen large-scale advertising campaigns.

While people have changed their behaviour and shifted their focus to social networks due the amazing opportunities for interaction they provide, many brands still treat social networks like television. Passively, with considerable support from PPC, they broadcast their spots to an audience, although one that is often very carefully divided according to demographic patterns. The result is high numbers of paid views and, at most, several dozen likes, which often correlate with the number of employees in the brand company, and almost zero comments or other interactions with the brand. What's the point of brand intervention without gaining attention?

Our audience feels oversaturated. People know exactly what an ad looks like and what it wants to sell them. As soon as it appears, they switch over or simply ignore it, close it off and keep changing channels. They have interests other than paying attention to brand advertising. They want to be attracted to their surroundings through sights, sounds and experiences. Simultaneously, they are worried about what they might have lost at that moment.

Sales executives are starting to ask if the money is being spent on the right things.

Brands still have to strive to connect with people in order to build a stronger reputation and sell products. Therefore, all communication channels, including advertising in the press, sponsorship and live events, play an important role in brand communication. It's just a matter of how the tactics for their use are grasped and whether brands can make their advertising meaningful. The traditional way, which is utilised by traditional media and marketing and event agencies, has its limits, and thus runs a risk of wasting the budget. If we want to succeed in building brands, we must learn to bypass people's shields and gain the attention and trust of the target audience through what is at the centre of their attention - everything that is active, multisensory and real. And where the target audience wants to be.

The Czech Railways campaign shows that an experiential approach can achieve results that a 3x higher budget would be necessary to achieve with traditional advertising. Plus costs for production of the spot.

That's why experiential marketing tactics have come to the forefront of the attention of many global brands. It brings a means of differentiating yourself from the competition and meaningfully engaging customers in brand creation. Meeting the brand through experience significantly increases sales and improves people's perception of the brand. Eighty-five percent of them are likely to buy, and more than 90% of visitors to the activity gain a positive attitude towards the brand. Marketers who have implemented experiential marketing in their mix report a 32% increase in event attendance, a 56% increase in leads, a 70% increase in click-through rates, and a threefold increase in opened emails. Forty-seven percent of brands therefore report an ROI for experiential activities between 3:1 and 5:1, with 29% of them above 10:1. They gained  higher memorability for spots, longer time spent by people with the brand, and a significant spread of its name among others through word-of-mouth. These are all strong revenue streams.

When properly used, the transformation of storytelling into story making can have a fantastic impact. It creates unique content for the brand, which is what people actually consume in the digital environment. Through this, it gains a massive organic reach, with attention that - unlike paid interventions - gives the brand a clear credit of trust. In short, people will do work that the brand would otherwise have to pay heavily for from media budgets.

It is therefore far more likely (see Trends That Move Brands), that the guests of the campaign or activity will become customers and will be willing to continue working as brand ambassadors or brand advocates. And in today's world, where people demand corporate transparency and increased sustainability, this approach – redefining all the ways people experience a brand in action – is more important than ever.

Write to Jiri

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We are a brand-experience team dedicated to helping marketers transform traditional communication into a more inspiring active brand exploration – experiential campaigns. We do this by engaging customers, staging experiences and rendering authenticity. Innovate. Transforming Brands Into Experiences.

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