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Advertising Objectives

Two school of thoughts

Role of objectives

Many organizations, including advertising agencies, fail to set realistic promotional objectives. There are several explanations for this behaviour, but one of the common factors is that managers are unable to differentiate between the value of advertising as expenditure and as an investment.

 The setting of objectives is important for 3 main reasons:

  • They provide a means of communication and co-ordination between groups (client and agency working on different parts of a campaign.)
  • These objectives also serve as a guide for decision-making and provide a focus for decisions that follow in the process of developing promotional plans.
  • Objectives provide a benchmark so that relative success or failure of a programme can be determined.

In the matter of advertising objectives, 2 distinct schools of thought emerge:

The Sales School & The Communication School

The Sales school

Many managers see sales as the only meaningful objective for promotional plans. Their view is that the only reason an organization spends money on promotion is to sell its products or service. Therefore, the only meaningful measure of the effectiveness of the promotional spend is in the sales results.

These results can be measured in a number of different ways.

  • Sales turnover is the first and most obvious factor particularly in business-to-business markets.
  • In the consumer markets and the FMCG sector, market share movement is more sensitive barometer of performance. Over the longer term, return on investment is used to check success or failure.

However sales objectives are applicable only in particular situations.

Advertising Objectives :

  • Direct response advertising: where direct action is required by the receiver in response to exposure to message, measurement of sales is justifiable. Thus it attempts to induce quick response from the members of the target audience,

Ads offering some kind of incentive, or ads announcing contests, or encouraging prospects to place orders on phone or through internet. In such cases evaluation is based on sales results.

  • The retail sector: can also use sales measures, and it has been suggested that packaged goods organizations, operating in markets, which are mature with established pricing and distribution structures, can build a databank from which it is possible to isolate the advertising effect through sales.

If a particular celebrity is used for an ad campaign and a particular amount of money is spent on it, by monitoring the amount of sales, it is possible to evaluate the success of the campaign or  success of using the celebrity.

  • Sales Promotion Programs: Many sales promotion programs have sales objectives since their goal is often to generate trial or short-term sales increases

Several companies come up with the scratch and win offers. Britannia at the time of world cup had actually come up with such offers “ Britannia khao, world cup jao”

However, there are certain difficulties associated with using sales as advertising objective:

  • Sales could result from variety of influences, such as the other marketing mix elements, competitor actions and wider environmental effects, like the strength of the currency or the level of interest.
  • Concept of adstock or carryover: the impact of promotional expenditure will not be immediately apparent as the receiver may not enter the market until a later date but the effects of the promotion may still influence the final purchase decision. Thus while measuring effectiveness of campaign, sales results may not show its full impact as there is considerable time lag between audience exposure to ad and actual sales.
  • Sales objectives do little to assist the media planner, copywriters and creative team working on the communication programme.

They would want to know what the company intends to communicate, what is the target audience and what kind of behaviour or response is finally desired on their part.

The communications school

There are many situations where the aim of a communication campaign is to enhance the image or reputation of an organization or product. Sales thus don’t remain the only goal.

Consequently, promotional efforts are seen as communication tasks, such as the creation of awareness or positive attitudes towards the organization or product. To facilitate this process, receivers have to be given relevant information before the appropriate decision processes can develop and purchase activities established as long-run behaviour.

Thus the communication objectives basically seek to move people to action and induce them to purchase the products.

When we see ads, we tend to judge them with their ability to make us laugh or feel engrossed. However, a far more powerful way to look at advertising is by understanding that advertising is a communication task, with specific communication objectives, and therefore we need to understand how communication works.

It is important to understand all the different interactions that target customers have with the product or the company.

Suppose, a person were to buy a coloured television, before making the investment he is likely to look into several aspects like features available, benefits, information with regard to these in the form of articles, etc. thus a marketer would do good if he could understand what influences this person at every stage in the buying process and accordingly formulate his communication plan to ensure more effective allocation of the communication budget.

Thus there are several models that are framed based on this understanding. These models tend to follow a certain sequence in influencing buyer behaviour.

The stages are as follows:

  • Cognitive: This stage basically involves communication that deals with cognition or knowledge. It deals with creating knowledge, perception, ideas
    and awareness in the minds of people. Before people can be moved to action in terms of purchase, they must be informed about the same.
  • Affective: This stage deals with the emotions or the affections. Thus this is the stage that determines whether a person develops positive perception about the product or simply dislikes it. At this stage, interest may further strengthen to take the shape of strong desires or preference.
  • Conative/ behaviour: This mainly deals with the final buyer behaviour. In this case the person on the basis of his preference or dislike for the product would either purchase it or reject the product.

Thus as mentioned earlier, in case a person wants to buy a TV set, he may after having understood his desire, collect different types of information and after having being convinced by the same, finally make the purchase. This pattern may differ depending upon low or high involvement products.

These days, more and more research is being conducted under the premise that consumers develop relationships with their brands and products, which could sustain the notion that a series of stages occur between the point of product awareness and the point of product purchase. The concept of “bottom-line” thinking has essentially passed. Effective advertising should sell, but should also communicate with the consumer on an emotional level. Knowing this, we can say that advertising is a communication task.

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