Ask the iSpot Expert: Benchmarking Video Creative Effectiveness

In our “Ask the iSpot Expert” blog series, one of our very own at iSpot walks us through their area of expertise in TV and video ad measurement. 

Benchmarking has long been the norm (pun intended) in digital marketing. However, that hasn’t been the case for TV advertising until recently. With real-time, syndicated cross-platform TV ad data, iSpot is in a unique position to help marketers assess creative and business impact with relevant benchmarks, from concept to airings to conversion. 

Susie Graham, VP of Product at iSpot, explains the significance of benchmarking video creative effectiveness when assessing TV ad performance. Susie joined Ace Metrix (an iSpot company) in 2012 and landed in product in 2015, where she works closely with creative effectiveness benchmarks across metrics and most recently helped develop Purchase Intent and Brand Recognition norms. Her prior experience in the media agency world enlightened her to the lack of benchmarking data available to further assess creative effectiveness and optimize media buys for the campaigns she worked on. This realization set her off on a new mission to bring the benchmarking and analytics of the digital ad world to TV. 

Q: What’s the advantage of normative data when marketers are only assessing their own ad performance?

A: Understanding the potential impact of your ad before it goes live is the first step in creating a highly optimized campaign. If you know for instance, your ad stands out from the crowd, or even more importantly, that it isn’t performing as you expected, it’s really going to lead to better decision making and results. 

It comes down to the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know. Measuring in a vacuum without context means there will be blindspots in how your ad is performing once it’s live. You want to mitigate risk even when that risk might be low level, like not putting the right creative in front of the right audience.

Ultimately, benchmarking creative performance can help advertisers forecast what to expect well in advance before their campaign launches.

Q: How does benchmarking enhance video ad measurement insights?

A: One of our sayings is that you can only know how good your ad is when you know how it compares to everyone else’s. It’s really important to assess how an ad is going to perform when it’s out in the marketplace among ads that are actually running at the same time. A pod of commercials on TV has promotions from all different industries, and you need to make sure that your message is breaking through the clutter.

Beyond overall benchmarks, assessing performance against industry or category-specific norms is best practice.  A creative assessment score without any relative context would be extremely misleading. Say you’re a pizza advertiser. Your product is appealing to the masses and so ads generally score really high above the all-industry norm. If your latest ad beats the recent all-industry average, you might think your ad stands out all around. However, benchmarking against the pizza-category norm could reveal your ad is actually underperforming compared to competitors’ ads. 

Meanwhile, bank ads generally have less appeal and tend to score lower in our creative assessment platform, so bank advertisers especially need to understand their performance relative to their category. This way, they get a better idea of whether or not they’ve created something different that will really resonate with consumers.

Q: In addition to category norms, what other context is valuable when benchmarking video creative effectiveness?

A: Context isn’t just limited to your own industry or category. It can be based on virtually anything that is happening in the world of TV. For instance, we measured an increase in scores overall during COVID, even though some of those ads were starting to sound a lot alike. There was an extremely high level of relevance for consumers, and overall people were scoring COVID-minded ads above the norms we’d seen across industries before the pandemic broke out. Understanding that context and benchmarking creative performance before an ad launches is really, really key for the advertisers we work with.

There’s also consumer benchmarking across demographic, psychographic and behavioral segments. Different audiences resonate with different brands, categories and industries. Having normative data for consumer segments combined with vertical norms provides much more robust and actionable insights for marketers. 

Q: In addition to benchmarking, why should brands care about the performance of other in-market ads?

A: It’s important for brands to keep a pulse on advertising trends in their category and across industries. The TV and video marketplace is extremely fast paced, with new entrants and new ideas constantly pushing creative boundaries. Having real-time insight into what works with consumers, and — in my opinion, more importantly — what doesn’t, better informs strategy.

Q: How can brands leverage competitive insights to improve video ad creative strategy?

A: It’s important for brands to keep a pulse on advertising trends in their category and across industries. The TV and video marketplace is extremely fast paced, with new entrants and new ideas constantly pushing creative boundaries. Having real-time insight into what works with consumers, and — in my opinion, more importantly — what doesn’t, better informs strategy.

One of the stages where competitive advertising context is most powerful is when brands are developing the creative brief. Marketers can optimize their campaigns from the very beginning, potentially saving them from wasting time and money on an ad that just isn’t going to stand out or deliver on objectives.

Do you know how your pre-market and in-market video ad creative stacks up against the competition? Schedule a demo to find out. And look out for our upcoming Q1 report for more insight into TV and video advertising trends, and industry-specific benchmarks that span creative and business impact.


About the Author

Sammi Scharninghausen is a Marketing Manager at iSpot.tv. She covers brand impact, TV advertising trends and industry events. For questions and inquiries, please contact marketing@ispot.tv.