Global Creative Domain Lead
Insights Division, Kantar
Content creation: getting to great in Australia
Australia has one of the world’s most advanced media environments, with share of digital spend eclipsed only by China, the UK, Denmark and Sweden. GroupM estimates that $200 billion will be spent globally on digital media this year and almost $6.8 billion in Australia, accounting for 54% of all media spend.
Although digital spend is growing, content is missing the mark. Forty-six per cent of Australians say that they have installed an ad blocker (55% among Generation Z) or changed settings to avoid ads. Fifty-five per cent of Australians also say they skip ads whenever they can.
So, why do people block and skip ads? It’s partly because they are far less open to seeing advertising in digital media than in traditional media. TV ads are widely accepted, and outdoor and cinema ads are quite liked. But people feel online display ads and video are an intrusion into their personal space, and a waste of data. Sixty-nine per cent of Australians think ads are more intrusive now than they were three years ago. People also block and skip ads because they don’t think the content they are seeing is good.
Brands investing in digital should work harder to create content that people like. Global BrandZ analysis shows that, over a nine-year period, the brands that have grown the most are those that are perceived to be meaningfully different and to have great advertising. Australian brands experiencing growth challenges – particularly those facing the dual challenge of the retailer duopoly and the threat of Amazon – should make developing strong content a priority.
What makes an Australian think a brand’s advertising is great?
A start might be to focus less on what you must sell and more on creating a lasting impression. A recent study from Kantar Millward Brown looked at and coded a typical week’s content in TV, pre-roll and social around the world. The results showed that Australian ads has some of the world’s most explicit product communication. Sixty-nine per cent of TV ads, 73% of pre-roll, and 75% of social content focused on delivering functional messaging, likely driven by the quest for short-term sales.
Learning from cognitive science, backed up by validation of Kantar Millward Brown’s Link ad testing database shows that people make purchase decisions based on instant meaning, or the impressions a brand has built over time – not based on advertising messages. The same learning shows that creative engagement is a better predictor of sales.
Australian brands have an opportunity to build meaningful difference – and to break down people’s mental barriers to digital content. Brands can do this by focusing less on crafting the perfect message (what to say) and more on delivering the message (how it is said). Content that people can actively like builds emotional meaningful difference that predisposes them towards the brand in future decision windows.
One tactic used by many successful global brands that is seen less in Australia is the development of a strong creative platform – an overarching idea that is so big that it can be used for multiple campaigns, across channels and over time. This is often built around a brand purpose or manifesto. The empowerment in Commonwealth Bank’s ‘Can’ campaign has helped to maintain the brand’s perceptions of having great advertising, which is a contributing factor to the brand’s perceived difference.
In today’s multichannel, agile environments, it’s been argued that the ‘big idea’ is too rigid and leads to creative handcuffs. However, time and time again we see that brands that stick with a creative platform over time have strong and consistent associations and can deliver agile content with ease.
Storytelling is another tactic used by successful global brands in ads to create lasting impressions. Stories in advertising are a fabulous way to drive consumer engagement, land lasting memories and provoke powerful emotional responses.
Kantar Millward Brown’s study observed that only a quarter of Australian content employed storytelling as a technique. Australians can be more literal in their take-out of advertising than some of their global counterparts, so the stories shouldn’t be too complex. But if you think of some of the most memorable and iconic Australian ads, most of them are based on a story, so they are worth considering.
To give digital content the greatest chance of succeeding, customization to channel and platform is important. People don’t just want to see TVCs on their mobile phones: they have an expectation that content will be tailored to when and where they will see them. Typically, but not always, this means that it’s shorter, but there are also examples of where the same length of content works, albeit with a different edit that optimises performance for the platform on which it’s appearing.
The benefits of getting to great content are obvious; creating it is harder. Brands that focus on what people want when they are consuming media, and work out a clear role for the brand within their content, will pay dividends in terms of driving brand growth.