Neuro research shows power of news media context for brands in COVID-19 climate

IAB Australia commissioned research shows how news media attributes of timeliness, trustworthiness and connectedness can rub off of brands advertising in these environments

Increasing your brand’s share of voice in news media and taking advantage of positive attributes these environments provide not only makes your advertising more effective, it’s likely to weaken your competitor’s position too.

That’s one of the key findings from new research commissioned by IAB Australia and undertaken by neuro science research group, Neuro-Insight. The work looked to explore the impact of the current news media environment in the challenging COVID-19 crisis and what it means for brands advertising in these spaces.

The research was prompted by recent and alarming reports of brands pulling advertising out of news media channels as they strive to provide timely, valuable and useful reporting around the COVID-19 crisis. While consumption of these media sources has significantly increased in this time of crisis, news media experienced significant drops in advertising dollars as brands pulled back, re-evaluated and pivoted advertising in response to COVID-19 conditions.

Read more: How COVID-19 is impacting digital ad spend

IAB: Helping brands market through COVID-19

The latest research from Neuro-Insight found marketers could in fact benefit from the transferred equity and goodwill sitting within news media environments. In other words, these environments can do some of the heavy lifting for advertising messaging by supplying ready-made attributes in the minds of consumers.

The study of more than 900 Australian assessed three types of news content: Hard breaking news on COVID-19, COVID-related updates and lifestyle content linked to current lockdown situation. Six attributes were explored: Connected, informative, publicly spirited, trustworthy, timely and quality. In news media, the three specific attributes benefitting brands were timeliness, connection and trust.

In a webinar to discuss the findings, Neuro-Insight CEO, Peter Pynta, said former neural research showed a media environment boasting an attribute of certain strength is much more likely to share that attribute with an advertiser seen in that environment. The latest research showed ‘timely’ was the leading attribute in a hard news environment.

“What this says is anything with sense of urgency, and an immediate call to action, would benefit from being coloured by that attribute in a hard news environment,” Pynta said.  

When it comes to related or secondary news content that is less confronting, key attributes of timely and trustworthy are dominant.

“Now more than ever, as we hear there’s fake news everywhere, wonder who and what we can trust, and the power of premium content, trustworthiness now and going forward is an incredibly powerful construct,” Pynta commented. “An advertiser in that environment with related news would benefit from associations and close proximity to attributes such as trustworthy and timely.”

In the lifestyle news category, three strong attributes were identified: Timely, trustworthy and connected.

Off the back of this, Pynta said he and the IAB “were very confident these attributes would have a strong impact and wash over the advertising itself.” By using creative that taps into the context of timely, for instance, “you can stack and shorten the odds in your favour”, he said.

“This is profoundly important and goes a long way to explaining why advertising works in a recession both short and long-term,” Pynta continued.

What’s more, if you’re associated with an attribute in a media environment as an advertiser, you’re more likely to weaken and suppress your competitor’s attributes.

“When your advertising works, goes well and you benefit from these media environments, you are weakening and suppressing your competitor’s same attribute,” Pynta claimed. “This is about differentiation, standing out and colouring your message the way you want.”  

Pynta summed up with four key steps: Creative that is distinctively yours; having well-branded and appropriately branded advertising; being well-tuned to the creative and media context you’re operating in; and an excess share of voice to get ahead of competitors.

Pynta said it’s been frustrating seeing the debate as to whether brands should or shouldn’t advertising in news media environments “running wild” with little data available to inform the debate.

“We know this won’t fix COVID-related anxiety for advertisers, but our frustration came from that question of where the evidence is to help manage the debate. It’s about balance,” he said.

“You’d have to argue there is a greater risk in not doing anything than there is in getting out there, with all the evidence, data and right decision-making tools you can bring to bear, to ensure you de-risk your investment, Yes you tune your creative appropriately… but I see a greater risk in going dark then trying to manage your way into an appropriate way to contextually say what you want to say.”

For IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy, this fresh exploration of the power of context is also vital given changes in third-party cookies and increased privacy regulation around the world.

“The importance and value of a thriving credible news environment is coming through loud and clear with increased audience numbers and engagement,” she continued. “Last month, we called on marketers to stop blocking advertising on essential news sites and we are now delivering research that provides marketers with proof that ads within news environments not only connect with engaged audiences, it allows them to leverage the brand assets of the media environment as well.

“Transferred equity of timeliness, connection and trust would be assets many brands would be seeking. This research shows that investing in news environments is not only good for society it is a smart brand investment.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

 

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