What makes ads work is the power of repetition – ads work because they pound names and ideas into our heads over and over again. How else do you explain 21 straight years of Mr Whipple being embarrassed when caught squeezing the Charmin?
Some ads work better than others, of course.
Those who were buying Big Macs in 1975 still know the ingredients 40 years later – “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”
There are many ways to measure ads and each cites mounds of evidence for its superiority. Here are some measurements touted by ad experts.
This a big laugh for those in the know. Almost universally, people recall Progressive’s Flo and Geico’s Gecko. Progressive and Geico each have about a 10% market share. Recalling is not buying.
Neuroscientists know that liking and wanting are controlled by different networks in the brain. We can like things without wanting them, and we can want to buy things without actually liking them – or their advertising. Very often, people tell us they like/love an ad, but don’t remember who it is for or even what the product is. Liking is not buying.
Ad Industry Award Winners
There are hundreds of awards, but none for the ads that do the best job of selling. Like Emmys and Academy Awards, they are self-congratulatory, and go on and on and on.
Most people tell us they like the funny ads.
There is no connection between thinking an ad is funny and sales.
Ads work even when we know they’re lies.
Burger sellers all show pretty pictures like the one at the top in their ads, and inevitably the burger we get is the one at the bottom. Yet we still buy it.
The only measurement that really counts is sales, and most companies rarely bother to even try and connect sales data with ad metrics.