Kevin Kells, the web giant's national industry director-consumer packaged goods, shared a study conducted with Harris Interactive yesterday at the Advertising Research Foundation's Re:Think Conference in New York that looked at how the location of an ad affects how consumers react to it.
The study's aim was to compare the engagement and likeability of three 30-second commercials when seen on TV, embedded on the web or on YouTube. The same methodology was used to measure each commercial. The test, conducted in 16 malls nationwide last June, asked the viewers to rate ads on each screen based on three criteria -- brand recall, likeability and purchase intent.
Testing consumer comfort
Mr. Kells said the study was designed to show consumers' comfort with watching video online, using metrics package-goods marketers were already familiar with. "If you think about YouTube and the sheer scale of it, coupled with what News Corp. and NBC Universal are doing now [with Hulu.com], it's not a frustrating experience to watch a video online anymore," he said.
The study comprised commercials for three salty snack, beverage and skin-care brands, and yielded fairly divergent results across each category. The beverage ad, for example, was found to be most-liked when seen on a TV, while the salty-snack ad was favored on YouTube. The skin-care ad fared best when embedded in web content. Brand recall was even higher online vs. TV. The beverage ad had the highest recall across all three formats, scoring 100% recall on YouTube and web-embedding vs. 96% on TV. Salty snacks scored 87% recall on YouTube, 85% on the web and a mere 80% on TV.
No big budget shifts -- yet
But don't expect any web budgets to shift dramatically just yet. Mr. Kells said the study was intended to serve as more of a "step of faith" rather than a leap of faith for package-goods marketers still hesitant to move a significant share of ad dollars online. "It disabuses the notion that online is only good for direct-response," he said. "This is based on the simple hypothesis that brand marketers are much better served by showing video messaging on a TV screen than online."
Additionally, the distribution model of marketing brands online has been a source of equal frustration and confusion for the package-goods companies. Mr. Kells sees that improving as more thorough analysis is done at the end of a campaign.
"When you go digital, you're reconstructing the profit model," Mr. Kells said. "The effectiveness of driving people to actually do something becomes the main metric. But it's a very simple test. If you're got something that does really well, here's some data to show how that affects sales."