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Ten Years Later, “The Long and Short of It” Research Still Rings True Today


In 2007, two British marketing experts—Les Binet, Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, and Peter Field, marketing consultant for the International Practitioners of Advertising—released a landmark study to better explain the effectiveness of advertising during a time in the industry being led by the burgeoning digital media marketplace. “Marketing in the Era of Accountability” was groundbreaking research that established the difference between emotional and rational campaigns and their impact on marketing effectiveness. Binet and Field followed up that work with an even more in-depth study in 2013 that analyzed almost 1,000 advertising effectiveness case studies spanning 700 brands and over 30 years of data. The result was their seminal work, “The Long and Short of It: Balancing the Short and Long-Term Effects of Marketing.”

Their book used a wealth of data to support a premise that many marketers have long held: the key to advertising effectiveness is a balance of short-term (promotional) and longer-term (brand) marketing efforts. In fact, Rain the Growth Agency’s entire agency positioning is based on that belief, something we call Transactional Brand Building. Binet and Field took the premise one step further, quantifying the appropriate mix of each and showing that marketers who invest 60% of their efforts in brand marketing and 40% in activation delivered the best long-term sales growth. Skeptics might argue that the digital media landscape wasn’t as ubiquitous or advanced ten years ago as it is today, but Binet and Field published updates in 2017 and 2018 and determined that the “sweet spot” had increased to 62% brand and 38% promotion.

Delivering Lasting Emotional Impact

One of the interesting findings of the book (along with the follow-up reports) was the importance of television. In all the cases of proven ad effectiveness, the marketers integrated linear TV to some degree, because it delivers emotional impact. As Binet wrote, “In the long run, emotion is where the big profits lie…” because they impact both consumers’ willingness to purchase and the price they are willing to pay. The research also showed that the impact of emotional advertising lasted longer, while the impact of promotional, or rational, advertising was fleeting.

Practicing successful Transactional Brand Building also requires patience. While promotional advertising’s impact is short-lived, it is also more immediate. Emotional advertising takes time to influence behavior and perception, but once it does, it delivers longer-term impact that makes promotional marketing more effective. It also requires a holistic view of measurement. The authors warn of an over-reliance on short-term metrics, since they don’t predict long-term success.

Just as your marketing should contain a mix of brand and promotional media and messaging, your measurement plan should include a mix of transaction and brand health data. We recommend optimizing your promotional campaigns to deliver optimal sales while complementing that with long-term brand health metrics like consideration and favorability.

I hope that Binet and Field are proud to know that their research remains as relevant today as it was a decade ago, and that here at Rain the Growth Agency we remain staunch defenders of “The Long and the Short of It” with our Transactional Brand Building approach.

This article is featured in Media Impact Report No. 52. View the full report here.