TV maintains pre-eminence in adding value to brands | Media Analysis | Business
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A new study from Thinkbox, the trade association for the UK’s commercial broadcasters has shown that despite the plethora of media channels, differing widely in their ability to communicate vital brand signals, TV consistently delivered the strongest signals across all categories and audiences.
Signalling Success Thinkbox 24Sep2020
Moreover, while there has been a huge drift towards social media and video sharing, the survey found that such sites performed significantly below average and that advertising on TV will deliver double the perceived level of quality and popularity than advertising on social media, and that TV was the medium most likely to help brands appear high quality, successful and popular in the eyes of consumers.

Thinkbox’s Signalling Success report was conducted by research agency house51, commissioned by Thinkbox. Its findings are based on a quantitative study of 3,600 people in the UK. It is said to be the first-known UK research dedicated to the behavioural science principle of ‘signalling’. The theory suggests that the perceived cost and scale of an advertising campaign translates to improved brand attributes.

The research methodology saw respondents presented with a description of a fictionalised brand in one of four product categories alongside a brief outline of its launch advertising campaign. Respondents were then asked to answer a series of perception statements in relation to this brand, based solely on its description and proposed launch campaign.

house51 split the perception statements into three groups based on the type of signal communicated: fitness signals related to the perceived brand quality, financial strength of the company and the company’s confidence in their brand; social signals, covering the brand’s perceived fame, popularity and success; trust, covering the perceived degree to which the brand will deliver against the promises it makes within its advertising.

In terms of findings, when participants were told that the ad campaign would run on TV, their perception scores for fitness signals were significantly higher than average. Half of respondents rated brands that advertised on TV as financially strong. The next best performing advertising channels at signalling financial strength were newspapers, magazines and radio, all at 32%. By contrast, brands advertising on video sharing sites and social media consistently scored below average in fitness signals. Only 19% perceived brands advertising on social media as high quality. This compared with video sharing sites at 22% and the top performing medium, TV, at 43%.

The same percentage rated brands advertising on TV as being successful, slightly ahead of magazines at 41%. Social media and video sharing sites were least likely to signal brand success at 32% and 31% respectively. TV, magazine and press advertising all help signal brand popularity. Half of respondents rated TV advertising as demonstrating that lots of people were buying the brand, compared with 24% for social media and 29% for video sharing sites.

Brands advertising on TV, magazines and radio were also perceived as most trusted to deliver on promises made. In all, 30% rated brands advertising on TV as trusted to deliver on promises made, making TV the most trustworthy medium, just ahead of magazines (29%) and radio (28%). Advertising on video sharing sites was least likely to deliver brand trust at 19%.

The perception scores varied across brand categories and age groups, but TV consistently delivered the most powerful signals. Social media and video sharing sites were the advertising channels least likely to drive social or fitness signals in any of the categories tested.

Assessing the data revealed in the Signalling Success study, Thinkbox said these findings showed that the medium is indeed the message. It said that advertisers need to factor in the relative ability of channels to deliver on these crucial signals, which have such a significant effect on brand perception and message communication.

“The ‘as seen on TV’ effect is a widely used phrase to describe the ability of TV to deliver positive brand signals; if you’re advertising on TV, then you must be a high quality, widely used and trustworthy brand,” remarked Matt Hill, research and planning director at Thinkbox. “This simple, but powerful study from house 51 finally provides concrete evidence of the superior signalling ability of TV and offers a huge amount of depth to our understanding of how signalling works across different media channels, categories and audiences.”