Corporate communications and marketing

Ad recall: How to make your marketing more memorable

September 2021 6 min read Written by Papirfly

Have you ever mentioned a TV advert from the past to a friend and been met with blank stares? That’s because what we remember and interact with in advertising varies from person to person. What one person remembers seeing, another may have brushed over. As brands may use several messages on a single audience, they need to understand whether they made an impact and which ones were memorable – if at all.

Using ad recall, brands can gauge a better understanding of their marketing and its effectiveness. Let’s explore it in more detail...

What is ad recall?

Ad recall is a metric used for advertising and marketing campaigns where brands can find out the impact of campaign messaging on their chosen target audience. The metric has been used in physical focus groups in the past, where participants are physically shown the ad and asked to respond to questions about it.

Today, ad recall is used in a much less traditional sense (though outdoor ad recall was up 51% during lockdown). Channels such as Facebook and YouTube heavily push ‘ad recall’ surveys, where the user is disrupted in their feed or on a video and asked about what they have seen in relation to an ad for a particular product or service. Usually, the brand can use this data to decide whether the advert:

  • Had the effect it was hoping for
  • Had a powerful enough creative
  • Is being promoted on the right channel 

How is ad recall measured? 

At its most basic level, you could argue that ad recall is measured by the percentage of people who saw or interacted with your brand. But that data alone isn’t enough to make any informed decisions. Ultimately, the way it’s calculated will depend on the method used. Many big traditional media placement agencies will run physical ad recall groups, or approach people on the street. But ad recall is mostly used nowadays on Facebook and YouTube.

The way these two tech giants measure the effectiveness of ads differs. Here’s a short summary of each: 

How Facebook measures ad recall

Facebook uses an estimated recall rate to calculate how memorable your adverts are. If engagement and views are your primary objective, this data will help you determine if your campaign has been successful within the confines of your goal.

A tool called the estimated ad recall lift metric will tell advertisers how many people they can expect to remember their advert if they were questioned within 48 hours of seeing it. This estimate is calculated based on the number of people you reach with your ads and how likely the person is to recall what they saw. Facebook then recalibrates this estimate by introducing ad recall lift surveys.

You may be wondering how Facebook could possibly estimate how likely an individual is to recall what they see. Well they have a lot of data to help them. Their algorithm considers likely thousands of factors, but could be calculated based on a scoring system across items such as:

  • Does the user like or interact with your business page already? 
  • Does the user regularly interact with adverts? 
  • How often does the user spend on Facebook every day?
  • Is the user less likely to interact with content if it is sponsored? 

As previously mentioned, this estimate is further strengthened by running polls to a random selection of users. 

How YouTube measures ad recall

While Facebook and YouTube have distinct algorithms for measuring ad recall, how they do it is similar. YouTube will also calculate a number of metrics that would assess a user’s consideration, purchase intent and awareness. Their use of surveys targets two particular groups: one who hasn’t been served the advert and one who has. They look at the differences between these answers to determine whether your ad was memorable.

YouTube also has a tool called Brand Lift which will go further than traditional ad recall metrics. They can monitor organic searches of your brand on Google and YouTube to see whether your campaign is making waves elsewhere. They perform this test on two control groups once again – one that hasn’t seen the ad and one that has. From this data, they’re able to compare the behaviour of both groups.

If you’re interested in YouTube’s Brand Lift, it’s worth noting that the service is only available for specific types of video campaigns.   

What factors influence how a user interacts with your advert

There are many ways a person’s response to your advert can be influenced. Some of them are tangible and within your control, others aren’t possible to change.

Factors within your control…

  • Where they see the advert
  • The advert creative and messaging
  • The call-to-action and the incentive to interact with it
  • How much the advert stands out on their feed/within a video/on the street
  • The creative’s readability across different formats and devices 

Factors (sometimes) outside of your control…

  • Whether they already have a relationship with the brand 
  • If they have an emotional connection to the brand 
  • If the brand colours used in the advert are a preference of theirs
  • Whether a friend or family member has mentioned the brand to them before
  • If they have read reviews on your product or service before
  • If they have made an in-store purchase with you before
  • Whether they have had a bad experience with your brand in the past 

Steps you can take to improve your recall rate in future

#1 Ensure your adverts are designed to be viewed well on desktop, mobile and tablets. Research has shown that people are twice as likely to recall your ad if they have seen it on multiple devices. 

#2 Before your advert goes live, ensure you set it up in situ as a preview – then view it across multiple devices. This will give you a better understanding of how the viewer will see it outside of a generic artboard or video editor. Likewise with outdoor or printed advertising, mockup a to-scale example of how this might look. For large formats such as billboards, you can do this on a smaller scale, or print off a few letters and hold them at a distance.

#3 Test multiple messages and different types of creatives where you can. Some people respond better to video, others to text or picture-based adverts. 

#4 Ensure your advert stands out. If it’s a static message, consider whether you could say it in a different way or whether the design is lacking something. If it’s a video, experiment with different lengths and ensure the first few seconds are the most engaging. 

#5 Don’t deviate off-brand. It can be tempting to stand out by doing something wholly unlike your brand, but this could end up doing more harm than good. If you are considering an alternative route, consider running a small focus group to test the water first. 

Ad recall is one of the hardest metrics to measure…

But as algorithms learn, the better the digital ad recall effectiveness will be. Ultimately if your campaign spans many channels and formats, the best way to make sure your advert is memorable is to embrace it at every touchpoint. Consider your email marketing, website banners, in-store promotions – if you’re pushing a message heavily, it needs to be seen across the board.

If you’re looking for an easy way to adapt digital and print creatives, BAM by Papirfly™ allows anyone to create new assets and make changes quickly, without professional support and while remaining on brand.

by Papirfly

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