ROI are probably just three alphabets to some, but for those in the media and advertising space, their lives practically depend on it. At the 2nd Return on Investment (RoI) Seminar organised by ZenithOptimedia in Mumbai, the primary topic of discussion was advocacy as a sought after form of marketing. Steve King, chief executive officer, ZenithOptimedia Worldwide, began by saying that brand experiences follow the pathway from awareness to involvement, active consideration, purchase conversion, consumption/ usage, relationship building and, finally, advocacy. This is the stage where consumers are so in love with the brand experience that they pass on their stories to others. "Therefore, it's all about how we can get advocacy to work in our favour and build loyal, retentive consumers," said King.
Taking over from him was Frank Harrison, strategic resources director, ZenithOptimedia Worldwide, who propagated a simple truth: As consumer options explode, so do the touchpoints to reach them. He went on to present some information deduced by research conducted with the Touchpoints RoI Tracker, ZenithOptimedia's global tool, in 35 countries across 78 clients in 131 categories over the last three years. Harrison identified some key touchpoints and presented the global and Asian (developing market) view on them. With respect to the amount they influence consumer experiences with regard to brands (globally speaking), point of sale or PoS was found to be the biggest influencer (27 per cent), followed by word of mouth (25 per cent), mass media (20 per cent), one-to-one marketing (16 per cent) and sponsorship and events (12 per cent). The corresponding figures for Asia were almost the same: 26 per cent, 23 per cent, 21 per cent, 15 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. "We're not saying that mass media doesn't influence consumers, it's just that advocacy on a personal level is more influential," said Harrison. In other words, the more personal/ experiential the contact with the brand, the more influential it is. A happy point for Asian marketers is that people here are more influenced by marketing than in the UK or the US. "Similarly, mass media here is slightly more influential than in the West, but overall, advocacy works better here too," he said. In mass media, globally, television advertising is considered to be the most influential, followed by Internet search. Abroad, Internet banner advertising is much less influential than Internet search. Correspondingly in Asia, TV rules the mass media roost, followed by press and other media. But here, Internet banner ads are more influential than Internet search. As far as advocacy is concerned, friend and family recommendations reign supreme as the ultimate form of marketing, followed by colleague recommendations, doctor/ specialist recommendations, consumer blogs, etc. Globally, celebrity endorsements don't rank high on the influence parameter, but the situation is the exact opposite in Asia. While on television as a medium of advocacy (if at all), Harrison presented data which shows that the influence of TV ads declines as a person grows older. Therefore, children are the most receptive to TV ads. "Kids never get bored of the same ad!" quipped Harrison. But the reverse graph holds true with respect to advocacy by doctor/ specialist recommendations. That influence parameter increases with age. Interestingly, for advocacy by friends and family recommendations, the graph is pretty much static across all age groups. On experiential marketing as an advocacy touchpoint, Harrison rated in-store sampling, trials and demonstrations as the biggest influencers of opinion, followed by magazine sampling and sampling/ demonstrations at home. While this holds true globally, in Asia, experiential marketing hasn't been so successful and is relatively less influential, admitted Harrison, concluding his speech.