Survey Benchmarks are Only the Beginning

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marker embedded in a large rock in front of the Noroton Volunteer Fire Department, Darien, Connecticut.

How Customization Adds Value to a Brand Lift Study       

In civil engineering surveys, benchmarks (like the one above) provide a reference point from which other measurements can be taken. These are often quite literally set in stone because their value derives from being a static, unchanging point of comparison.

Market research surveys play by a somewhat different set of rules. Benchmarks still offer points of reference, but not every question needs to be compared to an established norm to have value. We’ve been lucky enough to have been doing a lot of Brand Lift Studies for podcasts over the past five years, and have found this to be doubly true when dealing with a young medium like podcasting, where publishing and advertising best practices are still being forged by those on the front lines.

A standardized set of benchmarked questions can help; they answer the natural question of “are these numbers good?” And, by asking those same questions again and again, the benchmarks themselves become more robust. The risk comes with being so focused on benchmarks that you miss out on new learning that you could get by customizing the study.

Studies that stick with a standard set of questions may make the researcher’s job easier, but they can do clients a disservice for several reasons:

Every campaign is different

  • Is the goal of the campaign to build brand awareness? Increase purchase consideration? Change a specific perception about the brand? These all use a different set of questions.

Every client is different

  • The insights that are going to be most relevant to a CPG brand are going to be different from those of an auto maker and even within a single product category, the questions needed may not be the same. Is the product in a crowded, highly competitive category, or a relatively new category with few alternatives? Is the brand already a household name, or is top-of-mind awareness the priority?

Consumers are different

  • Older consumers can be more brand-loyal, while younger ones may be more malleable, showing greater brand lift. Travel brands may have different messages for younger, experience-seeking consumers than for new parents or retirees, and need to take a specific approach to testing those messages

Open-ended questions deliver value that can’t be benchmarked

  • Getting a listener’s impressions in their own words can open the window to fresh insights you may never have anticipated. Questions around brand fit are an example of this; in a study we just conducted, several listeners drew—without prompting— a connection between the client’s brand ‘personality’ and the ideal genre of podcasts for their ads,

Branded podcasts require a unique approach

  • Branded podcasts are a different beast altogether, as the content and the marketing are one and the same. Some general benchmarks are useful here (appeal of the content for one) but the marketing goals are going to be so different between any two brands that a one-size-fits-all approach would be limiting.

What has worked for legacy media may not work for podcasts

  • Podcast advertising is still in its infancy compared to legacy media, and podcast listeners have different expectations of advertising than what they would consume on radio or television. Comparing yourself to benchmarks set by those who came before can be misleading.

As you work with your research partner to build a Brand Lift Study for podcasts, we suggest starting with a few questions where you have a point of comparison to past studies, then use the specific campaign goals to customize the study from there.  In the past, we’ve found that the kinds of insights that provide “a-ha!” moments for our clients often come from those questions that were unique to their survey.

Benchmarks can be useful, but remember that if you’re advertising in podcasts, you’re one of the companies setting the benchmarks for success. By all means use benchmarks as point of reference, but don’t let them get in the way of innovation or asking the questions that provide the understanding you need to use the medium most effectively. you

For more information on how you can set yourself up for a successful Brand Lift Study, go directly to our Brand Lift Help page. You’ll access our free video series on Brand Lift Studies for podcasts, radio and audio streaming. And you’ll get a Brand Lift Brief template, a checklist that will help you customize the Brand Lift Study to meet your needs.