ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) is the digital equivalent of ROI. Tom Roach speaking on the On Strategy Showcase podcast said "Many marketers are incentivised on ROAS...the problem here is that if somebody has had an opportunity to see an ad over a 28-day period and go on to buy the product then Google and Facebook will take the credit ."
Focusing too much on ROAS can mean over targeting existing buyers, buyers who were going to buy anyway, or even on their way to buy the produce so you get a skewed picture of what's working, and a very inaccurate view of what is actually influencing purchasing decisions.
Big Cat marketing guru Aaron Wells has expertly summarised this episode in his blog.
Binet and Field have been quoted as saying that the optimal split of marketing spend is 60:40 in favour of long-term brand building. Claire Strickett, however, says this ratio is an average, and oversimplification of the huge differences in brand size and strength; market and category conditions, competitor activity, business stage and life cycle, price and the complexity of purchase decision.
Other factors affecting marketing budgets and allocation:
- Most start-ups need sales and correctly initially focus on sales activation through digital advertising
- Big brands have big marketing budgets and can invest in mass marketing such as TV advertising, which is highly effective at brand building, driving market share and, in turn, profit
- Social media platforms like Instagram enable both brand building 'emotional' advertising with the option to Shop for a product
- Marketing is still primarily a numbers game. Reach and market penetration, not loyalty has the biggest impact on growth
- Creativity is in second place as the biggest multiplier of campaign effectiveness.
This is a hot topic, but it's not a new one.
Fergus O'Carroll's was discussing the 60:40 rule in the On Strategy Showcase podcast episode 2 in November 2022 but the debate started back in 2007 when Binet and Field published Marketing in an Era of Accountability was published followed The Long and Short of It in 2013.
For me, the latter was a real turning point in my understanding of how marketing really works. The report was based on data from the IPA databank, which recorded 30 years of the world's most successful brands and campaigns.
My five key takeaways from The Long and Short of it are:
- Investing in your brand means you can charge more of a premium for your product
- Long-term, brand-building marketing activity has short-term effects but the opposite is not true (short-term‘ sales activation’ tactics do not have long-term brand or activation effects)
- A campaign should be built around a creative idea that can accommodate brand and activation elements
- The optimal balance of brand and activation is around 60:40, although this was later updated in 2018 in Effectiveness in Context and now contains more nuanced recommendations
- Emotional campaigns that are highly creative and generate powerful fame/buzz effects produce considerably more powerful long-term business effects than rational campaigns