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September 07, 2016

We all know the legendary quote attributed to marketing pioneer John Wanamaker: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half."

Marketers are solving this problem by becoming savvier with attribution, but there still is this concept of "branding" that we struggle to turn into numbers. Brand recall is something that can help quantify whether your brand actually sticks with your audience; it refers to consumers' ability to correctly generate and retrieve your brand in their memory.

How Does Brand Recall Work?
Brand recall surveys gather feedback directly from the source: your consumers, as they go about their day-to-day, after being exposed to the ad (or not).

You divide users into two groups: exposed and control. The exposed group sees your ads, while the control group does not. The users then get a survey that asks something along the lines of, "Have you seen this brand on our platform lately?"

Why do you use two groups? Since we live in a world of multiple marketing types (OOH, TV, digital), a user could be exposed to multiple ads from your brand. By comparing the results of the exposed and control groups, you can isolate for these external factors to ensure the result is a true measure of the ads you're testing. If the difference is positive and statistically significant, it's referred to as "lift."

I've Measured—Now How Do I Improve?: 3 Waze to Improve Brand Recall


1. Catch Consumers in the Right Mindset
Brands have 50-page documents where they describe how their brand should be interpreted and used by marketers. We spend a lot of time building our ads (as we should), but we also are affected by where the ad is shown. Programmatic ads give amazing scale, but if you're looking for premium brand placement, native platforms are probably your best bet. Truly native ads have higher brand recall because they fit their environment and their user's mindset.

At Waze, we cater to a 100 percent driving audience. In this context, we know where our users are, where they are going, and how they are getting there. We even know if they're in heavy traffic or rainy weather, and which store locations are closest to them. By considering this context and serving ads relevant to that user, your recall will soar. In a Waze ad effectiveness research study, brand recall saw a 104 percent lift on average with Waze's branded pins.

2. A/B Test and Expand Beyond Brand Awareness Campaigns
A/B testing compares two versions of an asset to determine which variant delivers better performance. The ultimate goal is to determine whether a change could maximize your desired outcome (in this case, a lift in brand recall).

Imagine running into two people on the street. One offers you a flyer advertising the nearest McDonald's, the other a $1 coupon for the latest McBurger in the same area. Which will you grab? One of our advertisers tested the theory. By running two versions of the same creative at once, they learned that an offer with a discount attached to it had a recall three times higher than that same creative without a specific offer.

In a perfect world, you'd conjure up that powerful headline, craft some persuasive copy, layer on some drool-worthy images, and voila—everyone would remember your brand, and your ads would be retired into the digital marketing hall of fame. Since we have yet to discover the magic formula, there still exists continual room for improvement. Embrace the beauty of A/B testing, and don't forget to start with a baseline so you can benchmark against yourself.

3. Be Consistent, Be Persistent
Last but not least, remember that building brand awareness is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. The average person must be exposed to a message seven to 15 times before acting on it. Consider these following brand slogans:

Just Do It, 1988 (Branding Strategy Insider)

Got Milk?, 1993–2014 (Ad Age)

I'm Lovin' It, 2003 (Rolling Stone)

What do all these campaigns have in common? Consistency and persistence. Once your marketing message has been crafted, carry it forward through all media platforms. Wherever consumers see your brand, make sure they see your message, and make sure they see it often. Exposure will increase conversions over time, too.

A recent study with one of our major advertisers showed that in-store navigations increased alongside frequency. Consumers who were exposed to an ad 12 times demonstrated a 60 percent higher lift in navigations than those who only saw the ad twice. Those who saw the ad 25 times showed an additional 17 percent higher lift ... and that was just within the Waze app, using a controlled study.

At the end of the day, you want your brand to be top-of-mind when users are in a purchase moment, and that's when you'll see an impact on your conversions and bottom line. By measuring brand recall, you can begin to understand whether your brand is seen and remembered by users exposed to your ads, optimize your creative by testing different versions, and identify creative strategies that work for your audience. Best case scenario, you improve brand recall and awareness. Worst case scenario, you learn something new about your audience. Let's make John Wanamaker proud, and limit the advertising dollars that go to waste!
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