Friday, May 22, 2015

aberrant salience meets rosser reeves uptown

The term 'salience' - in marketing speak - refers to the likelihood that a particular brand will ‘come to mind’ easily in buying situations. 

In How Brands Grow, Professor Sharp uses the term to describe the idea of ‘mental availability’.

The easier a brand is to remember, in more buying situations, for more potential buyers, then the higher the overall mental ‘availability’ of the brand, ergo the more likelihood that the most salient brand will be bought.

Salience is also widely used in cognitive science, to describe the attention grabbing quality of things in general.

This is where ad people often get slightly confused.
While a campaign may be salient in the cognitive sense – its content is eye catching or entertaining for example – its effectiveness as a branding vehicle depends of how easily it is for those who view or interact will 'remember' which brand it was at an appropriate buying opportunity.

This requires subconscious (and conscious) brand cues throughout, fuelling the content-addressable memoryBranded neuro-richness, if you prefer.

Therefore ad salience and brand salience are two halves of the job.

Much of the so-called branded content out there seems to fail on these points.

It’s neither ad salient (i.e. brand content that is pitched as ‘comic’ is nowhere near as funny as regular unbranded comedy therefore does not stand-out) nor is it brand salient (assuming one has the mettle to stick it out through five or six minutes of sub standard 'entertainment' the branding itself may fleetingly appear only on the end frame).

Medical conditions such as psychosis and schizophrenia are also now widely believed to involve, at least in part, a problem with the mind’s regulation of salience.

In states of psychosis ordinary or commonplace things appear more important or alarming than they should.

In extreme cases this can take the form of delusions or hallucinations.
More than being mistaken or perhaps mild confusion they can include disturbing states such as believing that your thoughts are being manipulated by aliens, somehow external forces are controlling your actions, or believing that people want to engage in meaningful relationships with brands.

This idea, ‘Psychosis as a state of aberrant salience’ was popularised by the psychiatrist Shitij Kapur.

Kapur’s Aberrant Salience Theory connects delusions and hallucinations to differences in dopamine function.

He argues that dopamine is crucial in highlighting which things are ‘motivationally important’, how they stand out from each other.

Dopamine plays a critical role in the function of the central nervous system, and is also linked with the brain's complex system of motivation and reward.

Dopamine release can be artificially stimulated through the use of drugs like MDMA (Ecstacy), whereas instances where dopamine release would naturally occur include during sex, or when hugging your child, or when a Twitter campaign delivers a 1500% ROI.

Advertising’s adaptation of Aberrant Salience theory is known as the Rosser Reeves Fallacy.

Reeves was one of the most famous ad men of the 50s, and also inventor of the ‘unique selling proposition’.

We can hang him for that one in another post, for this one we want to focus on his equally flawed method for measuring ad effectiveness

In simple terms Reeves method involved taking a sample of your target customer, show them your advertising and see how many of them recognise it.

Compare scores for yay vs nay and there’s your effect.

The Reeves theory is grabbing the wrong end of the stick, the problem is that people are far more likely to notice and remember advertising for the brands they use and like.

And a brand's Facebook fans or social media following tend also to be heavier buyers.
Of course they are, that's why they become fans in the first place.
They become fans of brands that they already know, already like and already use.

As Les Binet and Sarah Carter explain in their Mythbuster series:

‘These new digital incarnations of the Rosser Reeves Fallacy are particularly dangerous. Because they focus on heavy buyers, they lead to a flawed emphasis on loyalty over penetration, targeting over reach, and price promotion over brand building – all strategies proven to be less profitable’.

Just this week the annual Sensis SocialMedia Report asserts:

‘Marketers are failing to give consumers what they want on social media after mistakenly believing the public are keen to have a two-way conversation with their brand.’

All good so far.

84% of marketers are looking to open a conversation, [but] most punters want discounts (45%), give-aways (35%) and coupons (30%).

Exactly, customers don’t want to engage they just want to get the brands and products they already like and use, for cheaper.

Except, the Sensis report seems to indicate that this is what they should be given.

‘[its] important for brands to take a softly, softly approach when first building an audience base before moving to a more sales-driven message. People are engaging with businesses and once they have established a relationship they are absolutely open to…offers and incentives.’

Aberrant Salience Meets Rosser Reeves Uptown.

A problem with the mind’s regulation of salience.
States of psychosis in which the wrong things appear important.

Like the focus on heavy buyers,
The flawed emphasis on loyalty over penetration,
Tight targeting over broad reach,
And price promotion over brand building.

All strategies proven to be less profitable.
And yet still widely practiced and recommended.

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