Editorial: Let the people decide

For half the year, the Cannes 2004 winners book has been moving progressively down the pile of literature on the area of office floor loosely reserved for periodicals whose production values are too high to chuck out immediately, but whose purpose is too peripheral for 'serious' trade magazines such as Marketing. Last week it met its maker in our end-of-year information detox. This week, I find I have a need for it. It is fortunate, then, that all the necessary information can be found at the Cannes Lions website, and an early new year's resolution not to build paper mountains has been made as a result. As the results of Marketing's 'Adwatch of the year' were being compiled, a question arose. Was there any correlation between what the ad industry thought were great ads, and those that actually registered with a representative sample of the British population? A swift analysis of the year's creative awards, supported by our own feature on which ads made the biggest impression with agency creative directors, proved that there was not. You will not have fallen off your Arne Jacobsen at the revelation. There is still a disparity that everyone would expect, but none of us should accept.

This is not yet another railing against creative awards over those that recognise effectiveness. Nor does it make any overblown claims for the Adwatch research - other than that we have been doing it for 17 years and remain on our own in terms of ranking consumers' ad recall.

We will welcome the company once The Ad Chart arrives in 2005. Viewers of HomeChoice will be able to vote for the ads they love, and those they hate. Advertisers and their agencies can expect a call from parent Video Networks soon, explaining the benefits of studying ad attractiveness and performance in an ondemand environment. The viewer return path that the technology provides, which will be offered by cable operators next year, means that finding the answer to how an ad will be received is taken out of the focus group and into the home at an affordable price.

Of course, attractiveness does not equate to effectiveness any more than recall equals sales. This technology provides just another piece in the jigsaw; for the full picture advertisers must continue to look to research, ad tracking, impacts and actual sales.

Marketing's prediction for 2005, however, is that the arrival of the UK's first video-ondemand advertising channel, small as it may seem, is the start of a transformation in the way ad campaigns are researched and constructed.

As democratisation of the creative process takes hold, the question of whether B&Q or Honda created the best advertising in 2004 will become even less relevant to the real world.

- Adwatch of the Year, page 26

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