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This week Tom Fishburne, the Marketoonist, published a typically brilliant cartoon summing up one of the major dilemmas for marketers today.

People want to do long-term, brand-building marketing. They know it’s more effective. But in the worst-case scenario, those good intentions can pave the road to your P45.

Fishburne’s cartoon captures an uncomfortable truth. We know that a balance of brand-building and activation is good for brands, and we know our focus should be on creating long-term brands. The keystone evidence, collected by Les Binet and Peter Field in their classic The Long And The Short Of It, is unequivocal about that

But all the pressures are in the other direction. Quarterly business results create share price pressure which leads to a search for short-term solutions. Last month, no less an authority than Warren Buffett became the latest business figure to speak out against short-termism at the top level in companies. The pendulum wants to swing back. But the forces preventing it are very strong.

Marketers don’t need more lectures about the importance of long-term thinking. They need solutions which help them get past the barriers to incorporating it.

What barriers?

METRICS: By its very nature, long-term investment takes longer to pay off. The benefits are harder to attribute so marketers tend to rely on soft metrics like brand image and purchase intention, which don’t always translate to behaviour. Marketers need metrics which can predict, as accurately as possible, how their marketing will contribute to growth.

COST: A long-term strategy is a major investment, and while it makes growth more likely, it doesn’t guarantee success. Marketers need to be able to balance long- and short-term impact at a low cost.

RESPONSIVENESS: Long-term thinking locks marketers into a strategy. But “wait and see” doesn’t cut it under pressure. They also need the flexibility to make tactical and short-term investment tweaks to respond to changed market conditions or competitor activity.

FASHION: The most effective long-term media tend to be the most traditional and least fashionable, like TV. It might seem trivial, but there’s an emotional buzz to seeing the data come in instantly for the latest social or programmatic campaign which it’s hard for traditional metrics to match.

So what’s the solution?

Next month System1 is launching System1 Ad Ratings, a data service which solves these problems. It’s designed to help under-pressure marketers do the right thing, and shift that pendulum back towards long-term thinking.

At the heart of Ad Ratings is a database of every TV ad that airs, tested using our Emotion-into-Action score, the only independently validated predictor of long-term effectiveness. Subscribers can access their and their competitors’ Ad Ratings data at an individual ad level, and the effectiveness metric is combined with media spend information. So you can see how hard your money is working to build your brand over the long term and make quick decisions to optimise investment.

It’s a daily updated, dashboard-based service which sits alongside your existing metrics to bring the long-term view firmly into the mix, for as little as £1,000 per month. Immediate decisions, long-term results.

If you’re interested in this service and want to know more, we’re beginning beta tests very soon. Sign up to be part of it – or just to get more information when we release Ad Ratings.

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