The Benchmark Series: Overview

While some advertising platforms may seem more cost-effective, are they actually delivering on the metrics that matter? The Benchmark Series research shows you how to make the most of your media spend to drive business growth. Because after all, isn’t growth the metric that matters the most?

Marketing budgets are tight and there has never been a more important time to ensure every dollar is working hard towards achieving your objective. With the vast range of advertising options available, that’s easier said than done.

How can you best ascertain where to allocate spend? What questions should you ask of your media partners? And what are the attributes of media platforms that help or hinder your advertising campaign? 

The Benchmark Series can help answer these questions. The short videos and explanations below summarise everything you need to know.

Are they paying attention?


of viewers

Actively watch TV.


of viewers

Actively watch YouTube.


of viewers

Actively watch Facebook.

It sounds kind of obvious but the Benchmark research found that attention is critical to sales impact. If you want people to buy your products, they really do need to be paying attention to your ads. And that attention is closely related to product choice.

When it comes to video advertising, attention varies greatly across different platforms. While 58% of people in the study were actively viewing TV, only 31% were doing the same for YouTube. That figure was even lower for Facebook at 4%.

Which media platform generates the most attention?

And while passive viewing does have an impact as it contributes to the subconscious processing of advertising, it doesn’t come close to the outcomes of active viewing.

The Benchmark Series research found that active viewing on TV generated a STAS of 144 while for Facebook, that figure is 118 and YouTube is even lower at 116.

Why is attention so critical to sales impact?

A major contributing factor for attention is the coverage of the screen. Benchmark found that ads which are fully rendered – taking up 100% of a screen’s pixels – generate twice the sales impact of ads that only fill half the screen.

Why does attention vary by media platform?

This finding from the research has been influential in prompting the Media Rating Council to review its viewability standard which had previously been set at 50%. In March, the organisation proposed increasing the standard to 100%.

Is the online viewability standard fostering underperformance?

Another factor to consider when seeking people’s attention is emotion. In her work, Professor Nelson-Field discovered that ads which generate a strong reaction – irrespective of whether the reaction is positive or negative – garner 16% more attention than ads that elicit weak reactions. And ads which generate a high emotional response have 2.4 times the sales impact than ads which elicit a low response. That said, a low emotion ad will gain more attention when distributed on a more visible platform than a highly emotional ad that can barely be seen. Ultimately, the ad being seen is the most important factor.

Ads which generate a strong reaction garner 16% more attention than ads that elicit weak reactions.

All of this adds up to one thing and that is if you want people to pay attention to video advertising, there’s only one medium that fits the bill and that is TV. On any device – PC, mobile or TV screen – TV renders 100% of pixels 100% of the time driving more attention and therefore more sales.

We need only look to the STAS for each device to confirm this. TV on TV generates a STAS of 144 while TV on PC scores 153 and the TV on mobile STAS is 161. By comparison, Facebook on PC has a STAS of just 118 while the Facebook on mobile STAS is 121. For YouTube, we’re looking at STAS scores of 116 on PC and 137 on mobile. There’s really no competition.

Which video platform is most effective on mobile?

Will consumers remember your brand?

Retaining a brand in a person’s memory for retrieval at the point of purchase is crucial to impacting long-term growth.

“The closer the ad is to the purchase occasion, the better off you are. But you never know when someone is in the purchase occasion.”

— Professor Nelson-Field

Why is branded memory strength so important?

Good media enables brands to be remembered longer with minimal decay, or drop-off, in the impact of advertising following exposure.

Decay is a major factor for all brands with the Benchmark research finding that the first impression has the greatest effect on any platform but that’s where the similarities end. Ads viewed on both Facebook and YouTube decay at a faster rate than ads seen on television. In fact, Facebook ads decay 2.5 times faster while YouTube decays three times faster.

Consider this, 28 days after someone has seen an ad on TV, their memory of the brand will have declined to a sales impact that is the same as when the consumer first saw the ad on YouTube or Facebook. To put it simply, TV lasts nine times longer than the average of Facebook and YouTube.

Which platform embeds brands in memory for longer?

One approach that many planners use to overcome this rapid decay is to increase frequency. But sadly, this won’t have the desired result. Professor Nelson-Field explains: “The advertising response function is convex which means the first impression has the greatest effect and any subsequent impressions after that render less impact so there’s actually diminishing returns. Hitting the same people with more impressions is actually a waste of money.”

Adding insult to injury, increased frequency will increase clutter on the platform which further reduces the impact of your advertising.

Can additional frequency boost the impact of less effective media inventory?

For mobile devices, decay is of even greater concern with Professor Nelson-Field noting: “Competitors optimising for mobile are doing themselves a disservice because the actual device decays more quickly.”

While it takes 109 days to reach the point where a consumer is no longer impacted by an ad they saw on TV, for Facebook on mobile it will only take six days. For YouTube on mobile, the ad will have lost any influence after eight days.

Which screen is best for memory retention?

The takeaway here is that no amount of frequency can boost ineffective media channels. For the best-retained memory which will lead to sustained sales impact, TV is the way to go.

For the best-retained memory which will lead to sustained sales impact, TV is the way to go.