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28 . 02 . 21

Media choices driven by perception

Words by: Print Power
The recent study from Ebiquity in the UK confirms the findings of the similar study done in 2018: marketers and agency professionals continue to be driven by their perceptions of the various media channels. The gap between marketer’s perception of media attributes and their effectiveness still exist.
Ebiquity_Re-evaluating_Media 2020.png

In 2018 Ebiquity and Radiocentre’s initial Re-evaluating Media report showed the perceived advantages of typically digital media in meeting campaign objectives, and how they diverged from reality. Evidence from a great number of sources showed the score of the different media channels on 12 attributes. The five most important attributes of any advertising channel were: targets the right people in the right place at the right time; increases campaign ROI, triggers a positive emotional response, increases brand salience , and maximises campaign reach.

Based upon the evidence (available research) each medium received a score on each attribute. Marketers and agency professionals were asked to score also the same channels on each attribute.

The 2018 study showed the gap between evidence and perception, especially for print media. Evidence put newspapers and magazines overall performance on position 2 and 3, whilst the industry perceives the channels much less effective by positioning them on respectively 7 and 10. 

Mark Ritson, an authority on marketing and brand, commented on the outcome of this study with ‘Marketers are clueless about media effectiveness’.

A similar study by Ebiquity in Belgium confirmed the same gap between perception and evidence, especially for print media.

The most recent Ebiquity study, Re-evaluating media for recovery (2020) replicates the 2018 study. But this time in uncertain times, were the role of media in delivery brand success becomes even more important.

The list of most important attributes remains the same as in the 2018 study, however brand salience jumped to the number one position.

Across all the attributes the findings reveal that the disconnect between perceptions of individual media performance and what the abundant evidence shows,  still persists. This gap overwhelmingly favours digital media.

Media spend continues to be driven by perception over evidence, with digital media occupying the top three slots in terms of projected changes in spend for 2021.


This study suggest that advertising decisions could be better informed if digital media were to address the relative lack of evidence to support their case. To optimise their media spend, decision makers need to avoid making judgements based upon instinct and interrogate their thinking more explicitly to help make more considered choices based on proof and evidence
Martin Vinter
Managing Director of Media/Ebiquity

With the exception of TV all traditional media are undervalued by advertisers and agencies relative to the evidence. In particular, print media fall forwards to the bottom of the ranking in terms of perceptions while objective research places them third and fourth.

Conversely, newer media types such as online video, social media, and online display – which continue to lack publicly-available data to support their case- benefit from better perceptions to rise above their respective evidence rankings.

Digital media audiences and advertising spend will continue to grow but offline media will remain an important part of the media schedule for the foreseeable future.


I’m not quite sure whether this gap between perception and evidence is based upon ignorance or knowledge resistance, but in either case there is ample proof. The annual 2020 data from Thinkbox  (UK TV research) show an intriguing chart. The two donut charts show the 2020 share of daily video viewing (among broadcast TV, subscription VOD, DVD, cinema, online ‘adult’ video, other online video, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok) and the share of advertising of the same channels. Let’s focus on the two outer circles and compare the ‘evidence of daily video viewing’ with the ‘daily advertising viewing’ = ad spend. Whereas TV represents 63% of total daily video viewing it takes 91% of the advertising spend, demonstrating the gap between what marketers and agency professionals do, based upon their perceptions and reality.

Marketing and advertising should be more evidence-based as many experts have suggested to improve the effectiveness of the advertising money spend. The Ebiquity study is proof that a lot more needs to be done.