Thinkbox's latest study

Thinkbox's latest research study, 'Signalling Success', conducted by house51, highlights the impact your media channel choice has on the brand message your audience receives. Its research showcases how these media signals differ between advertising channels and how planners can use them to optimum effect for their brands. One of the main findings is that advertising on TV signals a brand's superiority. We've summarised their key findings for you:



1. Advertising drives ‘fitness’ and ‘social’ signals

Fitness signals are about financial strength, product confidence and quality.  Social signals are about fame, popularity and success. Both are valuable signals but the ability of media to convey those signals varies greatly.

Signalling success - fitness and social signals.jpg

2. TV drove the strongest fitness and social signals in all product categories tested and outperformed social media and online video across every category

  • The relative performance across each media varied little by category with TV driving the strongest signals for online retail, FMCG, mobile networks and home insurance.
  • Social media and video sharing sites were the advertising channels least likely to drive these signals across the categories tested.
  • TV delivered stronger fitness and social signals for all age groups, including younger audience



3. Brands which advertised on TV were significantly more likely to be perceived as financially strong, high quality and confident

  • TV advertising’s ability to drive the above fitness signals outperformed all other media tested (36% stronger than the average.)
  • Half of all respondents rated brands that advertised on TV as financially strong.

Signalling success - qual, conf and strength.jpg

4. TV advertising helped brands convey popularity and success more than any other medium

  • TV was 23% stronger than average in delivering social signals.
  • Half of all respondents rated TV advertising as demonstrating that lots of people were buying the brand.

Signalling success - popularity.jpg

5. Brands advertising on TV, magazines and radio are perceived as most trusted to deliver on promises made

  • A third (30%) trusted TV advertising to deliver on the promises made, making TV the most trustworthy medium, just ahead of magazines (29%) and radio (28%).
  • Advertising on video sharing sites was least likely to deliver brand trust at 19%.

Signalling success - trust.jpg

Costly signalling matters now, more than ever

It goes without saying that we are currently living in unpredictable times. Risk and economic uncertainty are highly salient for everyone. In the advertising industry, the instinctive reaction of many to signs of recession is to double down on cost-cutting and efficiency. 

But evolutionary biology and psychology (and a wealth of advertising industry case studies and data) shows that applying the ‘narrow logic’ of efficiency is the wrong way for advertisers to respond to recession.

Animals and humans rely on the ‘psycho-logic’ and social intelligence provided by costly signals to mitigate risk and inform their decisions. When it matters most, we are instinctively drawn to the highest quality and fittest option.

In this context, social media and video sharing platforms may appear efficient, but these platforms are far less effective than TV at conveying the vital, unconscious information that helps consumers mitigate risk and maximise confidence in their brand choices.


If you are interested to learn more, you can download the nickable charts or read the in depth study.

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