The game before the game: preparing for digital media success

Where an ad appears is as important as what it says. An early understanding of how an ad will work in context is key to success.
01 July 2021
Media effectiveness goals
Kristanne Roberts

Product Management Director, Insights Division

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I’m not generally one for football, but the strategy of the game feels very relevant for the topic of this article. As the celebrated Beats by Dre “Game Before The Game” campaign taught us, pre-game rituals matter if you want to prepare for victory. Deciding which players to put on the pitch first, in which positions, and which to substitute, has parallels with planning a digital campaign. Understanding which creative to start in which online platforms, and what changes might help drive greater return on investment for your brand, is essential early on. Developing that understanding can come from a mix of past experience and new data sources.

We know from our media effectiveness databases that digital campaigns account for 25% of media investment among our clients, but drive over a 30% contribution to awareness and purchase intent. YouTube and Facebook drive particularly cost-effective brand-building contributions. But the key to achieving such a positive return is in knowing which creative to put in the mix, and which platforms to play them. Getting more from your media may also mean moving beyond the tried and tested platforms, and introducing new players to the mix.

In football, managers plan their match strategies based on experience and data about which combinations of players work, as well as training their players to perform at their best. What wins the tournament can often, however, be surprising. The late introduction of 18-year-old Jamal Musiala saved Germany, for example, in the final Euro 2021 championships group game against Hungary.

For digital campaigns, planning your strategy based on previous experience can help where you have data available... but knowing whether your new creative will be effective across platforms can be tricky, and understanding how to enhance your ads so they perform at their best can be daunting.

We also know that different platforms have different rules of engagement due to differences in how consumers interact with the platforms, and whilst it may be tempting to stick with your tried and tested star players, a new approach could help drive engagement with your audience.

This was particularly evident in our Media Reactions study, where we saw that marketers’ preferences for ad formats and platforms differ markedly from consumers. It showed that marketers prefer more established platforms such as YouTube, Google and Instagram, perhaps due to greater familiarity. In contrast, TikTok, Instagram and Snap topped the consumer’s list, because people find those ad environments fun, entertaining and innovative.

To better understand how your ads are working across platforms, and whether they will have the intended impact, it’s important to test your content and ensure you have the most up to date information to inform your campaign strategy. Particularly for innovative new formats.

In a recent Context Lab study on Kantar Marketplace, we quickly tested content across Instagram, Twitter and TikTok for an FMCG brand, and found that while Instagram and Twitter did a great job building awareness among their target audience, TikTok’s platform engagement helped to drive not only awareness, but also strong message takeaway and high levels of purchase intent.

The impact of context on performance

Instagram Static

Instagram Video

Twitter Video

TikTok Video

Unaided Brand Awareness





This helped our client see that expanding into newer platforms could help them achieve their campaign objectives more effectively and provided actionable insights for their digital media strategy. Timing is everything. You’re not going to score a goal if you’re still tying your shoelaces when the whistle is blown.

Training your digital media strategy and understanding which platforms will work most effectively in driving your brand objectives is essential. Identifying your creative strengths and optimising your creative positioning across platforms, ahead of the campaign launch, can ensure you enhance the value of your media investment and engage your audience in the most effective way. Meaning you’re more likely to hit your goal.

Get in touch to find out more about getting your advertising context right or visit Kantar Marketplace.

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