The Oscar goes to . . . the Advertisers

The 84th Academy Awards could draw in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million television viewers. That’s only one-third of the total viewing audience for the Super Bowl but still a sizeable enough chunk of consumers to attract the likes of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and American Express as major brand advertisers. You’d think any event entering its 84th year would have difficulty remaining relevant. And that’s exactly the dilemma for a bounty of advertisers lining up to pitch their wares during this year’s show. Do the Oscars deliver the type of audience that leads to higher demand for an advertised brand?

Put into direct marketing terms, the question becomes “how much lift in purchase likelihood is potentially realized when directing a marketing message to viewers of the Academy Awards?” Using the Experian Marketing Services (EMS) Ad Relevancy Score, a measure of the overall attractiveness of a target audience relative to the characteristics of a brand’s existing customers, we set out to conduct an investigation. The methodology is based on data collected by Experian Simmons.

And the winning brands are . . .

Coca-Cola and McDonald’s

Based on the sheer volume of viewers, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have the luxury of claiming the highest brand penetration among adults who are likely to watch the Academy Awards. But audience size is only one piece of the equation when measuring ad relevancy. The EMS Ad Relevancy Scores for McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are 109 and 105 respectively. This means there is a hypothetical 9% lift in purchase likelihood for McDonald’s when targeting the Academy Awards audience. The corresponding lift for Coca-Cola is only 5%. But brands with such universal appeal and large reach will rarely see double digit lift from an ad relevancy score.

Other brands perform even better and are well-served by reaching out to the Academy Awards audience. These include JC Penney (118), AT&T Wireless (120), and MetLife (144).

Then there are brands that get top billing. This is the ad sponsorship equivalent to being nominated for Best Picture. The analysis shows that American Express (162), Travelocity (181), and Stella Artois (200) are likely to see the largest gain and benefit the most from their advertising investment (the score for Stella Artois is based on viewers age 21 or older).

The Academy Awards do not necessarily deliver an audience that is the best match for all brands. For example, an EMS Ad Relevancy Score below 100 indicates that the characteristics of the target audience are not maximally aligned with the characteristics of likely brand users. The good news is that this also presents an opportunity to grow brand share by targeting new segments of consumers. Hyundai, with an EMS Ad Relevancy Score of 79, Sprint Nextel (90), and Samsung (95) all fall into this category and stand to benefit by attracting new customers among Academy Awards viewers.

An audience as large as that delivered by the Academy Awards is comprised of a wide variety of consumer market segments. Using Experian’s Mosaic lifestyle segmentation solution, some key segments stand out as having a high propensity to watch the show. These include Jet Set Urbanites, American Royalty, Silver Sophisticates, Golf Carts and Gourmets, and Wired for Success. Consumers from these segments are all at least 1.7 times more likely to watch the Academy Awards.

When controlling for gender, the EMS Ad Relevancy Scores change. Ads from Stella Artois, Travelocity, and American Express are more likely to be relevant to male Academy Awards viewers compared to female viewers.

EMS Ad Relevancy Score: Men Compared to Women

Brand Men Women Difference
Stella Artois* 265 160 105
Travelocity 195 171 24
American Express 178 152 26
MetLife 165 131 34
*Among viewers age 21 or olderSource: Experian Marketing Services

When comparing women to men, the largest differences in EMS Ad Relevancy Scores are for Hyundai, JC Penney, and Sprint Nextel. Ads from these brands are more likely to be relevant to female Academy Awards viewers.

The airing of the Academy Awards is a time for casting a spotlight on the best performances that the motion picture industry has to offer. The winner in the Best Picture category is guaranteed to see lift in future box office revenue. Brand advertisers will also get their chance to shine. Based on our investigation of ad relevancy, some brands will achieve increased lift in future sales and greater return on their marketing investment than others.