Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Know Thine Enemy: From Analysis to Insights

Competitors are routinely analysed on media spend and creative messaging in order to showcase to clients how and where others are playing within the advertising sphere.  However, if the practice is to offer up any material benefit beyond the temporary placation of a client’s curiosity, we have to go deeper than a mere reporting level to an interrogational level.


If we can go beyond asking the questions of “what” , “where” and “how” competitors are acting and move on to asking “why” they’re doing it, we will start to be able to get in the minds of our client’s competitors, and consequently better know our own.

Key to this is to examine the creative messaging.  Utilising tools such as AdDynamix, even a rudimentary analysis of messaging, tone and creative content will allow us to drill down beyond the media spend level.  By asking simple questions such as “What the objective of the campaign?”  “Who were they targeting?”  “Why did they think it would succeed?” etc, we can begin to gain insights that lead to bigger, more important questions:  “How are they assessing the marketplace?”  “What opportunities do they believe can be taken advantage of?”  “Have we seen them too, and if not, why not?” “What space are they seeking to own with their brand?” etc.

Answering these questions can help us examine our method of purchasing media in multiple ways.  We can see how aggressive/passive competitors are being; whether they are seeking to recruit from our customers or merely wanting to retain their current consumer base.  We can see the method and tone in which they are trying to achieve this, and examine its effectiveness and impact on our current and potential consumer base.  And we can think about the extremity of their actions, is our brand or others causing them to act differently, and do we need to react?

Now it can be argued that the individuality of any campaign and subjective nature of any inferred conclusions heavily mars their transferability and worth.  However it is suggested that the broader findings sought by examining areas such as brand aggression, target audience movement etc, prevent this from holding much validity.  We are seeking to find out how competitors are thinking at more of a business level, in order to challenge and grow our brand from the campaign level upwards.

Additionally, whilst PR, statistics, and trade press provide us with (potentially biased) facts and information on competitors, thoroughly analysing competitors in a more humanistic, bottom up approach provides us with a greater feeling and understanding of a brand that these other methods of examination lack.


You can never tell what thought or piece of information will enable you to move your client’s business forward, but through a thorough a proper interrogation of the available resources, you can give yourself the best chance on discovering it.  So next time you’ve got to examine competitors, put yourself in their shoes for a moment, and you might be surprised what it can lead to.

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