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Brand Lift: 5 Drivers that Offset the Need to Go Viral in Emerging Media Channels

The drivers of brand lift on emerging media have been identified by Nielsen, illuminating common factors that drive campaign performance. 


The drivers of brand lift on emerging media have been identified by Nielsen, a global leader in audience measurement, data and analytics, illuminating common factors that drive campaign performance. 

While a body of research exists on brand lift drivers for traditional media such as TV, Nielsen’s new research uncovers where advertisers can focus efforts to create more compelling initiatives for emerging media including podcast advertising, influencer marketing campaigns and branded content that positively impact consumer perception of their brands.

Nielsen explored more than 1,000 U.S. campaigns across podcasts, social media influencer content and branded content to pinpoint the five key attributes that move the needle for brands:

  1. Brand LiftBrand recall
  2. Enjoyability
  3. Captivating
  4. Relatability
  5. Non-negativity

In aggregate, these five drivers offset the need to “go viral” to raise awareness with consumers. While virality helps grow reach and attention, Nielsen data suggests that content doesn’t have to hit a virality goal to be successful with emerging media. Instead, advertisers should strive to achieve success in creating content that meets the key criteria uncovered in the research.

In addition to the five brand lift drivers identified in the research, Nielsen discovered key considerations for applying the brand lift drivers to campaigns:

• Brand recall is critical. If audiences can’t remember the brand after seeing an influencer ad, a branded content piece or hearing a podcast ad, then brand lift is very difficult to achieve. New media formats provide more opportunities for creativity than a traditional ad, but creativity without evoking strong recall is not enough to drive brand lift.

• The four remaining factors – how enjoyable the content is, how captivating it is, how relatable it is and how well it avoids veering into negativity – are equally important to driving brand lift, further emphasizing how brands do not need to aim for virality or tolerate running alongside negativity to produce successful emerging media campaigns.

• Brand lift is highly dependent on how strong the brand already is. Therefore, research systems must take the context of brand strength into account when comparing to normative data. Otherwise, advertisers risk deprioritizing good content on leader brands or prioritizing bad content on challenger brands.

Brand Lift
Arica McKinnon, Vice President, Campaign Analytics, Nielsen.

“These newly-identified brand lift drivers for emerging media provide advertisers deeper insights and unprecedented comparability for new media channels,” said Arica McKinnon, Vice President, Campaign Analytics, Nielsen. “This represents a huge step for advertisers to be able to leverage these fresh insights to critically evaluate their campaigns and make adjustments to reach consumers where they’re spending an increasing amount of time.”

“Marketers have known emerging media can be impactful for their campaigns, but many have lacked the tools to measure its distinct impact within these growing channels,” said Mae Karwowski, CEO of Obviously, an influencer marketing agency. “New research and insights are critical for helping demystify these channels and show ROI in investing ad dollars in this space.”

The emerging media brand lift research detailed in this report is based on analyses from more than 1,000 studies of measured brand lift from U.S. ad campaigns across podcasts, social media (influencer marketing) and branded content. The 1,000+ studies spanned 10 categories, including CPG, retail, automotive and financial services. Download the report here.

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