Media Measurement

What is the difference between a brand tracker and brand lift study?

Brand trackers and brand lift studies are valuable insights tools for measuring consumer sentiment about a brand. While both types of studies provide important insights into a brand’s perception in the market, there are some key differences between brand tracking and brand lift studies. Let’s explore what makes these types of studies unique and how they can most effectively be applied to your needs.

What is a brand tracker?

A brand tracker is a long-term study that measures consumers’ perception of your brand over time. Typically, brand trackers are run 1-2 times per year (although they can be more frequent or always-on) and provide tangible data that measures the health of the brand. These insights will tell you how your brand health trends over time and compares to your competitors. Brand tracker data can also be used to gauge the impact of marketing and sales efforts and help inform spend allocation decisions.

Brand trackers can measure many different  KPIs, depending on your organization’s needs. These KPIs usually include:

  • Awareness
  • Usage
  • Consideration
  • Preference
  • Brand associations
  • Likelihood to recommend

By measuring these KPIs, you will learn how your brand health has changed over time and more effectively identify new strategies for continued improvement.

How to apply a brand tracker to your marketing strategy

To launch a brand tracker, you need to access the right survey participants to create a representative sample of your target market. An important element of a successful brand tracker is achieving consistency in your survey sampling. That means you’ll need a sample provider with adequate scale and targeting capabilities to measure how specific audience segments perceive your brand over time.

Once you find a provider, you need to define clear objectives for your brand tracker. For example, how broad should your tracker be? Will you focus on your brand, the competitive set, or even adjacent industries? Who are your target audiences?

After your goals and parameters are outlined, you will be ready to launch a brand tracker.

What is a brand lift study?

Unlike brand trackers, the focus of brand lift studies is to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Brand lift studies help you understand how specific ad campaigns impact consumers’ perceptions of your brand. They measure brand perception in the moment, as opposed to a brand tracker study that measures brand perception over time. In that sense, you can think of brand lift measurement as “causational,” as it quantifies the consumer impact of exposure to your advertising efforts.

Brand lift KPIs can be similar to brand tracker KPIs (awareness, consideration, etc.), but they are typically measured within an exposed vs. un-exposed context to isolate the impact of a campaign. For example, a brand lift study may compare unaided brand recall from a group who has been exposed to your ad campaign against a group who hasn’t been exposed. If unaided brand recall is higher among the exposed group, you know that your ad campaign is driving incremental impact.

How to start measuring brand lift via your ad campaigns

Once you identify a campaign that you would like to measure, it’s important to carefully determine which measurement methodology would be the best fit based on your specific campaign attributes:

  • What channels will you be running on?
  • Is it a digital campaign?
  • Is the campaign broadly targeted or more niche?
  • How large is the campaign and in which geographies will it be running?
  • How long will the campaign run?

Based on these characteristics, a study design can be crafted to best meet your primary measurement objectives.

Do you need a brand tracker or brand lift study – or both?

Deciding to launch a brand tracker or conduct a brand lift study depends entirely on your brand’s performance goals. If you have the budget and bandwidth to conduct a brand tracker study – and if you have the ability to make strategy adjustments based on the insights – then this could be a great option for your brand. If you’re not as interested in a broader assessment of brand health but would rather focus on understanding the impact of your advertising campaigns, then a brand lift study is ideal for you.

However, it’s important to note that you can actually run both types of studies together. If you are currently running a brand tracking study or plan to start one, you may want to consider adding an ad campaign component. This will allow you to more closely align brand tracking results with campaign performance.

Start getting the right insights for your brand

We have the tools you need to get the most impactful brand insights. Contact our team to get started with a brand tracker or brand lift study. If you would like to explore running brand lift and a brand tracker in tandem, ask your representative if a Brand Tracker Append may be a fit for you.