How Advertising Works

In pursuit of the scientific answers behind the art of advertising

For the past decade, NCS has been a leader in advancing the advertising industry, conducting studies that deepen our understanding of consumer behavior and oftentimes revolutionize how we think about advertising. 

From the landmark How to Build Brands study, to confirming Recency Theory, to proving the importance of creative on a neurological level, NCS is helping identify how to make advertising more effective. And those achievements are reflected in the services we offer. Though the research is varied, it’s all focused on the same singular theme: Showing, scientifically, how advertising works.


Which advertising elements have the most impact on incremental sales?

NCS takes a fresh look at the Five Keys to Advertising Effectiveness to learn what’s changed since 2017. This 2023 update is a cumulation of what we’ve discovered about how brands can increase the value of their advertising dollars using the most impactful levers.

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Is all frequency created equal?

The research and development team at NCS set out to measure and reflect the value of advertising campaign frequency. Using this patent-pending methodology, brands can now separate frequency into two types, iterative and recency frequency. This helps marketers better understand the impact of each type of frequency on their media planning.

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Is there a winning strategy for driving current and future brand growth?

To help CPG brands deliver more effective advertising, NCS looks at how several popular strategies align to sales. The research shows the most effective way for brands to increase both current and future sales is to get customers buying now. Learn more about what Anheuser-Busch discovered about their brand strategy.

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Is there science to building a brand?

Using data collected from more than 50 CPG brands over three and a half years, NCS develops a holistic method for building a lasting, winning brand.

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Are the basics of Reach, Creative, Targeting and Recency still critical to good advertising?

NCS releases one of the most comprehensive analyses of advertising effectiveness, based on the results of nearly 500 other, distinct studies. The meta-analysis identifies the five key drivers of ad effectiveness and their respective value in influencing consumer behavior.

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When is the best time to deliver advertising?

NCS further hones its audience-targeting methodology by identifying consumers who are just about to make a purchase decision. NCS dubs them “The Persuadables.

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How do neurological responses to advertising correlate to sales?

NCS seeks to determine how closely our measure of creative effectiveness relates to how the human brain responds to advertising. The results: Good ad creative has a demonstrable physical and psychological response in consumers, and that effect can be tied to subsequent purchase activity.

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How do I get the right message in front of the right consumer?

NCS developed a new media buying method, purchase-driven planning, that makes it possible to isolate the effects of creative and targeting on an advertising campaign. With this new tool, marketers better gauge how different consumer groups will respond to their ad creative.

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How does advertising affect sales in the long-term?

This research measures the long-term effectiveness of advertising, refining our understanding of the two-times multiplier theory and showing that sales lift multipliers are specific to each brand and campaign.

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How do we measure sales for a multi-platform campaign?

Amid rapid changes in media, NCS conducts a two-month study into consumers’ video consumption habits across TV and web and develops a cross-platform model for sales attribution.

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Is it possible to attribute in-store sales directly to advertising?

One of the early industry-wide attempts to explore single-source data was a study called Project Apollo. This study laid the groundwork for the creation of NCS. Here we share a presentation on the value of the vision for single-source data.

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