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Is media bias affecting your marketing strategy? Our top biases and how to avoid them.

If you book any sort of media, there’s probably certain channels you prefer to go for and certain channels you avoid. Media bias is a real challenge for marketers; cost concerns, attribution queries, or simply fear of the unknown all hinder the creation and execution of those ground-breaking, forward-thinking campaigns that you might see getting thousands of likes on LinkedIn. When we start to compare these biases against actual campaign data, though, they can often be worlds apart.

In today’s thought piece, we’ll be using our rich suite of data from some of the UK’s top FMCG brands to illustrate how perceptions and reality often don’t align.

1. “We’ve never booked it” or “We’ve always done it this way.”

The pressure of meeting sales targets can often push marketers to the tried-and tested. Rebooking what’s familiar might feel safe, but by following tradition, marketers run the risk of inheriting historic prejudice.

While trialling new touchpoints can be daunting, looking at the performance metrics of similar media channels can give a good impression of how results are likely to appear. Tesco, for instance, have started trialling in-store radio this year. Retail-leads who are unfamiliar with this touchpoint can be reassured by a quick look at performance benchmarks for Asda FM, which generates an impressive average of £5.29 ROI at brand level. Just because ‘we’ve never booked it’ doesn’t mean you can’t make a confident prediction on how it will perform.

2. “We don’t know how to measure it.”

As varying media spaces become increasingly interconnected, concerns over how specific touchpoints will be attributed to sales can discourage brands from trialling new touchpoints.

In the Test vs Control methodology that we use for campaign evaluation, matching stores where media did go live with stores where the media wasn’t activated makes it easy for us to attribute sales to specific touchpoints and deliver a clear impression of the % uplift, £ uplift and ROI generated by each individual activation. This closed-loop attribution means clients can tailor spends directly to results.

In-store media may seem more easily identifiable, but platforms like Citrus and Criteo are an excellent way for clients to become confident in how digital media has performed. Whereas some marketers may worry that e-commerce activations cannot be accurately attributed to sales, the regression modelling approach which we use for ecommerce evaluations uses historic data to predict how e-commerce activations should perform, so brands can clearly analyse the success of their investment, overcoming the hurdles presented by an increasingly interlinked marketing landscape and shopper journey.

3. “I’m worried digital media will be expensive and wasteful”

While in-store media feels tangible and its compliance easily measurable, the digital landscape can feel comparatively hard to grasp.

Campaign benchmarks reveal that the notion that digital media is usually a greater investment than in store and front of store media is a myth. The benchmark for brand level ROI for Sainsbury’s Aisle Fins, for instance, is £2.35. For Sainsbury’s Location Programmatic, it is £4.91. The benchmark for brand level ROI for Tesco GeoSocial is £3.69, but for Tesco Shelf Talkers it is £3.25.

While digital channels may feel like a less easily quantifiable investment, benchmarks for average impressions give a clear sense of how many shoppers will see the media. Allowing clients to perceive the direct link between investment and impressions removes the potential for digital investment to feel ‘wasteful’.

4. Shoppers’ habits are changing.

The pandemic has shaken up buying habits. Now that shopper behaviours seem new and unfamiliar, marketers are less confident negotiating the choice between different touchpoints.

Shopper marketing used to be about reaching the shopper in the shopper environment. Before the pandemic, retail media was seen as peripheral and an Amazon specialism. Now, FMCG’s are harnessing the fact that retail media is well-suited to the habits of their consumers, as up to 70% of retail media purchases are repeat purchases and more than 60% of shoppers buy from their ‘favourites’. While shifts in shopping trends may appear daunting, using behavioural statistics like these to support decisions allows for confident investment, and opens opportunity for leveraging new potential.


The above are just a few of the arguments we hear day-to-day at Lobster, most stemming from a lack of confidence in – or even a fear of – the unknown. In all four cases, the number one solution comes down to making sure you’re using the right data in the right way. The numbers don’t lie, and having access to the relevant data is vital to making sure you’re avoiding media bias.

Need a little help with that? Data is our lifeblood here at Lobster. Our insights can help with everything from planning your next big campaign to evaluating individual media. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you create better commerce media campaigns.

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