Nielsen Catalina Solutions Releases First Ever CPG-Industry Benchmarks for Advertising Return Across Media

Largest Watch and Buy Dataset for CPG Compares Actual Sales Results
for Cross-Media, Digital Video, Display, Linear TV and Magazines

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), the leader in helping CPG marketers
optimize return on advertising spend (ROAS) with in-store purchase data,
today presented the study, “Yes, Advertising Works. Now, What’s My ROAS
Across Media Platforms?” at The Advertising Research Foundation’s
Audience Measurement 2016 conference. The study generated benchmarks
that allow marketers to compare the return they should expect from every
dollar of their cross-media, digital video, display, linear TV and
magazine advertising spending. In its analysis, NCS worked with The
Advertising Research Foundation, CBS Corporation, Meredith Corporation,
Sequent Partners and a prominent technology and display advertising

To understand the average return on advertising spend (ROAS) and sales
productivity metrics across media type, NCS, over the course of eleven
years (from 2004-2015), analyzed nearly 1,400 campaigns across 450
brands from seven popular categories: baby, pet, health and beauty,
general merchandise, food, beverage and over-the-counter (OTC). The NCS
dataset integrates 90 million households of in-store purchase data, a
subset of Catalina’s data warehouse, with each of the media platforms in
a single source to determine the incremental sales impact of advertising.

“The insights we’ve uncovered by comparing ROAS and incremental sales
across media types are invaluable,” said Leslie Wood, Chief Research
Officer, Nielsen Catalina Solutions. “While there is no ‘best’ media,
and choices should be driven by strategy and message, advertisers can
leverage this data to inform their media decisions.”

Data was analyzed many different ways to determine not only the key
metrics, but what factors drive sales, such as the size of the brand,
brand equity, purchase frequency, etc. As discovered in the study, most
brands can be grouped into three categories: Marquee (bigger brands,
shorter purchase cycle), Mid-sized, and Infrequent Use (longer purchase
cycle and fixed-level of purchasing across time), which will greatly
impact their expected return. These benchmarks will help CPG brands
understand how their metrics stack up to CPG industry norms and

Select Benchmarks

  • Magazines show the highest Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS), with an
    average return of $3.94 for every dollar spent on advertising. Display
    follows at $2.63. Unlike the other benchmarks presented, ROAS is
    impacted by the cost of the media.
  • Linear TV advertising drives the highest incremental sales per exposed
    household at $.33. This is followed by magazine, digital video and
    mobile, which are separated by only three cents.
  • Mobile drives the highest incremental sales per thousand impressions,
    at $26.52. Digital video follows at $23.48 and linear TV at $20.56.
  • Category matters. Expensive, frequently purchased items – like baby
    and pet products – have a higher ROAS than items from less expensive
    categories like food and beverage.
  • The Marquee Brand Cluster (bigger brands, shorter purchase cycle) has
    a higher overall ROAS and incremental sales per exposed household, and
    confirms that size of brand and frequency of purchase is a more
    discriminating factor than the product category.
  • Creative type also plays a part in ROAS; promotional campaigns garner
    the highest return and campaigns featuring a recipe garner the lowest.

Industry Project Team

Jasper Snyder, EVP, Research & Innovation: Cross-Platform, The
Advertising Research Foundation, “Earlier this year at our Re:Think
conference, The ARF released a study that shows advertisers can increase
their ROI by spreading their budgets across media platforms. Now they
can understand what returns they should expect from each media type and
how their results compare to industry standards.”

David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation, “With our
Campaign Performance Audit (CPA), we strive to help our advertising
clients deliver campaigns that give them the optimal return on their
advertising investment. New data – like these benchmarks -is a step
towards creating the most effective campaigns possible. While the report
focuses on averages, the real story is in the range of ROAS and the
dynamics of advertising return as campaigns increase in scale. There is
a big difference between the ‘average’ and the ‘best’ return and these
new analytical tools will help advertisers beat the ‘average’ and
approach the ‘best’ outcome.”

Britta Cleveland, SVP, Research Solutions, Meredith Corporation, “We
know magazine advertising works, and now we have the numbers to see how
it stacks up. This is why we were so supportive of the MPA: Association
of Magazine Media’s decision to launch an industry-wide sales guarantee
program for advertisers who partner with them on large scale magazine ad
based programs.” She adds, “We know from our own experience with over 60
studies completed since we launched the Meredith Sales Guarantee program
in 2012, that this program gives advertisers the best return for their
advertising spend.”

Jim Spaeth, Sequent Partners, “Attribution measurement has become an
essential skill for marketers’ success. This is a complex task for the
media and advertising industry. And companies like NCS are making huge
advancements in this field for CPG brands.”

Alice K. Sylvester, Sequent Partners, “NCS’ metrics are laser-focused on
the relationship between ad exposure and sales. They provide a uniquely
precise view of advertising’s actual impact on in-store sales. Now
brands can understand how their returns compare across media and media

See the full set of benchmarks online, here.

About Nielsen Catalina Solutions

NCS (Nielsen Catalina Solutions) is a purchase-based ad targeting and
ROAS measurement company serving the CPG industry. We integrate in-store
purchase data from over 90 MM households with media exposure data from
TV, online, mobile, print, radio and CRM to help consumer packaged goods
advertisers, agencies and media companies define their most valuable
audience, reach them with advertising and measure incremental sales from
the campaign. The joint venture between Nielsen and Catalina has helped
over 200 advertisers and 450+ brands optimize ad performance to drive
revenue growth and increase return on ad spend. Visit us at
to learn more.


Nielsen Catalina Solutions
Leanne Pinault