Fuelling a campaign with the IAB using Strategic Consultancy & Implicit testing

Case Studies

21st November 2023

Walnut Unlimited

We worked with the IAB to unpick and change perceptions of digital advertising.

Internet advertising is commonplace for most brands who recognise its role alongside other media mixes. However, despite it being a powerful advertising medium to reach, target and communicate, there are still negative perceptions around its real value.

The IAB has recognised this challenge and approached us to come up with a unique approach which has been developed into a wider industry campaign.

Our research strategy involved 4 key stages:

  • Explore Through semiotic analysis of how digital advertising is positioned in the industry
  • Quantify Using implicit testing (decision drivers) the perceptions amongst advertising execs & the general public to identify the key emotional barriers.
  • Create Fuel a brief to inspire a creative campaign led by the insights
  • Evaluate Test the new campaign (using adNOW) to maximise potential on launch and assess the perceptions shift post launch.


The results of this project challenged numerous existing perceptions of the role and value of internet advertising across the industry, resulting in the Joy of Digital campaign.

From this the IAB were able to demonstrate how getting deep human insight through analysing subconscious beliefs and attitudes would enable them to deliver effective and long-lasting outcomes.

The research project was shortlisted for the Mediatel Research awards.

With heaps of rational research into what advertisers think about digital but nothing about how it makes them feel, Walnut was the perfect fit for the IAB’s objective to get under the skin of these perceptions and understanding what stopped marketers loving digital advertising in the way we hypothesised they loved other channels.

As the project got underway the light-bulb moments came thick and fast, as Walnut’s team of semioticians and behavioural & neuro-science experts revealed some of the basic human needs that digital advertising was failing to meet, and shone a light on the language used about digital – often by us – which actually made marketers more uneasy about digital advertising, not love it more.

Cristina, Nick and the team always strive to be true partners with the IAB, willingly sharing their insights at an all-company meeting as well as presenting to other agency partners and to our members. They showed a genuine holistic interest in our organisation and industry, are eager to understand the broader challenges being faced, and as a result have become long-term, trusted partners that we will no doubt continue to work with for years to come.

Tom Stevens, Head of Marketing at the IAB

Written by Walnut Unlimited Email Walnut Unlimited

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