17
Apr
Author
Jessica Mills
Category
News

Still Life In The Old Frog Yet?

Bong! Bong! Toll the bells, television is dead. Or so Raymond Snoddy would have you believe. Following two independent developments this week Snoddy declared network television had reached its ‘boiled frog’ moment – the industry now waking up to the inevitability of long-predicted disruptive change but all too little too late.

While this proclamation has ruffled a few feathers – TV talent does not take kindly to being called irrelevant – the reality is that this claim feels rather like old news. The demise of TV in favour of alternative digital screens has been a well-chewed subject over the past couple of years, however, arguably it is this apathetic attitude that has lulled the networks into a false sense of security with them now left floundering as their fears look set to become a reality.

The first development to draw attention was a talk made at the MIPFormats conference in Cannes by Eric Scherer, director of future media at France Televisions. Arguing that the industry needed to consider a mobile-first strategy as mobile became the primary screen for content consumption, he declared:

“This disruption has been expected for years now. We knew it was coming but were short of concrete evidence on this disruption. And guess what? In the last few weeks, the last few months boom. Everything is coming almost at once”.

Giving back bone to Scherer’s claim, international consultancy group Accenture near-simultaneously published a study on ‘Digital Video and the Connected Consumer’ (http://goo.gl/xfw0ch) based on a survey of 24,000 people in 24 countries including the UK. They report that “TV is the only category of device experiencing uniform, double-digit usage declines, across different types of media worldwide, among viewers of nearly all ages” with a drop in viewing of -33% among 14-17s, -14% among 18-34s, -11% among 35-54 and -6% among 55+.

However, holes have been poked in the reliability of Accenture’s data – and rightly so. Matt Hill, Research and Planning Director at Thinkbox, swiftly responded to Snoddy’s article challenging the firm’s figures and disputing that, while viewing habits have changed, the broad and varied reach of TV is still in rude health – getting to the heart of the true concern of the networks.

In his introduction, Snoddy likens television’s situation as akin to that faced by the print industry five years ago and the similarities are difficult to dismiss. In an environment of decreasing consumption and improving technology newspapers acknowledged the necessity to adapt to change and created a strong digital offering to complement their traditional media – with enormous success. Arguably, TV has begun this process with the advancement of VOD platforms and mobile-friendly content; however, as the preferences of the screenager increasingly become the norm will it be enough or has this frog croaked his last?

Here at Opticomm we believe it’s premature to dismiss a medium which forms such an integral and valuable part of so many great campaigns, providing excellent reach within a trusted environment in which the consumer is relaxed and receptive. The growth of multi-screen consumption should not be ignored – but rather than detract from TV we believe this provides an exciting opportunity to develop more creative, engaging campaigns which will prove their worth in results.

17
Apr
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Case Studies

A new approach to the most difficult of campaigns – Legacy advertising

The Brief

Research had shown the key ‘baby boomer’ audience aged 55-65 had lower awareness and consideration than the older generation who could remember the war time efforts of the Red Cross. Like most charities the Red Cross relies on wills to continue its vital work and couldn’t allow this area of risk to go unanswered. Additionally, legacy advertising encompasses two big barriers – death and money, hence cold advertising often receives little or no consideration let alone action.

Opticomm were briefed with stimulating awareness and consideration as well as action in lead generation for the ‘baby boomers’.

The Solution

Research helped Opticomm identify the key demographic and media behaviours. Using a brand response model a plan was created that warmed the audience emotionally using television – to get the most value possible spot-by-spot placement was used to over-index on our audience and give context e.g. World War 2 films on Film 4. From this further engagement and consideration was leveraged from radio on Classic FM with spot placement to complement that seen on TV.

With emotional engagement we also wanted to cover the logic questions that might follow – for this we used press and highlighted that just 1% of an estate was enough to help. To provide hard engagement numbers and the opportunity to develop a relationship, online advertising in the form of display and social channels were used to explain the message further and capture data.

 

The Results

The campaign was an overwhelming success on all counts. Against the key target audience of ‘baby Boomers’ awareness of the importance of legacies to the Red Cross and how they rely on them increased by 18%, consideration of leaving a gift in a will to the Red Cross increased by 39% and propensity to leave a gift to them in a will rose by 175%.

Online engagement rates were higher than industry averages on every level with over 4,000 people downloading the legacy guide. The campaign has been so successful that it still continues today 2 years later and investment has increased year-on-year.

15
Apr
Author
Spencer Stratford

Alzheimers Society – taking an event to the masses

The Brief

Raise awareness, increase sign ups (and ultimately footfall) and drive greater income to the Alzheimer’s Society Flagship Memory Walk events. As each year progressed the budget increased with the focus being on maintaining or improving the ROI and introducing multiple tests that could help drive the following year’s growth strategy.

The Solution

Opticomm initially focussed on how to drive awareness and sign ups on a small budget. OOH and Radio was used within a fixed drive time from each walk with budgets reflecting the potential audience numbers available. To soak-up the majority of response, we used digital media via social channels and geo-targeted display.

As the campaigns and budgets grew, we introduced TV into the media mix via the use of regional macros. This enabled Alzheimer’s to gain large reach in specific areas where they had a concentration of walks – optimising media efficiency.  After a fantastic first year with a 284% increase in walker numbers within the macro, the strategy was rolled out further to other regions (with similar results).

Additionally, as the budgets increased, we introduced individual radio and OOH strategies for each walk to enable both budget sharing (where walks’ drive times overlapped significantly) and complex walk areas like London, Liverpool and Brighton to have a different selection of formats and weights to match the set up.

Overall the campaigns showed how the Opticomm approach delivered:

  • Understanding of UK marketplace – using different formats in each location and hand-picking them to achieve efficiency for low budgets
  • Ability to balance internal pressure with real results by balancing budgets based on available audience.
  • Movement of campaign from niche to national – via TV usage to drive growth

The Results

Opticomm grew the Flagship Memory Walks events each year beating targets set. The 2014 campaign was the most successful ever with footfall, income and ROI all up overall from previous year.  The result has been additional funding from the charity as this is one of their best sources of income and potential donors.

15
Apr
Author
Catherine Part

Thomas Cook Airlines – Out thinking the competition not outspending them

The Brief
Increase sales and drive awareness around Manchester airport hub. Budget given was around a 10th of the competition within a highly competitive environment of the post-Xmas holiday booking frenzy.

The Solution
Opticomm initially focussed on audience – using geographical mapping we pinpointed precisely the areas that would deliver fertile sales growth and have the capability to be efficiently affected by the available media landscape.
This insight was then used against the full marketing sales funnel –from offer awareness to purchase – and our audience’s media life was matched against the take out message we wanted to deliver.

Awareness of the competitive pricing was delivered using outdoor and press via a slightly differently method than a traditional campaign. With a limited budget and a short campaign window we launched with high-impact digital formats taking advantage of post-Xmas behaviours – more travel and more shopping. Our outdoor was placed accordingly at shopping centres and key rail destination hubs.

This then led into a high reach and high frequency 6-sheet roadside campaign to fit in with the product awareness element we delivered on radio. Using radio promotion rather than traditional spot advertising allowed us to engage rather than just tell our audience about the latest exciting destination portfolio.

For consideration and sales, all of this was underpinned with digital display and mobile advertising using high impact formats and direct acquisition in tandem.

The Results
Target sales volumes for Manchester were beaten before the campaign had finished and brand awareness in the North West at the campaign end was 66% higher than the national average level. Better still, consideration levels were at the same level as the more established higher spending competitors.

20
Mar
Author
Jessica Mills
Category
News

Hot Young Things at SXSW

As SXSW Interactive came to a close in Austin, Texas on Tuesday the web was ablaze with speculation and praise for the emerging technologies that had won-over the tech set. Undeniable front-runner was Meerkat, a mobile app that launched in late February, which links to the user’s Twitter account to live stream content to their followers who can engage with the result in real time.

Within the collaborative, creative bubble of the festival Meerkat was lauded as the answer to important civilian journalism, enabling those on the ground in situations of national or global importance – national security threats for example – to relay the action in real time without the restrictions of private or government filters.

In reality, the app has been used, and is likely to continue to be used, for more mundane events; thus far a snowboard ride, the Apple Watch launch and, thanks to one Guardian journalist, an aimless wander around the supermarket aisles to name but a few. Not quite so ground-breaking.

Add to this the scandalous spanner that was throw into the works when Twitter cut off Meerkat’s access to its social graph, essentially disabling the app’s ability to sync a user’s Twitter followers with the streaming platform. The rationale behind this became clear on Friday 13th (unlucky for some) when Twitter officially announced their collaboration with Periscope, a live-stream app competitor. For now, Meerkat users can continue to support their streamed content through Twitter, however, ease of access and performance has been noticeably reduced and the app’s creators are in the process of detangling themselves from the network that helped launch it.

At present, Meerkat doesn’t provide an option to archive videos for later use which frustrates some but is welcomed by others, enjoyed much like Snapchat’s ephemeral content. This contrasts with Periscope which allows you to record videos to broadcast later as well as create private streams.

The potential of the app to orchestrate mass social participation outside any regulatory channels is both a welcome freedom and a disaster waiting to happen and the longevity of the app remains to be seen once the novelty factor has died down. However, both Twitter and Foursquare found fame as the hot new app at previous SXSW festivals so don’t dismiss it just yet.

05
Mar
Author
Jessica Mills
Category
News

Knowing Me, Knowing You

It is a truth universally acknowledged that knowledge is power. But perhaps it is not so much what you know but rather how you make use of that knowledge that identifies the big players. The beating heart of the media industry is a persistent search for bigger and better data, hence new ways to accumulate and analyse quality information is always a welcome investment.

Digital advertising spoils us with its granular levels of facts and figures, enabling targeted ad serving to specific individuals and providing a constant stream of feedback that can be compiled into an ever-so-handy database. Consequently, it can seem nonsensical to throw money at, for example, a press campaign and have no decisive results data when the measurement of the impact an ad has on sales or brand engagement is a primary concern for most if not all advertisers.

It is unsurprising then that this reality has prompted those in the TV industry to explore ways to make their advertising (whose production and media costs total over £7bn) more tailored and trackable.

2014 saw the launch of Sky’s AdSmart, a platform which enables advertisers to serve different ads to separate households during the same programme, a development which has opened up an expensive medium to smaller businesses and tempted back those who had previously dropped TV from their multimedia campaigns. Based on a household panel of 500,000 (circa 10x larger than the current BARB panel) audiences can be targeted based on regional and lifestyle attributes, household composition and socio-demographics. Consequently, adverts are served in a more considered environment and are more likely to reach the intended consumer; however, credible measurement of advert impact on consumer actions remains primarily speculative.

Enter ‘Project Dovetail’, brainchild of BARB, a work in progress which aims to build a hybrid measurement system across all TV engagement by combining BARB panel data with device based data. As live viewing on television sets continues to decline this initiative proposes a clever solution to less knowable multi-device engagement, placing meta-data tags on internet streamed content  – giving us information of what people are watching and for how long – and considering it alongside traditional panel feedback which tells us who is watching.

Dovetail is due to go live in 2016 and signifies the acceleration of the data revolution – the growing ability to watch, track and analyse the activities of the global community. Like I said, knowledge is power but if the real test is in the way that it is used are we going to like the outcome?

27
Feb
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

To Facebook or not to Facebook?

Facebook provoked a collective gasp of surprise last week as they launched their first British TV and outdoor campaign, a move which, for a social media behemoth with the lion’s share of the market and an existing engagement of over 60% of the national population, begs the question – why?

The campaign centres on Friendship; two 60-second television ads in which lifetime bonds are formed, hands are symbolically linked and everyone is joyously happy in their deep and meaningful relationships, and OOH billboards capturing ‘moments of friendship’ over-pasted with that ubiquitous Facebook tick and ‘Friends’, the result akin to a shopping list item – ‘oh yeah, got to get me some of those’ – which, perhaps, is kind of the point.

Ironically though, it is really Facebook who needs true friends, not you, and this campaign could be seen as a recognition of an image problem that has persistently grown through the last year. Facebook has continued to see organic reach decline as updated algorithms have pushed sales content to the detriment of less aggressive branding or real user engagement. This in turn has reduced the presence of small businesses as they struggle to make an impact with minimal budgets on a platform which is in danger of being perceived as an ad-serving data collection service first and social platform second.

As Facebook has grown both in mainstream popularity and as an advertising tool consumer perception is increasingly of a social space which has lost its edge and sold out for commercial gain, guiltlessly selling the information of loyal users while Zuckerberg provocatively claims privacy is no longer a ‘social norm’. Further affecting this downturn is the takeover of the visual web; Instagram post engagement has seen a rise of 416% in just two years while Pinterest and Tumblr each gained more than 10m visitors in 2014.

This said, Facebook is still a power to be reckoned with and to reject it entirely would be foolish. However, it is time for agencies and clients alike to consider how best to use this medium, switching from sales-related content to more industry-related content in the form of organic posts to drive branding and saving promotional ads for elsewhere.

So, what do you say? Facebook friends?

 

24
Feb
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

Always In Vogue

Slip on your stilettos and shrug on your Shrimps fur – London Fashion Week is upon us. Oh the style! Oh the glamour! Oh the advertising!

Contrary to appearances savvy sartorialists know it is not, in fact, all about the clothes and any brand who wishes to prove themselves a pioneer on the catwalk needs to reflect this innovative approach in their wider interactions with consumers. Hence, Topshop, that people’s princess of fashion, continues to uphold its avant-garde reputation, planning to utilise large-scale digital OOH advertising to communicate with fashion fans not attending the event.

Digital display boards in pedestrian areas across the UK will be live-streaming content throughout the four days, Topshop collaborating with Twitter to scrutinize real-time data which will be distilled into key trends. These trends will be represented by hashtags – i.e. #prints #utility – which, when used by the public, enables consumers to receive a curated shopping list to purchase in store or online.

Ignoring the enormous capitalist incentives at the heart of this campaign, the combined democratic power of OOH and social media is illustrated superbly, taking a notoriously elitist event and bringing it to the masses.

Sheena Sauvaire, marketing and communications director at Topshop commented on this ‘democratization of LFW’, explaining how ‘through Twitter’s listening power, we can allow our global consumer to shop the trends as and when they happen… The idea of live advertising is just beginning and…this will be a first example of real-time shop-able billboards.’

While this is a prime example of super savvy branding by Topshop it also testifies to the continued success of outdoor advertising. Digital OOH has seen continued global growth, rising 23% annually between 2007 and 2014 with a further 21% increase predicted for 2015.

Sauvaire’s confidence in the future of real-time shop-able billboards seems well-placed, the combination of age-old outdoor advertising and advanced digital social trends reaching a broad audience likely in a pro-purchase mind-set and actively seeking inspiration – a retailer’s dream. No doubt we will see the growth of mobile sync technology as this medium expands, providing opportunities for personalised multi-platform advertising.

The concept of live advertising fuelled by social engagement is an exciting one, indicative of a wider trend of consumer-led content. And what better way to provide your customer with what they want than by giving them a real-time platform on which their voice fuels the discussion?

13
Feb
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

IAB goes Native

Chatter around the water-cooler this week – the IAB has donned its white hat and is benevolently waving the flag for clarity and transparency throughout the multi-million dollar native advertising industry.

As of last Monday, guidelines have been introduced which aim to ensure all digital forms of native advertising are clearly identified as having an intention to sell or promote through the use of colour coding, written disclosure, acceptably visible brand logos and/or boxed content. While a few industry bods have seen the move as a restriction on the creativity of advertising content the vast majority have welcomed the change, praising its prioritisation of consumer experience over agency gain which can only be a move in the right direction.

While the naysayers may be concerned that more prominent ad labelling will deter consumers, no one likes to feel ‘tricked’ into viewing content with ulterior motives. Research conducted by Opticomm sister agency 2CV on behalf of the IAB suggests potential customers will better engage with an advertisement if it is clear who it has been commissioned by with this initial perspicuity engendering trust between consumer and brand.

Furthermore, in previously trying to strike the balance between media and creative content the likelihood was the result would be substandard at both, providing poor quality content without the reach of transparent advertising. Under the new IAB dictates the hope is that brands will be challenged to create more original, quality advertorials in order to draw in consumers, collectively raising the bar across the industry and consequently better representing themselves and better catering to the customer.

While the change has stirred up a significant amount of discussion the IAB’s decision to regulate native is a bit of a no-brainer, reflecting the restrictions that already govern more traditional media. In reality, advertisers should be confident enough in the quality and desirability of their product that this new transparency is welcomed – if you’re trying to outwit consumers into engaging with your brand then, frankly, your brand needs some work.

There are also positives from an analytical point of view with branded content ensuring consumer engagement is more considered and intentional, providing a more trustworthy, better informed understanding of customer demographics which will in turn positively contribute to future targeting and campaigns.

At its core these guidelines signify a shift in attitude from Us versus Them to Us for Them – working to make consumer experience better – and consequently making us better. And who can argue with that?

 

06
Feb
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

New Rajar in!

The latest Rajar figures released last week for the final quarter of 2014 show a healthy picture for radio listenership in the UK. The recent transition of the Real stations into the Heart Network has increased audience by almost a quarter year on year, and it now can generate a weekly reach of 9.4 million! Elsewhere strong performances were also gained in the capital’s breakfast battleground – especially from XFM, Heart London, Kiss and LBC (it is worth noting when looked at nationally Chris Evans Radio 2 show totally dominates with 9.6 million weekly listeners!). Global’s Classic FM showed a revival over Q3 with a 7.1% increase meaning its weekly reach stands at 5.6 million. In the public sector BBC 6 Music had a strong result passing the two million weekly listeners for the first time and interestingly digital listening overall continued its upward trend with 6% growth over the year – mostly down to DAB radio usage. For more speak to the team – if you can get them to turn down BBC 6 Music that is!