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!

04
Feb
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

New fads for ads? by Jessica Mills

Another day, another app to clap. This week people have been putting their hands together for Discover, the new newsy offering from Snapchat. Collaborating with the likes of CNN, Yahoo, National Geographic and Food Network Discover provides aesthetically engaging ‘snapshot’ news and entertainment stories to time-poor, tech-savvy Snappers.

General consensus is that the app is a welcome addition to the Snapchat experience, praised for its engaging interface and for being intuitive to navigate, however, content still leaves much to be desired, relying on copy and paste articles from sister sites and primarily American features (though I challenge anyone not to enjoy Cosmo’s puppies re-enacting Superbowl Sunday vlog).

Once the teething problems have been resolved (and some vague referencing to the UK has been included in the British version) I think Snapchat have a hit on their hands and, as those in the know know, the greatest hits provide the greatest advertising opportunities.

With a loyal base of 16-24s, the majority of which are female – typically a tricky demographic to reach through a lot of ad streams – Snapchat Discover will become a hot spot for a multitude of providers wishing to target that age group.

So what might a Discover ad look like? For one, it will need to be in keeping with the existing format of heavy audio-visual, light written content stories which are the foundation of the app – bright, punchy advertorials which are to the point (the average Snap is available to view for 6 seconds – go figure).

There also needs to be an element of transparency; Snapchat users repeatedly cite the app’s perceived openness as a key reason for using the platform so any advertisement should be wary about trying to appeal to this demographic by pretending to be ‘down with the kids’ – the hint of condescension is the kiss of death for any brand.

Most importantly, originality and creativity should underpin everything, working with the chronology of the news cycle so that each day provides something new to retain the attention of an individual operating in a multi-screen, multi-informational environment.

As far as functionality goes, an interactive element would do well here with short game play lending itself to building brand awareness. Discover is part of a social community hence opportunities to share content will be key while the ability to personalise and send ad-oriented messages (tying in, for example, with the Coca Cola Name Campaign) could be well received.

The reality of if and/or when we will see Snapchat monetizing Discover remains to be seen, however, as new technology continues to change and challenge the way we consume information it is both interesting and important to evolve our expectations of advertising and its relationship with the consumer.

23
Jan
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

Election Fever?

With a firm date for the country to go to the polls many of our clients are asking us what to expect. A good start point is to look at what happened last time in 2010. The simple answer is not a lot. Obviously editorially there is a lot of fervour and stories especially in the broadsheets are dominated by political topics and campaigning. From a media point of view a big effect is the reduction of government spend – all government spending stops in the purdah (6 week run up to polling day). This leaves many media having to find advertising to fill gaps and throws up some short term opportunity – as long as the message can cut through the politics! Clearly in TV where a fluid market operates we expect some deflation, and if the broadcasters and political parties can get their act together some one off blips in media performance e.g. Sky News hosting an election debate sees impacts far above their usual level and election night itself sees a swing in viewing to BBC – other than that its business as usual – kind of!

12
Jan
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

To shop or not to shop?

In a recent BBC article (link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30672179) it was stated that John Lewis like-for-like sales in five weeks leading to 27th December rose by 4.8% with ‘shop sales flat, but online purchases up 19%’. To clarify – all of the year-on-year growth in the busiest shopping period was due to online sales!

Taken out of context it suggests that you should abandon your proverbial high street store and get a web developer, but it’s not so clear cut even though a web savvy employee wouldn’t hurt most businesses. There is no arguing that online shopping is becoming the norm, with shops largely being used as showrooms, but it would be foolish to shut the showroom or remove any mention of you having one.

As evidenced in our experience, the whole is more than the sum of its parts; having several channels working to the same goal is the surest way to achieve success. Long gone should be the days of statements like ‘why do I need to advertise online? I already am doing TV/Radio/Press/OOH and it’s doing fine!’. You should be asking ‘HOW do I increase the efficiency of the TV/Radio/Press/OOH with advertising online?’

21
Nov
Author
Spencer Stratford
Category
Uncategorized

When targeting goes wrong….

In world of media planning sometimes the human intervention aspect is overlooked – and when this happens it can have implications for the results of campaigns. whilst the world of media is numbers based the actual meshing of placement and desired outcome cant really be done by a machine. A great example came up in the form of a recent digital campaign where an audience (ABC1 55+) was shown to be found in Finance and Travel – the index (measure of efficiency) was far higher than elsewhere on site and especially against the homepage. Fast forward to engagement rates and what was clear was that the audience engaged far better on the homepage than on the specific section despite the audience efficiency.  Audience state of mind can never be overlooked when thinking about placement – can a machine do this?