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July 2016

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Don’t Stop the Press: Print Makes a Comeback

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Newspapers have had a hard time of it this year. Despite the Brexit boost, which has seen many news brands break records for online traffic and millions more papers sold, many titles are still worse off than they were this time last year.

The Sun’s circulation was down 3.5% year-on-year in June, the Daily Mail -4.8% and the Mirror -10%, meaning over 85,000 fewer copies of this title alone left the shelves compared to last year. The Times and the Sunday Times grew 15% and 5.5% respectively in the same period, but around 110,000 more free bulk copies were distributed between them to increase circulation, so this doesn’t necessarily mean the titles are selling well.

With calls to stop the press –and with The Independent going through with it –news brands have had to innovate to stay relevant. The latest attempt to keep the paper boy in the job is one of the most innovative yet. For years, the same newspapers have been going to print every day of the week, but now the latest trend –the ‘pop-up newspaper’ –is to print a paper for a limited period of time, then take it off the shelves.

Archant news group this month announced the launch of pop-up paper The New European, a weekly title aimed at the remain-voting public, with a cover price of £2. The publishing company explained from the outset that the title would only go to print each week as long as the demand was there, and it’s paid off –with an estimated 40,000 copies of the last edition sold, The New European is going to print again this week.

One-off print titles have been seen before;fanzines and single issue magazines focusing on niche trends have been around for a while. However, for the national print market, this represents a huge step change. For years, news brands have been boosting their website traffic in the hope of combatting falling circulation figures, but now they’re reinvesting in the printed product.

For advertisers, this represents an exciting opportunity. Brands can appear in a highly relevant environment, in a paper for readers with specific views, interests and hobbies. This also means that advertisers could have the chance to reach an audience not otherwise convinced by –and therefore not able to be reached through –traditional newspapers.

Appearing in a pop-up paper, brands will likely achieve a strong share of voice and opportunity for impact, potentially before any of their competitors have even had the chance to read up on the latest pop-up to come to the market.

However, as with many high-reward opportunities, there are risks involved. Buying into a pop-up is a step into the unknown. Even the publishers might not be able to predict how well the title will sell, or how long it will be on the shelves for. In a traditionally slow-moving market, brands need to act quickly if they want to get involved; if they hesitate, the title could be off the shelves already.

Cynics will say that The New European has branded itself a pop-up paper to avoid embarrassment if the title doesn’t sell well –as with the New Day –but ultimately if the so-called pop-up paper can revive the print market, it’s a trend worth keeping your eye on.

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A Fresh Perspective on Effectiveness

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Setting up even a short-term, one-off online campaign will deliver more facts and figures than you ever thought you needed, from viewing data and click-through-rates to page landings, which can be translated into sales, revenue and ROI.

Offline media is often discounted in favour of online channels that can deliver these take-away figures and provide more immediate evidence of short-term results. According to Newsworks, this is partly because we haven’t seen a large scale survey into the brand impacts and ROI delivered by newsbrands. Until now.

Earlier this month we attended the newspaper trading body’s first Effectiveness Summit. We listened to findings from research which reiterated the strength of traditional media and acknowledged the long-term importance of news brands for advertisers. In the past year there’s been an increased focus on effectiveness studies, with new editions appearing to be published every week. So what did the conference tell us, and is this effectiveness study really different from all the others before it?

The first study –Benchmarking for Newsworks–looked at 500 econometric models across the media industry and suggested that advertising with a news brand could increase campaign ROI three times over. It went on to show that using news brands as part of an advertising campaign can boost overall campaign effectiveness, with TV effectiveness doubling and online display effectiveness quadrupling as part of the channel mix.

The summit also presented the IPA’s Databank study investigating the effectiveness of news brands in the modern media environment. The results showed that a physical and online presence within news platforms is crucial to ensure long-term campaign effectiveness. News brands were the most effective for acquiring new consumers and increasing market share –factors that are key to marketers and brands to achieve long-term business objectives.

Effectiveness has long been a key factor in the analysis of media campaigns and, with the data available, advertisers are now arguably more results-focused than ever before. Short term metrics and immediate responses are the easiest to access, and web traffic and sales volume help indicate short-term uplift. Like many other ATL channels, measurement of print has always been more challenging.

Newsworks’ research joins the increasing bank of available resources for measuring results from ATL channels, such as out of home’s tracking survey Route. Despite an increase in resources for accountability in these channels, this is only the first step in proving both the short and long-term value of non-digital channels.

That an Effectiveness Summit was held demonstrates the increasing focus on and dedication to measurability and accountability from offline media channels across the industry. We’re looking forward to the introduction of even more tools that will allow us to measure offline campaigns to the same extent we can track online campaigns, even in real-time.

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Why Transparency is Crucial in Influencer Marketing

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Whether you’re on Instagram, YouTube, or a vlogging site, it’s difficult to avoid posts from influencers. It’s not surprising considering that more than a third –38% –of industry professionals now work with social influencers, investing an average of £42k annually, according to a survey from Takumi. However, it’s not always easy to tell whether an influencer’s posts are #sponsored.

That’s where ICPEN –a network of consumer protection authorities –has stepped in this month, publishing several sets of guidelines on online endorsements. The UK’s CAP has had guidelines in place for some time to regulate influencer marketing –essentially, brands have to make it clear when content is sponsored. But the study from Takumi found that 31% of industry professionals are reluctant to follow the guidelines, and another 12% aren’t even clear what the guidelines are. These stats suggest that many marketers are missing the point of influencer marketing. Here’s why:

1) Authenticity is what makes influencers influential
The huge following that online influencers attract is no coincidence. Their followers buy into their content, not only watching them on the screen and following them on social media, but listening to them on a personal level, whether it’s trusting recommendations of food brands from The Body Coach himself or tracking down beauty products advocated by reality TV stars. This is why consumers consider bloggers’ opinions to be the third most trustworthy after family and friends(AffilinetMay 2015). This trust is the key reason brands want to work with influencers –if a brand isn’t actively protecting that relationship then they are probably on the road to producing an advertorial, not an influencer partnership.

2) Reach is great, influence is better but advocacy is best
Marketers should focus on influencer engagement rather than influencer marketing. Ideally your chosen influencer is genuinely on board with your brand messaging. This means speaking to a number of influencers about your objectives early on, getting their feedback and moving forward only when there is an authentic connection between brand and influencer. In our experience this often requires working with multiple, less high-profile influencers over time, which is more effective than a single influencer working on a single brand-led campaign. In this scenario, tagging a post as paid-for endorsement will not compromise the authenticity of the endorsement.

3) Nobody likes being lied to
If a consumer has to dig around to discover that their favourite influencer’s content is sponsored by a brand, it feels like a betrayal. The brand is viewed as manipulative, the influencer is seen to have lost integrity and that all important trust in the influencer is degraded. Even if the influencer is honest, failure to highlight content as sponsored will do far more harm than good to the brand.

There are two approaches to influencer marketing. One involves sourcing influencers with the highest reach, briefing them on what to say and paying them to say it. ICPEN’s latest guidelines should only be of concern to these brands, if they feel they have something to hide.

The other approach focuses instead on finding influencers to become advocates. The brand is open with potential influencers about its objectives, and content is created through a partnership. This means the partnership is not undermined when the influencer follows regulations and admits the post is #sponsored, and this is where the value of influencer marketing lies.

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Pokemon Go: Why Choose You?

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After starting out as an April Fools’ joke from Google in 2014, Pokémon Go has now become one of the most downloaded apps and talked-about crazes the world has ever seen. Just one week on from its official release, active user figures had already overtaken those of Twitter, with millions of people searching far and wide in their quest to catch ‘em all.

For anyone unfamiliar with the phenomenon (have you been living in a Zubat-infested cave?), Pokémon Go is a smartphone gaming app which allows players to track, hunt and catch virtual pocket monsters –more commonly known as Pokémon –using a combination of location tracking and augmented reality technologies.

While this has proved a massive hit among nostalgic millennials, who finally get to live out their childhood dreams of chasing their favourite cartoon critters through Hyde Park, it hasn’t all been fun and games for Pokémon Go. Niantic Labs’ app has made plenty of headlines for the wrong reasons, including grown men pursuing Pokémon through minefields in Bosnia, players complaining of sore legs after accidentally exercising, and many a story of opportunistic muggers using the app to bait victims to ‘Gyms’ or ‘Pokéstops’.

It’s thankfully not only criminals that have taken advantage of these Pokéstops–real-life geographical landmarks acting as beacons and virtual item pickup stops within the game –as some small businesses have also cashed in. Several UK pubs and restaurants lucky enough to have become Pokéstops are spending up to £100 a day on virtual ‘lures’, and have even hired workers whose sole job is to place these lures around the establishment. In such eateries, both players and virtual Pokémon come flocking, with one Covent Garden restaurant seeing a reported 26% increase in revenue.

For bigger advertisers, eyes must be lighting up at the prospect of targeting customers through the app; whether it’s as simple as retailers driving footfall through location tracking, or online propositions leveraging branding into the AR feature, it is certainly an exciting prospect.

One company has already got the Poké-Ball rolling, as McDonald’s this week saw 3,000 outlets in Japan become Pokéstops. While Niantic has remained fairly tight-lipped on their business plans so far, this does show signs of promise for any other advertisers in other countries keen to exploit Pokémon Go’s success.

One aspect advertisers should be wary of when considering commercial activity with any craze is the ‘fad-factor’. Like obsessions that have already been and gone –Yo-yos, Tamagotchi’s, and indeed Pokémon cards themselves -it is often the case that after the initial interest, the trend slowly starts to die down. Pokémon Go, however, appears to be a different breed. While it might never have been acceptable to flip Pogs in a packed train station, or swing a Yo-yo around while picking up your morning coffee, the very nature and conspicuousness of mobile games such as Pokémon Go make it that much easier for users to stay engaged, no matter when or where.

What’s more, having only released the so-called ‘1st Generation’ of Pokémon on the game, Niantic will still have a few tricks up their sleeve to keep users hooked, and tap into new audiences along the way. However the app evolves, it will be fascinating to see which brands will truly understand the power that’s inside mobile gaming, as well as even the most basic of location tracking and AR technologies.

Big Results for Big Brother as Gumtree Grabs Thinkbox Award

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Last week saw Gumtree claim the title of Best Use of Sponsorship at the annual Thinkbox TV Planning Awards, overcoming stiff competition including McDonald’s and Bosch. The campaign won praise from the judges for being a truly integrated sponsorship of Celebrity Big Brother which delivered “a really big ingenious idea”. The campaign included idents across all associated programming, bespoke promotional spots, online takeovers, social media, exclusive competitions, the use of the CBB IP and Big Brother himself using Gumtree to furnish the most famous house in Britain. The sum of which was a campaign with personality – “sponsorship as it should be done” according to the panel – which drove strong business results. You can see the full details here!