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September 2016

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Baking Bad

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After Channel 4 signed a three-year £75 million deal with Love Productions, from 2017 we will see a new marquee for the nation’s favourite Great British Bake Off.

Along with Channel 4 favourites such as Gogglebox, Come Dine With Me and Location, Location, Location, The Great British Bake Off will be in good company to thrive as the ‘quintessential’ British brand associated with the show and, until now, with the BBC.

Last year’s final of the cooking contest was the UK’s most watched television programme of the year, with 13.4 million viewers tuning in to see Nadiya Hussain crowned queen baker. The launch episode of the latest series drew in a record audience of 10 million viewers, nearly half the total viewing audience that evening. Who would have thought ten years ago that the way to reach millennials would be through baking?

We expect viewing figures to decrease with the move to Channel 4, but the audience profile is also likely to change, as the channel has a greater pull for the younger 16-34 age bracket. TV history shows there are success stories from switching channels, such as this year’s Formula One coverage moving from BBC to Channel 4, and, even though ratings have not reached the dizzy heights of the BBC days, Jonathan Ross has continued to attract big name guests and keep a high profile over on ITV.

With host Mary Berry and presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc already bowing out of the Channel 4 remake, stating they are not “in it for the dough”, it is, however, left to silver fox Paul Hollywood to lead the show and keep watch over the soggy bottoms. The move to Channel 4 and loss of the big names has been met by public apprehension. However, Craig Orr (Director of Commissioning and Development for MTV International) believes that, even though the presenting line up has been pivotal to Bake Off’s success, the real stars have been the contestant bakers. He argued that “if they keep casting in the same brilliant way and keep showcasing the brilliant format in the same way, they’ve bought a lot more than a tent and a couple of cakes”.

For brands, the move to Channel 4 of course provides an opportunity to partner up with a previously off-limits show, and product placements will no doubt feature as part of wider-reaching sponsorship deals.

Channel 4 hopes to begin airing the programme in 2017, starting with a celebrity special in aid of Stand Up To Cancer. For now, the focus is on what the deal means for the wider TV industry. A senior BBC executive has already argued that the deal is another incentive for Channel 4 to be privatised; a plan already revealed to have been discussed after a government document was leaked last year. We could even see more programming making similar moves, with shadow culture minister Chi Onwurah suggesting that the BBC could lose more of its prime time show formats as a result of the agreement to fund the cost of TV licences for the over-75s.

What’s interesting is that, despite speculation, the rights to Bake Off went to a broadcast TV rival rather than a streaming service. Netflix, for now, seems to be focusing on original content, rather than licensing deals, announcing this month that it’s aiming for half of its content to be made up of original programming over the coming years. Amazon Prime’s Jeremy Clarkson-hosted Top Gear spin-off, meanwhile, is set to arrive in November this year, so it won’t be long until we find out whether streaming services will be able to compete with the big-spending, high-reaching broadcast TV channels, after all.

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How LadBible is redefining lad culture

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LADbible is often misunderstood by those who do not follow it (I should declare at this point, I work with them as a consultant, and that I’m a recent convert). The name “Lad” does little to help. Despite this, its founding principles, and the figures it now reaches, are worthy of respect.

Lad culture was at its height 15 years ago, with Nuts and Zoo defining an era of babes, booze and bants. It didn’t last too long, however, and these titles (and others) closed when men became disinterested –and the internet became a much bigger source of entertainment. But LADbible is different, and to compare it to the male magazine market is to do it a huge disservice.

Here are some of the facts:
•In July alone LADbible had 3.1 billion views across all of its platforms worldwide
•LADbible reaches half of all 16-24 men, and a quarter of young women in the UK
•One in ten of all Facebook users follow LADbible
•It is the third biggest video content provider globally, only behind Buzzfeed and Time Warner
•It is number one in Europe, and ahead of the BBC, Mail Online, Twitter and Sky domestically

In the right place at the right time, LADbible has been around for just five years, founded by two young men from Manchester. The advent of user generated content and the means to share it was established just as it was there to provide it. But these guys aren’t immature chancers. They are wise enough to understand the audience’s mindset, going so far as to hire 16-year-olds, and placing them at the heart of its editorial operation. Already following their advice, LADbible has decided not to take traditional advertising for short term gain, because it would interrupt the content and ruin the user’s enjoyment.

They are not looking to quickly cash in either; LADbible is aimed at building a robust UK-based global empire. That takes nerve, and the conviction to buck a trend. Investing in high quality infrastructure, from studios to experienced talent, unproven young people, and expanding well-equipped offices, they are making a conscious effort to invest in the future and a longer term vision for the group.

The brand is also seeking to expand beyond the mobile/tablet digital universe and spread its home grown content in to the wider media world. The light-hearted entertainment will sit alongside hard news and relevant causes. The LADbible is not perfect but is a game changer with a real shot.

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The future of shopping is mobile

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It’s official: mobile sales now outpace desktop in the UK, according to the new UK Mobile Commerce Report from Criteo released this week. The bi-annual research examines m-commerce trends and provides insights into online shopping behaviour as the consumer path to purchase evolves, and as more retailers adopted consumer friendly mobile sites and transaction-driving commerce apps.

Key findings of the report were:

A tipping point: For the first time, on average, retailers in the UK saw at least half of their sales from mobile, an 11% increase on the same period last year. The leading 25% of mobile retailers’ share of mobile went even further and crossed the 60% mark.

Top verticals pull away: Fashion brands extended their lead over other subcategories with over half of their sales now occurring on mobile. Home, a slow performing category last year, showed a strong growth of 53% and moved ahead of Health & Beauty and Sporting Goods.

Tablets fade, smartphones soar: This is no surprise, as worldwide tablet shipments dropped 15% YOY in Q1 2016, from 46M to 40M, while smartphone shipments grew to 335M (IDC). 58% of retail mobile transactions are now done by smartphone (an increase of 26% YoY).

At the same time, iPhone transactions are growing at a faster rate than Android –now accounting for 20.2% of transactions in the UK vs 8.7% Android. That’s growth of 42% YoY. The UK (and Japan) have now crossed the line –selling more via mobile than through desktop, and for the first quarter ever, smartphones now deliver the majority of mobile transactions in every major market. New smartphone features like fingerprint recognition will help continue to make smartphone transactions even easier.

Apps reign: Apps remain the most efficient channel for retailers, driving a larger percentage of shoppers down the purchase funnel and converting at 3x the rate of mobile web, largely thanks to their ease of use. New app users are twice as likely to return within 30 days vs. mobile web users. And savvy app retailers see up to 54% of their mobile transactions generated in-app. For mobile web to keep up, we need to see development of Progressive Web Apps and speedier standards for mobile sites to help with conversion rates.

What this report, and growing consumer insight highlights, is how essential it is for retailers to commit to continuous improvement of their mobile sites, including site navigation and usability, in order to satisfy customer expectations and stay ahead of the competition. Even if Apps aren’t for you, your site must be mobile smart.

With our industry still trying to suss out effective routes to mobile advertising, one thing is for sure –mobile commerce is no longer a small part of the consumer purchase journey… it’s the part.

The Mobile Commerce Report is based on over 3,300 online retail businesses globally; 1.7 billion transactions per year across desktop and mobile sites; $720 billion in annual sales.

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Sample of one: Are we in touch with the average Brit?

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For much of 2016, the country has felt divided. In June, we learnt the extent to which London differs from the rest of the country, as the heartland of the Remain vote, while the rest of the country had voted out. In the aftermath, 179,000 people even supported a petition for the capital to become independent, with the feeling that us Londoners just aren’t the same as those outside the confines of the M25.

The ad industry is largely based in London, and, on top of this, social identity theory suggests we gravitate towards those most similar to ourselves. However, our work demands that we speak to those outside of our own outlook every day.

These realities drove Denise Turner to embark upon her Sample of One study. The Director of Insight at Newsworkschallenged 30 London-based media industry colleagues –from young agency planners to media agency bosses –to complete the IPA TouchPointstime diary. We were lucky enough to see her present findings at the 2016 IPA Touchpoints 6 launch this month.

The Newsworksexperiment found that London media bods watch less TV, read less print and consume less radio than the average Brit. Indeed, compared with the average 23-27 year old, media agency planners in this bracket consume on average nine fewer print titles per week, and consume 1.2 hours less of TV. The inconsistencies were not confined to traditional media; there were marked differences in terms of time spent online, with those in media recording almost twice as much time with digital channels compared to the average.

To discover how comparable our habits are with the audiences we plan and buy against every day, here at the7stars, we decided to test Newsworks’ results with our own study. We conducted an internal survey on media habits, lifestyle choices and attitudes amongst 72 of our colleagues. Results were compared to the wider nation on TGI, IPA Touchpoints and YouGovProfiles.

Our findings largely aligned with Newsworks, including lower daily radio listenership and (predictably) higher reach on social networks and YouTube. Crucially, however, by testing results against a comparable urban audience as well as the country’s population, we uncovered that the vast majority of differences were explained by our status as city-dwellers, and as Londoners, rather than our choice of industry.

Turner described her results as a “wake up call”,and as a reminder that we “shouldn’t assume everyone is like us”. What we’ve taken from our research is that it’s not just about the industry; it’s important to recognise that regional differencescan be drivers of media behaviour in the same way that age, gender, affluence or attitude can.

Londoners are 25% more likely to be heavy travellers –spending 9hrs+ per week out and about. They are 47% more likely to be heavy internet users than their regional counterparts, and 31% less likely to be heavy consumers of radio. There are key channel choice considerations to be made when planning against audiences around the country, and, often, one size does not fit all.