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November 2017

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Why Full Motion Is Worth A Second (And A Half) Look

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New research by Neuro-Insight on behalf of Ocean Outdoor has found that full motion digital out-of-home (DOOH) can deliver 2.5 times the impact of equivalent static sites.

The neuroscience study shows how full motion DOOH delivers an experience that appropriates the traditional brand-building role of television and can amplify the impact of online advertising.

Building on previous neuroscience studies, Ocean hypothesised that full motion DOOH would play a similar role to television in helping to build brand equity and create strong emotional associations for brands, and that, as part of a linked campaign, it could prime the brain to respond more strongly to brand communication in an online environment.
What was learnt and what it means:

Full motion outperforms static: DOOH is 2.5 times more impactful than equivalent static sites. Full motion DOOH is comparable to television in its brand-building impact
Full motion DOOH builds brands: Full motion sites can extend the reach of a television campaign whilst eliciting equally strong and positive responses

Online video translates to DOOH: Short-form online video content performs better on DOOH than it does in an online context. DOOH can add a brand-building dimension to content which, online, tends to play more of an activation role

DOOH amplifies online impact: Full motion DOOH primes this content to perform better when seen online. Online short-form video campaigns will perform better if full motion DOOH is included as part of the media plan.
The study demonstrated that full motion DOOH delivers a brain response that is comparable to that of television advertising and works in a similar way, delivering multiple brand impacts and a strong emotional response – the components that have been shown to contribute to real-world sales impact.

It can also work as an effective delivery mechanism for short-form online content and, as part of a linked campaign, can prime the brain to respond more strongly to that same content when viewed online.

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Facing the Facts: Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

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Facebook’s experiments with its news feed are a reminder that both publishers and brands can’t take organic reach for granted on social platforms.

Last month, in response to user feedback, Facebook introduced the Explore feed, a news feed separate from the default news feed, as part of an initiative to separate ‘Personal’ posts from ‘Public’ posts from news brands. However, in six of its smaller markets Facebook went a step further and removed all organic posts from the original news feed, meaning all organic posts from news organisations and other brands were now ‘hidden’ in the new explore feed.

The change saw organic reach on Facebook for some of the leading news publishers in these territories fall by 60-80%. This move has prompted fears in the region about freedom of the press and has rung alarm bells more locally about the threat this could pose to news businesses who rely to a greater or lesser extent on traffic from Facebook.
Unsurprisingly, this change did not affect paid posts, raising the prospect of more spend having to be allocated to promote posts that would have previously achieved good organic reach. Facebook has made it clear for some time that in future brands can expect to assume their organic reach on the platform will fall to zero. However, this move also raises the same question about third-party influencers and news publishers that brands use to reach their audience organically on Facebook-owned platforms.

As it stands, the Facebook algorithm heavily favours paid content to the extent that influencers are struggling to reach new audiences even when the quality of the content and engagement is high. If Facebook rolls out this update globally this could spell the end of organic reach on the platform. For a company that promises to put user experience first, serving people content based on the spend behind it rather than its engagement or relevance could backfire. The benefit of organic branded content is its native seamless approach to getting users attention and the quality of the content itself. If spend has to be taken away from content creation and moved into media spend then both brands and the audience will miss out.

This is a reminder, if one were needed, that brands and influencers should invest in their owned assets because they risk having the carpet pulled from under them if they spend too much time building a profile on Facebook.

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The IAB Gold Standard: Making Digital Sustainable

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Digital ad spend has sky rocketed over the last few years, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Maintaining this exponential growth has been of key importance for those in the world of digital media, but there are growing fears that, while spend is increasing, the quality of digital ads are not. Thus, for 2018, the focus of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is less about growing digital further and more about improving its sustainability.

The IAB frequently publishes eye-watering spend figures for the digital ad world and its H1 summary was no exception, with a reported £675 million year-on-year digital spend increase to £5.56 billion. This represents a 13.8% rise, with most of this increase driven by spiralling mobile budgets (up £655m to £2.37bn). However, these reports are paired with a rise in ad blocking, lingering problems of fraud and growing consumer frustration with intrusive formats. As digital takes ever increasing proportions of clients’ media budgets, the challenge has been to stop it becoming its own worst enemy; to keep spend growing, as digital advertisers, we need to ensure we are spending responsibly.

Accordingly, the IAB has published its Gold Standard for digital media planning, a series of best-practice initiatives that will keep digital growing in the years to come. Guidance ranges from supplier-side tech implementations to guides for creatives to ensuring brand safety. The steps include:

Reducing fraud through the ads.txt initiative: Ads.txt is a mechanism on websites that allows the owners of content to declare who is allowed to sell inventory. It means that when we see ads for sale programmatically, we can be sure that the ad we are buying is legitimate, which in turn goes some way to stopping rogue traders profiting from counterfeit inventory.

LEAN Principles from the Coalition for Better Advertising: LEAN is an acronym used to represent best practice in terms of digital ad specs: Light file sizes and strict controls on data; Encrypted; Ad Choices logo; and Non-intrusive. Together this adds up to a better user experience: ads load faster, users know why the ad has been served to them the ads are non-invasive.

Never use the 12 bad ads: There are 12 ad formats that shouldn’t be on any media plan – the key ones are pop-ups and auto-play sound-on video.

Working with JICWEBS: This is a series of principles to follow that will secure a safer environment for online advertising placements by certifying vendors and content.

All in all, these steps work towards the goal of making digital ads safer for brands to buy and better for the users they are being served to. Essentially, the key messages are around due diligence – being sure of the ads you are buying – and perspective – considering whether, as a user, you would be happy if you were served this ad in this manner.

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Winner, Winner Christmas Dinner

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52 days is a long time. Wars have been won and lost in that time. Moustaches have been grown and novels have been written. But that’s how far in advance of Christmas Argos launched its yuletide ad this year, kicking off the festive season and gaining first-mover advantage with its rocket-powered sled effort. But is moving early all it takes to ‘win Christmas’? Or can John Lewis, former IPA Effectiveness Awards Gold winner, make it yet another champion year?

In both cases, the short answer is apparently not. M&S, with its Paddington 2 tie-in ad, is ruling the roost in the online polls despite (or perhaps because of?) a little controversy. The Telegraph Business readers are particularly unimpressed with John Lewis’ Moz the Monster effort, with it only taking 1% of their vote. MailOnline readers hand it to M&S too, with 49% of the vote vs a slightly-more-generous-than-the-Telegraph 20% for John Lewis.

What about the industry view? Despite a panel of Retail Week commentators handing the crown to John Lewis, a Twitter poll by the editor, George MacDonald, also awards the ‘winningest’ tag to M&S.

Despite buzz frequently translating into success, however, all that ultimately matters is a campaign’s effectiveness both in terms of short-term sales activation and in terms of longer-term brand health metrics – and it’ll be some time before anyone really knows who’s actually won. We’re looking forward to the IPA Effie entries, though, that’s for sure.

So, what to do if you’re an advertiser who can’t hope to compete with £20m+ Christmas ad budgets? Well, for one of our clients, for the second year running, we’ve recommended holding back from releasing their ad until it’s actually Christmassy enough – a strategy they employed last year to great effect. The lesson here is to think differently about occasion-based campaigns. Most of the retail heavyweights have gone out within a few days of each other in early November, some time before the majority of people actually start Christmas shopping.

Dominic Mills agrees. In his latest Mediatel column he says “There are, I think, three dangers here for advertisers: one, consumers are fed up/bored with their ads by the time the real sales war is on them… two, they’re drowning each other out; or three, they’ve run out of media cash and they’ll have to raid the back of the sofa for some extra. Either way, their chances of being top of mind are diminished by the time the real shopping season is on us. “

Going ahead of peak season to establish a ‘destination of choice’ position with consumers might work with gargantuan media budgets at your disposal, but for smaller players you’re simply going to be drowned out. We believe it can be much more effective to concentrate your resources when the greatest volume of your audience are in-market. And this is something that holds true all year round. A well-thought out media strategy should be the difference between an ‘ok’ and an ‘incredible’ Christmas.

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Is Advertising Really Diversifying?

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2017 has given us a female Doctor Who, a mixed-race model on the cover of Vogue and the election of the first openly gay Irish Prime Minister (the fourth openly gay head of state in the world). But as the wider world looks to be catching up with the 21st Century, in adland the diversity debate rages on.

Research conducted as part of our quarterly consumer tracking study – The QT – identified that whilst 56% of Brits feel the debate around diversity is more widespread than ever, only 24% agree they feel represented in modern advertising.

What is particularly stark is that these figures are not driven by the groups you would imagine feel most uninspired. Many believe steps are being taken to represent LGBT and ethnic diversity, disability and gender, for example, but attitudes to regional representation are less favourable, with only 1% of those in the North East saying they felt advertising reflects life where they come from versus 18% of Londoners. This sort of London vs the rest of the UK divide is nothing new: Trinity Mirror’s ‘When Trust Falls Down’ study corroborates our findings that those outside London are simply more likely to feel that brands don’t understand what it’s like for people living in Britain today. It’s not surprising from our research then that a more significant proportion of Londoners (one in three) believe advertising is more progressive than wider culture.

Another point of interest is age. Giulietta, from our follow-up qualitative focus groups on Facebook Messenger, sums it up perfectly:

“I think that more of a range of people are now being shown in advertising – disabled, ethnic minorities, less so LGBTQ. As an older woman (60) I feel the only ads I see me in are daytime ads for incontinence aids or life insurance, and it does get on my nerves a bit.”

Indeed, only 12% of the 65+ demographic feel fairly represented, compared to 40% of the 18-24 cohort. Not only does this feel unfair, but it also lacks business sense. After all, official figures show that one in six pensioners is a millionaire, and Baby Boomers reportedly have a disposable income superior to any other generation.

So what does this mean for brands? Local media and relevant messaging can help to illustrate that you’re on your customers’ side in a more tangible way – especially outside the capital. Being representative doesn’t mean sacrificing being aspirational, but knowing your audience will help. Association and affiliation with progressive social causes can be recognisable and beneficial, but brands must take care not to simply “rainbow wash”. After all, two in five Brits (42%) feel brands sometimes exploit diversity events. Being true to your brand and your customers is a safe place to begin.

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Lightbox Loves – The 7 lessons learned from our Black Friday all-nighter

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Black Friday has generated an array of excitement, doubt and cynicism over the years. However, what do shoppers really think about the day? After all, Black Friday’s fate is ultimately down to us; the consumer.

In order to do this, we decided there was only one way to do it – by conducting real-time research listening to what people are saying socially.  Using social analysis tools we monitored conversation and sentiment over night to get a rich understanding of what consumers really think.

So, based on 91,000 tweets that generated 1.2 billion impressions – and fuelled by four slices of chocolate cake and three cups of coffee – here’s what we found out:

  1. Black Friday is a test of temptation.

Consumers’ raw honesty around their battles between their heart and wallet was prevalent. Shoppers were not shy to point out they were buying things they didn’t particularly need and succumbing to offers they couldn’t refuse, which often resulted in them admitting to now being broke, or spending more than they may had originally wanted to.

 

  1. Payday is a blessing and a curse.

The main barrier to shopping Black Friday deals was a lack of disposable income due to not yet being paid. For others, the fortunate timing of payday was used as an excuse to spend more, even if they knew they shouldn’t. Brands should be aware that just because they are cutting their prices, it doesn’t make the offers affordable to all.

 

  1. We don’t come back with what we bargained for.

Whilst shoppers had good intentions to buy particular products, this did not always go to plan. Shoppers were the first to share their unplanned purchases, which ranged from clothes and food to technology and home accessories. Black Friday truly does offer something for everyone, whether we like it or not. How can brands tap into the impulsiveness within the Black Friday journey?

 

  1. Shoppers go to great lengths for (and get great satisfaction from) a good deal.

Consumers are willing to brave late nights, early starts and online queues to be rewarded with a good deal, and nothing quite beats the feeling when those efforts pay off – something shoppers want to showcase on social. On the flipside, when our plans to get a good deal don’t quite work out, we feel let down and annoyed, even for fairly small purchases.

 

  1. Customers need brands to help them navigate through the fog.

Brands need to help consumers to decode Black Friday as the bombardment of offers and emails are deemed confusing and overwhelming. The key here is differentiation, in order to for their messaging to stand out and make the journey easier for their customers.

 

  1. Black Friday is not just for Christmas.

While consumers may fully intend to use the discounts to do some savvy Christmas shopping, the truth is that many see this as an opportunity to treat themselves, and indulge in frivolity. For brands, there is an opportunity to capitalise on ‘me-time’ and embrace the cheeky ‘selfish’ purchases.

 

  1. Consumers question Black Friday pricing strategies

There is no doubt in consumers’ minds that good deals are on offer – something they are happy to celebrate – but there is some scepticism starting to emerge around whether the price reductions are genuine or not. Brands need to provide customers with a level of reassurance to drive further consideration and purchase.