Monthly Archives

November 2018

Reaching The Illusive 16-34s With Cinema

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Cinema can mistakenly be seen as a last minute thought to a media schedule, with brands seeing it as almost a luxury addition and can often be the first element to be removed if budgets are cut.

However, amongst 16-34 year olds – the demographic least engaged with media – cinema is really coming into its own, and can actually be very effective at drawing in incremental, unique reach.

That is according to a report conducted by DCM in partnership with research company Differentology.  At its recent Upfronts conference, DCM said that unlike many other media channels, cinema is one place where young people can forget the world they are currently in, and fully engage with what’s in front of them.

Advertising is an essential part of that experience, with 16-34s actively looking forward to and discussing the ads played before each film. The same appetite for advertising does not appear to be shared elsewhere on the media spectrum, with many reports showing that this demographic is intent on avoiding advertising as much as possible, through means like ad-blockers.

Cinema is therefore a goldmine for advertisers wanting to engage with this particular age group, which accounts for 44% of cinema ticket sales, boasting an attendance 19% higher than the national average at eight times a year.

In addition to the study, to prove the value of advertising through the cinema, DCM looked at its own internal data sources, including six years’ worth of spot data, admissions data and 12 years of audience profiles on films, combined with the help of RSMB.

As a result of its findings, the company is now able to convert admissions into equivalent TVRs and show that cinema adds cost-effective, quality TVRs. Not only that, due to the nature in which cinema is consumed, it can also guarantee unique reach.

Looking back at the film slate from 2018, the company was able to divulge impressive numbers to show how blockbusters faired when it came to eTVRs. Of the findings, Avengers: Infinity War delivered twenty 16-34 TVRs in the first two weeks, while Incredibles 2 delivered nine 16-34 TVRs.

This is an invaluable tool for planners. Being able to convert admissions into a metric that is well-known, makes cinema a lot more accessible, and ultimately an easier sell on to media plans.

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The Hotline – November 2018

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Shortlist has announced that it will be closing down the print magazine with the last issue due to be published on the 20th December this year. The publication circulated just over 500,000 free copies a week according to ABC figures for the first six months of 2018. This makes the free weekly the biggest men’s magazine in the UK, with distribution taking place in nine cities across the country. Shortlist will continue with an online presence whilst the group Shortlist media will move forward with a rebrand as ‘The Stylist Group’ to focus on its free women’s magazine Stylist. Across the wider print market men’s magazine circulations have seen a large decrease in recent years with the Men’s Health in particular suffering the most, seeing a 16.4% YoY.

 

Channel 4 has announced its intention to move its national HQ to the city of Leeds alongside two smaller new production hubs in Bristol and Glasgow. The new HQ has been described as a “broad-based centre” that will entail commissioning, production and digital content. The broadcaster will keep a headquarters in the capital, however 200 out of 800 staff will be moved to Leeds. The Northern city was chosen above contenders Birmingham and Greater Manchester with the aim of capitalising on talent in wider parts of the UK. Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said she wanted to “supercharge the impact we have in all parts of the country”. The chief executive of Screen Yorkshire, Sally Joynson has commented that the move would be “transformational” for the TV industry in the city and North of England.

 

Despite a recent 13% dip in its global audience, the Mail Online is set to hit record revenue levels – overtaking levels achieved by its print counterparts, The Daily Mail & The Mail on Sunday, for the first time. The online news site trumped the print titles’ combined revenue of £119m by 3% – bringing in a cool £122m in revenue for DMGT. With print circulations continuing to decline, publishers are needing to expand their portfolios and take advantage of the broadening use and capabilities of digital platforms and technologies. Although web traffic to the site suffered, due to a decline in indirect visits from social media platforms, after Facebook’s decision to deprioritise news appearing in users’ feeds, the time spent on the site reportedly increased to a daily average of 145 minutes, with the majority of that coming from direct traffic.

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which can only mean one thing…the battle of the Christmas ads is in full swing. Arguably the most anticipated ad is the notorious efforts bought forward by John Lewis each year. However, they’ve had stiff competition from Sainsbury’s, Iceland & Aldi. Despite pulling in the big guns (Elton John), John Lewis’s ad failed to reach the top-spot in Marketing Week’s survey of their readers’ favourite Christmas ads, coming in 4th after the aforementioned brands. 20% of Marketing Week readers voted Sainsbury’s’ “Big Night” as their favourite festive ad of 2018, with Iceland’s emotionally charged partnership with Greenpeace coming in 2nd – despite it being banned from airing on TV – and Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot in third.

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A Spotlight On Black Friday

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This year’s Black Friday was a successful day of deals for many UK retailers. John Lewis & Partners reported record sales, despite suffering issues with the website during this crucial shopping period. Their sales were up 7.7% YoY and they claimed it was the biggest sales week in their history.

But to take a look at what Brits were actually buying, our Lightbox team took to the streets and shopping centres in and around London. Scouring Brent Cross, Westfield Stratford and Oxford Street in a bid to get a first hand experience of the day for British shoppers. The above photo was Oxford Street at 9am that day – not quite the brawl of previous years.

One finding was that there was a degree of deal confusion. According to new findings from the QT – 47% of Brits feel lost in the sea of promotions. In-store, retailers were opting for deals on deals on deals – with promotions such as 50% off everything, combined with free gifts according to a spend over a certain amount. The issue encountered by shoppers here was that the additional gift wasn’t communicated until they reached the counter, sending them into a panic to buy enough to reach the threshold and win big. The in-store experience therefore suffered, with bigger queues resulting from the confusion.

There has been a level of scepticism from Brits about the day itself, with 81% saying that its possible to get good deals all year round – calling into question the significance of this particular shopping event. A question often asked is whether Brits decide to use Black Friday as a way to wade through their Christmas shopping. But we’ve found that this is less prominent than retailers lead you to believe. According to findings from the QT, only 13% of Brits said they were buying Christmas gifts purposely on Black Friday, which was a slight increase on our 2016 findings – which sat at 10%. Even so, this still constitutes a minority.

During our consumer safaris, we could see for ourselves how it was often the gift displays left somewhat abandoned. Despite offering tremendous discounts, they were only an afterthought to a new pair of trainers or winter coat. Indeed, 13% of Brits admitted that they end up buying items they don’t really need.

With a lot of the action moving online in recent years, we also tested whether the deals were as good as they sounded through the e-commerce route. Tracking a selection of headline deals from the Amazon homepage using Camel Camel Camel (an Amazon Price Tracker tool), it was discovered that of the sample, 59% were the cheapest price that they had ever been. However, on average, prices were only 2% cheaper than their previous lowest price, and around 1 in 8 products had been the same price as on Black Friday at a previous point in time.

Which? Research ran a similar analysis on the 2017 deals, and tracked prices of these items post Black Friday. 87% of their items were the same price, or cheaper within the following 6 months, with 47% cheaper than on Black Friday.

With less footfall on the streets, we conclude that savvy shoppers with the tools to price track for themselves are beginning to question what constitutes a deal. There is an opportunity for retailers to cut through the clutter with their next sale period – either streamlining their promotions or simplifying their communications – to help improve the in-store and online consumer experience.

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NeedStates: The Role Of Video

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Contrary to popular belief, consumers aren’t abandoning television; they are seeking out video content in alternative spaces to suit their needs.

By 2023 TV is predicted to account for 61% of video viewing and SVOD 14%; Netflix on its own is on course to reach a whopping 10 million subscribers by the end of 2018.

The above stats make for impressive reading but Thinkbox were keen to understand why people watch video in the first place.

In 2013, Thinkbox commissioned research to identify the different needstates that drive video viewing. The results of this showed there to be 6 in total; unwind, comfort, connect, experience, escape and indulge.

5 years on and a repeat of this study, entitled “The Age of TV”, showed this to have evolved because of the proliferation of online and mobile video. In addition to the 6 needstates defined in 2013, a further 2 needstates have been identified as defining our video viewing habits; do and distract.

Distract, which accounts for 18% of video viewing, is described as filling time or providing viewers with a brief break from mundane tasks. Predominantly this content is made up of short-form videos with the aim of lightening the viewers mood i.e. when commuting or waiting for a TV show to start.

Do, meanwhile, serves a far more functional purpose.  Driven by online video (more specifically YouTube), this satisfies the need for useful information that can be practically applied in life (i.e. Instructional videos for cooking or DIY) and makes up roughly 2% of video viewing time.

What’s most interesting about these newly discovered needstates is that they are predominantly made up of the 16-34 demographic. Notably, for 16-24s, 29% of viewing is driven by the ‘distract’ needstate.

On the face of it, this is a reasonably worrying statistic. If viewers are watching video content without concentrating then it’ a concern for advertisers that viewers might not be recalling the ads they are exposed to.

This is a question yet to be answered and represents the next logical next step for this research. We need to know how receptive consumers are to advertising when consuming video for each needstate; these insights would be hugely valuable to advertisers and could significantly impact video advertising strategy.

Ultimately, identifying these 8 needstates is a great start in the journey to understanding the role video plays in consumers lives. However, given the complexity of the topic and the rate at which the video market is developing, we are at the beginning of a very long  road of discovery.

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The Facebook Dilemma: Why MPs are calling for more regulation

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Facebook has recently come under scrutiny for its role in enabling the Arab Spring of 2010, the destabilisation in the Ukraine and, most recently, violence in Myanmar. Closer to home, there have been accusations of foul play associated with the EU Referendum. Twitter, meanwhile has been in hot water with the public after refusing to immediately ban conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for sharing offensive content on his feed.

It’s not difficult to see how tech giants and social platforms have come to play a role in provoking civil unrest across the world when you consider that, so far, they have been allowed to develop outside the confines of independent scrutiny.

Indeed, without regulation, content on these channels has frequently veered towards the extreme. YouTube, for example, seems to direct users to more extreme political videos with continued viewing, while engagement with fake news and clickbait on Facebook has been proven to have perpetuated a cycle of extremist content.

Some companies are beginning to take the issue more seriously. Facebook, for example, changed its algorithm this year to give preference to the content of friends and family in users’ newsfeeds. It also introduced ad transparency regulations and made the labelling of political ad sources explicit. Google also made changes to its monetisation policies for YouTube and to the resources dedicated to the removal of extremist content.

Regardless, there has been further appeal for more direct intervention. Leading MPs called for Mark Zuckerberg to appear in front of an international grand committee on “disinformation and fake news” this week, however he didn’t show up. Meanwhile, Ofcom has called for Facebook and Google to be independently regulated.

Despite this, advertisers have not been inclined to boycott these social media platforms largely because there  few other routes that can offer the same scale and reach and although brand safety concerns led some away from social media platforms they are still comparatively brand safe in the digital landscape.

Facebook newsfeeds, for example, are dynamic, so ads are unlikely to appear next to inappropriate publisher content repeatedly. Even if they do, the brand is extremely unlikely to be tarnished by association because of newsfeed layout and the separation that lies between.

The story is different with YouTube though, as ads are placed in pre-roll format directly before video content, which is why some brands have been accused of directly funding inappropriate content.

Ultimately, it’s clear that greater regulation is needed across tech communication platforms. The challenge for tech giants will be how to offer this without compromising the level of user freedom that they were built upon.

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What’s Hot – November 2018 Edition

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Shortlist has announced that it will be closing down the print magazine with the last issue due to be published on the 20th December this year. The publication circulated just over 500,000 free copies a week according to ABC figures for the first six months of 2018. This makes the free weekly the biggest men’s magazine in the UK, with distribution taking place in nine cities across the country. Shortlist will continue with an online presence whilst the group Shortlist media will move forward with a rebrand as ‘The Stylist Group’ to focus on its free women’s magazine Stylist. Across the wider print market men’s magazine circulations have seen a large decrease in recent years with the Men’s Health in particular suffering the most, seeing a 16.4% YoY.

Channel 4 has announced its intention to move its national HQ to the city of Leeds alongside two smaller new production hubs in Bristol and Glasgow. The new HQ has been described as a “broad-based centre” that will entail commissioning, production and digital content. The broadcaster will keep a headquarters in the capital, however 200 out of 800 staff will be moved to Leeds. The Northern city was chosen above contenders Birmingham and Greater Manchester with the aim of capitalising on talent in wider parts of the UK. Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said she wanted to “supercharge the impact we have in all parts of the country”. The chief executive of Screen Yorkshire, Sally Joynson has commented that the move would be “transformational” for the TV industry in the city and North of England.

Despite a recent 13% dip in its global audience, the Mail Online is set to hit record revenue levels – overtaking levels achieved by its print counterparts, The Daily Mail & The Mail on Sunday, for the first time. The online news site trumped the print titles’ combined revenue of £119m by 3% – bringing in a cool £122m in revenue for DMGT. With print circulations continuing to decline, publishers are needing to expand their portfolios and take advantage of the broadening use and capabilities of digital platforms and technologies. Although web traffic to the site suffered, due to a decline in indirect visits from social media platforms, after Facebook’s decision to deprioritise news appearing in users’ feeds, the time spent on the site reportedly increased to a daily average of 145 minutes, with the majority of that coming from direct traffic.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which can only mean one thing…the battle of the Christmas ads is in full swing. Arguably the most anticipated ad is the notorious efforts bought forward by John Lewis each year. However, they’ve had stiff competition from Sainsbury’s, Iceland & Aldi. Despite pulling in the big guns (Elton John), John Lewis’s ad failed to reach the top-spot in Marketing Week’s survey of their readers’ favourite Christmas ads, coming in 4th after the aforementioned brands. 20% of Marketing Week readers voted Sainsbury’s’ “Big Night” as their favourite festive ad of 2018, with Iceland’s emotionally charged partnership with Greenpeace coming in 2nd – despite it being banned from airing on TV – and Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot in third.

We are delighted to have been named Best Research Team at the Media Research Awards

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23rd November 2018 marked the bi-annual Media Research Group (MRG) awards, held in Bratislava after the 3-day annual conference.

the7stars were privileged enough to be shortlisted in three categories: Best Research Team – Media Agency, Rising Star, and Best Collaboration – for our whitepaper co-authored with Sign Salad on the topic of Diversity in Advertising.

 The competition was fierce, but we managed to bring home two trophies – beating Mediacom and OMD to the title of Best Research Team, in what the judges said was a unanimous decision, and our own Michelle Milner taking home Rising Star alongside her friend Jess Percival of Twitter.

 One of the only opportunities to celebrate media research at its finest, and after our success at the other ceremony of note in our industry – Mediatel Research Awards – back in February, we were delighted to have ‘done the double’!

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Lightbox Loves: The future of Christmas Ads?

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With the smell of mulled wine and mince pies getting stronger, Christmas will soon be with us. Whilst many vent their frustration with the ever earlier festivities, the launch of the year’s Christmas ads still seems universally loved.

Hotly anticipated every year is John Lewis. Their £7 million ad showcasing Elton John’s biographic, certainly delivered this year. True to form, it was an emotionally charged piece, showing that ‘some gifts are more than just a gift’ as we follow Elton John, Benjamin Button style, from present day to receiving his first gift as a child, a piano. A piano that started his spectacular career.

It’s not new news to say that Nov/Dec advertising is extremely competitive, and during a time where every brand is pushing similar messages, there’s a risk of consumers becoming emotionally numb to ads. A recent report from Retail Gazette hints towards this, reporting that John Lewis sales are down 1.6% year-on-year. Given this, there could be an argument for brands to take a different approach.

M&S seem to think so. This year, “M&S has decided to ditch blockbuster ads for a digital first campaign”. M&S’ marketing director Nathan Ansell is taking advantage of new routes to purchase, saying it’s “about moving into things like Instagram shopping [and] Google Shopping”, taking a fresh approach to reaching customers.

Another new approach this year comes in the form of brand’s cross promoting each other. Taking themselves less seriously and getting in the festive spirit. Aldi & Coca Cola, M&S and Sainsbury’s to name two examples, are happy to like share and interact with each other’s campaigns.

          

Yet another tact comes from Iceland. At a time of mass consumerism, the brand used their Christmas showpiece to share sage advice and warn against the dangers of Palm Oil. A fantastic message helped by a controversial ban sent the social chatter rocketing. Iceland and associated conversation reached a huge 65K mentions on the day of going live, with JL achieving shy of this, with 50k mentions despite having the benefit of being on TV.

John Lewis lead the emotive brand ad charge this year, but there are some competitors taking different tact’s, much to the public’s enjoyment. This behaviour could pave the way for some innovative ads in future Christmas seasons, though the public might start to miss the big emotional splashes made by brands every November. What can be guaranteed, is that regardless of the approach, Christmas ads will continue to be eagerly anticipated and reviewed with great vigour.