Monthly Archives

September 2020

Ancestry’s Look Back at WW2

By | Featured, News

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of The Blitz this September, Ancestry commissioned 80 pieces of art to tell stories from their records about what everyday Britain was like during WWII. Our campaign marked the moment by transforming key UK cities into real life art galleries, showcasing the bespoke local art across cherry-picked print and outdoor. This activation bolsters Ancestry’s current brand campaign which includes brand TV, sponsorship of Sky History and an original content partnership with The Times.


Lightbox Loves: Influencer Relevancy

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

Influencer-marketing couldn’t escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but it may have helped it to find a new purpose. As brands paused their sponsorships, influencers went from having an average of 35% paid posts to only 4% in April. However, as the months have gone on, businesses and creators in the industry have adapted, with many shifting their focus to other streams of revenue that allow them to create DIY content without having to leave their homes.

Influencers have adjusted their content to become more relevant. There’s been a huge uplift in tutorials relating to fitness, recipes and hobbies, as the focus to helping one another and giving new perspectives has grown. It’s no surprise therefore that the7stars quarterly tracker – The QT – highlighted that social media usage increased by 47% in May, with it continuing to rise again in August. With more time spent online, consumers are more receptive to the content of these influencers than ever before, and value turning to those who are most closely aligned to their priorities. Niche influencers such as ‘plantfluencers’, have seen spikes in followers during the pandemic as people congregate around those that fit their needs.

By adjusting content to become more audience focused and specific, influencers have seen an increase in engagement. Instagram influencers, for example, have seen likes increase by an average of 68%, as well as a 50%+ uplift in comments. Rather than influencers leading completely different lives to their followers – jet setting, making personal appearances and attending launch parties – they’re spending more time at home and consequently, spending more time connecting with their followers mirroring their environments and situations.

This increase in engagement suggests that now is a good time for brands to re-evaluate the influencer landscape. Many influencers are arguably now closer and more relatable to their followers than they have been previously. The rise in niche influencers also facilitates targeting audiences authentically by aligning to what they’re truly passionate about.

The7stars QT, August 2020

Wagamama crowned winner at the Effies

By | Featured, News

wagamama back in 2018 launched with their first ever brand ad into cinema. By embracing its distinctive soulful philosophy, and mastering the secret art of cinema, wagamama attracted a new swarm of urban butterflies through its doors. While others closed shop, our campaign delivered a 6% point penetration increase, grew like for like sales 8.8% vs. market growth of just 1.7%, and achieved a profit ROI of £5.21 for every £1 invested. Through meticulous media planning and an innovative cinema strategy, we broke the stereotypes of cinema and flipped it on its head. This successful campaign has been recognised and is now the winner of the 2020 Media Strategy & Idea category for the Effies.


Lightbox Loves: Accelerated e-Commerce

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

The start of lockdown heard the phrase ‘new normal’ countless times in relation to all areas of consumer behaviour. One of the most notable areas that was referenced was in relation to online habits (in part because there wasn’t a huge amount else to do in the height of lockdown); rising to an average of 4 hours and 2 minutes in April 2020 versus 3 hours 29 minutes in September 2019. However the area that saw one of the most notable growths online was consumer adoption of digital retailing channels, with bricks and mortar shutting.

This trend of shifting to online has been seen before. In the 2008 recession in-person retail stalled as consumers moved online to be more savvy in their shopping and seek out better deals than what was on the high street.

COVID-19 has seen half of Brits shop online, resulting in a 10% growth in the online customer base, following the same pattern that has been seen previously. The biggest contributor to this growth has come from online grocery, with Nielsen Data stating that it totalled £1.12bn in the four weeks ending May 16, a year-on-year increase of 103%.

What’s interesting about online shopping is that, unlike other behaviours adopted during lockdown, online shopping is already set to stay, with 80% of shoppers stating that their new behaviours are here for the long-term. Interestingly, this isn’t just driven by the more digitally native Gen-Xers and Millennials favouring online; data published in early August from eMarketer shows that 62% of US Baby Boomers will buy online this year.

What is different about this growth in online shopping in the pandemic to the 2008 recession, is that where the momentum slowed as the UK came out of the 2008 recession, this time round it is set to continue on an upward trajectory. The August wave of the7stars QT measured increased usage of online shopping; in May 38% had increased this behaviour, this grew in June to 48% and in August 50%, highlighting the momentum around this consumer shift.

The brands that look to understand this evolving consumer habit and embrace the online shopping space will place themselves in a really strong position, not only to retain existing customers but also attract new customers.


Ofcom, UK’s internet use surges to record highs. June 2020

Lost in transaction research

the7stars QT, August 2020

Lightbox Loves: The Growth of esports

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

“G2 are the greatest team we have ever produced in Europe and have gone back to back and won the summer season!” Unless you are a G2 or Fnatic fan you may be wondering which sporting final this line was captured from.  Sunday the 6th of September marked the final of the League of Legends European Championships (LEC) and this quote came as esports team, G2, closed out the match to become European champions. For those yet to come across esports, it is a form of sport competition using video games (e.g. Fortnite) and has turned previously casual gamers into serious stars.

This LEC event was streamed for over 10 hours and broke viewer records for the league, passing one million concurrent streamers. These record-breaking numbers, alongside the continued growth seen during this year’s pandemic, has encouraged many brands to seek out opportunities in the esports arena. In 2019 alone, esports had 454 million followers and was expected to grow to 646 million by 2023. Now, this viewership figure is expected to rise even higher. Our quarterly tracker, The QT, saw a 26% increase in online and mobile gaming in May this year.  So, who is getting involved?

A whole host of brands across multiple categories. The audiences that view and participate in esports are now seeing household names such as BMW, Pringles, Coca Cola, Audi and Red Bull advertising in streams and in-game, or even making larger moves to sponsor teams and events. The popularity of esports has also gained the interest of news publishers with the likes of Sky Sports and the BBC now regularly reporting on high profile tournaments and team updates. TV broadcasters are looking to gain esports eyeballs at an accelerated pace this year due to the absence of other sports, with Sky and BT both striking deals to show the official Premier League and Formula One esport tournaments respectively. Anyone watching the financial markets may also notice David Beckham’s esports team Guild Esports will be floated on the London Stock Exchange, looking to raise £20m and expand outside the UK market.

Whilst the events of this year have helped grow esports popularity, this is more than a passing trend. Four months into lockdown, we continued to see an increase in online/mobile gaming according to our very own QT (up 17% in August). Brands new to this space will have untapped opportunities when crowds return to packed arenas and stadiums, since many brands already have had to move to virtual or crowd-less events like other live sports this year. It’s time to leave behind any further assumptions that esports is a niche interest and start thinking about whether your audience are going to be streaming the next big event and how you can engage with them.

the7stars quarterly tracker, The QT

Lightbox Loves: The Fast-Track to Frictionless

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

If you ate out to help out last month, you probably interacted with a QR code more times than in the last five years put together. QR codes have popped up everywhere, from the check-in desk at the pub to the menu at Nando’s, allowing customers and staff to minimise contact with each other and reduce waiting times. As if overnight, COVID-19 has fast-tracked us to the frictionless world, where life is made easier through the automatic transfer of data.

Last year, the7stars Trends team predicted that frictionless technology would be a defining force in 2020. Back in 2019, wearable technology was becoming increasingly popular, as attested by Google’s £1.6bn purchase of Fitbit. This year, COVID-19 has accelerated the drive to track personal health data even further. Fitbit has just launched a new watch that has the added capability of measuring stress levels by tracking skin temperature and heart rate. Not to be outdone, Amazon has launched their own version of the fitness tracker called Halo. Halo measures a whole host of health indicators, including the energy and ‘positivity’ in users’ voices.

Retail is also getting a frictionless makeover. MasterCard is piloting its first check-out-free shopping technology that will work across a range of retailers, from shopping malls to airports. They are also piloting AI-powered, personalised drive-through menus. These smart menus suggest orders based on historical customer data, reducing the time taken for employees to take orders so food can be prepared faster.

Still, the unexpected winner of 2020 is the QR code. Designed with businesses in mind, the QR codes can be printed out to link customers to their pages. Businesses are already learning how to use QR codes better than before, by displaying them with a clear call-to-action. In the case of restaurants, it connects the customer with everything from their menus to track and trace forms. As consumers become increasingly familiar with using them, we expect that this time around they are finally here to stay.


The Seven Trends in 2020

Lightbox Loves: Lipstick on the Napkin

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

As the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme comes to an end, figures from the first 3 weeks show that Britons used the scheme over 64 million times. This staggering number accounts for people who have moved their chosen evening out to earlier in the week and those who would not otherwise have gone out. The offer has represented a real change in the UK’s restaurant behaviour; OpenTable, the online reservations platform, reported a 61% rise in Mon-Weds bookings vs 2019. This spending takes place against the backdrop of the worst UK recession since records began. Therefore it seems strange that consumers are so keen to spend their disposable income. However, the lipstick effect helps explain this phenomenon and provides an opportunity for brands to offer real value to consumers through this difficult period.

For those who have not come across the lipstick effect before, it is an economic theory that suggests a reduction in big-ticket luxury expenditure in times of a recession leads to an uplift in small ticket luxury expenditure. This explains why people are looking for affordable ways to treat themselves. ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ aligned the core aspects of the theory – treat and low price point – and combined them with ease of use to create value in the mind of the consumer.

As we’ve been confined to home for large portions of 2020, treat has become synonymous with being out and about, and with holidays less accessible than they once were, eating out is filling this gap for the time being.  the7stars quarterly tracker of UK adults, highlighted this month that Brits are planning to spend less on long holidays (24%) and short breaks (22%), while 8% plan to spend more on eating-out and takeaways in the year ahead. Food is, in fact, the only surveyed category that has seen an increase in plans to spend. Nonetheless, price, offers and deals are the most important factors reported for grocery selection over the next six months. It stands to reason that this price sensitivity effects their out-of-home food choices too, with the government framing the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme as a saving representing a powerful, time limited offer of value to consumers.

In combining high value propositions with messaging that speaks to the current moment, brands can steer consumer behaviour as they start to look for small luxuries. Recent research from TVSquared demonstrated that TV ads explicitly mentioning the Coronavirus Crisis are three times more likely to resonate with viewers. What that ‘value’ is for a brand will depend on the price sensitivity of their target audience, but combining this messaging with products that are considered an indulgence is an impactful way to acknowledge the challenging times we face and enable consumers feel good about treating themselves to life’s smaller luxuries this year.

The QT, August 2020


Streaming Overtakes Linear TV

By | Featured, What's Hot

As a result of this year’s pandemic we have seen an acceleration in the growth of TV and online viewing – and particularly that of streaming on on-demand services. Samsung Ads’ Behind the Screen report has claimed a jump in streaming viewing in 2020 has now humbled linear TV altogether.

Based on the August Ofcom report presenting April viewing habits throughout lockdown, 59% of viewing still came from broadcast content, however over 20% of this was through non-linear viewing such as BVOD and recorded playback.

It is correct that this year has seen a surge in streaming SVOD services in particular with viewing up +37 minutes per day back in April YoY. It is estimated that 12 million adults gained access to a new SVOD subscription during lockdown with 3 million accessing subscription video on demand for the first time. Some of these new users were of older audiences who were previously more frequent and loyal viewers of linear TV. Instead, 1/3 of 55-65-year olds used VOD in lockdown, which is a lift of 25% vs pre-lockdown and over 65s rose by 12%.

It is clear that SVOD saw a rise in both viewership and users, and we are definitely seeing a shift from broadcast to on demand. Lockdown has now eased, meaning people are spending less time with their TV sets, however the proportion of ‘unmatched viewing’ – any TV activity not recorded by Barb, i.e. SVOD, smart TV platforms, game consoles etc – has still remained at the same level as it was at the height of lockdown, despite overall daily viewing minutes decreasing. Suggesting that new non-linear viewing behaviours are now becoming habits that are here to stay.

Despite streaming popularity growing more rapidly, commercial broadcast TV viewing still takes up the majority share of average daily viewing time and remained relatively constant throughout the year. People are still sitting down and watching the same amount of TV, just in a different way. With more streaming services offering commercial platforms to advertise on, advertisers need to take advantage of the combination of platforms available to them in order to be able to achieve the best reach possible. The likes of BVOD can aid traditional commercial broadcasters like ITV and Channel 4 gain access to younger audiences such as 16-34’s where their drift from linear TV has been the most significant. When it comes to streaming it wasn’t just SVOD that benefited from the increase in streaming on demand content this year; All 4 saw a 30% lift YoY for 16-34’s thanks to lockdown and now 80% of young people are subscribed to the platform. Similarly, ITV hub consumption was up 82% YoY in Q1 with its monthly reach increasing by 40% and resulted in a 42% increase for SkyGo.

Linear TV reach has declined but not because people aren’t watching the content that is being created and broadcasted on linear TV. People are just finding new ways to watch it to suit their needs.

How Apple’s Major iOS 14 Privacy Feature Will Impact Your Business

By | Featured, What's Hot

Apple have some of the most exciting launches within the tech world and with these big phone launches comes updates to their phones software. Their newest launch of IOS14 is one of the biggest to date and will have an impact on how we track app based campaigns in the future.

Although the update is readily available for people to download, a future version will end the collecting of iPhone identifiers for advertisers (IDFA). This is due to Apple’s strong measures to prevent services from tracking users across apps. Facebook & other social apps use the IDFAs for targeting and exclusions for app specific events (installs, in app events).

This in turn will mean that when the update comes to fruition, any app campaign launched in the future will lack targeting and measurement capabilities.

In the future people will have to opt in for the IDFA’s to be shared to other apps like Facebook. This move is big for measurement in the app world and Facebook have taken a stance to create their own tracking IDFA’s which will reduce the impact on the platform. However, they are in the process of building this feature, unfortunately with no confirmation on when this could be rolled out. This means that as an agency we are going to have to look at ways to ensure when Apple does start restricting the use of their IDFAs that we have strategies in place to reduce the impact to our advertisers.

We, along with the rest of the advertising industry, continue to await Apple’s final policy details regarding upcoming changes to iOS 14. Given Apple’s delayed implementation of the user permission requirement, all of the leading social networks will continue collecting IDFA on IOS 14 through their own apps in an attempt to reduce unnecessary disruption to advertisers. We recognize that changing guidance from Apple creates challenges for preparing for the impact of iOS 14 but we hope to have some solutions in place for when they do make the switch.