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Forecasting Cinema TVRs for 2024

By | Featured, What's Hot

Mediatel and DCM’s Cinema TVRs forecast system has been out for around six months now and clear advantages are emerging. We’re already starting to see the benefit across AV, especially when demonstrating the scale of films vs top programming across the linear channels. This forecasting tool also allows us to examine the impact across seven multiple audiences.  Therefore, we can determine whether each opportunity is effective for our specific audience, making the investment a much more efficient buy.

Their new Q4 2023 data provides a forecast for the coming 12 months’ worth of major cinema releases. The service allows users to filter by genre and demographics, identify the audience with the highest TVR or admissions forecasts, and locate the industry rate card prices.

With Christmas right around the corner and 2024 in sight, now is the perfect time to consider some major releases coming out in Q1 and how they’re expected to deliver vs a variety of different audiences.

Let’s start with Migration, which is an animated comedy following a family of ducks trying to convince their Dad to go on a family trip of a lifetime. Set for release at the beginning of February, this Universal Pictures offering is expected to deliver strong results across the board. Unsurprisingly, HP+CH are due to benefit the most from this with TVR delivery as high as 8.7.

The hotly anticipated musical remake of Mean Girls by Tina Fey brings her Broadway adaptation to the screen in January. The film is expected to do well against the younger audiences. 16-24s are expected to deliver 3.5 TVRs and 16-34s are expected to deliver 3.3 TVRs. HP+CH will also expect to do well here with around 2.4 TVRs forecast to deliver.

Our final choice is Argylle which follows a reclusive author writing best-selling espionage novels about a secret agent. This joint production by Universal and Apple TV+ presents a star-studded cast, including Dua Lipa, Bryce Dallas Howard, and John Cena just to name a few. We’re hoping this will bring in some big numbers for Q1 with the audience of ABC1 Men due to be the strongest (similar to Kingsman) and planned to deliver 4.3 TVRs.

We have only pinpointed a few films here but, by using the tool, you’ll be able to explore and compare values across the full film list. As an agency, we’ll be looking to use this tool more and more to help with client briefs and demonstrate the real scale of Cinema and why we should be considering it for all budget sizes. With admissions rising and expected to deliver more in line with 2019, we can expect TVRs to increase too, making Cinema a great channel to consider in 2024.

Tackling the Environmental Impact of Digital Advertising

By | Featured, What's Hot

It is increasingly important for companies to track the environmental impact of their produced video content and video advertising. New Digital Age recently reported that the internet contributes more than 3.7% of all global emissions, of which online video now represents 80%, and is expected to grow exponentially by as much as 25% per year.

With many more individuals and companies producing video content, we now see the gap closing between them and the volume of people consuming it, with calls for an industry-wide effort to reduce the environmental impact.

The advertising industry uses a high volume of processing power to deliver digital video and display advertising, via programmatic and data-driven approaches, paired with an improvement in high-quality creative assets.

Advertisers, agencies, and media partners need to collaborate to reduce their impact. There is no uniform approach, but we highlight below several areas and approaches that they should be thinking about to reduce digital processing and environmental impact of digital campaigns.

Data processing

One pivotal area demanding attention is data processing. It is imperative to encourage the reuse of data processing outputs across various facets of an advertiser’s business, agency, or media partners. Exploring the use of renewable energy sources for data processing by media partners is another avenue that can optimise campaign activity, diverting it away from less eco-friendly traffic. Embracing custom campaign bidding approaches focused on efficiency metrics, such as viewability and attention-based criteria, not only enhances campaign performance but also contributes to reducing emissions.

Inventory Supply

Educating advertisers on the intricacies of the digital supply chain is paramount. This involves pinpointing emission hotspots at each stage of the supply chain. Additionally, supporting media partners in excluding sites from their inventory supply that fail to meet sustainability thresholds is a proactive step towards reducing environmental impact. Implementing technologies that stream video content only when actively viewed, automatically pausing during inactive periods, is a practical approach within the inventory supply chain.

Creative and On-Site/App Experience

Examining the creative and on-site/app experience is crucial for minimising environmental impact. Scrutinising colours, brightness, and font usage in ads, and reevaluating the necessity for high-definition assets, can significantly contribute to a greener digital landscape. Utilising online tools to optimise creative images for improved loading speed and encouraging the reuse of existing assets prevent unnecessary production. Exploring features like Dark Mode Browsing, which enhances user experience and speed, can result in a 32% increase in conversion rates, as reported by Google.

Example Partner Initiatives

Several initiatives from industry partners exemplify a commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of digital campaigns. Scope3’s integration with safety partner IAS measures digital campaigns’ carbon emissions, enabling advertisers to optimise away from high-emission, low-performing inventory. Sharethrough builds custom private marketplaces (PMPs) contributing a percentage of CPMs to carbon removal projects, aligning advertising efforts with environmental sustainability. Greenbids develops custom bidding algorithms for digital campaigns, optimising for media KPIs while concurrently reducing carbon output against sustainability goals. Seen This provides adtech that minimises carbon emissions through lower data transfers on ad campaigns, estimated to be 25% lower than conventional technology.

Brands must choose strategies that best accommodate their sustainability goals, while achieving their advertising objectives. The time to measure impact is now, so that collectively we as an industry can adapt and thrive.

Presents sitting under a Christmas tree, for an article about Christmas shopping.

Navigating Christmas Amid Economic Challenges

By | Featured, What's Hot

It’s safe to say there has not been a ‘normal’ Christmas for a while, after successive years impacted by Covid lockdowns and the enduring cost of living crisis. But, while the usual turkey tasting, snow speculating and Home Alone marathons will return in 2023, persistent high inflation rates and stagnant spending power mean Brits will have to continue to adapt.

With Christmas just weeks away, households across the UK are planning ahead to ensure the festive season lives up to expectations. According to the7stars QT, 47% of adults started buying presents in early November. Here’s what else our research this quarter has told us:

Reimagining Black Friday: Historically, Black Friday has provided the chance for self-indulgent consumers to splurge on everything from widescreen TVs to designer denims.

This year, Brits are curbing self-interest and targeting the sales event for Christmas shopping. Nearly a third of adults, including 49% of 18-34s, intend to use Black Friday to hunt for holiday gifts (the7stars QT, Nov 2023).

The Regifting Revolution: We’ve all received ill-fitting socks, but Brits are famous for our sneaky recycling of unwanted gifts. Nevertheless, the stigma now seems to be lifting. Some 80% say they have no problem with second-hand gifts, while 1 in 5 admit they regularly regift presents to others (the7stars Lowdown).

Pre-loved presents remain something of a taboo, with 38% admitting they’d prefer not to know if an item they receive is regifted. However, the data points to a widening trend as more than a fifth (21%) of adults plan to buy more pre-owned or second-hand gifts this Christmas.

Sustainable Switches: While sustainability remains high on the agenda for most, the hunt for value takes priority. With inflation stubbornly high, Christmas shoppers may be dissuaded from seeking eco-friendly gifts if they come with a high price tag.

UK data from Google Trends supports this: in December 2022, searches for ‘sustainable gifts’ were at their lowest point since 2018, a more than 40% drop-off from 2021. This year, the onus is on brands to provide affordable gift options that don’t break the bank – or the planet.

Curb Your Expectations: As Christmas draws near, frugal willpower may falter. According to Forbes, while consumers are expected to cut back, rising prices and the post-pandemic retail bounce-back meant overall retail sales grew in 2022.

According to Steve Sadove at Mastercard, festive spending in 2022 ‘looked different than years past…consumers diversified their holiday spending to accommodate rising prices and an appetite for experiences and festive gatherings post-pandemic.’

Buy Now, Pay Next Year: According to Bloomberg, British shoppers are forecast to spend a record amount on credit over Christmas 2023, with spending rising 9% vs. last year. With consumers seeking to spread the cost before cutting back in Q1, brands should seek to offer responsible, flexible payment options to customers to assist with the festive planning.

While hopes of a ‘normal’ Christmas may have to wait for one more year, Brits are hungry for a stress-busting celebration. As the sleigh bells begin to ring and the nights draw in, ‘tis the season for brands to step up and lend a helping hand.

Leaders and speakers from the AI Safety Summit standing in a row.

AI’s Role in Reshaping the Advertising Landscape

By | Featured, What's Hot

In a year rife with misinformation and global tensions, the UK’s first AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, the historical site of World War II codebreaking, was more than symbolic. Here, representatives from 28 nations, including technological rivals the United States and China, grappled with a modern enigma: harnessing the power of AI without falling prey to its potential dangers.

This international meeting signified a shift in the narrative around AI. Once a subject of binary perspectives – either a magical cure-all or a catastrophic threat – AI has emerged as a complex, nuanced global challenge. Mustapha Suleyman, co-founder of the AI research lab DeepMind, draws a compelling parallel in his recent book, The Coming Wave, between AI’s rise and pivotal historical moments like the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. He suggests we are at the brink of an evolutionary leap, poised to redefine our relationship with technology.

In the advertising industry, this wave is already making ripples. The fear that AI might render human jobs obsolete is a recurring theme. Elon Musk’s provocative statement that a time may come when ‘no job is needed’ echoes the Luddite movement’s concerns during the Industrial Revolution. Yet, there’s a twist in the tale this time: the AI advancements are not just about replacing manual labour but also encroaching upon the creative domain, long considered a uniquely human stronghold. Recent updates from tech giants like Amazon, Meta, and Adobe emphasise their growing role in creative generation, raising questions about the future of human creativity in the industry. For data-driven media, we need tools to adapt, amend and personalise at scale, but do we really want these tools to generate the ideas too?

Tim Harford, an economist, author, and podcaster, offers a balanced perspective: while technology might not lead to mass unemployment, it can disrupt livelihoods, yield unforeseen consequences, and consolidate power among a few. The advertising industry, at this AI juncture, faces a choice: to let AI take over or to harness its capabilities to enhance efficiency and creativity. The hope lies in using AI to eliminate mundane tasks, freeing up time for more meaningful, human-centric activities – less screen time, fewer virtual meetings, and more real-world interactions.

As AI continues to evolve, the advertising industry stands at a crossroads. The path it chooses could redefine not just how it operates, but also how it influences society at large.

A team brainstorming around a table with papers, for an article about creative testing.

Over-reliance on Creative Testing Hampers Ad Creativity

By | Featured, What's Hot

“For years, pre-creative testing has been a popular method for determining the creative details that resonate most with a target audience,” writes Barney Girling, ECD at Supernova, the7stars’ in-house creative team. Girling elaborates, “It’s a data-driven approach that ensures media budgets only support effective advertising concepts, but it’s not fool-proof, and research treated as gospel can have a disastrous effect on innovation and creativity.”

Uber Eats Rebuts the Research

Uber Eats’ campaign ‘The Art of Doing Less’ delivered phenomenal results when it launched last year, driving the brand’s highest-ever scores for TOM awareness and brand preference. But, if the team behind it had headed to the results of the pre-creative testing (where it crashed spectacularly), the concept could have been severely diluted.  So much so that it would have been lost in the sea of content from the takeaway category screaming ‘look how quickly we can get you whatever food you want’ ad after ad after ad.

Rebutting the research clearly paid off for Uber Eats, but why take the risk? Quite simply, because the insight behind the campaign (reframing takeaways from the lazy option to a genius solution to busy lives) was solid and the team behind it trusted their instincts.

The Pitfalls of Creative Testing

To grasp the basic problem with creative testing, look no further than Antony Gromley’s Angel of the North or, if you live in the South, Damien Hirst’s pregnant ‘Veronica’ sculpture, or Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Gallery if you live in Spain. All three of these giant public artworks were hated (and in some cases even campaigned against) by a public that detested the idea of them – not even the works themselves. All three are now lauded and celebrated by the same people and communities who once hated them.

Obviously, these examples all had time to grow within public consciousness, but ads work a little like that too. Uber Eats’ proposition was totally out of step with a cultural zeitgeist that celebrates productivity, ambition, and achievement. But the notion of ditching hustle culture is socially contagious, and the campaign shone a spotlight on something humans believe instinctively but rarely voice out loud.

‘The Research Said It Was OK!’

Of course, there are many rational reasons to pre-test ideas, and doing so can deliver huge advantages for ad effectiveness. Moreover, advertising is expensive, and marketers need to take every step possible to ensure campaigns are profitable. No one wants to shoulder the blame if a campaign backfires. But creative testing shouldn’t be used as a crutch to avoid making decisions. The Uber Eats example makes you wonder how many brilliant creative ideas have been shrunk to blandness by testing campaigns to death. Testing creative will only tell you what some members of a target audience say about an ad – and this clearly isn’t proxy for what they will feel, think, or do once exposed to it in their everyday lives.

It’s easy to imagine that trusting your gut on an unusual idea in the face of some adverse creative test results is commercially risky. But generic, easy-to-approve, unimaginative ideas are far riskier! As advertisers, it’s our job to understand the limitations of any form of research and have the guts to run with an idea without letting consumer feedback water it down.

Lightbox Loves: Festive Cheer​

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

As we near the end of 2023, it is probably safe to assume that not many will be sad to see it go. the7stars’ latest QT report shows that overall, 2023 was viewed as disappointing – with 1 in 3 adults giving it a negative review, and only 18% reviewing it positively. Given these statistics, and the tumultuousness of the year, it has been – and remains – vital for brands to create enjoyable experiences for consumers. This should encompass all their interactions, from customer service to products and/or services, as well as crucially, their media and communications.

There is arguably never a more important time than in the build-up to Christmas and the festive season to bring joy to customers. And this year has seen several brands leaning into cultural trends to do so. One trend we’ve seen deployed of late is nostalgia, given research has found it can have a positive effect on emotional well-being. This trend (Nouveau Nostalgia) was identified as one of the key cultural trends for 2023 by the7stars in the Cultural Codes and can be defined as the power that nostalgia holds in the current climate to provide a comfort blanket. Especially now, as digital archives mean old content is far more accessible and can be more easily harnessed in a future-oriented role.

A prominent example of this comes in the form of this year’s Barbour Christmas advert, featuring none other than Shaun the Sheep – tapping into their customers’ inner child. It also enabled them to engagingly inform their audience about their re-waxing service that helps extend the life of products. Another great example comes from Very’s animated Christmas ad featuring some 90s nostalgia via Girls Aloud’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody,’ which successfully launched a new creative brand platform. These are just two recent, successful illustrations of brands using trends to their advantage to remain top-of-mind in a cluttered marketplace.

The above clearly outlines the advantages of understanding customer behaviour attitudes and then tapping into this via media. In this instance, using nostalgia, brands have been able to offer some entertainment and comfort to consumers that are currently seeking this. Moving forward, those who continue to understand their audience and translate this across their media will be at the forefront – by tailoring this into what their consumers want and need at that moment.

Sources: the7stars QT, HBUK, the7stars Cultural Codes 2023, Mintel

A group of people sitting on a wooden floor inside a building holding a radio, relating to an article about commercial radio.

AI-Driven Personalisation and the Future of Audio

By | Featured, What's Hot

Commercial radio celebrated its 50th birthday last month. Since the launch of LBC and Capital Radio in 1973, commercial radio has come on leaps and bounds, surpassing the BBC in terms of listeners. Here’s what we think is next for the future of audio.

We have seen huge advancements in digital audio, from targeting capabilities to complex activation approaches. We can apply specific targeting to our campaigns and individual listeners, such as demographic, geographic and behavioural data, to acutely refine our targeting approach – personalising content for each user to enhance engagement and drive results.

Personalisation, paired with innovation around AI, is becoming prominent within the industry. We expect targeting to become more focussed on specific user listening habits, rather than demographical data. Spotify has already started to make advancements in this space. Spotify’s AI DJ, a personalised playlist generator, utilises AI algorithms to curate music based on user preferences and context. Advertisers can tailor ads to fit individual playlists, targeting specific demographics and optimising engagement by aligning with users’ musical preferences. This approach will enhance ad relevance and increase the audience’s attention.

Take Kopparberg as an example. If they wanted to use digital audio AI to create highly personalised and contextually relevant campaigns Spotify’s AI could be used to generate personalised playlists. The platform would create a playlist that caters to users’ musical tastes and their specific listening habits, moods, and preferences. If a user listens to indie rock during the evening, their playlist will feature relevant tracks alongside Kopparberg ads at appropriate times.

Looking ahead, there are exciting developments in the future of audio, and one of these paths lies within the dynamic realm of digital technology. Advances in AI showcase the potential to tailor content based on user habits and preferences. By leveraging these technologies, advertisers have the potential to create finely tuned, personalised campaigns that synchronise with individual listening patterns. This level of precision and relevance in ad delivery holds the key to capturing the audience’s attention and driving engagement, shaping the future landscape of audio advertising.

A cartoon image of a woman holding a shopping basket and pressing a button on a social media page to purchase shoes, relating to an article about social e-commerce.

The Challenges of Social E-commerce

By | Featured, What's Hot

Social e-commerce is the integration of social media and e-commerce, allowing customers to purchase products and services directly through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. The launch of shops through these platforms allows brands to integrate their online offering into social networking routines by displaying products mid-stream. In theory, this provides buyers with a seamless transaction, negating the need to navigate away from the app.

While this is a rapidly growing trend that is changing the way we shop, there are potential challenges that the social platforms need to address. Here are our key points for brands to consider.

Fragmentation of customer journeys

Customers may start their shopping journey on a particular social media platform, only to find that the process is not always as seamless as one would hope. A lack of consistency across platforms sometimes means taking the user away and interrupting their social experience. Due to the nature of how fragmented customer journeys are, beginning the purchase within one app, but completing it within another, makes it difficult to track the customer’s journey accurately.

This also impacts consumer safety. There have been increasing cases of fraud across social e-commerce platforms, capitalising on the ease of purchasing in-app, with it becoming increasingly difficult for customers to identify safe and secure payment gateways to avoid any issues.

Role of influencers

Influencers have played a vital role in the growth of TikTok e-commerce as it creates an opportunity for brands to communicate with their target audience. Customers are more likely to purchase from an authentic interaction which highlights the reliability of the product.

User-generated content dominates most of the information viewed across social platforms, posing a challenge for brands. As this form of advertising has become so popular there is a risk of saturation in the market. Intense competition for every user’s attention makes it even harder for brands to stand out amid the crowd. There are also challenges regarding content not being clearly displayed as an ‘ad,’ calling into question the trust consumers place in what they’re seeing across Social.

Integrating 1st party data

A common issue for advertisers has been the inability to measure ROI accurately through traditional retail media. However, the expansion of integrating first party retail data into social platforms has enabled advertisers to maximise their investment by only paying to reach high-value users. Furthermore, they can now attribute both offline and online sales, enhancing the effectiveness of the advertising campaign.

This also allows the user to be served a more personal ad that is relevant to their purchasing behaviours, improving their in-app experiences. This is a great way to mitigate measurement issues. However, setting up data and privacy protocols to capitalise on this is often a bigger obstacle than perhaps it should be. We see social e-commerce as a powerful tool to drive business growth, but it is important to acknowledge the potential challenges that come with exploring a new channel.

In conclusion, social e-commerce is a powerful tool to drive business growth, but it is important to acknowledge the potential challenges that come with exploring a new channel.

A hand holding up a smartphone screen with the Amazon Prime Video logo, with the Amazon Prime Video application in the background.

A Game-Changer for Advertisers in the UK TV Market

By | Featured, What's Hot

The streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) landscape is ever evolving, and Amazon Prime Video has announced they will introduce ads in 2024, a move that holds profound implications for advertisers and the broader UK TV market.

The Evolution of SVOD Services

Their decision is part of a broader strategy to boost revenue which began in February 2022. The company increased its membership fees by a substantial 17%, laying the groundwork for transformation. Other streaming giants, including Netflix and Disney+, have introduced ad-supported tiers alongside their ad-free models to drive revenue. Yet, recent research from Ampere Analysis suggests that, in the U.S, only 2% of Netflix and Disney+ subscribers choose ad-supported packages. Clearly, many viewers still prefer a seamless, ad-free experience.

In contrast, platforms like Peacock, Paramount+, and Hulu launched with ad-supported tiers right from the start. They now boast significantly more subscribers willing to exchange advertisements for more budget-friendly viewing. In the U.S, Peacock alone has over 30 million ad-supported subscribers, while Paramount+ boasts over 25 million. More remarkably, over 90% (roughly 45 million) of Hulu’s subscribers opt for the ad-supported tier.

Launch Strategy

Timing significantly influences the type of audience these services attract. Launching with ad-free options first may inadvertently limit appeal to a cost-conscious viewer. Alternatively, platforms that launch with ads, risk losing more affluent customers (which advertisers want to reach) who have already migrated to the ad-free tier. Recognizing this, Netflix made a bold move by removing its cheapest ad-free basic tier for new subscribers.

Potential Impact on the UK TV Market

With 12.9 million UK households already subscribed, Prime Video has the potential to compete on a level playing field with traditional UK broadcasters in terms of monthly active users. If Prime Video don’t introduce an ad-free tier, it could become an ad-supported VOD platform with equally competitive scale and quality.

Netflix took a year to amass an ad-supported user base rumoured to be over 5% the size of ITV’s and Channel 4’s. Amazon Prime Video, with its vast user base, could achieve this even more quickly.

If we regard Prime Video as a TV channel, it sits in the top three most-watched for ages 16-24 and 25-34, and top five for 35-44. Even if half of Prime Video’s users upgrade to an ad-free tier, the platform would still sit in the top six channels for each of these age demographics. Amazon’s approach should excite advertisers. It opens fresh potential to embrace a vast audience – a rare opportunity in the Connected TV (CTV) space, and one to be seized.