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Jenny Biggam, Phoebe Lynch and Liam Mullins smiling and holding the Campaign Best Places to Work (Large Companies) award.

the7stars wins Campaign’s Best Place to Work (Large Companies) 2022!

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We are so excited to win the award for Campaign’s Best Place to Work (Large Companies) 2022! It is no secret that amazing agencies do not exist without amazing people, so we would like to thank everyone working at the7stars to create forward-thinking work for our clients. We truly value the welcoming and vibrant culture that exists here, and we are committed to growing every day to become an even better place to work.

Have a look at the full list of winners here.

Jenny Biggam, Phoebe Lynch and Liam Mullins smiling and holding the Campaign Best Places to Work (Large Companies) award.

Jenny Biggam, Phoebe Lynch and Liam Mullins smiling and holding the Campaign Best Places to Work (Large Companies) award.

 

If you would like to be a part of our team, head over to Workable today and find your dream role!

Tashan Nicholas speaking at the IPA EffWorks 2021

7 Things We Learned from EffWorks 2021

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Over four days, the IPA unveiled a fresh batch of research into marketing effectiveness. the7stars were on hand (physically and virtually) to sift through the new evidence and pull out the key learnings for advertisers.

The ‘Double Jeopardy’ Rule has been quantified. And scale ups and challengers can benefit twice.

A new meta analysis of 343 econometrics studies led by Grace Kite added significantly to the effectiveness evidence bank. Over the last decade, Byron Sharp, Paul Dyson and Mark Ritson have all highlighted the role of pre-existing brand equity in determining campaign returns; but until now the ‘Double Jeopardy’ rule was an abstract concept for brands.

Leaning on econometric modelling across brands and categories, the team have identified that every £50m of underlying revenue adds an additional £0.4p of ROI. Not only does this help contextualise effectiveness findings and enable better ‘pound for pound’ comparisons across brands and industries, but it also aids outer year planning for early life-stage brands. These findings can be applied to better plot a path to profitability over successive campaigns, and more carefully phase investment as scale ups mature.

Marketers should look to employer and shareholder brand as success measures for their purpose campaigns.

Peter Field dipped into the IPA databank to add some much-needed rigour to the debate on Brand Purpose. Though the depth of evidence in the database was less than ideal – this was an important first step and some initial learnings emerged.

The key insight that purpose campaigns generated less large business effects than non-purpose campaigns was unsurprising – however the range of outcomes observed was noteworthy. Purpose does not inherently represent a barrier to effectiveness, but brands should be wary to avoid any bias for action with their campaigns. In the absence of era defining ideas (Dove, Kenco etc.), they should look at purpose as a key element of their B2B strategies, and as vehicles for employer branding. Among the cases in the databank, purpose campaigns were significantly more likely to report measurable effects on supplier reputation and investor awareness than non-purpose campaigns.

Analysts need to take centre stage to stimulate a culture of effectiveness.

Our own Tashan Nicholas discussed five ways that analysts can encourage evidence-based decision making among both agencies and advertisers.

Among his advice was a rallying cry for analysts to deepen their business knowledge and become more upstream and proactive in driving business growth. It is also necessary to take a more consultative approach and invest a greater share of time in project design and delivery than technical execution – ‘measuring thrice and cutting once.’

Analysts should also take on a multi-faceted coaching responsibilities – redistributing knowledge through their organisations to better equip decision makers in the application of evidence– ‘coaching not coaxing.’

Agencies and advertisers should create joint effectiveness roadmaps to navigate the volatile post pandemic environment.

One of the flagship reports released was the IPA’s Culture Monitor – a wide sweeping survey of marketing professionals to assess the state of the effectiveness nation. Though the report found effectiveness culture to be in good health, one standout recommendation was for organisations to create effectiveness roadmaps to further improve their cultures.

In the volatile post pandemic environment, where distribution networks and advertising consumption have been significantly disrupted – we believe it is crucial for advertisers and agencies to take this journey together.

To foster this collaborative approach to effectiveness, we are rolling out business acceleration plans across our new and existing clients in 2022. These roadmaps serve as a shared vision for growth, a joint strategy, with effectiveness at the heart of them; and aim to simplify the complex communication landscape and detail out the areas of focus that will ultimately lead to the desired business growth.

Creative has turned inward, but should advertising hold a mirror to society or put lipstick on the pig?

Orlando Wood made the compelling case that trends in advertising creative have been strongly influenced by the smartphone revolution – drawing comparison to the art produced in the shadow of the Industrial Revolution and the Reformation. Our increasing inwardness as a society is reflected in a reduction in humour in creatives, as well as increasing detachment, inwardness, barrenness, and a loss of vitality.

This point was eloquently and persuasively made, but the actions available to the industry are less obvious. Is it in the gift of creative directors to challenge broader societal trends, or must they necessarily reflect them?

‘Quality Reach’ challenge demands innovation in audience measurement.

The first client panel of the conference highlighted the challenge advertisers face in accessing quality advertising reach as media consumption fragments and pandemic audiences normalise (Kiel Peterson, Diageo). Further observations about the state of Share of Voice Measurement in the digital age (Rob Brittan) stacked on top of this to create a true challenge for brand media planning.

The application of attention measurement data to planning (explored by Karen Nelson-Field) offers one route to improving investment allocation but is insufficient for advertisers in isolation. The success of cross media measurement initiatives such as Project Origin is key to driving intelligent investment allocation as media consumption fragments and advertising products evolve. Brand managers and media planners need an agile, accurate and all-seeing audience measurement solution to plan for effective reach in the current media landscape. Much hinges on the successful scaling of Origin.

For the time being, there is a complex web of data and analytics for decision makers to navigate. Periodic survey data on consumption; isolated behavioural datasets, cumbersome incrementality measurement (often too blunt an instrument), nascent attention measurement data, and contextual opportunities, all need to be balanced to design an equation that solves for effective reach.

the7stars have already integrated Attention measurement into our Audience Planning Process (Gravity Planning), adding an extra layer of intelligence to investment allocation decisions. Attention measurement is an important leap forward, but this is a nascent field. We are continuing to test and learn to understand the role of attention in placement optimisation within specific channels, and wait patiently for media owners to facilitate a better cross media audience measurement solution.

Share of Search extension highlights poor speed to the dissemination of best practice effectiveness measurement.

James Hankins shared further research into Share of Search as an effectiveness measure – deepening the link between change in Share of Search and change in Market Share. The prominence of this work highlights wider trends in the effectiveness measurement sector, however.

Brand Search and relative Share of Brand Search were commonly used metrics among effectiveness analysts even before the influential book ‘Everybody Lies’ was published in 2017. A lack of open discussion regarding best practice characterises the worlds of marketing mix modelling, attribution, and marketing experimentation; and makes for an overwhelming supplier landscape for advertisers and procurement professionals to navigate. Forums such as EffWorks help to progress the debate, and media owner teams such as Facebook’s have helped to foster increased intelligent debate – but lack of codification and common training standards represents a barrier to progressing measurement standards beyond search intent and towards long term profit.

the7stars awarded the IPA Effectiveness Accreditation

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We are extremely excited to be among the first agencies to be awarded the IPA’s Effectiveness Accreditation. Effectiveness was a founding philosophy for our agency back in 2005, and it continues to be a guiding light today.   

This award reflects a total dedication to driving business outcomes on behalf of our clients. Our trailblazing approach to transparency and media neutrality has maximised effectiveness for our clients over our 16-year history.  

Marketing effectiveness principles are a red thread through our planning cycle from client briefing through to evaluation. Our dynamic culture encourages challenge, learning and agility amongst our colleagues, and fosters a culture of long term partnership with our clients too. Accreditations and kitemarks aside, this is best evidenced by an NPS score of 8.9 and a retention rate of 93% (the7stars Client Satisfaction Survey Feb 2021). 

Our approach to continuous professional development extends beyond a financial commitment to external training per head. Our Strategy and Insight & Analytics teams cascade their expert effectiveness knowledge through every level of the business via bespoke training programs designed, curated and delivered in-house. In 2021, we even extended this to clients to stimulate more outcome orientated briefing and equip marketers to evangelise the business case for marketing at all levels of their organisation.  

At the7stars, we believe delivering great marketing effectiveness comes from collaboration and aim to create a culture of effectiveness among our clients. Our teams work closely with advertisers to build a compelling stock of evidence supporting their marketing investment in the short and long term. We harmoniously collaborate with third-party agencies and in-house teams to maximise business outcomes on their behalf. Our Insight & Analytics team are proudly multi-disciplined and are skilled in synthesising multiple methodologies to form holistic measurement frameworks.  

We are proud of our strong track record of success. In recent years, our marketing effectiveness work has helped develop multiple UK unicorns and we have earned IPA Effectiveness Awards for Suzuki and Wagamama, as well as WARC Effectiveness Prize for Ancestry.  

 

the7stars launch business acceleration consultancy 13minutes

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We are excited to announce the launch of 13minutes, our new adtech-led business acceleration consultancy, designed to close the gap between adetch, media and commerce.

As the market for tech-led media has gone through the stages of online, to digital and now adtech-driven, those businesses able to capitalise on more fluid, data-driven media are expected to be leaders within their categories. There has never been a better time to do smarter, faster and more accurate media at scale.

With that opportunity in mind and a focus on shaping faster business growth, 13minutes will help lead brands to deliver a more future-facing communications approach through advanced use of adtech.

Heading up the consultancy will be the7stars’ commerce director Ben Walton, Leena Vara-Patel and Emily Braund. Vara-Patel and Braund have joined from adstem, a data engineering and adtech company set up by Vara-Patel. Adstem has been working with us on a variety of tech projects and data infrastructure, but the jump across strengthens our competency in that critical space. Also joining is Pete Robins who, prior to joining the7stars, co-founded Agenda21.

The new division will initially have a focus on adtech infrastructure, data engineering, media tech deployment, commerce and SEO. It will also develop and evolve as the market opens up opportunities for both Group clients and new partners alike.

 

Commerce Uncovers: Spice Up Your Shopping With Shoppertainment

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Are you starting to get bored with your usual shopping experience? Whether you needed to spice up the way you buy or not, shoppertainment is coming to give shoppers an experience to remember by using immersive and interactive digital experiences.

Originating in China to reach shoppers in the midst of the pandemic, and successfully growing there, this is a trend that European consumers want too, as more than two-thirds express interest.

Shoppertainment is proving to be great for consumer engagement and impulse purchases through the use of interactive content, such as livestreaming, games, pictures and videos.

Shoppertainment’s reported success makes it attractive for more brands to jump on the bandwagon and try out the livestreaming or a more interactive experience on their shopping sites and apps. This trend is also fuelled further by other developments in the industry, such as increase in video communication and online content consumption, and the rise of short video formats, which contribute to consumers’ shifting preferences to live and video engagement.

For European consumers, the preferred product categories for exploring through shoppertainment are electronics, fashion and cosmetics.  They also favour content that is short (less than 10 minutes long), trustworthy and contains practical information, such as returns and delivery times.

This could be a major opportunity for brands who prefer to be at the forefront of new developments, try new techniques to reach and engage customers, and are able to create a truly engaging omni-channel experience.

 

 

Sources

2021 Forrester and AliExpress report ‘Shoppertainment is landing in Europe’ – http://azcms31.alizila.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Shoppertainment-Is-Landing-In-Europe1.pdf

Tencent to launch a live streaming service rivaling Amazon’s Twitch – https://techhq.com/2020/06/tencent-to-launch-a-live-streaming-service-rivaling-amazons-twitch/

Brands Turn to Livestreaming as China Returns to Work – https://www.alizila.com/brands-turn-to-livestreaming-as-china-returns-to-work/

How ‘shoppertainment’ and live stream e-commerce is filling physical store gap in APAC – https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/08/21/how-shoppertainment-and-live-stream-e-commerce-filling-physical-store-gap-apac

 

 

Commerce Uncovers: Instaffiliates

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The social platforms have long provided a great environment for brands to inspire potential customers. In particular Instagram, with its increasingly high-quality visual platform has been responsible for helping some of its creators launch their own brands such as Huda Kuttan’s beauty line ‘Huda Beauty’ and Kayla Itsines fitness program ‘Sweat.’ 

Despite this rich, inspirational environment it has often been difficult for creators to allow fans directly to retailers site. Instagram has traditionally not allowed third party links to be easily tagged, as it endeavoured to keep users within the app. However, at the first ever Instagram Creator Week conference Mark Zuckerberg announced that was about to change.  

Amongst products such as its redesigned Instagram Shop and Shopping in Reels, Instagram announced the launch of its own native affiliate program. This new program will allow creators to tag any products featuring in their content and earn commission on those sales. Not only does this provide an additional revenue stream for creators but should increase conversion for retailers, promoting their products through creators on the platform.  

Whilst this is a great opportunity for retailers and creators alike, it won’t bring great news for affiliate networks, or sub-networks built around monetising social platforms. Over the past few years, thanks to increased diversity of affiliate programs, networks have been actively encouraging influencers to use their tracking but with better integration directly with Instagram will be much more appealing.  

What’s most exciting, is Instagram’s first foray into the world of performance marketing using the cost per acquisition model. It’s a demonstration of the next evolution in what defines affiliate marketing. Whilst traditionally pigeon-holed to cashback and voucher, we’ve seen the concept of “an affiliate” evolving to include business to business partnerships, onsite technologies and some programs using people and locations as real-world affiliates. What Instagrams new product demonstrates is that affiliate marketing can be stripped back to a basic principle of a partnership working on a cost per acquisition model. Using that simplistic definition, we can really start to get creative with what affiliates are and what they can do for retailers’ businesses.  

 

 

Commerce Uncovers: Immersive retail is coming of age

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Cases for immersive retail experiences have been on the rise. Leading beauty and fashion brands have been experimenting with AR and VR experiences for a while, but over the last year the pandemic has supercharged all things virtual.

As online shopping has become increasingly about discovery and inspiration, creating immersive digital experiences alongside physical ones, is fast becoming an essential piece of any commerce strategy.

Snap used their partner summit last week to launch some new AR commerce features including their virtual try on technology with Farfetch and Prada.

BMW launched their virtual viewer last month, allowing you to experience and configure their cars through augmented reality.

Amazon recently opened Amazon Salon, the retailer’s first hair salon and a place where Amazon aims to test new technologies with the general public, trailing the use of augmented reality and “point-and-learn” technology.

To then order the products, the customers will scan the QR code on the shelf, which takes them to the Amazon.co.uk shopping page for the item where they can add it to their cart and check out. The salon’s AR technology, meanwhile, will be used to allow customers to experiment by virtually trying on different hair colours before making a commitment to a new shade.

AR, despite its gimmicky past is now an essential piece of technology to give people more exciting and immersive shopping experiences.

In fact, just over half (51%) said they were willing to use this technology to assess products and Shopify research showed that interactions with products having AR content had a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR.

Immersive experiences provide accessibility and tangibility. When a few clicks let you see a designer handbag in 3D or a 360° view of a mountain top getaway, and augmented reality lets you see if a lipstick colour works with your skin tone, you’re that much closer to experiencing the product.

Amazon Salon https://blog.aboutamazon.co.uk/shopping-and-entertainment/introducing-amazon-salon

Retailer Kohl’s collaborated with Snapchat to create Kohl’s AR Virtual Closet.

BMW, launched their virtual viewer last month as their dealerships remain shut www.bmwvirtualviewer.co.uk

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty launched an interactive VR shop www.glossy.co/beauty/charlotte-tilbury-leans-into-vr-for-holiday-shopping

Sources

Harvard Business Review – https://hbr.org/2020/10/how-ar-is-redefining-retail-in-the-pandemic

Warc – https://www.warc.com/newsandopinion/opinion/how-augmented-reality-is-set-to-transform-retail/3967

 

Commerce Uncovers: Sustainability Sells

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It’s been impossible to miss the unprecedented rise of ecommerce in 2020 as global lockdowns sent people shopping online. It was the strongest growth for more than a decade. As a result, these increased online sales has meant more packaging and waste during a time when practices which exploit the planet need a critical overhaul. 

As a population however, a noticeable increase in people looking for climate friendly brands and solutions is seen, with 73% of UK consumers wanting to be more sustainable in 2021. With social causes and environmental impacts becoming more apparent and impactful, consumers are re-thinking where they buy and willing to spend with companies that align with their green values. For some, the cheaper cost is no longer the most important factor. 

Today’s shoppers are looking for brands that get it right and “walk the talk”, and nearly half are willing to pay a premium for brands that support recycling, sustainability and are environmentally responsible.   

Companies now need to look at how to align their values with sustainability. After receiving customers complaints, clothing brand Patagonia committed to replacing their plastic packaging with sustainable options, and documented their investigation and change process online. 

Elsewhere, global brands like L’Occitane are working towards a goal of using 100% recycled plastic in their bottles by 2025, whilst smaller independents like Serious Tissues are changing the world from the bathroom by selling UK made 100% recycled toilet rolls with no plastic packaging. 

Sustainability in ecommerce is moving from its status of being niche to essential. As consumers become more environmentally aware and take their money to ethical companies that are making the necessary positive changes, it’s time for more brands to make the better choice and show their sustainable credentials.  

To understand how brands can play a role in turning consumers’ climate change goals into reality, download and read our whitepaper Sustainable Now.

Sources 

Allure – https://www.allure.com/story/garnier-one-green-step-report-2021  

IBM – https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/EXK4XKX8  

Internet Retailing – https://internetretailing.net/sustainability/sustainability/uk-consumers-are-becoming-more-socially-and-environmentally-responsible–and-are-calling-out-brands-that-make-meaningless-climate-pledges-21022  

Internet Retailing – https://internetretailing.net/industry/industry/ecommerce-grew-by-46-in-2020—its-strongest-growth-for-more-than-a-decade–but-overall-retail-sales-fell-by-a-record-19-ons-22603  

Patagonia – https://www.patagonia.com/stories/patagonias-plastic-packaging-a-study-on-the-challenges-of-garment-delivery/story-17927.html  

Serious Tissues – https://serioustissues.com/  

 

 

Commerce Uncovers: The Range

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This month The Range became the latest online retailer to launch their own marketplace allowing other brands the opportunity to sell to their customers. Approved sellers will receive exclusivity rights to avoid competing with other sellers on the platform but will also have to deliver items to customers directly and manage returns process.  

We often hear about the rapid increase in DTC retail however the stats show that marketplace shopping is still miles ahead. In the UK 57% of shoppers now buy from marketplaces, compared to the 13% who order directly from retailer websites. This was accelerated further by the pandemic when between March and June of 2020, the average online shopper made 11 purchases from online marketplaces but just 3 from an online retailer* 

Whilst marketplaces like The Range are nothing new (*cough cough* Amazon) their existence gave many brands a lifeline during lockdowns as traditional retail outlets closed, but at what cost? Fees vary massively for brands looking to sell on marketplaces, The Range reportedly charge between 7-20%. When you factor in the cost of delivery, returns and fulfilment this doesn’t leave much profit margin for sellers. 

Sellers also need to be careful with their choice of marketplace. Whilst onboarding as many as possible might seem like a logical step, these marketplaces have different audiences in the same way as media does, so they need to make the right choice. This way they can fully optimise their marketplace homepage to be an extension of their brand.  

For those retailers such as The Range who have pivoted towards marketplaces, there is an opportunity for a huge additional revenue streamNot only can it provide a bigger pull to new and current customers to get more items in one place, but there is also advertising revenue to be made. Take ASOS as an example, they started selling media space within their listings to drive users to their most “strategic brands” but with job vacancies for programmatic execs it’s clearly something worth investing in.     

 

*Source: E-Commerce News  

 

 

Commerce Uncovers: The rise of buy now pay later

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It is recently reported that John Lewis is about to launch its own buy now pay later (BNPL) product as they respond to consumers thirst for more convenient and easier ways to pay. With talk of M&S following suit, BNPL schemes have been the fastest-growing online payment method in the UK last year and are predicted to account for 10 per cent of UK e-commerce spending by 2024.

The agreements, provided by firms such as Klarna and Clearpay, are a flexible payment method that allows customers to make a purchase when they may not have the funds at that time. They can then pay for their goods flexibly – and interest-free – either within a 14-day window, 30-day window or in instalments.

Klarna recently has raised $1billion (£720million) of new funds amid rapid growth. The Swedish firm reported to be valued at $31billion making it the most valuable fintech firm in Europe.

Greater regulation is not far behind, but that will only bring further consumer confidence in the payment mechanic.

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest issues that online retailers still face, with a lack of payment options being one of the key drivers. The payments landscape however, is evolving at pace, responding to consumers’ drive for convenience and the ability to have more flexibility in their purchasing decisions.

Retailers need to think about what payment methods they want to integrate to give their customers the right choice.

What else we’ve uncovered:

You Tube is testing the ability to shop directly through videos, as it creates a shoppable platform.

Amazon quietly buys a competitor to Shopify as battle hots up.

Shopify to introduce Shop Pay to Facebook and Instagram to help businesses capitalise on social commerce

 

Sources

Econsultancy – https://econsultancy.com/stats-roundup-coronavirus-impact-on-marketing-advertising/

Internet retailing – https://internetretailing.net/mobile-theme/mobile-theme/almost-a-fifth-of-the-uks-population-have-used-buy-now-pay-later-as-they-shift-away-from-credit-cards-and-towards-mobile-22843

This is Money – https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-9333191/John-Lewis-offers-online-buy-pay-later-scheme.html