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IAB Gold Standard: Supporting digital growth with digital responsibility

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UK digital ad spend fell 5% YoY between Jan -June 2020, a reflection of the impact that the global Covid-19 pandemic has had – however, digital consumption has surged in the wake of shifting behaviours, with video ad spend rising 5.7% in H1 2020. This drop-in ad spend is not representative of time spent online, which hit record levels as people turn to digital sources for news, social contact and entertainment. 

Supporting the growth of ad spend continues to be paramount for those in digital media, but there are mounting concerns that, while spend increases, the quality of digital buying practice is being neglected. As such, the7stars has a keen focus in 2021 and beyond on maintaining operational excellence and supporting initiatives like IAB Gold Standard.

IAB’s Gold Standard Certification aims to improve the digital advertising experience for all users, by combating ad fraud and safeguarding brands through safety protocols. With IAB reporting increased digital consumption, it is ever more important to minimise risk to brands and ensure quality is maintained. 

Accordingly, the IAB has published its Gold Standard 2.0 for digital media planning, a series of best-practice initiatives that will keep digital growing in the years to come. Guidance ranges from supplier-side tech implementations to guides for creatives to ensuring brand safety. The steps include:  

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

Encouraging suppliers to implement Sellers.json and OpenRTB Supply Chain Object: The Sellers.json file will effectively enable SSPs and exchanges to list their authorised reseller partners, along with seller ID. The SupplyChainObject lets buyers view what sellers and resellers have been involved in during a bid request. This will build confidence for buyers and DSPs to use the open exchange having validated each reseller involved in the process.  

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

Never use the 15 bad ads: There are 15 ad formats (formerly 12 with the addition of 3 new short-form video formats) that shouldn’t be on any media plan – these include pop-ups and auto-play sound-on video.  

Working with TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group): This is a series of principles to follow that will secure a safer environment for online advertising placements by certifying vendors and content.  

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

the7stars and M&C Saatchi launch strategic consultancy M&C7

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We are very excited to announce the launch of our new venture with MC Saatchi. M&C7 is a strategic consultancy that fuses media and creative thinking from the very start to drive outcomes for clients.

For too long now, despite the many attempts at reunification, media and creative thinking have been out of sync.

We want clients to be able to buy best-in-class advice that fuses media strategy and brand idea into one seamless whole. Ours is a unique consultancy product – rooted in marketplace expertise, but free of the bias of implementation.

Bringing the two halves of the communications brain back together is only really possible in the independent sector, in which the vested interests of legacy companies don’t apply.

M&C7 enjoys the freedom that comes from independent perspectives. The coming together of disciplines offers the chance to look at the client’s problem from new angles, so that instead of a single controlling thought from a limited perspective, we can take a wide lens that allows us to produce a truly unified solution

Suzuki, Take That and ITV

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Suzuki have become synonymous with Saturday nights on ITV; famed for their family friendly antics, previously fronted by Ant & Dec. This long term strategy has just been taken to a new level with the introduction of Take That in 2019.  So far, the campaign has seen the UK’s favourite boyband travel across the UK in a Suzuki Vitara SUV to surprise fans with a journey they will never forget, and enjoy an in-car karaoke session with their idols along the way.

Suzuki will shine even brighter on ITV1 Saturday nights with the Take That ad spots placed in ITV’s very best entertainment programming – The Voice. Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor.  A Sat night tenancy buy means that Suzuki will be present 36 weeks of the year. Whilst TV is the core channel for reach, the Take That content will be brought to life further with extensive paid social, consumer competitions, a nationwide roadshow and dealer activations.

Watch this space for even more surprises yet to come this year!

the7stars named one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to work for seventh year in a row

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We are thrilled to continue our seven-year streak of being named as one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to work for. It is a title we are extremely proud of and demonstrates our consistent commitment to over-investing in our staff to ensure they are full of energy and motivated to produce great work for our clients.

Read more about The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies here 

the7stars wins second place in Campaign’s Top 5 Large Companies to work for

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We are delighted to be named 2nd in Campaign’s Top 5 large companies to work for.

“You won’t find a holiday form or a timesheet at the7stars. And nobody has a job title. It’s all because of the founders’ philosophy that good community spirit is the bedrock on which a successful agency is built, resulting in a place where staff can grow their careers and have fun while doing so. Starters are assigned a “buddy” who guides them through their first month at the agency.” -the7stars

Read more about Campaigns Top 50 Best Places To Work here

WARC Media Awards win for Suzuki and the7stars

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Having won Gold at the WARC awards in 2018, Suzuki and the7stars stepped it up a gear to take out the Grand Prix for Partnerships in 2019. With a new model to launch and an entirely new audience to reach, the7stars demonstrated what to do when content is king, but not fit for a queen…

Sadly, when it comes to marketing cars to women the automotive market will often turn to a collection of patronising stereotypes.

Our research found that much like men of their age, 20-something women are looking for adventure, independence and achievement. Initially we sought to put the Ignis at the heart of content which celebrates adventure, independence and achievement among young women, but to our surprise there was nothing which fitted the bill. So we created our own.

We set out to create content which better reflected the audience’s life stage, and place Suzuki at its heart.  Working with the E4 Commissioning team, we collaborated to create a brand-new TV format – All Star Driving School.  A peak-time TV show that serialised the trials of learning to drive, but ultimately showing the adventure and independence a first-time car can grants its owner.

By completely integrating the Suzuki Ignis into a TV series which promoted these values, and then amplifying the spirt of our partnership to 86% of young women in the UK, we showed the industry how it should be done. And sold a load of cars in the process.

All this was achieved without a pink car in the range.  Fancy that.

The Deliveroo Timeout Partnership

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December saw Deliveroo crown their final Food Battle champion in the breath-taking “Battle of the Broth”, after an epic three months of celebrating the ‘Joy of Food’ with partner Time Out. Across four foodie events (“Battle of the Burger”, “Pizza Prize Fight”, “Fried Chicken Fight Cub” and the aforementioned “Battle of the Broth”), 5,000 hungry Londoners had chewed, chomped and slurped their way through over 35,000 portions of food, voting for their favourite in each category.

Reaching over 5 million Londoners through Time Out’s platforms across editorial, experiential and social, we recorded a surge of brand love through UCG and online. Together Deliveroo and Time Out delivered the ultimate in mouth-watering experiences, supported by customer research and using data to identify the Capital’s food passions, proving that Deliveroo is a heavy-weight in the field of food delivery.

Suzuki Take Saturday Nights up a Gear with ITV and Take That

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Suzuki have become synonymous with Saturday nights on ITV; famed for their family friendly antics, previously fronted by Ant & Dec. This long term strategy has just been taken to a new level with the introduction of Take That in 2019.  The campaign sees the UK’s favourite boyband travel across the UK in a Suzuki Vitara SUV to surprise fans with a journey they will Never Forget – and enjoy an in-car karaoke session with their idols on the way.

Suzuki will shine even brighter on Saturday nights with the Take That ad spots placed in ITV’s very best entertainment programming, starting with The Voice.  Content will be brought to life further with extensive paid social, consumer competitions, dealer activations and a few new surprises that are yet to come…    

Take That content will be refreshed throughout the year, maintaining the sense of mischievous fun that has helped to cement Suzuki at the very heart of family entertainment.