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All Change: Global Buys Exterion After Double Deal OOH Market Entry

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Last month, Global radio entered the out-of-home (OOH) market in a double deal, acquiring both Primesight and Outdoor Plus, before reaching a binding agreement with Exterion Media.

Having formed in 2007, Global has already expanded rapidly, acquiring the Heart and Capital networks, Classic FM and XFM, amongst others – and it has already established itself as a multi-channel brand with a successful Events division and the recently-opened Global Academy.

The deal saw Global become the second-largest OOH media owner in the UK, behind only market leader JCDecaux.

Exterion currently has over 20% of the UK market, and holds the £1.1bn contract for TfL’s inventory, as well as UK-wide bus networks and metro systems. As a result, this move is likely to drive competition in a sector that is already experiencing consistent revenue growth.

While it’s unclear what Global’s immediate plans are for the business, we can expect to see the “Global Outdoor” division invest heavily in digital estate.

We’re already seeing major investments in the installation and upgrade of digital inventory across the market. PwC has predicted that digital OOH spend will reach £517m by the end of the year, overtaking static OOH for the first time.

Another focus for the company is likely to be automated trading. JCDecaux is currently leading the charge in the sector, having launched automated trading platform VIOOH in June – a first for the industry.

But as Global already trades programmatically with digital audio platform DAX, it has the technical understanding to introduce this across its new portfolio over the next couple of years. It’s therefore possible that it will introduce this trading model into its OOH estate, prompting other media owners to follow its lead.

Meanwhile, the business has also hinted that it may establish a cross-channel trading model, with plans for integrated radio and outdoor campaigns, as well.

Although the deal hasn’t been confirmed, it already looks to be promising for the UK’s OOH sector, with anticipated investment likely to drive more digital innovation.

This will in-turn bring increased opportunities for advertisers, including higher potential reach with digital-only campaigns and more flexible buying routes.

Ocean, too, were reportedly in talks with Exterion before Global entered into negotiations – will they make a move for another national OOH media owner? It could be all change in the market yet.

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Why Brands Need to Mind Their Language

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Marketers are often guilty of using meaningless terms and buzzwords – not just in the office (think “circle back” and “reach out”) but also when talking to consumers.

Brand research, too, often includes reference to phrases such as “forward-thinking”, “premium”, and “for people like me” – but what do these terms actually mean?

For marketers and research analysts, these expressions may seem straight-forward enough, but they can have an entirely different meaning to ordinary consumers.

Here at the7stars we recently conducted a research project in partnership with Trinity Mirror to better understand this disconnect.

Take the word premium, for example – marketers intend it to mean high-end or superior quality, but our research found that 35% of consumers are likely to consider a premium brand is one that they enjoy – Tetley’s tea bags were one such example. Consumers are also 19% more likely to think well-known is a trait of a premium brand. Pampers, for example was referenced in relation to being premium because it was popular amongst peers.

When it comes to the term “for people like me”, there appears to be little agreement even in media and marketing about who or what we are referring to. Some think of it in terms of demographics whereas others see it in terms of attitude.

Consumers feel equally confused by this ambiguous question – one respondent in our study described its meaning to them as “Relatable. An average British person, approachable” while another suggested it referred to “someone who belongs to a niche set of people outside the norm”.

As this phrase has varied interpretations, it’s clear that people need more guidance on who exactly brands are referring to when they say for people like me. It would be better for marketers and researchers to focus on specific and relevant aspects of context or identity – like someone my age, for example.

Another confusing term is “forward-thinking”. For marketers the phrase conjures up images of hi-tech and design-led brands – with marketing professionals 30% more likely to associate the term with being modern. For consumers, however, it is often interpreted quite literally. Trainline, for example, was considered to be forward-thinking because of the way it enables consumers to – quite literally – plan ahead.

There are also nuances by category; food and drink brands considered to be forward-thinking sold unique products, while news and media brands were considered forward-thinking if they were seen to be socially responsible.

Our research confirmed the importance of clarity in brand research and – on a wider scale – in any communication with consumers.

The interpretation of vague phrases can be wide ranging, and it’s important to remember that marketers may think different to the average Brit.

Ensuring that what is being asked is understood as intended comes down to removing jargon and being specific; clearly, there’s scope to be far more exact –across the industry – to ensure our research is accurate and our insights reliable.

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Tune In: Digital On the Rise in Q3’s RAJAR Reports

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It’s long been said that the future of radio is digital – but, if the recent RAJAR results are anything to go by, it looks like that future is already here.

Earlier this year, more than half of listening was digital for the first time, with a narrow 50.2% share reported in Q2’s RAJAR report. This upward trajectory has continued into Q3, with 63% of Brits listening to digital radio each week.

At the same time, while the long-awaited DAB switchover has yet to be announced (following in the footsteps of Norway, which turned off analogue broadcasting last year), the government recently announced measures to give smaller community and commercial radio stations easier access to digital radio multiplexes.

But while the shift toward digital is positive in many ways, there are some unfortunate and unavoidable knock-on effects. Traditional radio stations, for example, are increasingly finding that they’re not only competing with each other, but with the wider digital audio offering as well.

The BBC has recognised this, and expanded its radio portfolio into a fully-fledged audio, with the recent launch of BBC Sounds – bringing together the BBC’s radio livestreams, catch-up, personalised music mixes and podcasts in a single platform for the first time. Commercial radio outperformed the broadcaster again this quarter, with figures showing that total weekly reach for commercial stations is now at 35.8 million, while BBC listeners were at 34.2 million, showing a quarter-by-quarter decrease of 0.5%.

Digital services, in comparison, have continued to go from strength to strength. By June this year, Spotify had attracted a huge 83 million users – an increase of 8 million in Q2 alone. Podcasts are also on the rise according to Ofcom, with the number of adults listening having almost doubled in the past five years, to 5.9 million.

But while commercial radio might be faring better than the BBC, brands should not become over-reliant on its power. As we shift toward a digital radio world, it’s important to consider audio opportunities outside of radio, too.

Younger listeners specifically are forcing this shift. That’s because they are favouring more personalised on-demand entertainment rather than linear broadcasts. Just 31% of audio consumption among 15-24 year olds is live radio, for example, compared to 71% of the general population.

So when targeting this demographic it only makes sense that digital audio is considered alongside more traditional radio campaigns, just as video-on-demand should be considered when planning TV airtime.

For advertisers, digital audio represent an opportunity not only to reach a growing number of listeners, but provide greater flexibility than radio-only campaigns – from geo-targeting capabilities to dynamic audio delivery to programmatic trading. And with listening on-the-go becoming more popular there’s also a chance to reach highly engaged listeners on a one-to-one basis.

The future of radio may be digital, but it’s the wider opportunities of digital audio that brands should tune into.

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Black Out: The Rise of the Anti-Black Friday Movement

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The countdown to Black Friday has begun. It’s a time of the year that has you glued to your device or sees you take to your local high-street – or maybe you just head straight to work and forget about the shopping centre stampedes and online deals.

Black Friday hit the UK in full force in 2014 with retailers from Amazon to Argos running promotions in order to encourage consumers to spend, spend, spend – and not just on the day itself, but over a period of 1-2 weeks, with Black Friday no longer considered a day of deals but a fortnight.

Each year, retailers compete for consumers’ attention with price slashes promised to be so tempting that they could leave you high and dry before the Christmas period – despite last year consumer group Which? finding that 60% of discounted items on the day could be found the same price or cheaper at other times of year.

But it’s not for everybody, and we’ve recently seen a growth of the anti-Black Friday movement. However, there could be an opportunity for brands to gain from this movement too.

As Black Friday continues to grow, with £1.4bn spent online last year, 11.7% up from 2016 – but so has the number of stores opting out of the event.

Asda in 2015 stated they would stop their Black Friday sales, as the family-friendly supermarket saw chaos break out during their 2014 promotional deals. In a playful way, Asda let their consumers know that for 2015 they will not take part in the Black Friday sales through their viral mannequin challenge video. They also reassured their customers that they do not need to wait for Black Friday to save money; they guarantee low prices all year round.

TK Maxx, similarly, forgoes Black Friday for a month-long series of deals, with its tagline stating: “Amazing prices this Black Friday (and every other day of the year)”.

Pieminister’s 2017 #blackpieday campaign, meanwhile, chose to go against consumerism and instead, chose to give spare pies away, in return for donations to homeless charity Shelter. They managed to raise £3,600 for the organisation as well as boosting awareness of food waste through their social media campaign #littleactofpieness.

There’s a wider anti-Black Friday movement too –  “Buy Nothing Day” is an annual event which started in Canada back in 1992 as a protest against consumerism. People have participated in numerous activities such as sit-ins, cutting up credit cards and public protests. Over 60 countries are now actively participating in the movement, the UK included.

However, there has been a decline in talk for this movement from 2016 to 2017 of 45%* over Twitter and an increase of 18% of those talking about Black Friday over this time, showing people may be jumping ship – or that the consumerist tendencies and mega deals are luring them back in.

With a brand’s social voice proving all-the-more important to consumers, and many shoppers feeling stifled on Black Friday, choosing to opt out of participating in Black Friday deals won’t necessarily go down badly, even among savvy shoppers.

It could, in fact, lead to a stronger relationship formed with consumers, if it is shown to be done for the right reasons, and is in line with brand purpose.

Having said that, sticking to the price slashing traditions still often proves to be the quickest way to the consumers heart (read: wallet) – it was estimated that £10bn was spent over the Black Friday discount week last year, and it’s likely we’ll see the same again.

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For Eff’s Sake: Looking at the Latest Report from Binet & Field

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Five years ago Binet & Field shot to marketing effectiveness fame with the launch of their first paper – The Long and Short of It, a meta-analysis of the IPA’s databank of effectiveness case studies.

Binet & Field’s recommendation was – famously – for a 60:40 media spend split, in favour of branding activity. As the most comprehensive and evidence-based theory on marketing effectiveness, it’s difficult to argue with the results.

However, despite their rallying-cry to encourage brands and marketers to invest in brands, the industry continued to veer towards short-termism.

Last year Binet & Field released the first part of their follow-up, Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, with the key takeout being that there was no place for an offline/online media spend battle, as the new and old were proven to work more effectively together.

This month, part two was released: Effectiveness in Context. The weighty manual aims to break down the nuances around brand and activation and the old 60:40 rule across different categories, consideration types, brand types and even life stages.

Given the numerous factors analysed across the 20-year databank, the take-outs will differ by brand.

However, a couple of headline factors should be heeded by all. For one, the optimum spend on branding is increasing. Where in 1998-2010 the recommended split was 55:45 brand:activation, in the most recent period analysed, 2004-16, the percentage of branding required in for-profit sectors has increased to 76:24.

The main reason for this shift is digital. Just as online media has made offline media more effective, the rise of online has made it easier than ever for brands to activate.

With more research and sales happening online, where the consumer has more control and access to more competitive brands, investing in brand is critical to cut through.

You might think that the infinite information on the internet would make our System 2 rational decisioning more prevalent. But in fact, when overwhelmed with options, we’re more guided by the emotional cues formed in branding.

As a result, categories either researched or bought online require a higher investment – close to three-quarters of spend – on branding.

But it’s not just online brands needing to be mindful of overinvesting in the short-term. In the paper’s final blow, Binet & Field demonstrate a 76% correlation between categories increasingly reliance on short-termism and a loss of effectiveness of marketing spend.

Once more the takeout is: whatever the short-term targets, focusing on longer-term brand building is all-important for brand health and marketing effectiveness.

 

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Hotline

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Global this month acquired both Primesight and Outdoor Plus, and announced the formation of a new division, Global Outdoor. The value of the deal has not been disclosed but last year Primesight saw a turnover of around £61m and Outdoor Plus just over £30m – reports have suggested the deal, therefore, to be worth over £200m. While the newly formed Global Outdoor will remain distinct from Global’s radio business, the structure will enable advertisers to integrate radio and OOH into cross-platform campaigns. The move comes after consolidation seen elsewhere in the industry, as media owners multiply their formats in order to grow revenue streams.

In a move that Sir Richard Branson has described as a “major coup”, long-time BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans departed this month to take up a roll at Virgin Radio. Following Eddie Mair’s transfer from BBC Radio 4 to LBC earlier this year, this migration of talent caps off a year of success for commercial radio. In Q1 of 2018 RAJAR released the highest ever listener numbers and a significant lead for commercial radio. Commercial radio overtook BBC radio by its biggest ever lead of 960,000 listeners. Revenues, meanwhile, were also at their highest ever in Q1 2018 at £179.3m, representing a 13% YoY increase.

Hearst publishing has made the decision to close celebrity weekly Reveal after the news that the magazine’s circulation has fallen dramatically over the last four years. Reveal was launched in 2004, and in 2007 the weekly reached a circulation of 346,257, according to ABC, with the highest selling issue reaching 560,000 in April of that year. Average print circulation halved between 2007 and 2014 to c.160,000, and again in the last four years. The last issue will go on sale on 2nd October this year as Hearst UK president and chief executive James Wildman reported to staff: “Reveal’s sales are no longer sufficient to make it commercially viable. We’ve explored alternative solutions but as Reveal’s celebrity market is particularly challenged on the newsstand, we cannot see a way of continuing to publish the title profitably.”

Comcast has won the bidding war against Fox to purchase Sky – with a final bid of £29.7bn. The auction process, overseen by The Takeover Panel saw the final offered share prices at £17.28 per share from Comcast with Fox at £15.67, upped from previous offers of £14.75 and £14 respectively. The winner of the auction will acquire a business that serves 23 million customers in seven European countries. Set up as a satellite TV broadcaster in 1989, Sky has since diversified into broadband, streaming via the Sky Q service and Now TV box, news and original content. Sky also offers value in the UK advertising sales market, handling both its own inventory and that of channels belonging to Viacom such as Channel 5 and Discovery.

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Netflix: From Pioneer to Powerhouse

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According to the latest IPA TouchPoints survey, Netflix has increased its viewership by almost half (45%) in the past year alone. As a result, the platform is now the sixth most watched channel for adults, behind only the big names of BBC One, ITV, Channel 4, BBC Two and Channel 5.

Netflix’s business model centres around the user’s journey, understanding people’s habits and the types of shows they like to watch – and arguably has normalised the phenomenon of ‘binge-watching’, or boxset viewing. Amongst younger viewers in particular, some are arguing that binge-watching may come to replace ‘event television’ – though with notable exceptions. See Bodyguard, for example, which pulled in an average of 10.4m viewers on BBC One, and peaking at 11.0m, for its last episode.

More people than ever are choosing to consume content through over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix – 55% of British households connect their TV to the internet while a third of households own a service subscription (Parks & Associates Connected Consumer Report 2017). Smart televisions are also enabling this shift in behaviour, by offering built-in streaming services so users can watch what they want on demand.
As a result, there’s also been a rise in ‘cord cutting’ – the practice of cancelling or forgoing a pay television subscription in favour of an alternative internet-based service.

For example, Sky is choosing not to directly compete but instead make Netflix content available on Sky Q from November to its premium subscribers. The deal means Sky Box sets, which include 400 UK and US series and the full Netflix service will be available for the first time in a single on-demand service.

This is not the first time a TV provider has integrated with an on-demand service, as Virgin did just this with Netflix in 2013 leading to Netflix becoming Virgin’s fourth biggest channel.

Younger people are consuming television media differently by streaming more – 16-34s are reportedly watching a further 12% of content on subscription services versus all individuals (BARB).

By brokering a deal with Netflix, Sky will appeal to this younger audience. Andrew McIntosh, the head of TV analysis at Enders Analysis has said of the move “Sky is making sure that younger people in the household are becoming as familiar with Sky as older people”. Though Sky are open to an affiliation with Netflix, Comcast’s $40 billion takeover deal also creates leverage for the broadcaster to create new content to rival subscription services.
While it’s not yet the death knell for TV, broadcasters are acknowledging that streaming services and on-demand platforms have at least started to shift viewing habits, especially amongst a younger generation.

The broadcasters may, finally, have come to realise that the likes of Netflix could even become an ally – rather than an enemy – in the war on video content.

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"Believe in Something": Nike Goes Bold

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Earlier this month, mega-brand Nike unveiled controversial sports star Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

In a tweet that has since generated over 900,000 likes, Kaepernick stated simply “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”. The following day Nike launched a two-minute film featuring Kaepernick alongside other worldwide famous basketball, football and tennis players. In the US, the ad aired as a TV spot during the NFL season opener.

Kaepernick is a controversial figure, best known for being the first NFL player to kneel in protest during the national anthem. He was derided by Donald Trump and others for disrespecting the flag through his actions. Nike’s partnership with him therefore stands out from other campaigns with purported “social purpose” in that it involved the genuine risk of alienating customers – and the calculation that it would eventually be worth it.

Following the campaign launch, Nike’s stock fell 3% whilst Trump predicted Nike would be “killed” by boycotts, causing #BoycottNike to trend on Twitter. The hashtag generated over 1.4 billion impressions and people started to burn their Nike products en masse. At first, it looked as though Nike had made a catastrophic mistake in its potentially multi-million pound Kaepernick endorsement – alienating people is normally an indication of disastrous brand damage.

But the costs of alienating some of the audience can be outweighed by the benefits of inspiring others to rally around a brand even more enthusiastically having taken a side on a divisive issue. In fact, after the initial share price drop, Nike’s company value reportedly went up by $6 billion, and has sold 61% more of its products since the ad aired.

In launching a purposefully provocative campaign – described variously as “powerful”, a “stroke of genius”, “anti-American” and “sending a terrible message” – Nike has not only shown genuine understanding of its customers (or at least the vast majority of them) but has demonstrated firm confidence in its brand messaging and resolute support for its endorsed athletes.

Nike fans will be grateful to the brand for taking a stand when it can be difficult to do so. Arguably, with global revenue amounting to $36 billion in 2018; they can afford to lose the trainer-burners. Nike has steadfastly stood behind Kaepernick with the brand’s North American vice president openly stating that they believe him to be “one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help the world move forward”.

In this sense, investing in a controversial campaign has been hugely successful. The discussion (and controversy) around the campaign generated $43million worth of media exposure within just 24 hours – likely offsetting the largest part of any lost revenue straight off the bat.

Unlike Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner fiasco, this is an example of how a brand can engage in a social issue without entirely missing the mark.

Contrary to some opinions that Nike has commercialised social activism, the campaign’s messaging remains true to the brand’s long-term values. Kaepernick as a spokesperson feels not only powerful but authentic too.

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It’s All About Meme: Has Meme Marketing Gone Viral?

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There was a time when, if you told a brand to make fun of themselves in their marketing, your suggestion would likely have fallen on deaf ears. But in 2018, meme marketing has really taken off – and it’s no joke.

To recap, a meme (a word coined by renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins) is defined as a virally-transmitted cultural idea – which these days mostly refers to captioned photos or viral videos shared online. While thousands are posted on and first gain traction in online communities such as 4chan and Reddit, many are shared more widely on more mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Instagram, as an image-sharing platform, has been the perfect breeding ground for memes, and its growth in monthly users – which surpassed 1 billion earlier this year – has corresponded with the rise of many influential meme accounts. Some of the biggest, like @epicfunnypage and @daquan, have attracted over 15m followers, reaching millions of social media users on a weekly basis.

This is enviable reach for even the biggest brands, and with the average person spending over 40 minutes on Facebook and young people spending over 30 minutes a day on Instagram in the US, it’s perhaps the perfect place to spread your brand message.

Viral examples such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” dance and Gucci’s TFW campaign show that memes can be an excellent way to prompt engagements online and generate conversation at a wider scale – especially amongst a young and receptive audience.

‘’Going viral’’ is no mean feat however, and can be difficult for even the best marketers. To that end, here are our three top tips for making the most out of memes:

Work with the best – The social-media-savvy Gen Z can spot authenticity from a mile off, and when creating memes it’s important to tread carefully. Always work with those who know what they’re doing and have content created by the accounts who work in the space.

Know what you want to achieve – As with any campaign, it’s important to set your objectives – so be clear on what you want your brand to get out of a meme campaign, and in turn the content required. Without this, you’re in danger of getting lost rather than achieving stand-out.

Be reactive – Memes are current and trending. There’s a lifespan to them – tracked by sites such as Know Your Meme, which has documented over 12,000 memes since 2008. Once they’ve hit the big time, it’s often a matter of days before the next one’s being shared.

If you see a trend that is fit for your brand, get a move on, quickly.