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The 2014 Advertising Toolkit

Avanade_CustomerJourney_graphicI was recently reading a report on WARC about the upcoming trends for the year in advertising and it highlighted 5 key points which I thought summed up the current landscape quite nicely. Whilst digital disruption is still driving alot of the changes we see in organisations today, the lines between “traditional” and “digital” are becoming more and more blurred as we refocus on new omnichannel strategic models and ideas that are channel agnostic. With fresh thinking around the path to purchase as it becomes more connected, the customer experience is becoming more central to the overall  marketing strategy then ever. Below are each of the 5 key points from the report that I’ve summarised with a few key take aways.


Big-name brands no longer see digital as a separate discipline, and are renewing their emphasis on core brand-building programmes. New strategic models are emerging that work across ‘digital’ and ‘non-digital’ channels

This is more then a back to basics approach though as digital has diversified the suite of brand building techniques available to us. For example media mix modeling analysis has begun to start helping us understand how different combinations of media work together to best effect – WARC showed the example of different ways of combining TV & social media. It’s also expanding our portfolio of responsibilities as companies look for more whole of business innovations such as product or service delivery.


Fresh thinking on the path to purchase, including the role of emotion in the buying process, means that shopper marketing is becoming central to overall strategy.

There are two key reasons driving this shift, firstly technology is obviously changing the way people shop and engage with brands and secondly a growing understanding of the role that emotion plays in the shopping process. Taking these into account, a more sound understanding of the customer journey and the touchpoints along them is critical from awareness to acquisition and repurchase. Brands are beginning to see the value in building this knowledge as more and more of them are taking a customer focused approach to business.This trend towards more targeted customer insight will likely increase as retailers find typical promotions wearing down as sales volumes no longer grow relative to investment.


As more brands invest in content marketing, competition for eyeballs is growing. Content strategies are diversifying rapidly as brands look to stand out and the number of platforms grows. Sophisticated brands are reformatting content across platforms, and are developing strategies for content ‘discovery’.

Publishers and brands are looking at strategies to diversify their online properties beyond the typical pre roll and banner. Events like the IAB Content Newfronts indicate the new wave of content being created far beyond the typical TVC and show how video content is not necessarily all created equal. Gone are the days of the simple 30sec or 60sec TVC with the options for video content essentially being thrown open it creates new opportunities for creative ways for brands to talk to people along the path to purchase, tailoring the type of content to the situation.


As investment in programmatic buying increases, sophisticated data strategies will be required. The importance of data management for programmatic is changing the relationship between brands, agencies and tech providers.

This is a really exciting space that allows us to be more effective then ever in refining our targeting and achieving higher conversion by delivering the right message to the right person and the right time. As the path to purchase becomes more connected, once we have an understanding of the customer journey we then have the ability to identify customers early on in the piece and talk to them with relevant information tailored to them and the stage they are at along it. This is not a quick fix solution however and the need for more effective data planning is driving changes for the both brands and agencies.


Research into the way channels work together has drawn only tentative conclusions. Some studies underplay social media’s direct impact on sales, but emphasise its importance within a broad media framework. Studies of cross- screen viewing suggest reach is the main benefit, rather than sales synergies.

Whilst research has struggled to quantify the impact of social media on the bottom line, it is generally accepted now that it is most effective as part of a broader strategy. Using social channels help to build up a brands online ecosystem over time  help to take advantage of the longer tail of content. The multiplier effect of being exposed to a brand across multiple screens whilst consuming content also can’t be ignored as research shows that people typically watch TV whilst using other “second screen” devices.

Source: WARC Trends Toolkit 2014 – How to keep your brand ahead of the competition. In association with Deloitte.

Author: Alex Leece


Big Data & In Memory Computing

BT Tower - London - A Monument To The Broadcast Era

Big Data is a term coined to describe the data deluge we are currently experiencing. It’s no secret that we are living in a technology driven society that generates an ever increasing amount of data as we go about our daily lives. “Always on” is a term that is often heard and more often then not, when we are “on” we are creating data about ourselves, our likes and our dislikes, our network of friends both professional and social, and even our travel habits. At the same time, businesses must also retain more and more information to manage themselves more efficiently across the board. In tough economic times there is an ever increasing recognition that organisations must use every single resource at their disposal to get ahead. This results in information and data that once might have been given little attention is now seen as worth its weight in gold if any perceived value can be derived from it.

Looking at the sources of this data, to start with there is of course the sales, operational and customer data that the business collects. On top of this there’s social media data from the likes of Facebook and Twitter including information around friend groups, likes/dislikes and sentiment analysis. There’s web search data, with transactional information or online customer reviews. There’s also data generated by location-based services and data from sensors, moniters and GPS embedded in a growing array of products from vehicles to appliances. I believe if we as advertisors can offer solutions to our clients of how we can process and utilise the growing amount of data available to help inform creative business solutions we could offer real value. To quote a recent Financial Times article

“The challenges are two-fold: First, to recognize the value of big data in mining customer needs and desires, and second, to devise a data management strategy that integrates big data into the front end of the innovation pipeline.” 

So how do businesses harness all the data that is being created and use it to inform their strategy and decision making? The challenge here is being able to process large amounts of data at speeds that make it useful. It’s very difficult to really make use of data in business decisions on an ongoing basis when it takes weeks to gather and process. Large software powerhouses such as SAP & Oracle have been bringing new tools to market for businesses to help solve this problem. In memory computing software is designed so organisations can analyse vast quantities of data in near real time across many sources. Essentially in-memory computing takes advantage of a better understanding of how data is formed and housed and the ever decreasing price of memory (discussed in my Technology vs Advertising post). Instead of housing data on a hard drive, data is stored in a computers memory. Therefore, when it needs to be analysed it is available in near real time. This increased power and speed also means that the computers can handle more unstructured data, important when data can come from so many different sources. On the back of this there would need to be a process for managing and delivering the data in an efficient manner and most importantly, in a way that is easy to understand and glean insights from.

Whilst I think caution must be taken not to let our ability to measure granular details bog down the creative process, at the end of the day, the more you know about your customers and can integrate those insights into your business strategies the more likely they are to improve revenue, margins and market share. Who wouldn’t want that leg up over the competition?


Colmar Brunton & Millward Brown’s Digital Predictions For 2012

As we rapidly speed towards the end of the year and scurry to get the last bits of creative out the door before we head off on our Christmas breaks, I took some time today to consider the year ahead after reading Colmar Brunton & Millward Brown’s digital predictions for 2012. Whilst it’s impossible to be truly accurate with these predictions, it’s exciting to think about the trends that will potentially be shaping our projects in the year to come. With technology changing so rapidly, alot can happen in 12 months time! Here’s their list:

#1 Gamification Unlocked: Big Brands become even more playful

This concept has close ties with behavioural economics, applying gaming mechanics to non game situations. The trick is to bake them in and do it in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a game. For example, bonus reward points randomly offered on purchases.

#2 Just Tap It! Wide spread adoption of the mobile wallet

We’ve always got our phones with us, we will start to see its functionality enhanced enabling practicality. It could be used as a payment system, a means of I.D, drivers license or even keys to unlock our car.

#3 Virtual Togetherness: TV & Social Media will fuel an explosion in tools, technologies & platforms for interaction and research

People will be able to engage with shows in new and interesting ways. TV viewing habits are often influenced by our friends so the social graph could be leverage as a program guide. Could have an impact on how we view TV Ratings also.

#4 Online Video: Invades the living room

Google TV & Apple TV have already had a stab at this, but as TVs become internet enabled we will be able to access more and more content from the web with it.

#5 Mobile Marketing: Will become more social & local than ever before

Success in this space will combine relevance, location and timing of the content intertwined with social. Care must be taken about appearing intrusive here as people have very close relationships with their mobile phones and don’t take well to being pushed content they don’t want.

#6 Growth: The only App trend that really matters

Looking beyond Apples app store, we see Android market steadily growing. Apps could be pulled accross multiple devices from mobile to tablet to PC and TVs. In App advertising will grow and morph into richer content and video.

#7 Social CPG e-commerce: Tiptoeing between engagement and marketing leads us back to traditional marketing vehicles

Care must be taken not to turn the social space into just another selling opportunity but it may offer the chance to build awareness, trial, sample and coupon.

#8 The Social Graph will generate meaningful data for brand measurement

The social graph generates an unprecented amount of consumer data that can be used both for consumer insight and a real time barometer of consumer opinion.

#9 Regulators narrow their focus as consumers pay the real price for “free” access

With information sharing essentially being the cost of entry to networks, the financial implications of how information is managed and protected may come in to play.

#10 The arrival of Seamless Sharing

The share button will continue to spread throughout the online space, being able to share a peice of content is just naturally expected. Those who produce the most interesting content will gain the most earned media through this mechanism.

#11 China will see “One Stop Shop” convergence of micro-blogging, social networks & information portals

New forms of micro-blogging which integrate facets of social networks are taking off.

#12 Online Advertising: Real-time decision making takes centre stage

We want data and we want it right away. Successful strategies here will involve being able to adapt efficiently to real time information in combination with insight, analytics and creative execution. As a side note, Google Analytics just launched real time stats for your page.

Colmar Brunton & Millward Brown’s digital predictions for 2012 Report

Here’s to an exciting 2012!


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