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Does marketing have the power to change the world? The year 2020 has forced us all to redress the net result of the industrial revolution, which spurred mass consumption and throw-away consumerism. So, can our industry – with the abundance of talent, skill and creativity- champion for a better future for all?

The Drum and Facebook have partnered to bring together teams from brands and agencies across the globe to provide some answers to this very challenging question. The idea is to get together experts from the industry to find solutions to business and societal challenges to help create value for the people and the communities it impacts.

The creative brief

Uniting three markets under the theme of ‘stakeholder capitalism’ – with attention to inclusion and diversity – three separate teams in North America, EMEA and APAC were put together to answer the brief that involves a rethink of how small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) that are run by minorities operate, and how as an industry we can help create more resilient businesses especially in these unprecedented times.

Each of the three regions were given three separate briefs – The US (North America) team’s brief is to focus on women run SMEs. So how to overcome systemic social and financial challenges while starting and sustaining female-led businesses? Do they need to approach entrepreneurship differently?

For the London, UK (EMEA) team the theme was immigrant-led small business. Are immigrant-owned businesses the untapped potential? What are the challenges and opportunities of migrant founders and their businesses?

The theme for the APAC team is silver start-ups. A growing number of over-65s are now delaying retirement by starting their own firm, fueling a ‘grey business’ boom. What are their challenges, can we identify the most pertinent ones and solve those problems?

The first meet-up

Each of the teams kicked off their first virtual brainstorm session to find a campaign solution that would positively impact the lives of minority groups operating in the SME market. Each of the teams were also given mentors to help guide through the process.

Following is the list of the three teams:

Team US

  • Tom Spaven, brand director, Bombay Sapphire, North America (mentor)
  • Stephanie Walker, innovation marketing manager, Pepsico
  • Cassie Begalle, strategy and innovation brand Manager – U by Kotex, Kimberly-Clark
  • Iyanni Callender, junior art director, Strawberry Frog
  • Paola Ortega, associate strategy director, DDB Chicago
  • Michael Rodriguez, content strategist, 3 Leches Creative

Team UK

  • Arjoon Bose, marketing head- culture & brand experience (Europe-Australasia), General Mills (mentor)
  • Andre Campbell, partnerships lead, Mercedes-Benz
  • Fatima Diez, head of marketing, MunchFit
  • Shannie Mears, co-founder & talent chief, The Elephant Room
  • Jade Nodinot, former creative associate, BlackBook London
  • Emma Luxton, former senior account executive, Avantgarde London

Team APAC

  • Erica Kerner, SVP, marketing strategy & partnerships, ONE Championship (mentor)
  • Triveni Rajagopal, global digital director, skin cleansing and BPC, Unilever
  • Chandini Malla, senior manager, Diageo
  • Bryan Martin, social media executive, Reprise Digital
  • Adrianne Pan, planner, Havas Singapore

Team US: A fact-finding mission

Gender equality is at risk of being set back decades in the current climate – not just minorities in general, but especially women in it. In the US, the focus is on women-owned SMEs, looking at how female-led businesses can overcome systemic social and financial challenges, as well as addressing the different approaches that this cohort might have to entrepreneurship in order to succeed.

One such challenge was posed by keynote speaker Victoria Monsul Singolda, owner and creative director of Iris & Virgil, who discussed that though it might be true that for women-led businesses, their vulnerabilities as women and as small business owners are compounded, there needs to be a gender-smart approach because not all women-led businesses are the same.

“I never really thought of myself as a female business owner, I’m just a business owner. Maybe because my mother was very dominant in the household, she was a student, she was a business owner, she was a mum, we always saw her, we were always together. Maybe that’s why I never thought that there was something different or special being a girl.”

Headed up by mentor Tom Spaven from Bombay Sapphire, the team immediately honed into “resilience” and “impact” as the insights towards this gender-smart approach.

The team delved into discussions to align on common goals and objectives. The first step was to focus on the challenges in order to find the most creative solution – with three key take-aways that these women are lacking: Knowledge and resources to tap into; a community to help them venture into this new world; and platforms available to really share and have people learn more about.

The team then decided that the initial insight-led approach would begin with a fact-finding mission to assess the situation and the scale of the problem that the campaign needed to solve; followed by the consumer insight to understand the deep motivations and needs of the target to ultimately give the barrier they need to start to push against in order to solve the problem; and finally, culture listening around this topic – all of which would help to get a clear, sharpened brief about the real problem they are trying to solve.

Team EMEA: Move from ‘pivot to evolve’

On the other side of the Atlantic, Team EMEA, led by mentor Arjoon Bose from General Mills, tackled the untapped potential of ethnic minority and immigrant-owned founders, their challenges and opportunities.

“The last few months have been testing and I think we’ve all come up with a ton of learning. But I think we’re at that stage right now where we’re needing to move from pivot to evolve,” said Bose. “A growth mindset is what we’re going to have to need as we come out of this and prepare to get stronger and accelerate.”

After hearing from keynote speakers Sharon Jandu, director, Yorkshire Asian Business Association and director, Northern Asian Power List; and Steph Douglas, founder, Don’t Buy Her Flowers, it was clear that a heavy emphasis on networking, relationships and experiences, along with access to digital technologies, were key in bringing this community together.

“For an SME, they are so busy doing what they do that they don’t have the time or the capacity to think about what they can do – or they don’t have the networks to enable them to get the contacts to get investments or to get ideas. They are constantly running on a treadmill, trying to do and keep what they are doing alive. How can we stop them becoming so absorbed in their business that they can actually distance themselves and look at it from an aerial perspective?” asked Jandu.

The team identified the need to listen and learn directly from migrant-led business owners themselves to understand their experience, their struggles and challenges with direct feedback through focus groups and on-the-ground research. This would allow them to narrow down into one or two sectors that need the drive and support. They identified Facebook’s own small business community as a great place to start to create a questionnaire in order to gain invaluable insights to help shape their strategy.

“The opportunity that digital gives us to connect these immigrant-owned businesses with each other and provide each other with their own experience and their own knowledge can be a very valuable thing that we could leverage if it’s relevant to their challenge,” said Fatima Diez.

Team APAC: Reinventing and re-energising culture

With a growing number of over 65s now delaying retirement and fuelling a ‘grey business’ boom, the focus for Team APAC was on overcoming the challenges faced by the silver start-ups, particularly when it comes to navigating through the coronavirus pandemic.

Mentored by Erica Kerner from ONE Championship, the team was presented with a keynote talk by Jeremy Nguee, founder, Preparazzi Gourmet Catering; Batu Lesung Spice Company; who helped his mother set up Mrs. Kueh, a local sweet treat business. They touched upon some of the unique experiences and challenges of their business that they ran from home.

Hoping to learn from this experience and translate these lessons to help support silver entrepreneurs and home-based businesses through his volunteering role in the Hawkers United Facebook community, Nguee said: “I think this is going to be a very, very big market. There are a lot more home-based businesses coming up because of high unemployment in the market.”

Inspired by the talk, the team decided to focus on Singapore food culture and food service industry run by silver entrepreneurs, that has an international dimension throughout much of its history but continues to retain features firmly rooted in the locality so that the global and local are not always distinct. The team wanted to understand the different segments of businesses and the landscape in which they were working in.

“The complexities of Asia, the complexities of the segment, the types of digital, could become such a beast,” says Kerner. “My instinct is to start with the data. Starting a business now, no matter what your age is a challenge and a lot of small businesses are obviously struggling to survive. We’ve got a lot of things to think about. What aspect of this do we want to try to unbuckle?” asked Kerner. “In Singapore we are losing a lot of that Hawker culture and if we can find a way to re energise it, and bring more people back into it, it’s good for all of Singapore culture.”

The next steps

Over the upcoming weeks, the teams will continue to work on their campaign and then subsequently present the big idea for solving that problem.

The final ideas will be entered in The Drum Social Purpose Awards.

The Drum consulting editor, Sonoo Singh, said: I’m inspired to see the true power of marketing when used to promote issues that are critical to our societies, persuade a change in behaviours, and influence a positive shift in behavior that would benefit our environment. Having been involved with all the teams, I cannot wait to see the final outcome of this very challenging brief.”

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Sourced from The Drum

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Brands need to focus on hyper-localisation by connecting with consumers where they are, as Covid-19 has dramatically changed consumer behaviour and altered the path-to-purchase, according to Facebook and Boston Consulting Group.

According to a new report called ‘Turn the Tide’, released by Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group, the use of micro-targeting can help brands get the first-mover advantage. This is because countries are being divided into different zones, with distinct restrictions due to the pandemic, so they need to build social connections despite social distancing, by engaging with consumers in their context

To cope with pandemic lockdown, which has caused significant disruption for communities and businesses, people are spending more time on social media platforms. This means brands have an opportunity to build stronger dialogues and deeper connections with users.

The aim of the guide, according to Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group, is to guide brands to adapt to the pandemic and ensure business continuity.

Nimisha Jain, the managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, says: “We are experiencing unprecedented shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviours as 80%+ consumers will continue to practice social distancing and are bringing the outside inside, over 40% of consumers are dialling up on health and wellness spends, e-commerce adoption has already advanced by two-three years, to name a few.”

“These aren’t just temporary surges, and many will last longer and become more defining traits. Our analysis reveals that only one in six companies emerged stronger in past crises. Players who show the agility to reinvent their value propositions, go-to-market plans and business models to address these demand shifts, will be the ones that set themselves apart from the pack.”

In addition, the report also shares actionable guidance for brands to build for the new consumer journeys in times of Covid-19 and beyond.

For example, brands can bring alive experiences through virtual launches and product demos as people turn to virtual experiences for every facet of their life. Facebook said it is already seeing more brands explore Facebook and Instagram ‘Live’ to connect with their followers and customers, with brands now thinking about using social media platforms for new product launches too.

Heeru Dingra, the chief executive officer at WATConsult tells The Drum the agency has modified its planning and strategy around the new consumer journeys, urging its clients to follow a simple mantra of ‘solve, serve and sell’.

She explains brands should focus on solving the problems their consumers face, serve their purpose and the result thereof could be the sale of services or products. She notes a lot of brands have understood this concept and have already started altering their approach to fit this mantra.

“We leveraged the power of gaming and re-created one of the most iconic games of all time, Ludo, for our client Tata Motors. Titled #SafetyFirst Ludo, this version aims to spread awareness about the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing amid the Covid-19 outbreak,” she says.

She also calls out work by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance called #CareWillOvercome, which salutes frontline workers, while a #ReconnectWithStarbucks campaign turned the act of baristas calling out people’s names into a digital phenomenon.

She adds: “These examples summarize how we integrated the need of the hour that is to maintain social distancing, continue to concentrate on personal hygiene and at the same time have our heartfelt appreciation for the ones who have been fighting for us day and night, into our brand approach in some way. This helps to amplify the brand message while being sensitive to the current situation, serving the purpose of extending the required communication and increasing as well as sustaining brand recall.”

The report also advised brands to look at their media mix models to drive growth by aligning to new media landscapes. According to the report, when brands, especially those with traditional product categories, start spending more online, they need to understand incremental outcomes, as well as cross-platform efficiency.

This would increase the need for digital measurement standards, such as custom mix modelling (CMM) by Nielsen, which Facebook said it had piloted last year.

Gautam Mehra, the chief data officer for South Asia and chief executive officer of programmatic at Dentsu Aegis Network observes the importance of moving away from traditional marketing metrics to real business metrics that can be measured and improved on an ongoing basis.

“With the impetus of commerce, CRM and digital transformation, I think, every company will now have a direct-to-consumer line of business and will want to bring themselves closer to the consumer, and rely less on the intermediaries,” he explains.

While most brands are dealing with huge change across many aspects of business, focusing on the changing customer journey is a good place for marketing to focus attention.

Feature Image Credit: the report also shares actionable guidance for brands to build for the new consumer journeys in times of Covid-19 and beyond.

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Sourced from The Drum

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Marketers must stop prioritising strategies built around cookie data if they’re to succeed in the 2020s. Speaking on a panel at The Drum’s Predictions 2020 event at Sea Containers this week, Andy Chandler, Adjust’s VP for UK and Ireland, called for brands to evolve in the post-cookie world and start to work out whether they’re truly adding value to their customers’ lives.

“With Google Chrome getting rid of third party cookies, brands need to start looking at data differently or they’re going to very quickly get left behind,” he explained. “We are moving into a cookie-less world, where consumers are interacting more with apps than browsers, so the way we measure data needs to truly reflect that. We need to keep evolving and keep up with where people are, ensuring we add real value to their lives.”

A recent feature by The Drum explored the impact of Google’s plans to “render third-party cookies obsolete” and how brands must now respond. According to Ed Preedy, chief revenue office at Cavai, one solution could be for brands to use online messenger apps to speak directly to their consumers. He says messenger apps can ensure more tailored advertising and better conversion rates when it comes to making a purchase.

He added: “In 2019, there were 73 trillion posts across all messaging apps. And in markets like APAC and Latin America, something like 63% of consumers purchased over a messaging app or spoke directly to a business. These are becoming hotbeds for commercial opportunity and it will only grow in the decade ahead in the UK too.

“Messaging apps allow for a genuine two-way interaction. They qualify what users want and who they are almost instantly, so therefore the advertising that runs is contextually relevant. They will become so much more important as cookies start to dissipate. I think there will be a wider move to more personalised platforms, where advertising is less random.”

It was a frank assessment that Tanzil Bukhari, managing director for EMEA at DoubleVerify, very much agreed with. He insisted consumers now want to see more relevant advertising and that getting rid of cookies will ensure this happens more consistently. “The Google Chrome announcement will mean publishers have to offer much richer and directional content, and that’s only a good thing.”

Using data in the right way

But there was also a message of caution in the air, with Vodafone’s brand director Maria Koutsoudakis warning that brands and agencies who prioritise data too heavily risk becoming irrelevant, on a panel earlier that morning alongside Ogilvy CEO UK, Michael Frolich. Koutsoudakis asked the audience: “When was the last time you spoke to a customer? If you stood back from click attributions and A/V testing then what do you really know about your customers now?

“By only really focusing on data, there’s a risk we create a generation of marketers who don’t understand brand, consumers or behavioural change and aren’t agile enough to cope with it. There needs to be more of a blend of people being on the ground, really speaking to their customers, as well as having a good data strategy. If marketers only care about digital metrics then there’s a risk they become irrelevant in marketing in the 2020s.”

With consumer data obviously so important to the UK mobile network’s business, she admitted it has taken a back step to ensure it’s precious about protecting it. “We don’t sell this data as we can’t afford to lose our consumers’ trust,” she admitted. “Being so cautious might mean we get left behind, but I think it’s worth it as we can’t take any chances.”

Frolich agreed with Koutsoudakis’ sentiment. In the 2020s, he said ad agencies shouldn’t be using client and third party data unless they can absolutely prove it has a positive impact on creativity and this in turn enriches the lives of their customers.

“We aren’t a data company, we are a creative agency,” he insisted. “We use client data and third party data to feed our creativity and build better work that consumers then enjoy. If you’re using this data and it isn’t creating better human insights then you’re using it incorrectly.

“Agencies have bought big data companies and it isn’t working because they’re not using the information to create better marketing. If we can work with a client like Vodafone and use their data to feed better creativity then we’re winning.”

The sentiments around trust were picked on another panel, where Courtney Wylie, VP of product & marketing, Mention Me had a word of caution: “We’re going to continue to see this evolving trend of lack of trust. A declining trust in influencers, brands, marketing channels.”

However, the way the relationship between agencies and brands works will become a lot more adaptable over the coming years, with a one-size-fits-all approach now completely redundant. John Readman, CEO & Founder, Modo25, explained: “In past there were only two options: work with an agency or do something in-house, but we will see these lines blurring more and more. There’s no reason why a combination of both won’t be the best way forward.”

Talking about the way forward, Andrew Challier, chief client officer, Ebiquity predicted that the industry will finally see “the rebirth of creativity and the importance of creativity in engaging people and reaching people in a meaningful way.”

A more ethical way of thinking could impact Facebook and Amazon

As we move further into the 2020s, some of the event’s panellists warned that established retailers and social media brands could start to fall short, as consumers switch to a more ethical way of thinking.

“Yes, lot’s of people still buy off Amazon, but the fact Brits also want to become more engaged with their local community means independent retailers should be confident heading into this new decade,” predicted Hero Brown, founder of Muddy Stilettos.

She explained further: “We’ve noticed a real shift in our readers wanting to support the high street more and more, and there’s this ethical thinking coming through, which could be detrimental to an Amazon. Shoppers want real-life experiences, even from online brands. They’re starting to get tired of faceless fast transactions and want to see brands brought to life in a more physical way. This trend will only intensify in 2020.”

Meanwhile, Darren Savage, chief strategy officer at Tribal, would like to see Facebook’s dominancy recede in the social media space. “I think major firms who consistently lie will come unstuck in the 2020s as people won’t put up with it anymore,” he said. “An immoral toxic cess-pit like Facebook will come tumbling down.

“The blatant lies they tell around consumer data will mean people will leave the platform in much bigger numbers. Truth is more important than ever before and just being a big business isn’t going to protect you if you mislead consumers.”

Proving you’re making a difference

This ethical way of thinking also extends to a brand’s commitment to sustainability, and Misha Sokolov, co-founder of MNFST, believes this will only rise in importance over the coming years.

“I spoke recently to someone at the Volkswagen Group and he was telling me how they calculated they were responsible for 1% of all global emissions, and that’s why they now want to be carbon neutral within 10 years,” he said. “The smartest brands won’t just put a nice message on their packaging, but do something that has a provable positive impact on the environment and helping reduce climate change. It must happen automatically as brands will lose market share if consumers don’t think their being ethical enough. There’s no excuse in the 2020s.”

And businesses shouldn’t just think of sustainability in environmental terms either, with it also being just as wrapped up in how a brand and business treats its employees. Stéphanie Genin, global VP of enterprise marketing at Hootsuite, says employee advocacy will be a huge trend moving forward, as consumer want to ensure their favourite brands treat their staff good before supporting them with a purchase.

She added: “Employee advocacy and employee generated content will become so so important. When you empower employees to be the communicator of what your business stands for it really adds to brand value and boosts sales. I think marketers are missing a trick by not prioritising this more heavily.”

However, Readman, added none of this will work unless it’s part of a global governance policy. “It’s all good being sustainable and doing good things for employees in one market, but if it’s not something you’re doing consistently across the board then consumers will work it out and there will be a backlash.”

Meanwhile, for John Young, executive creative director and co-founder, M-is, as brands start to really understand the consumers through personal engagagement, “the advertising budgets will transfer into experiential budgets.”

Be as safe as possible

Another topic of conversation that came up throughout the day was brands ensuring the data they keep on consumers remains safe, especially as more and more of their ads are traded programmatically.

Francesco Petruzzelli, chief technology officer at Bidstack, said that 13% of global ads are currently fraudulent and that while major brands know it’s a “big issue”, they’re not necessarily doing enough to prevent it. “We acquired a publishing guard to protect publishers, but I find a lot of people aren’t thinking seriously enough about this issue. It won’t go away!”

Dan Lowden, chief strategy officer at Whiteops, added how he recently worked with a major brand who believed bots were accounting for up to 5% of fake views of its £10m campaign, but says his team worked out they were actually accounting for 36% of traffic.

Looking ahead, he concluded: “The bad guys aren’t going to let up and will keep on persisting with cyber crime in the 2020s. We all need to be serious about tackling this problem and do more to collaborate as an industry to ensure that marketing dollars are genuinely being spent on human engagement and not just robots.”

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Sourced from The Drum

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B2B marketers can be very focused on the short term, and who can blame them? Sales are putting on the pressure for a constant stream of leads and business leaders have quarterly targets to hit to keep the shareholders at bay.

It’s this short term thinking that means the majority of activity produced by B2B marketing teams is below the line, bottom of the funnel, sales ‘activation’ activity (call it the boring stuff) and not the bigger, fame and brand building advertising activity that the majority of B2C brands seem focus on (the glamorous stuff).

Now, couple this with the fact that the average tenure of a CMO is now just 43 months (and that new incumbent wants to shake things up and make their mark on the business), and it’ll come as no surprise that only 4% of B2B marketing teams measure impact beyond six months.

But a new report from the B2B Institute and LinkedIn, packed with research from Advertising Effectiveness stalwarts Les Binet and Peter Field, says this short-sightedness is damaging the growth potential of B2B brands.

According to ‘The 5 principles of growth in B2B Marketing’, in order to grow, B2B marketers need to start shifting efforts (and budgets) towards a 50/50 split between short term activation activity and long term brand building (the stuff that makes you famous).

However, it’s pretty clear we are starting on the back foot. B2B marketers are incredibly sceptical about the value of brand building and many have a misconstrued view of the effect brand building has on the business.

Just 30% of B2B marketers, for example, believe advertising has an effect on pricing power and only 50% believe reach is a strong predictor of success. It’s pretty clear businesses need to start thinking differently about longer term brand building. But as with any shift, there has to be a strong reason to do so.

So, we have distilled the findings from the report into four arguments you can take to your board/sceptical CMO to convince them to put more budget into longer term brand building, B2B advertising and fame defining campaigns and activities.

Argument one: “Look! You can’t argue with the facts – brand building will build our market share and our bottom line.”

Let’s start with a fundamental rule. The share of voice rule. A rule that has been known and stayed consistent for the last 50 years. The rule goes thus: brands that set their share of voice (share of all category advertising expenditure) above their share of market, will tend to grow.

This has been well known in B2C, but Binet and Field have shown the trend is true in B2B – a 10% extra share of voice, for example, will lead to a rise in market share of 0.7% per year.

Put simply: shout louder than the competition in a way that gets you noticed and you will expand. That alone is worth the investment.

Argument two: “We can kill two birds with one stone with this! Not only will brand building attract new customers, but it’s a great way to reassure our current customers they have made the right choice and feel proud about being our partner.”

Put simply, brands grow in two ways, either by gaining more customers, or by selling more to current customers. In B2B, the focus is often put on the latter thanks to new customer acquisition costs being high. But this piece of research shows us that actually the best way to achieve real growth is to acquire new customers, meaning more has to be put into activity to attract them.

But shifting budgets to attract new customers doesn’t have to come at the cost of current customers – putting money into brand campaigns also helps reassure existing customers they have made the right choice (and means they can show off to their mates in the pub about working with a cool, well known brand.)

Argument three: “Don’t trust me, trust Danny Khaneman! We need to be the brand that is the easiest to choose when a potential customer is shopping around.”

While everyone seems to think B2B buyers are purely rational beings, the truth is just like anyone else, many of the decisions they make are not made on purely rational thoughts or processes but on brands, products and services that are the most ‘mentally available’. As the economist Daniel Kahneman says, “the brain is largely a machine for jumping to conclusions”.

This is due to the Availability Heuristic – a rule that says given the choice between several options, people prefer the one that comes to mind most easily. It’s the reason that when you are shopping you are most likely to pick up Fairy washing up liquid and Kelloggs cornflakes, rather than unknown brands.

Maximising mental availability, or being the easiest brand to choose to buy, is just as important in B2B as in B2C and the best way to do this is to build fame through brand building campaigns.

Argument four: “A suit isn’t a shield for emotions! After all, Business people are people too, they just happen to be at work. So we need to use the power of emotion to ensure people engage with our brand. And guess what? The best way to do that is long term advertising campaigns.”

As a marketer, one of your key aims should be to make people feel positively towards your brand, even if they can’t say why. That comes from creating emotions and feelings around your brand and positioning yourself in a way that becomes more firmly embedded in a buyer’s memory than functional product messages.

This will translate into real business results, thanks to the fact that if we like a brand (or feel a positive emotion towards it) we are more likely to hold positive beliefs about its benefits. And it shows in the results – emotion based, fame building campaigns outperform rational ones by a margin of 10x. Even the tightest CFO can’t say no to that.

B2B marketers need to need to take off those short term blinkers and start thinking about how we build brands that grow, become famous and build the business over the long term. While the short term activation activity is still key, we need to start readdressing the balance and we hope this starts today.

A big thanks to The B2B Institute, LinkedIn, as well as Les Binet and Peter Field, for their excellent research on which this whole article is based. You can download the full research report here.

Feature Image Credit: Building B2B brands

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James Wood, head of Earnest Labs, the innovation arm of Earnest

Sourced from The Drum

We know that exceptional content is what makes a brand. We also know that analysing our data to very specifically target audiences is crucial for great ROI. But we rarely put the two together and use the data available to actually analyse what content works – and why.

Yet knowing exactly why content works can give us that winning edge. And, luckily, the ability to see what indisputably resonates the most with our audience – and drives our bottom-line – is already in our hands.

The state of play

In the climate of the current ‘data boom’, audience targeting naturally takes precedence, with the majority (55%) of marketers saying ‘better use of data’ for audience targeting is their priority in 2019, according to Econsultancy.

It makes sense. On a daily basis, we’re faced with countless blogs, podcasts, speakers and everything in-between promising that if we perfectly optimise our targeting, our messaging will beat the daunting odds of the 0.9% CTR cited by WordStream. And so, we dedicate hours and hours every week to creating personas, hypothesising about audiences, segmenting users and running lengthy A/B tests to find the piece of content that our audience love. We add to our already-complex marketing stacks tools that tell us what messaging has been more successful, in order for us to optimise.

But when we do find that winner, do we know why it works? Do we know exactly what features caused the higher CTR? Do we know how we’re going to recreate it in our next campaign, to make it better, even?

This lack of knowledge – despite all the tools and techniques we use to offer insight – is what we at Datasine call the ‘black box’ because when it comes to understanding why, we are left in the dark. Just looking at results doesn’t give us the insight needed to truly understand content preferences in an actionable way.

Semantic content analysis

To crack open the black box, we need to start conducting in-depth semantic analysis of our content. Only then can we begin to truly understand why some content resonates and some doesn’t.

As experienced marketers, we come prepackaged with a deep understanding of – and fascination with – psychology and our audience, meaning we’ve already got the skills on paper to analyse our content. It’s simply a matter of breaking it down into parts. We’ll look at this in terms of images and text.

If you want to analyse your imagery, you can take all the image assets you’ve ever created and note down the particular elements you used in each, then check to see if there are any patterns which relate those choices to your ad performance.

For example:

  • Did you use a photo of your product outdoors? Or in the showroom?
  • Were people visible in the shot?
  • What was the size of the text, and the colour of any overlays or CTAs?

It may even be worth inviting a panel to judge your images on the emotions that they evoke, or photographers to assess the quality and composition of the shot.

You can do the same for text content, approaching this by categorising how you describe your product or service. For example:

  • Do you appeal to your product’s ease of use?
  • Are you emphasising your innovative credentials?
  • Do you use particularly casual – or formal – language?

With this process, we can see which types of content are receiving the most engagement. And we can use these features to keep creating great campaigns that we further optimise as our understanding of customer content preferences grows.

Scaling content analysis

If we have just a few campaigns on the go, content analysis is easier, but it gets harder as we scale. It stops being practical to expect humans to spend days, weeks, even months labelling what goes into each piece of content. Here’s where machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) come to the rescue.

AI models can extract all of these elements in seconds by analysing image or text semantically to look at content like humans do. That way, we can cut back on lengthy, expensive A/B testing, and get rid of guesswork once and for all – a vision we at Datasine are working toward. Our AI platform Connect (formerly Pomegranate) automatically identifies the most effective content for your audience.

By embracing semantic content analysis and working collaboratively with AI, we can feel confident in understanding exactly what content is going to work before we hit send.

Sourced from The Drum

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Most accounts on Weibo and WeChat get the majority (68%) of their reads from pushing content to existing followers.

The remaining 32% of reads mostly come from sharing on moments (10%), in chats (3%), history (4%) and others (11%). “Others” is typically desktop usage or non-official types of promotion by sharing the direct link to the article.

Content should be shared on Weibo 2-4 times per day and WeChat only when there is great content to share, according to a research done by KAWO.

WeChat and Weibo have suffered with platforms like Douyin and Xiaohongshu on the rise. The read rates are down significantly, but seem to have stabilised and even picked up a little in the case of service accounts.

The Top Stories have grown significantly since it was launched in December 2018, but is still quite small for most accounts. Accounts with less than 2000 followers have seen as much as 13% of their reads from Top Stories.

Furthermore, the average subscription account doesn’t seem to be held back by the limit of 1 post per day. Meanwhile service accounts send a higher number of articles per push presumably because they’re only able to contact users 4 times per month.

According to KAWO CEO Alex Duncan, follower growth on Subscription accounts has fallen quite a lot over the past 3 years, but seems to have been helped a little by the changes

“WeChat made to the Subscription folder in June 2018. Although the growth rate has slowed, they are now also losing less followers too presumably because it’s less annoying for users to scroll past an article they don’t like rather than open each subscription account one by one,” he added.

Usage in the week before and the week after Chinese New Year is higher with users presumably spending more time on social media.

KAWO spent 6 weeks analyzing 20 million data points to answer every marketer’s questions on WeChat and Weibo.

The Drum recently spoke with Akae Wang, an executive creative director in the corporate marketing and public relations department at Tencent to find out how Tencent brought the moon closer to WeChat users during Mid-Autumn Festival.

Feature Image Credit: Weibo and WeChat get 68% of their reads from pushing content to existing followers

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It can be difficult for SMEs to remain competitive today, but AdRoll’s new report ‘The Ultimate Guide to Growth’ provides a detailed step-by-step guide to help small to mid-sized businesses, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs to accelerate their growth. The robust report is split into seven categories with each providing case studies and takeaway lessons.

Identifying audiences

The report stresses the importance of marketers to first determine their ideal customer, knowing this then allows them to accurately target them. It cites various characteristics to look out for when compiling customer profiles and suggests that marketers should also tap into customer geographics and work on understanding their online behavioural habits. Empathising with their customers’ needs will help marketers to capitalise on their audience’s activity.

Understanding competitors

While getting to know your customers is important, the report also urges marketers to understand how their competitors operate, so that they can have a strong understanding of their positioning in the market. Marketers should conduct research and analysis on their competitors to work out where marketplace opportunities and threats lie, as well as keep a close eye on their opponent’s messaging.

Know your USP

Key differentiators set companies apart, so identifying these – no matter how big or small they are – is vital. The guide advises marketers to focus on your key attributes but encourages them to avoid concentrating on replicable differentiators such as new technologies or competitive prices as these can easily be beaten by competitors.

Marketing strategy creation

Marketing strategies should act as a roadmap for growing businesses with clear steps as to how to reach and engage new and existing customers. Working out the company’s value proposition will help. Marketers should consider where their customers are struggling and how they can help relieve their pain through the services they offer. They should then develop messaging to reflect this strategy, set attainable goals and create a realistic marketing budget to ensure that progress can be tracked.

Using marketing tactics

The marketing strategy set out earlier in the guide will provide marketers with clear business goals and budgets. Working out actionable tactics and which marketing channels to push marketing messages out on is essential. The report suggests looking at AdRoll’s digital advertising tactics and offers marketers the opportunity to sync up their e-commerce website with their growth platform to attract new visitors and convert existing prospects.

Creating content assets

Marketers should work out which type of content asset will suit their strategy best; the report provides pros and cons of using visual, written and ad content formats, with advice on how best to combine content assets to save on time and avoid duplication. The guide reminds marketers that ad sizes and formats also vary according to each platform, so messages need to be punchy and to the point for them to be effective.

Implementing and testing

Testing is one of the most important steps in the digital marketing growth journey. The report suggests that ads don’t need to be perfect before going live and encourages marketers to experiment with different renditions of ads to see how audiences respond. Various techniques for testing are listed, ensuring that marketers can get the most out of the experiments they do on ads, so that they know what to look out for.

Measurement

The guide advises marketers to build quantifiable KPIs and metrics that correspond to the business strategy and goals outlined earlier. Marketers should look at various analytics tools and work out which would best suit their business, but the report urges them to continue testing tactics to ensure that processes and information are consistently refined throughout the journey. Attribution models can also help marketers to gain better insight into consumer purchase habits.

Feature Image Credit: The Ultimate Guide to Growth report, with AdRoll

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Indulgence and, of course, chocolate will always be crucial to Easter, but increasingly this holiday is seen as a celebration of springtime, and people are seeking gifts and experiences that reflect this shift.

This is no doubt that Easter is important to us, with 57% of consumers considering it to be a “proper” holiday, according to a 2018 YouGov survey. This is compared to say, Mother’s Day, which Britons do not see as such a big occasion.

Its importance in our lives is reflected in our social behaviour with Facebook seeing year-on-year growth of 1.6x in our conversations about Easter in 2017. The top five topics discussed around that time are significant others, food, beverages, parties and events, and travel, while the top trending Easter hashtags are #love, #chocolate and #family.

Let’s take a look at some emerging UK Easter trends for 2019 and supporting marketing activation tips advertisers could consider on Facebook platforms in line with these….

Alternative indulgence

Confectionary sales in the UK grew from £375m in 2017 to £395m in 2018. However, while chocolate will always have a place on the shelves at Easter, increasingly consumers are looking for Easter treats to marry with their growing concerns about sustainability and health. Many more of us will be searching for guilt-free ways to spoil ourselves this Easter!

With reducing plastic waste now high up on the agenda of most consumers, forward-thinking brands are thinking outside the traditional egg box to meet these concerns. Innovative chocolate brands, such as Montezuma, vegan brand Goupie and dairy-free brand Booja Booja, are using recyclable packaging, some of which is reusable.

Treating ourselves isn’t limited to gorging on chocolate, and for many people self-care is becoming the alternative way of indulging. Health and beauty e-tailer Lookfantastic struck a chord last Easter with its £65 Beauty Egg, which offered a limited edition collection of seven ‘must-have’ products packaged in a metal egg. No surprise then that this year’s Easter Beauty Egg Bungle had an early waiting list.

Marketing activation tip: Think outside the Easter egg box, by showing more options than just chocolate in your marketing campaigns. How about a carousel ad format where you can showcase a wider brand story and message through different images? For e.g. chocolate, eco packaging, as well as an idea for guilt-free or healthier indulgence / pampering.

The great Easter escape

With family a top trending hashtag over the Easter break, it is a holiday that is increasingly about sharing special moments together. With 72% of consumers feeling no pressure to buy Easter gifts, according to a 2018 Mintel Seasonal Shopping report, we are increasingly swapping presents for social experiences.

Spending on activities far outpaces gifts, according to the same Mintel report, with an average of £113 spent on sharing experiences together compared to £67 on presents. British adults love to hark back to their childhoods when out with friends, with many getting their Easter fun fix by going bowling or trampolining.

Families also love to get out and about, and the many events staged by brands around Easter are ideal opportunities for spending time together. Crafting days and Easter egg hunts, such as the Cadbury partnership with the National Trust, are always big draws, but alternative events such as the Science Museum’s Power Up, which combines gaming with an exhibition, appeal to both parents and kids.

As people prioritise spending time together and creating that sense of belonging, it is little wonder that 10 times more photos are posted and shared during the Easter breaks than before or after.

Marketing activation tip: You can broadcast direct from events so that a wider audience can join the fun and conversation by using the Instagram live feature! Bridge the real world and digital divide seamlessly. By leveraging Facebook marketing partners you can create ads and messaging which are triggered contingent upon weather. We all know British weather can be unreliable, so it’s handy to have bespoke messaging ready to roll out in rainy or sunny circumstances over the Easter weekend.

Creating a meaningful Easter

With Facebook seeing a spike in conversation around food, beverages and parties on Easter Day itself, we know the Easter feast is a vital part of the holiday. British consumers are investing more time and money in making food more meaningful by buying seasonal produce, often sourcing key ingredients locally at stores or markets.

Supporting British producers and local retailers adds real meaning and a sense of story to our Easter food. It’s the reason that over half of shoppers surveyed by digital marketing agency Silverbean, said it is the time of year when buying home-grown products and using local suppliers is essential.

Spring is a time of abundance when it comes to vegetables, and with interest in organic foods and local, independent shopping spiking around this time of year, many turn to social to celebrate their love for fresh local produce. And they really do love it, #rhubarb and #artichoke boast almost a million tagged boasts between them.

Even the major retailers understand shoppers are looking for ways to show their support for local and British suppliers. Morrisons uses a “blue passport” to mark up its lamb products as British and highlight their home-grown credentials. Meanwhile, Hyke Gin is tackling both local and food waste by taking unwanted grapes from the British supply chain and turning it into gin.

Marketing activation tip: If you have great content like Easter ingredients, recipes and pictures to share, consider trying the Instant Experiences templates to quickly create valuable interactions with your customers. Did you know Instant Experiences are loading faster than ever? – now 15 times faster than standard mobile websites – so you can use them to seamlessly connect to an audience. Also, if you have a great local story to tell about your product, you can geo target ads to a certain audience where that messaging would resonate strongly.

Easter, a season of sun

With Easter bringing the first Bank Holidays of the year, it is an excellent opportunity for a holiday or breaks. Almost half of the £1.1bn spent over the Easter weekend in 2018 was spent on Easter getaways, according to travel website Kayak, and 89% of Easter conversation on Facebook in the UK was on mobile.

After the long winter, many are chasing the sunshine and warmth. Back in 2016, the “cool” and adventurous Scandi destinations were booming, last year saw consumers look to sunnier climes. Dubai was the most booked destination for Easter in 2018, with the perennially popular Spanish cities of Malaga and Alicante close behind.

Once again, environmental issues rate high on the agenda for British consumers. Green mini-breaks are becoming the preferred choice for many consumers. The Hilton London Bankside has responded with the creation of the world’s first vegan hotel room, which features suede-like furnishings made from mushroom matter.

Marketing activation tip: Travel insurance brands may want to up-weight their activity on Facebook and Instagram as we know most people leave it last minute to get their insurance sorted! Geo targeting such ads around airports and stations can prove effective. Hotels and retreats can showcase their unique or new look sustainable offerings in a more immersive way by using the power of 360° videos and boosting that content as ads to maximise reach and amplification.

Summary

Easter is still very much about chocolate eggs and bunnies, but consumers increasingly see it as an opportunity for treating themselves, and for spending time with family and friends by sharing great experiences. It is increasingly important however that enjoying these holiday moments is not at the expense of their wider concerns around health and sustainability.

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When was the last time you saw a queue outside of what you would call a fairly ‘ordinary’ restaurant? Or an ‘exclusive’ concert? Perhaps a pop-up that gives away gluten-free bread outside of a tube station? Quite recently, I suppose.

People love queues, don’t they? That uncomfortable feeling of standing on your feet for ages while thoroughly investigating someone’s back just to get access to something…special. Well, not really. This is not something people particularly enjoying doing. But the fear of missing out (or ‘FOMO’) is so frantically embedded in our DNA that it is a far greater ‘discomfort’ for us to miss out than to waste some time in a queue.

How does this tie into social media marketing? Social media is nothing more than our world under a microscope. Sometimes marketers are too close to their own profession and don’t quite remember that it is as simple as that. They treat “social media users” as a different group of people altogether. This doesn’t particularly help since they sometimes fail to tap into human psychology 101.

Take your average Facebook ad. How often do you see a call to action that truly lures you in? In 2018, 69.95% of ads have included a CTA – a great jump from 2016’s 51.54% – but what do the rest of the ads (the 30.05%) include? They probably have some nice imagery. However, even if a picture is worth a thousand words, words (or in our world, “copy”) can elevate your ad to drive conversions. How? Enter FOMO.

The power of FOMO

How do you incorporate FOMO in your marketing efforts? Essentially, it’s about coming up with a “FOMO” proposition around your brand/product/service that’s too strong to pass.

There is a reason why ‘limited offers’ work. It’s all about framing what you offer in a timeframe. AdEspresso recently conducted a Facebook ad experiment to test three of the most popular CTAs; “Sign Up”, “Download Now” and “Learn More”. The “Download Now” CTA outperformed the other two by more than 40% in terms of cost per lead. Time-sensitive words like “now” and “today” work successfully because of the urgency they call out. You also want to make sure you call out your customer. You want to make it personal. According to Hubspot, personalised CTAs perform 202% better than basic CTAs. Words like “you”, “your”, “yours” make your copy instantly more approachable. All of a sudden, the ad is about them! They stop and listen.

What are people going to miss if they don’t join/download/buy/sign up to what you offer? This is a question that you can only answer after going deep into your social data and understanding who your audience is and where it lives on social. It could be a case where you discover that your main audience is more outgoing and sociable than the average social group. This comes with the assumption that they probably have a lot of friends they care about (and subsequently, care about their opinions) so you make it about their friends. You run a Facebook ad that is targeting people whose friends have joined YOUR Page and you go in with the hard sell: “Your friend is already part of [enter brand/product/service here]. Isn’t it time for you to join today?” This is one way to take advantage of our hardwired urge to not miss out on anything.

Common-sense marketing tells us we need to exaggerate about whatever we are selling. As a result, we focus too much on the specifications of the end-product and how well our brand compares to others. We make the sale about us. However, if you change the narrative and flip the mirror, a more persuasive argument is helping people see that if they don’t join you they will miss out on an opportunity that hasn’t been presented to them before.

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Sophie Katsali is lead strategist at Wilderness

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he power of video advertising may be well documented, but as consumer behaviour changes amid familiarity with video browsing on mobile devices, marketers who think the rules of engagement for digital video have already been written – and that there is a one size fits all approach – should think again.

The rise and effectiveness of native video on social media has been well researched to date. Engagement rates, reach, frequency and return on investment studies all show positive associations. But until now, there have been few studies showing the rise and performance of native video formats across the open web, specifically on premium publisher environments, where in-feed native video formats are becoming increasingly common.

We recently sought to fill that void through an analysis of more than 30 million in-feed video views run across our platform from January to April 2018. While we expected to be able to report findings on native video on the open web that were in line with the positive findings in social media, we didn’t expect that our findings would challenge the very notion of ‘what works’ in native video. But that’s precisely what happened.

Conventional wisdom in the video space, based on social data, has indicated that less is more when it comes to native video advertising, with many espousing that anything longer than 6 seconds in native video is simply too long. However, our findings would seem to contradict the perceived wisdom that mobile users have limited attention spans and are only interested in short video content.

According to our findings, smartphone users are more likely to spend time engaging with long-form video ads compared to 6-second ads when executed correctly. In fact, 72% of mobile users who have watched 6 seconds will continue to watch and engage with video up to 22 seconds. When native video reaches 15 to 22 seconds in length across premium publisher environments, mobile and tablet users that have watched this far are significantly more engaged than desktop users.

The evolution of our ‘mobile minds’

Perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising that people’s attention spans for native video seem to be growing longer. While the findings in our report represent the first of their kind in native video, there have been several studies undertaken around the attention of mobile phone users when it comes to reading. Over time, conclusions have shifted.

One study in 2010 found that reading on a mobile device was impaired when content was presented on a mobile-size screen versus a larger computer screen. But a similar study, undertaken six years later in 2016, showed different results. This study, conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group, concluded that there were no practical differences in the comprehension scores of participants, whether they were reading on a mobile device or a computer. In fact, the study found comprehension on mobile was about 3% higher than on a computer for content that was just over 400 words in length, and at an easier level to read.

Why the difference in results? It’s very possible that, over the period between 2010 and 2016 — the exact period during which smartphones became ubiquitous — we’ve all become more accustomed to reading on smaller screens. It’s reasonable to assume that the challenges the average person had reading on a small screen back in 2010 no longer apply now that people have adjusted to life on those smaller screens.

In a similar manner, it would appear that user behavior is changing around video consumption on mobile devices as well.

Well-held assumptions that less-is-more for video length and the broader worries about a crisis in user attention spans very well may prove to have been misplaced.

Creating compelling video content

As attention spans for native video lengthen, marketers would do well to reassess their best practices as it relates to creating content for mobile consumption. In particular, native video creators should think carefully about improving video performance during the key drop-off periods on a specific device.

For videos that will be consumed on mobile or tablet, videos should be edited to pack a punch in the first 6 seconds, in order to draw in users. The latest data suggests that the optimal length for native video content on mobile and tablet should be between 15 and 22 seconds. After 22 seconds, user interest does wane. If videos have to be longer, marketers should ensure that there are more-exciting sequences and enticing calls to action around 22 seconds, in order to maintain viewer interest up to 30 seconds.

If nothing else, these recent findings demonstrate that marketers must remain fluid in their understanding of how users engage with content on their devices. Behaviour is shifting, and yesterday’s best practices won’t necessarily apply tomorrow.

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Dale Lovell is co-founder of Adyoulike

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