The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

Advertising: Orwell was wrong
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

2015 marks the 65th anniversary of George Orwell's death. By the time he died he was living on the remote island of Jura, isolated from a consumerist society that he saw as plagued with problems. For Orwell, advertising was to blame for many of these issues since it inflamed consumer desires for materialistic goods. As he so memorably stated: "Advertising is the rattling of a stick in the swill bucket of society".

Unfortunately, it seems that Orwell is not alone in this view. In a study conducted by ZenithOptimedia amongst 452 students, only 24 per cent thought advertising benefited society. But was Orwell's opinion justified or an example of groundless moralising? Cyril Connolly, after all, wrote of Orwell "He couldn't blow his nose without moralising on the conditions of the handkerchief industry".

At the core of Orwell's argument is the accusation that advertising creates a desire for products that consumers can't resist. There are two parts to this argument. Firstly, let's look at the irresistibly part. Anyone working in advertising knows this isn't true. It's hard to change opinion and harder still to change behaviour. Consumers don't have the Pavlovian reaction that Orwell insinuates as they are aware that adverts are biased. Ads are interpreted with a healthy dose of scepticism.


Subjects: Advertising

30 March 2015 16:14

Marketing gets personal
Posted by: MEC

This post is by Kathryn Saxon, research group consultant director at MEC.

Personalisation is a priority for marketers in 2015, though we still have some time to go until consumers fully embrace it.

Personalisation was ranked as the most important digital priority for 2015 by marketers, according to the Adobe 'digital roadblock' survey of marketers. This comes as no surprise when taking into consideration the strong commercial case for personalisation. Separate research carried out by Econsultancy, in association with Adobe, revealed that, on average, businesses personalising the customer experience reported a 14% uplift in sales. Of course, levels of personalisation vary by channel, with email leading the way. 88% of companies surveyed by Econsultancy personalised their email channel, while 44% personalised their website and 23% claimed to personalise their offline channels. Lower down still is search engine marketing at 20% and mobile at 15%. Clearly, personalisation is not so omnichannel at the moment, yet 38% of organisations agreed that omnichannel personalisation will become a reality in 2015. With personalisation so high on the agenda for businesses what is the consumer response?


Subjects: Marketing

27 March 2015 15:46

Welcome to the Age of Big
Posted by: Waqar Riaz, Cheil Worldwide
Waqar Riaz

Imagine someone persuaded Ferdinand Magellan and his crew to abandon the Great Big Victoria in exchange for 271 canoes to help them successfully cross the Pacific. Without a doubt, the agent selling the canoes would have made a very profitable deal, however, it is almost guaranteed that Mr Magellan and his crew would never ever be in the list of those who crossed the Pacific (though probably the first ones to successfully accomplish mass sinking of 271 canoes).

In this new richer and bigger world the words selling, persuading and advocating small ideas sound no different to me.

When I hear that Big Ideas are dead and small ideas are ‘in’, I feel genuinely depressed.


Subjects: Brands, Marketing, Data

26 March 2015 16:06

The development of tablet devices
Posted by: MEC

This post is by Jo Coombes, Senior Research Executive at MEC.

Despite slowing sales, tablet devices will continue to increase penetration and with more models emerging, the iPad's dominance will be challenged.

the UK is the largest tablet audience in Europe with approximately 30 million people using a tablet device regularly in 2014, an increase of 33.2% from 2013 (eMarketer, 2014). YouGov's tablet tracker research found that 44% of tablet owners have two or more of the devices, so it is no surprise that iPad sales were down in 2014 after three years of explosive growth (Time, 2014). Despite some predictions of the global tablet market continuing to slow down in 2015 with just an 8% increase in sales from 2014 (Gartner, 2015), the emergence of an upgrade cycle coming to fruition has been observed in recent months, as people look to replace their current devices with newer models.


Subjects: Digital

24 March 2015 10:28

We need to talk about Edward
Posted by: Neil Dawson, Chief Strategy Officer, Europe, SapientNitro
Neil Dawson

In the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations, the debate about mass surveillance, government secrecy and the appropriate balance between national security and information privacy raged on at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

"Hiding In Plain Sight: Anonymizing the Internet" was one such discussion – and the alluring title, combined with promotional imagery featuring the iconic "V for Vendetta" mask, attracted a full house.

The conversation was both lively and wide-ranging. Everybody has opinions and nobody has answers, making it a perfect intellectual storm. Host Ian MacDowell, a creative technologist at argodesign – and, more intriguingly, a former bouncer – began by wondering whether proposing this topic could make him the subject of unwanted NSA attention.


Subjects: Digital, Consumers

20 March 2015 20:08

YouTube: Popularity does not equal Profitability
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Paul Kasamias, Head of Biddable Media at Starcom MediaVest Group.

After Google acquired YouTube in 2006, the world's foremost video site has gone from strength to strength, bringing in $4b in revenue in 2014. With numbers like these, it may be a surprise to learn the video site has always been a loss-making business for Google.

A staggering 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The cost of the streaming infrastructure to cope with this demand exceeds the revenue YouTube generates.

It is also worth considering how users access YouTube. It has been reported that 50% of YouTube's views come from embedded videos on third party sites. This includes portals, news sites and social media. If a large portion of traffic is not entering the site at the YouTube homepage, this impacts Google's ability to monetise homepage formats and other deals contingent on visitors. Users viewing videos outside of the YouTube platform are also less likely to watch and discover additional videos, giving a further threat to monetisation. Furthermore, recent research has shown that 9% of viewers watch 85% of online videos. This suggests that the viewing audience on YouTube is in fact quite niche and therefore harder to monetise than may first appear.


Subjects: Digital

18 March 2015 09:24

Nine, that's a magic number
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

"Nine, that's a magic number" or so De La Soul might have sang if they were marketers rather than a New York hip-hop trio. An increasing body of marketing evidence shows that consumers, rather than being rational decision makers, are prey to a number of biases. One of the most interesting biases revolves around the positive impact of prices ending in nine, known as charm prices. For retailers this should be a reason to be cheerful as it means sales can be encouraged with less need for margin destroying price cuts.

At ZenithOptimedia we have run experiments amongst 650 consumers across 6 products, from TVs to bread. For each product we asked about value perceptions. The twist was that we had discrete cells of consumers. Some consumers saw prices ending in 99p, the other groups saw the same good as just one or two pence more expensive. Despite the minor variations in price consumers were 9% more likely to think a brand was good value when the price ended in 9p – this occurred even though the difference in prices was c1%.


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

17 March 2015 12:28

The art of not selling
Posted by: James Hurman, Founder, Previously Unavailable
James Hurman

A few years ago, at Colenso BBDO in Auckland, we got a call from Levi's. It was the head of marketing in San Francisco. He introduced himself to our receptionist. She was having a busy moment, heard him say 'Levi's', and put him through to Levi, one of our creatives. Levi came running into the office where I was sitting with our MD and ECD and told us there was a guy from Levi's on the phone wanting to talk to us. He handed us the phone.

The guy from Levi's said he'd seen our work, he loved it, and that he wanted us to make an online film for his new women's product line. He didn't have much money, but he wanted something amazing. And he said that we could do anything we wanted. Excepting doing something illegal or grossly offensive, we would have the decision on what work we made. He wanted our judgment on what was great and what would be seen and shared by his customers.


Subjects: Marketing, Brands

12 March 2015 09:56

The rise of the online video stars
Posted by: MEC

This post is by Millie Thakker, a graduate at MEC.

As more of us carry the technology to create videos wherever we go, it is no surprise that online video will become the fastest-growing form of advertising.

Smartphones, iPads, Google Glass… nowadays it is easy to make a video and almost all of us carry the capability with us wherever we go. Online video advertising has grown 86% this year (The Guardian, 2014) with over 100 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube a minute and 6 billion hours of video being watched a month (YouTube, 2014). It is no surprise that people and brands alike are increasingly turning to video content to promote themselves.


Subjects: Digital

11 March 2015 11:53

How to drive in-store purchases test effects of ad exposure on in-store neural responses for a major North American retail corporation
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post details research by Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy of Neurons Inc. He is a speaker at the Neuromarketing World Forum in Barcelona March 25-27.

Little is still understood about the actual in-store purchase process, and research is often limited by traditional research methods that rely on conscious self-reports. While traditional market research methods only allow recording of actual purchase and customers' self-reports about the reasons behind their choices, neuromarketing methods allow better assessment and understanding of key unconscious processes underlying consumer choice. Here, we report the result of two consumer neuroscience studies that explore whether in-store decisions can be traced to immediate neural responses that precede conscious deliberation.


Subjects: Data

03 March 2015 12:43


Blog Search


  • 2015
    • March (22)
    • February (19)
    • January (16)
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010