The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

The path to digital transformation
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Matt Green, senior manager – global marketing procurement at the WFA.

Every now and then a new development comes along that changes everything. That was the case with wind, steam, the internal combustion engine and electricity. Now digital is radically reshaping the way we communicate, behave and do business.

We can already see that the emerging digital economy looks quite different to what existed before.

We now live in a world where Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.


Subjects: Digital, Marketing

24 August 2015 16:06

Are 'skinny' services the next media trend?
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Sam Farrand, account/planning director at the7stars.

BT is attempting to buy EE for a reported £12.5bn. The deal, should it go through, represents the latest move within the utilities industry to shore up a company's position across multiple products, bundle them up and sell customers a suite of services.

Big money acquisitions only represent the crest of the wave: Sky offers its customers TV, a phone line, broadband and mobile; Vodafone provides Spotify Premium as part of its higher price contract bundles; and even energy companies such as Southern Electric are now offering products as diverse as broadband on top of power supply. In short, bundling is big business.

However, in the media world there are hints of a very different future, one where content is being actively 'unbundled', with veteran market-disruptor Apple leading the charge. CBS CEO Les Moonves views Apple as 'trying to change the universe' – the universe in question being the traditional satellite or cable subscription TV model.


Subjects: Advertising, Consumers, Digital

13 August 2015 15:04

The alternate futures for mobile payment
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Tim Spenny, Vice President of GfK's Financial Services team in North America, specializing in Mobile Payments and FinTech.

The ability of Mobile Payments to keep consumers happy hinges on whether the big players will play nicely together. If they do, Mobile Payments will be a boost for both retailers and consumers. If they don't, Mobile Payments could become a messy land-grab, with retailers favoring brand-exclusive Mobile Payment systems and making life much more complicated for consumers.

Picture this: you're in the department store. Your basket is nearly full. There's just one last pair of pants to look at. And what's that? A discount for it pops up on your phone. Bargain! The trousers are coming with you. And it's time to go. You wave your phone at the checkout – that was easy! – and everything's paid for. Loyalty points rack up for everything you've bought. And you head home, mission accomplished.


Subjects: Consumers, Digital

11 August 2015 15:58

How marketers can use gamification to engage consumers
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Juha Koski, founder and MD of

With the UK eCommerce sales reaching £38bn last year, there's stiff competition to find new ways to attract customers to a website or app, keep them engaged while there and ultimately to encourage their return.

To achieve this goal, increasing numbers of companies are turning to gamification as a way of creating a more entertaining and fun shopping experience than that offered by traditional eCommerce sites such as Amazon and eBay. The end goal is to better engage with and reward customers – and drive sales.

By contrast standard loyalty programs tend to focus on the very last stage of the consumer decision journey (i.e. the purchase) but crucially leave out and ignore everything that occurs beforehand.


Subjects: Digital, Marketing, Consumers

10 August 2015 14:38

Curing programmatic's growing pains
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Alex Kuhnel, Chief operating officer at Kantar Media TGI.

There has been much hand wringing recently in the digital advertising industry over the threat posed by ad blocking, as new software is launched promising to block ads on mobiles. Advertisers and trading desks worry how much take up will this witness and how they can fight back.

At the same time, a debate has been going on about whether the content of programmatic ads is up to scratch when compared to the quality of other types of advertising.

In fact, both worries tap into a deeper truth about programmatic, which is that cookie-based advertising's promise of targeting a browser regardless of where they are online, disregards the all-important match between an ad and the environment in which it appears. The weaker the connection between advertising and context, the less receptive the consumer is likely to be.


Subjects: Advertising, Digital, Data

07 August 2015 10:48

3D experiences
Posted by: Gareth Kay, Co-founder, Chapter SF
Gareth Kay

Twenty-one years ago, the iconoclastic ad agency Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury produced a wonderfully provocative, and ahead of its time, pamphlet called Marketing At A Point of Change. I remember getting hold of a copy when it came out and it had a huge impact on how I thought about brands and marketing. It's a remarkably prescient read, arguing that in a more marketing literate world, brands need to become providers of experience rather than pronouncement. It's arguably more timely now than it was on its publication.

One of the central tenets of their argument is that "marketing will be replaced by 3D marketing, an experience that actively links the customers, the media and the brand… communication in the new world will include advertising, but it will no longer occupy centre stage. 'Brand experience' will replace broadcasting." Over the past decade, we have undoubtedly made strides as an industry towards this goal (although, arguably, progress that has not been far or fast enough). The design of experiences, increasingly, is the currency by which we measure marketing.

But on this 21st anniversary, I wonder if we should take the time to reflect on whether we have really begun to develop three-dimensional experiences? My observation on most work is that it feels remarkably one- or two-dimensional, especially when compared with the best non-marketing experiences that people engage with in their day-to-day lives. More often than not, we are either designing experiences that are no more than glorified sugar-coated messages (the bulk of the ad industry's integrated case studies wheeled out every year at Cannes) or, at the other extreme, soulless and dry experiences offered up by UX practitioners. Usability may be great, but it can also feel soul-crushingly dull. I wonder if it's time we began to think about designing experiences that come to life across different dimensions. For example, some of the best user experiences around at the moment - from Mailchimp to Slack - understand that form and function alone is not enough. Great user experiences require careful design around the voice, tone and language the experiences use. In many cases, these experiences are producing far more compelling and interesting writing than the great majority of advertising that is around today. And, without a doubt, they are producing a magnetic user experience by injecting dimensions beyond usability into the design of the experience.


Subjects: Marketing, Digital

04 August 2015 16:36

Moving social media measurement in sponsorship from vanity to value
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Chris Pinner, sponsorship analyst at Synergy Sponsorship.

Closing the Telegraph's Business of Sport article on 'The importance of social media in sport', Synergy CEO Tim Crow says rightsholders "need to focus less on selling price and impressions and much more on delivering engagement and value".

He's right – value metrics are the future. And with more words set to be published on Twitter in the next 2 years than in all books ever printed, the cost of getting social media measurement wrong – by using vanity metrics such as "likes" and "clicks" – is set to skyrocket. This blog aims to provide a quick guide to moving sponsorship towards better social media measurement.

The majority of data points available in off-the-shelf analytics packages are what author of The Lean Startup, Eric Reis, calls Vanity Metrics – they might make you feel good, but don't offer clear guidance on what actions to take. Put another way, they do not help make decisions on how to drive value. Since around 80% of companies use vanity metrics, it's clear that sponsorship must move from vanity to value in social media ASAP.


Subjects: Marketing, Digital, Data

30 July 2015 15:45

How publishers can boost ad revenues in the age of disruption
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Richard Jones, CEO at marketing engagement platform, EngageSciences.

Most publishing companies are navigating the difficult path from print to digital brought about by mobile broadband, multi-screen and social media, to name a few.

In this new world one of their key decisions is how best to appeal to advertisers. After all, there's more money around for those that get it right. Digital advertising spend has increased from just 14% of total advertising revenue in 2009 to 25% in 2013 and is forecast to hit 33% by 2018, according to PWC.

But this spend will be only be made available to the innovative few. Google and Facebook own more than 50% of static banners, video and image ads meaning the more traditional digital advertising market is saturated. As such, if publishers are to thrive they really must find unique ways of appealing to advertisers, and in return they can expect increased traffic/subscriptions along with a boost in revenue.


Subjects: Digital, Advertising

22 July 2015 16:02

Should you automate your customer relations?
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Rhys John, Digital Marketing Executive at Thomas Design.

The future is here and robots are running everything.

Before you panic and start worrying about Skynet taking over, let me just explain that I don't mean judgement day is upon us, I simply mean that we've come to a stage where almost everything is automated.

You call up your gas and electric supplier and before you speak to a human you go through to an automated system to narrow down what you're looking for. When you order something online a robot tells another robot that you would like to buy said item, which then tells another robot to take the money from your bank while a separate robot tells a person (maybe) to ship the item to you.


Subjects: Digital, Consumers

17 July 2015 11:52

What Serial's success can teach marketers
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Gail Marie, brand journalist at McKinney.

Call them stories, narratives or yarns, science has proven that they can "change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors." So says Paul J. Zak in the Harvard Business Review and many chief creative officers every day. Specifically, by measuring oxytocin levels, Zak found that our brains are most attracted to visual stories of characters who try to overcome adversity, and that our attention is most concentrated when the outcome is uncertain.

The world's most successful podcast, Serial, proved the same effect is possible with stories we can only hear, so much so that the phrase "the Serial Effect" was coined and the entire podcast platform benefited. A McKinney survey of Serial's newsletter subscribers showed 23% had never listened to a podcast before Serial, and nearly half of them are now listening to other podcasts at least once a week.

McKinney's Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude met with the creators of Serial on stage at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity last month to talk about how these storytelling heroes did it and what marketers can learn from them. This is what I took from their conversation.


Subjects: Marketing, Digital, Consumers

14 July 2015 08:54


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