Ads to support more online content

12 February 2016
PALM DESERT, CA: Ads could soon play a far larger role in a digital-content space now dominated by commercial-free services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, according to a leading observer from the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

Jeffrey Cole – who is Director of the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg Center for the Digital Future – discussed this subject at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) 2016 Annual Leadership Meeting.

In outlining various trends that are likely to influence entertainment-focused media in the near future, he argued that ads might begin to support the provision of over-the-top (OTT) video in a wide variety of environments.

"Consumers understand there are only three ways to acquire content," Cole said. (For more, including six other shifts set to impact the media space, read Warc's exclusive report: Seven remarkable new media trends for 2016.)

The first, he asserted, is simply to "pay fees or subscriptions", as is the case for ad-free properties like Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO NOW.

An alternative is to "steal it" – and, Cole continued, "even those who steal it acknowledge it's not a very good business model."

The final option is to "accept advertising", which has long supported traditional media – and may quickly adopt a similar role in parts of the digital ecosystem. "What we're seeing is a clear preference for advertising," said Cole.

In understanding why, Cole assessed the average expenditure on programming and communications services – ranging from cable, satellite and OTT packages to broadband and satellite radio.

And he reported that this figure stands at $267 per month for the typical American household. "If you look at people who live at or below the poverty level, that $267 only drops to about $199," Cole further ventured.

With an annual commitment between $2,400 and $3,200 per year, he predicted that most consumers were reaching a financial ceiling in this category.

In reflection of this fact, many cable providers have "been smarter than we all thought" and introduced "skinny bundles" commanding roughly $30 a month, compared with a norm of around $85.

And ad-funded models could rapidly gain ground for the same reason. "There's a limited amount of money people are going to spend for additional packages. And we think most of the new content is going to come from advertiser support," said Cole.

Data sourced from Warc

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Viewability can be a 'hindrance'

12 February 2016
LONDON: Above-the-fold is a poor proxy for viewability, while specific metrics suffer from vendor discrepancies and non-measureable inventory, according to a new study.

Quantcast, a provider of real-time advertising services, analysed some 5bn impressions per month across more than 10,000 publishers on every major RTB exchange for its report, Viewability: what smart marketers need to know.

It claimed to have evaluated every major MRC-accredited viewability vendor in multiple rounds of head-to-head testing and had concluded that in the UK the average discrepancy between vendors was just 7%, although the maximum it had found was 33%.

Further, 10% of inventory was typically not measureable at all for viewability. The report noted that this could adversely affect campaign performance for those advertisers measuring to a strict viewability goal.

"Viewability can sometimes be more hindrance than help," noted Matt White, UK managing director.

In fact, there is a very limited supply of very high viewability inventory, the report said. "Inventory with viewability above 80% constitutes just two to three percent of all RTB inventory in Europe" – and this could cost twice as much as regular inventory.

Nor should marketers think that simply placing ads above the fold is a valid proxy for viewability – depending on the exchange involved, viewability rates could be as low as 44% or as high as 65%.

The smart marketer of the report's sub-title will understand the performance trade-offs involved in having a viewability goal and decide an "optimal viewability rate" based on campaign parameters such as budget and the mix of prospecting and re-targeting and then hold all partners to the same standards.

The debate around viewability metrics is further complicated by the use of non-standard ad formats, such as skins and wallpapers, where one ad tech company reported the discrepancy between vendors ranging from 5% to 85%.

InSkin has now teamed up with MRC-accredited Moat, whose reports on campaigns run by InSkin will include viewability rates and in-view time across all types of ad format and device.

Data sourced from Quantcast; additional content by Warc staff

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Now Nestle ditches IAAF

12 February 2016
MONACO: The beleaguered International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has refused to accept the decision of Nestlé to end its five-year sponsorship of one of the organisation's grassroots development programmes a year early.

On Wednesday evening the food giant announced "We have decided to end our partnership with the IAAF Kids' Athletics programme with immediate effect".

It had reached this conclusion, it said, "in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF.

"We believe this could negatively impact our reputation and image and will therefore terminate our existing agreement with the IAAF, established in 2012."

At that time Nestlé saw the association as building on its Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme which focused on raising awareness of nutrition and health among school-age children.

The announcement came just two weeks after the BBC reported that Adidas ended a sponsorship deal with the governing body of international athletics on similar grounds.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe professed himself "angered and dismayed" by Nestlé's announcement. "We will not accept it," he declared. "It's the kids who will suffer."

The IAAF reported the Nestlé-sponsored programme had already been successful, with 15m 7-12 year olds in 76 countries taking part in team activities to promote a healthy, active lifestyle.

"In 2016, IAAF Kids' Athletics plans to reach a further 15 countries, training 360 lecturers, instructing 8,640 physical education teachers, with three million children participating by the end of the activation," it said.

Nestlé has had its share of criticism in the past as campaigners have taken it to task on a number of issues, ranging from promoting infant formula in places where clean water is unavailable to aiding the destruction of rainforests by using unsustainable sources of palm oil.

But according to Sigwatch, a group tracking NGO campaigns and the emerging issues driven by activists around the world, Nestlé was the most praised company on its watchlist in 2015, thanks to its efforts in tackling climate change, a commitment to zero deforestation, and its moves to clean up its supply chain.

Last November, for example, it volunteered the existence of slavery in its supply chain in Thailand, a step hailed as ground-breaking by several NGOs.

Data sourced from BBC, IAAF, Guardian; additional content by Warc staff

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Ad fraud declined in 2015

12 February 2016
NEW YORK: There are positive signs that the advertising industry's effort to tackle fraud are bearing fruit as new data reveals a marked decrease in fraud in video and display advertising during 2015.

The latest report from Integral Ad Science revealed a limited decline between the third and fourth quarters of last year but over the whole 12 months there was a significant improvement in the quality of the digital advertising market, particularly in one area of great concern.

Fraud rates for programmatic display inventory were down just over one percentage point in the fourth quarter, but over the year were down a third, from 16.5% to 11.0%, the largest change for any format.

For display inventory sourced directly through publishers – where fraud has been less of a concern – fraud rates moved only marginally in the last quarter, from 3.2% to 3.0%, but were still down a by a quarter on the start of the year when fraud was running at 4%.

The rate of decline of video fraud sat somewhere between these two. Again, there was only a slight change in the last quarter – from 10.1% to 10.0% – but this was substantially down on the first quarter figure of 14.0%.

The steady decrease throughout the year indicated an increased effort across the industry to implement fraud prevention technology and to bring the amount transacted on to what Integral Ad Science described as "a more manageable level".

"We continue to develop cutting edge solutions for both buyers and sellers to ensure that our clients are protected against fraud," said Scott Knoll, CEO of Integral Ad Science.

"The steady decrease in fraud transacted upon in 2015 is a clear indication that the industry is embracing sophisticated prevention technology and working together to gain the upper hand in the war on fraud."

There was also positive movement in display viewability over the last quarter. Display inventory sourced directly from publishers saw the greatest improvement, increasing from 46.3% in Q3 to 53.7% in Q4.

Viewability sourced through networks and exchanges increased from 39.8% to 41.5 %.

Data sourced from Integral Ad Science; additional content by Warc staff

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DPB spending to shift to programmatic

12 February 2016
NEW YORK: US expenditure on digital place-based (DPB) media passed $1bn in 2015 and is increasingly shifting towards programmatic, according to new research.

DPB media is defined by the Digital Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA) as networked digital video screens with content and advertising where consumers have dwell time, and so excludes transit advertising and static images digitally delivered.

The research, conducted by Prohaska Consulting, included in-depth interviews with more than 20 organisations across the ecosystem, including publishers, DOOH buyers and ad tech companies.

This indicated that DPB spending will grow at between 10% and 12% a year with as much as 40% being generated programmatically within three years.

That translates to $15m-$20m annually in incremental revenue for DBP networks, Ad Exchanger noted.

Matt Prohaska, principal and CEO of Prohaska Consulting, suggested that the growth of multi-screen campaigns meant media agencies would increasingly plan and buy video and TV from a single bucket and that DPB media could tap into this trend.

When the DPAA surveyed media planners last year, it found that 60% of respondents thought video everywhere – integrated multi-screen campaigns – was important in delivering advertising impressions, with 67% saying they would be more likely to recommend DPB as part of media plans given its availability in programmatic buying systems.

Prohaska identified four potential buying groups "who could, should and, in some cases, are placing dollars programmatically into DPB media".

These included traditional out-of-home buyers, local and spot TV buyers, national broadcast buyers and digital/programmatic teams.

Barry Frey, president and CEO of the DPAA, was upbeat about the future. "You need a lot of parts to get the car running and now we've got scale," he said.

"There's a lot of money going into mobile and location-based targeting," he added, "but we always say, 'We offer location targeting, but on big, powerful screens'."

Data sourced from Ad Exchanger, Ad Week; additional content by Warc staff

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Blog: China's running race

12 February 2016
Running is cool in China right now, says Edward Bell of FCB Greater China. And that's in part down to New Balance, which has found a way to go beyond sport and into youth culture.


warc

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China slowdown hits Asian confidence

12 February 2016
SINGAPORE: China's economic slowdown is affecting consumer confidence across the wider Asia region, new data has shown.

According to Mastercard's recently released consumer confidence data, consumer positivity dropped significantly in 12 of the 17 markets surveyed across the region in late 2015.

Consumer sentiment across the region is now the lowest since 2012, with developed markets in particular feeling the pinch. The downward trend has continued since mid-2015, when the scale of China's economic slowdown became apparent.

China's volatility is rattling neighbouring markets, and with senior Chinese officials now under investigation regarding the accuracy of economic data there are fears that the landscape may be even more gloomy than anticipated.

The numbers will give brands concern as mainland China's economic problems bleed into markets with a high level of exposure, such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The luxury sector in particular faces tough times ahead as Asia's high end markets bear the brunt of the slowdown.

For brands looking to buffer potential losses in mainland China with increased sales in other markets, the news may not be good.

Singapore – South East Asia's wealthiest market – recorded a 20.9% drop in consumer confidence as the Singaporean economy struggles against strong headwinds. The drop is classified as an "extreme deterioration" in the data. Hong Kong is down 16.8%.

The greatest drop in confidence, however, came in Sri Lanka where sentiment dropped more than 25 points in the last half quarter of 2015.

Taiwan is the most pessimistic market regionally, with just 28% of consumers feeling positive about the future, a 20 point drop in just a few weeks. Just 33% of South Koreans and Malaysians surveyed felt optimistic, among the lowest in the region.

However there is good news emerging from Asia's developing markets, which continue to grow apace. Consumer sentiment in Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar is on the rise. Myanmar, which is rapidly opening up for business, increased 41.1 percentage points to 95.7% confidence in late 2015. The Philippines also remains buoyant at 82.3% confidence.

Data sourced from MasterCard, Mumbrella, New York Times; additional content by Warc staff

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Indian retailers tap digital revolution

12 February 2016
MUMBAI: The digital revolution is reaching into all areas of retail in India as a new study shows consumers using social media for discovery and recommendations while retailers themselves are open to the use of digital wallets and visual search.

The report – Retail in the Era of the Connected Consumer – from the Retailers' Association of India (RAI) and consulting firm AT Kearny, was based on responses from leading retail customer experience officers, AT Kearney's proprietary consumer surveys and a survey of RAI members.

This found that around nine in ten Indian retailers are set to adopt new technologies like cashless payments via digital wallets.

And seven in ten are interested in the potential of visual search to enable consumers to find products in store.

More than half (55%) of consumers now go online to discover products, and, among younger groups especially, social media is emerging as a key touchpoint.

Some 68% of 26-35 year olds and 61% of 16-25 year olds claim to base their purchase decisions on what they encounter in their digital social networks.

Retailers are taking note: 86% indicated that they would be able to improve customer experience through feedback delivered via social media, while seven in ten would consider using mobile store apps to look at customer reviews.

A separate RAI report produced in association with Boston Consulting Group predicted there would be 400m digitally influenced consumers in the country by 2020 and said that retailers had no choice but to reinvent themselves.

Ecommerce platforms such as Paytm are exploring new ways of marrying up the online and offline worlds, as it partners with brick-and-mortar electronics retailers. This enables the retailers to list their products and prices online and allows consumers to choose which offline store they want to collect a product from or, in the case of larger appliances, have it delivered from.

Amit Bagaria, associate vice president, mobile and electronics head at Paytm, explained that data from these "virtual brand stores" would be fed back to marketers to enable them to create relevant content and develop new products.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff

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Indonesian adspend recovers

12 February 2016
JAKARTA: Advertising expenditure in Indonesia grew at over 7% in 2015, recovering from a decline in the early part of the year to finish strongly and only slightly slower than the previous year's growth.

New data from researcher Nielsen indicated that total spending for the year – based on gross rate card and not including digital – reached Rp 118 trillion ($8.77bn). The 7.27% increase for 2015 compared to an 8% rise in 2014.

The market had actually declined in the first part of the year before picking up in the third quarter, and Hellen Katherina, Nielsen Indonesia media executive director, said the strong growth seen in the fourth quarter was evidence of greater confidence among advertisers, the Jakarta Globe reported.

Several factors were at work: the economy expanded 5% in the final quarter of the year while simultaneous regional elections boosted ad spending by political parties and candidates.

Regional governments were also big spenders, especially those of East Kalimantan and Riau, with advertorial-style pieces on new or potential services particularly popular.

Nielsen further reported that advertising expenditure by government departments had grown 62%. The Manpower Ministry and the Ministry of Rural Developments had spent most – Rp 10.2bn each – but the most significant development was the Ministry of Tourism finding Rp 5.4bn to spend, a 2,627% increase on 2014.

If government bodies accounted for most of the volume of spending, then ads from online services showed "prominent growth", Nielsen reported. Spending from this sector was up 44% to Rp 3.51 trillion.

But even here, the totals spent by online marketplace Tokopedia (Rp 625.3bn) or online hotel/flight booking service Traveloka (Rp 697.3bn) were outweighed by two instant noodle brands from the consumer goods sector: Indomie spent Rp 971.2bn and Mie Sedaap Rp 733.7bn.

Overall, television accounted for the majority of spending, taking a 72% share of the total, with newspapers (26%) and magazines (3%) mopping up the remainder of those media measured by Nielsen.

For those print media however, spending was down – by 13% and 4% respectively – while television spending was up 12% to Rp 84.77 trillion.

Data sourced from Jakarta Globe; additional content by Warc staff

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Disney, Comcast thrive on social

12 February 2016
NEW YORK: The Walt Disney Company and Comcast are among the major brand owners that generated the greatest amount of social media content – and resultant consumer interactions – in January 2016.

Shareablee, the social analytics firm, assessed the activity – and consumer response – recorded by the top 25 brands in the S&P 500 financial index across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube during the year's opening month.

And it found that these blue-chip marketers together registered 1.1 billion social interactions ("likes", shares, comments, retweets and dislikes) on the four featured digital properties, a 10% increase from the equivalent total in December 2015.

The Walt Disney Company – the entertainment conglomerate – witnessed the highest number of actions on this metric, with 294.8m such engagements overall.

Drilling down into the data, Shareablee reported that fully 102,376 content items (posts, tweets, media items and YouTube videos) were posted under the Disney brand in the same period.

Comcast – which, like Disney, boasts a portfolio spanning broadcast networks, theme parks and a film studio – logged the highest score here, with 127,548 pieces of material yielding 134.8m responses.

Looking at "actions per post", or the average amount of engagements secured by the typical content item, the top spot went to L Brands Inc. – the parent of retailers including Victoria's Secret, PINK and Bath & Body Works – on 50,003 engagements per post.

Second place on this measure went to Facebook itself, on 48,694, ahead of sports group Nike, in third with 20,979, then coffee giant Starbucks, with 20,975.

The organisation that posted the smallest amount of content among the top 25 S&P brands in January was Michael Kors Holdings, the fashion company, racking up a modest 214 social items. Starbucks, on 378, followed next in this category.
 
When considering the four social platforms as a whole, the number of consumer social interactions with content from these brands on Instagram rose by 14% month on month. This activity leapt by 12% on Twitter and 7% for Facebook, the study added.

Data sourced from Shareablee; additional content by Warc staff

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TV loses hold over living rooms

11 February 2016
LONDON: Multi-screening is now so commonplace that the television can no longer lay claim to being the centre of attention in UK living rooms, according to a new survey.

The Real_Living report from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) involved following the activities of nearly 1,050 people, measured by a mixture of surveys, passive filming, on-device tracking, daily diaries and biometric data.

This found that only 50% of UK online adults now regard the TV set as the focal point of their living room; 70% reported they ordinarily use a connected device whilst watching TV, a figure that rose to 87% of 16-34 year olds.

Around one third are checking emails (34%) or messages/texts (31%), while a quarter are shopping online.

And the biometric data revealed that about 60% of the time a person is most highly engaged during an evening TV session is in non-TV related activity, such as using a digital device or talking to someone.

Tim Elkington, chief strategy officer at the IAB, suggested that "all screens are now equal" and that entertainment formed only a small part of living room media activity.

"It's now a multifunctional space where people jump between individual and group activities, be it shopping, social media, emails, work or messaging," he said.

The study also debunked the notion that people cram non-TV related behaviour into the ad breaks.

The incidence of checking emails, for example, was found to be the same during TV programmes and ad breaks (both 34%), whilst texting/messaging was only 1% higher during the ad break than the programme.

In fact, the most common activity during an ad break was to go online via a connected device (35%), followed by talking to someone in the room (15%), leaving the room (13%) and changing the channel (8%).

"Connected devices and the realities of modern life mean behaviour in the living room is no longer determined by TV programmes and ad breaks," Elkington observed. "It is determined by the natural rhythm of device usage."

And one of the consequences of that is that advertisers will have to rethink how they can get attention in the living room, "because the opportunity to do so is far more limited, fragmented and competitive than ever before".

Data sourced from IAB UK; additional content by War staff

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Consumers act on spam

11 February 2016
EUROPE: Irrelevant communications remain a major annoyance for European consumers, with a new survey suggesting that eight in ten are ready to take some sort of action against the brands behind such messages.

Research commissioned by Ricoh Europe gained responses from 2,892 respondents from 21 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

This research found that irrelevant communications, both online and paper-based, were a huge bugbear for more than two-thirds of consumers in Europe, who considered a quarter of what they received to be junk.

It"s not just the frustration of sifting through this volume of material that angers consumers: 25% of respondents reported missing a payment deadline as a result, while 34% said they have been unsure how much they owed for a service and 39% had missed offers they were entitled to.

Ricoh Europe warned that irrelevant communications were having a significantly detrimental impact on customer loyalty, trust and spend.

Two-thirds (65%) of consumers reported feeling less loyal to a brand that spammed them with irrelevant information. A similar proportion (63%) said they would spend less with them, while 57% threatened to stop being a customer completely.

Nearly a fifth of consumers had already moved their custom elsewhere, while another fifth had complained to a service provider, and one in ten had complained to a regulatory body.

"When it comes to the irrelevance and volume of communication sent out by brands and service providers, consumers are clearly saying enough is enough," said David Mills, CEO of Ricoh Europe.

"With severe penalties in place for getting it wrong and consumers ready to walk away, hitting the right note at the right time is key," he added.

And while many consumers are concerned about sharing their personal information, eight in ten respondents indicated a willingness to share such data – including occupation, salary, internet browsing habits and health records – if it meant brand communications were better tailored to their own circumstances.

Public sector bodies were seen to be sending the most relevant communications to consumers are the public sector (42%), followed by financial services (39%), utilities (37%) and healthcare (36%).

And, apart from utilities, these industries were also regarded as the most trustworthy handlers of customer data – but no single sector was viewed positively by more than half of consumers.

Data sourced from Ricoh Europe; additional content by Warc staff

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Twitter tweaks timeline

11 February 2016
SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter has launched a new timeline that displays first those tweets the service believes are most important to individual users, in a change the platform says will enable brands to reach a more engaged audience.

"We think this is going to make life easier across the spectrum for users," said Twitter product manager Michelle Haq. "We noticed across the board this caused users to create and interact more."

The displayed tweets will be based on users' interests, past activity and interactions. Haq indicated to TechCrunch that the number of such tweets was likely to average around twelve and she stressed that the new timeline was an option that users could turn on and off.

A blog post announcing the shift argued that brands will be able to reach a more engaged potential audience.

The new timeline will not include Promoted Tweets – these continue as before – but product manager Eric Farkas noted that "the best content shines through", creating an incentive, if one were needed, for brands to create good quality material.

"Throughout our tests, we also saw an increase in engagement for brands' organic Tweets and an increase in engagement for Tweets about live events," he added.

Several marketers welcomed the change. Jason Stein, founder & CEO of social media agency Laundry Service, described it as "a meaningful evolution of [the] user experience", while Sarah Hofstetter, chief executive of digital agency 360i, was enthusiastic about the best content rising to the top, "increasing both relevance and likelihood of engagement".

For those people choosing to use the new service, it is likely they will pay more attention to the recommended tweets before scrolling rapidly through their normal timeline. 

Twitter "could potentially rack up extra revenue by selling premium ad slots amongst this recommended content chosen by its algorithm", TechCrunch suggested.

Twitter has also launched First View in the US, offering advertisers the chance to buy "exclusive ownership of Twitter's most valuable advertising real estate for a 24-hour period". That would be a Promoted Video in the top ad slot in the timelines.


Data sourced from Twitter, TechCrunch; additional content by Warc staff

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Transformational CMOs target growth

11 February 2016
NEW YORK: A new breed of chief marketing officer – the "transformational" CMO – is focused on business performance and preparing to step up to the CEO position, a leading industry figure has said.

Bruce Rogers, the Chief Insights Officer of Forbes and leader of Forbes' CMO Practice, explained that, unlike their predecessors, transformational CMO have "a fundamental understanding of the levers of growth".

They have "insight on the relative importance and value of these levers, and know how to convert this understanding into enterprise-wide action that drives overall performance," he said.

He contrasted this with a short-cut approach to growing profitability which relies simply on cutting costs and investment.

"Driving growth is much more complicated … It requires an ability to develop relationships and solutions for customers that drive demand."

It's a theme that has also been exercising the head of the world's largest agency holding company. Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, told the UK's Marketing Week that "cutting costs is not the be all and end all and that growing revenues is the right thing" to do.

"What we have to do as an industry is demonstrate to clients that it makes sense to focus on the top line and that those companies [that do] are the ones that are successful," he averred.

In support of this contention, he pointed to the top ten companies in Millward Brown's BrandZ report and Y&R's Brand Asset Valuator, which he said had outperformed the US Commodity Index by 300% – the implication being that strong brands are also financial assets.

Rogers expected that transformational CMOs, armed with an understanding of technology and analytics, would be better placed to drive growth and ascend to the chief executive position.

In the past, he said, many CMOs were creative experts who had come out of advertising agencies but who lacked broader business skills.

"In the future, CMOs will come from unconventional places," he suggested, such as start-ups. "What better place to understand how to drive meaningful growth than a start-up?"

The flip side of that, however, could be that big companies struggle to recruit suitable CMOs as potential candidates prefer to work with a start-up.

Data sourced from Forbes, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff

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Asia has huge lead in social media use

11 February 2016
SINGAPORE: Six of the world's top ten countries for social media use are in Asia, recent research has revealed.

We Are Social's Digital in 2016 compendium highlighted the rise of social media across the region, which is outpacing Western markets in both the number of accounts and the time spent online.

More than 769m people in East Asia (Greater China, Japan and Korea) use social media, more than three times the number of people in South East Asia, the second placed region for usage with 239m, while in third place, North America has just 213m.

South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand all ranked in the top ten countries, with the number of active accounts on the top social network in each country compared to the population all significantly above the global average of 31%.

South Korea ranks highest at 78%, with Hong Kong and Singapore both above 60%. The high numbers reflect the levels of connectivity of each market, which are among the wealthiest in Asia and also have very high smartphone penetration.

Though South East Asia's developing markets are playing catchup with connectivity, the numbers indicate huge future growth potential in coming years. Malaysia and Thailand in particular are already top ten players, despite have a lower internet penetration rate than other countries in Asia.

However, when it comes to the number of hours spent daily on social media, South East Asia is leading the charge with four developing countries in the top ten globally. 

The Philippines is number one globally, with its social media addicts spending more than 3.5 hours every day on social media. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia spend about three hours each on their favourite platforms, coming in at sixth, eighth and ninth respectively.


Data sourced from We Are Social; additional content by Warc staff

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Dunkin' Donuts taps 'brand personality'

11 February 2016
PALM DESERT, CA: Dunkin' Donuts typically bases its messaging more around a "brand personality" than demographics, in recognition of the fact the people who buy its coffee and baked goods frequently share a common attitude.

John Costello, President/Global Marketing and Innovation at Dunkin' Brands, discussed this subject at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) 2016 Annual Leadership Meeting.

And he suggested that its core audience is largely distinguished by a distinctive identity, rather than membership of a particular age group.

"We're more defined by our brand personality than by demographics," said Costello. (For more, including further details of the brand's strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Dunkin's DNA grounded in transformation.)

"Dunkin' is really driven by people who view themselves as down to earth, proud to have things to do, are really authentic, and not driven by status. So part of our target is authenticity."

By understanding that its appeal is often based on a mindset, Dunkin' can ensure its marketing messages reflect these customer priorities.

"There's a tendency for us to talk about our features and benefits but not fully appreciate that – whether you're a B2C or B2B marketer – customers have choices," he said.

"They're evaluating all of us, not just on the merits of our features and benefits but on how we differentiate ourselves against everybody else."

In encapsulating its appeal across various generations and parts of the country, Dunkin' has long looked to a neat and succinct guiding principle.

"Dunkin' is how the everyday folks who keep America running keep themselves running every day, all day long," was how Costello described it.

While this idea helps Dunkin' stay focused on its core customer, the brand also realises the importance of utilising distinct strategies and media channels to reach certain cohorts, such as millennials and multicultural consumers.

"Everybody's chasing millennials but [brands] also need a great multicultural strategy. Latin or Hispanic customers will represent over half of the population growth in the United States over the next ten years," Costello said.

Data sourced from Warc

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Speak 'adorkable' to China's teens

11 February 2016
BEIJING/LONDON: Marketers seeking to reach China's post-00 teens need to understand and communicate using their "adorkable" vocabulary according to several leading industry figures.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Lily Xiong, associate research director of Ogilvy & Mather China, Theresa Loo, chief knowledge officer of Ogilvy & Mather China, and Robin Chen, chief analyst at WebInsight, outline the findings of a recent report on this generation which they describe as growing up tech-savvy and self-oriented.

"Post-00s have seen it all and are sophisticated in their consumption," they say. "They are well versed in receiving and processing an enormous amount of marketing messages simultaneously" – which inevitably shapes the way they connect with brands.

Marketers specialising in children's products have already tapped into this group, but the authors suggest that "the real opportunities lie in products originally meant for other age groups".

So marketers have a choice of offering a junior version of their products to the Post-00 segment or tailoring communication messages to meet their particular needs.

And if those communications are to be effective they will have to use the "adorkable" – defined as "socially inept or unfashionable in a charming or endearing way" – vocabulary of Post-00s, which includes widespread use of emoticons.

The authors also highlight the zhai (cocoon) tendencies of the adorkable generation: 70% stay at home rather than go out, as technology allows them to do so much in the comfort of their own homes.

Brands can play the counter-trend and draw this generation out of their zhai existence, the authors say.

"Any experience that disturbs their comfort zone will provide a fresh perspective for them and shed a different light on the brand that brings about the experience." Experiences can also generate social buzz and enhance brand loyalty.

Being self-oriented, brands also need to make Post-00s the centre of attention and find ways of personalising content so they can look good among their peers.

In only three years the first batch of Post-00s will be entering the job market or going to university, with truly independent spending power. "It is never too early for brands to take a look and make use of the next few years to groom this consumer segment," the authors say.

Data sourced from Admap

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India auto brands tap social

11 February 2016
NEW DELHI: The just-ended Auto Expo in New Delhi saw exhibitors stepping up their use of social media – from live-streaming to influencer marketing – as a way of reaching and engaging would-be car buyers.

Twitter reported that around 2.9 lakh tweets were generated during the course of the week-long event, with the highest engagement coming from Tata Motors, BMW India and Audi India.

Taranjeet Singh, business head at Twitter India, explained that the platform enabled brands to build a live connection with customers. "Video was one of the key features and played a prominent role in this year's brand campaigns on Twitter," he told the Economic Times.

So, for example, Jaguar used live streaming app Periscope to broadcast the launch of its new XE model, while Mercedes used TweetCam, Twitter's tweet-activated camera, to give users a personalised tour of its pavilion.

BMW, meanwhile, unveiled several new models and ensured its "future of luxury" trended on Twitter. "Our social media strategy was to create interest and conversations for both brand BMW and the product launches," explained Kapil Arora, president of Ogilvy North, BMW's agency.

The role of video was likewise highlighted by Manveer Singh Malhi, chief digital officer at digital agency Triature, who had observed spending going into new areas.

"A large share of media budgets was directed to influencer marketing and creating user generated content from the event," he said.

"Brands also got influencers with high following to seed content on their social media platforms live from the event and, using [the] same personalities, to help in creating user generated content," he added.

Facebook was in evidence too, as brands deployed FB Live and 360 degree video alongside carousel ads and lead generation ads.

"We also had a partner drive engagement by using the Instagram anti-gravity booth to showcase their launches," said Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah, business head, Tech-Telco, auto and Finserv for Facebook India and South Asia.

Away from the event itself, Ford is serving targeted advertising on social media to customers for up to ten days after a showroom visit – that being the length of time usually take to make a purchase decision.

Anurag Mehrotra, executive director - marketing, sales and service, Ford India, added that the look-alike feature on Facebook "helps us be more targeted and effective and delivers really good results".

Data from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff

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Pretesting could boost OTC ads

11 February 2016
NEW YORK: Over-the-counter drug advertisements tend to be intrusive – and a new study recommends the use of pretesting to prevent irritating consumers and thus encouraging them to avoid these messages.

Jisu Huh (School of Journalism and Mass Communication/University of Minnesota), Denise E. DeLorme (University of Central Florida) and Leonard N. Reid (University of Georgia) surveyed a nationally representative sample of US adults about their reactions to ads for over-the-counter (OTC) analgesic drugs.

They analysed various factors – two cognitive (perceived utility and scepticism) and two affective (irritation and attitude towards advertising) – to see how they influenced avoidance behaviours.

Their main finding: "Consumer avoidance of [OTC] drug advertising is more directly and strongly influenced by affective reactions … and attitude … than cognitive reactions."

What's more, "irritation and perceived utility are inversely linked, hence irritation could be mitigated by making advertisements more informational and useful to the target consumers."

Published in the winter 2015–2016 edition of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR), "Do Consumers Avoid Watching Over-the-Counter Drug Advertisements? An Analysis of Cognitive and Affective Factors that Prompt Advertising Avoidance", the study points to the conclusion that, "because advertising irritation leads directly to advertising avoidance, advertisers should strive to minimise irritation with their advertisements.

"This finding is particularly true for the types of products sharing the characteristics of OTC advertising, such as rational, high-involvement and search products."

And what remedies do the authors suggest? "In the creation of advertisements for products such as OTC medicines," they propose, "the potential of advertisements to irritate should be assessed diagnostically during the production process (e.g., pretested for irritation at various stages of creation before media placement).

"Such pretesting will help advertisers avoid message and executional elements, which trigger advertising irritation and avoidance.

"Irritability pretesting may be especially important for high-income and younger consumers. As suggested by this study's results, these consumer types most likely will avoid advertisements because of advertising irritation."

Data sourced from Warc

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Mobile is the future of sports marketing

10 February 2016
LONDON/DENVER: US sports fans are using their mobile devices to view huge amounts of content, but marketers have yet to find the best way to take advantage of this trend.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Ben Reubenstein, President of Possible Mobile in Denver, notes that the current mobile sporting experience can be disappointing. This is despite fans watching 7.1bn minutes of sport on mobile devices in October alone.

"You may have to sit through a 45-second commercial to view a 10-second highlight. Ads are not necessarily native to the platform, content tends to be repetitive, and misfires are common."

Reubenstein argued that this is largely because marketers are failing to understand the particular ways in which viewers consume sports content on mobile devices and continue to regard mobile as a secondary channel where they can just reuse content from elsewhere.

"With sports marketing, as with anything, a UX-first approach always beats a recycled one," he observed.

His advice ranges includes some basic ways in which the mobile experience can be improved for sports fans, such as simply ensuring that any display ads are shown at the correct resolution for today's smartphones. Similarly, anything requiring user input should be made as simple as possible and not just ported over from desktop.

Pre-rolls are frustrating so should be kept as short as possible, while mid-rolls need to offer something special to a sports fan watching live content, the report suggested. And it's important to avoid over-repetition, so it may be worth creating multiple videos that tell a story over time.

Brands can also create content that contributes to the community around sports, Reubenstein said. And while that can be tricky where rights issues are involved, it is quite possible if one looks for stories around, say, the development of a particular player or team.

Since watching and playing sports are ultimately emotional activities, content should aim to engage with fans' feelings, he advises.

But perhaps the most involved and rewarding way a brand can approach mobile sports marketing is through the sponsorship of additive features to the many apps created by leagues, teams and events.

"If you help sponsor a great feature, users will be excited to have added functionality, rather than just another distraction," Reubenstein stated. And this is an area he expected to become a big part of mobile marketing in the future.

Data sourced from Admap

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Data integral to tech trends

10 February 2016
LONDON: Invisible analytics, virtual reality and online video are among the top tech trends predicted for the year ahead by insights business GfK.

Every one of the ten identified in Tech Trends 2016 is connected with or rooted in data, as consumers leave a trail of their interactions with businesses, from shopping online for groceries to the time of day they do their internet banking.

Large data sets are being utilised in more sophisticated ways, the report noted, with complex analysis becoming essential to understanding consumers and to developing and optimising products and services for them.

"This is invisible analytics," it said; the benefits include gaining a competitive advantage, improving return on marketing investment and supporting new product development.

And since the volume of data is only going to increase, so it becomes vital to focus attention on "the most relevant, actionable source material". Artificial intelligence and machine learning will have a role to play here.

As always with anything involving data, however, marketers need to tread carefully to avoid appearing to be intrusive, especially in regards to new technologies.

"Invisible analytics could, for example, be the key ingredient in the effective use of augmented and virtual reality in retail environments", the report suggests. But if businesses overstep what consumers consider acceptable behaviour then legislation could follow to protect them.

For 2016, most activity around virtual reality is likely to be focused on dedicated gamers, who can be expected to pay for the gloves and head-mounted displays (HMDs) that offer a fully immersive experience.

But their experience will generate greater awareness of the technology and push it into other industries such as retail, travel, business and education, GfK said.

Already ASOS, the online fashion retailer, is working with 3D and VR retail specialist Trillenium to bring its products to HMDs.

Online video, meanwhile, continues to grow and to disrupt traditional TV distribution models.

And as more viewing migrates from the TV set to mobile devices, so audiences are increasingly prepared to engage with video advertising there as well.

Video is now a "fundamental" part of brand communications, said GfK, and with so many players involved – from content producers and publishers to brands – there will be a need for partnership and collaboration, particularly as regards using data to target content creation, distribution and interaction.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff

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Business metrics drive personalization

10 February 2016
SAN JOSE, CA: Clicks, views, posts, shares and visits have taken a back seat to acquisition, retention and revenue growth as core measures of customer experience and engagement success, a new report from the CMO Council has claimed.

The study – Making Personalization Possible – included input from 179 senior marketers, one third of them from businesses with more than $1bn in revenue and from both B2B and B2B2C businesses.

Some 40% of marketers surveyed believed that the new business measures they were using meant they were evolving their ability to demonstrate the impact of customer experience investments. And one third felt they were already doing this well.

Around half (49%) were optimistic that personalized engagements and campaigns would help create lasting relationships with customers, while more than one in four (26%) were totally confident that personalization is the path to customer gratification and retention.

This trend is no longer the preserve of B2C businesses, as the report noted that personalization has rapidly become a requirement for B2B engagement as well.

"Demonstrating a deep understanding of an individual customer and delivering a digital experience that is highly relevant, timely and tailored for a single user is universally critical," it said.

Achieving that consistently is a different matter, however, as few marketers (14%) were able to personalize across the entire customer journey, while one third (36%) could only do so in certain channels.

But one in five (21%) said they were delivering one-on-one relationships with their customers, personalizing experiences both online and offline.

Liz Miller, SVP/Marketing for the CMO Council, noted that clicks and views still had a role in measuring real-time campaign success, "but to measure customer experience success and the overall impact of marketing on the business, marketers are turning to financial KPIs: revenue, costs, conversions and impact on the bottom line".

For the coming year, marketers indicated they would be looking to bolster analytics and lifecycle management strategies and platforms (65%), along with implementing personalization platforms (65%), engaging in comprehensive journey mapping (56%), and getting smarter about predictive analytics (52%).

Data sourced from CMO Council; additional content by Warc staff

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Loyalty schemes go mobile

10 February 2016
GLOBAL: Brands and retailers are increasingly responding to consumer demand for mobile integration, with many now offering customers the opportunity to store their loyalty cards within a dedicated digital wallet, according to a new study.

In its report Mobile & Online Coupons: Redemption, Loyalty & Consumer Engagement 2015-2020, Juniper Research predicted that 3bn loyalty cards will operate as mobile-only or be integrated into mobile apps by 2020, up from 1.4bn in 2015.

Over the same period, it expected that beacon technology would be used to distribute around 1.6bn coupons, a huge increase on the current figure of about 11m.

"One of the key findings from this research is that where beacons have been deployed in-store, such as at Macy's in the US, coupons delivered via those coupons have generated very high redemption rates," Dr Windsor Holden, the report author, told Mobile Marketer.

"One of the most startling success stories from these initial deployments came from China," he added. Jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook installed beacons in around 200 stores in early 2015 and reported that almost 60% of coupons were redeemed, generating an uplift in sales of $16m.

Many retailers and reward cards are trailing, however, not only as regards their use of beacons, but in the more fundamental area of digital loyalty integration.

In the UK, for example, the report said that 40% of Nectar Card holders had acquired a related loyalty app by late 2015, but less than 4% of Tesco Clubcard holders had done so. In the US, 61% of card holders at Walgreens had linked their card to an app, but just 27% of Target cardholders.

Holden suggested the disparities could reflect differing levels of satisfaction with the app or the success of retailer marketing of digital loyalty options.

Either way, the report said that retailers not offering mobile integration were likely to have far lower levels of visibility on consumer activity. As a result, it cautioned that they would be at a disadvantage when seeking to tailor offers and so increase the lifetime value of the consumer.

Data sourced from Juniper Research, Mobile Marketer; additional content by Warc staff

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Blog: What tech really means

10 February 2016
Tech isn't the shiny new thing you find at CES, says Gareth Kay. It's about creating more valuable relationships between companies and people.

Warc

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Adidas targets China's children

10 February 2016
SHANGHAI: Adidas, the sportswear brand, is turning its attention to the children's market in China which it expects will be a "big growth driver" over the next five years, a leading executive has said.

The children's sector has not played a significant role for Adidas in recent years as it has focused on its Route 2015 strategy, which was based on key product categories such as football, running and basketball.

But with that strategy coming to a conclusion – and Colin Currie, managing director of Adidas Group Greater China, reporting that the objectives had been met and that Adidas was once again a leading sports brand in the country – it is now looking ahead to 2020.

"Essentially it's an evolution of our 2015 plan – it's not a revolution," Currie told CKGSB Knowledge.

"We're evolving our strategy to be much more focused on the segments we believe will grow ... and one of them is kids".

He outlined the brand's two-tier approach to sponsorship, one of which involves investing in sport at the grassroots level.

"The government is investing heavily in sport – RMB 1 trillion ($157bn) by 2025 – and really driving that kids are given an opportunity to do sport as part of their curriculum," Currie noted, a development that no sports brand can afford to ignore.

Accordingly, Adidas has partnered with the Ministry of Education. "We will reach 20,000 schools and give kids the opportunity to play football," he said. The program includes a free app that delivers virtual football coaching.

"This is for us to connect with kids for the future," Currie explained. "But [it's] also about us giving back to the community."

More generally, Adidas has previously identified Shanghai as one of the six influential global cities that will shape the perceptions of brands that then spread around the world.

Currie described Shanghai as a "window to the rest of China" and as "our model city" where brand positioning and distribution is planned before being scaled to the next set of cities.

"Strategy in the end for us in China would be 'how do we own these top 23 cities through distribution, through brand activation and through really connecting to consumers'," he said.

Data sourced from CKGSB Knowledge; additional content by Warc staff

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Rural India lacks brand loyalty

10 February 2016
BENGALURU: Consumers in rural India do not generally display much brand loyalty according to a new study which also highlights the continuing differences between the urban and rural markets.

"Everyone knows that rural consumers need to be treated or targeted differently, yet nobody's doing much about it," claimed Rahul Saigal, Group COO, Geometry Global Encompass Network.

While much has changed for rural consumers over the past ten years, not least in terms of higher incomes and greater connection to the rest of the world via mobile phones, brands and categories remain at different stages of evolution across urban and rural markets, and urban advertising often ends up being irrelevant for rural audiences.

Accordingly, Geometry Global Encompass Network surveyed more than 6,000 rural consumers in eight states and covered more than 20 popular categories, from FMCG to BFSI. The resulting R|SCAPE report said that rural consumers exhibit a lack of brand fidelity attitudinally as well as behaviourally.

Other significant findings included the need to segment rural consumers on the basis of village norms. And adherence to those norms has also created strong differentiation among rural married women.

The reasons for the adoption and consumption of categories are very different for rural and urban consumers, the study reported, so the same brand positioning or advertising is unlikely to work across both markets.

Nor are rural market homogenous – the reasons for buying and consuming categories can be different for consumers from even neighbouring regions, who may have differing traditions and cultures or be at different stages of economic development.

"Rural marketing efforts need special mindsets," according to RV Rajan, the former chairman of Anugrah Madison Advertising.

He maintains that brands require "A separate marketing and sales vertical, headed by people with passion and commitment to rural marketing, and supported by a field team which can face the rough and tough of the vast countryside, with courage and conviction".

Their task has not been made any easier after two years of drought which have hit rural consumer spending, which until recently was growing 50% faster than that in towns and cities.

"Rural has grown worse for some companies," said Abneesh Roy, associate director, institutional equities, research, at Edelweiss Securities. "It is now growing at similar rate as urban," he told Mint.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Rural Marketing, mxmIndia, Mint; additional content by Warc staff

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Emotional ads fuel Honda's brand

10 February 2016
NEW YORK: Honda, the automaker, believes that emotional advertising can serve as a competitive differentiator for its brand in an increasingly crowded category.

Tom Peyton, the Associate Vice President/Advertising at American Honda Motor Co., discussed this subject at Advertising Week 2015.

More specifically, he argued Honda's vehicles are well-regarded by automotive experts and customers alike – but that marketing based on technical details was not likely to make a major impression.

"It boils down to emotion," he said. (For more details, including examples of the brand's creative, read Warc's exclusive report: Why emotion now drives Honda's advertising strategy.)

"It's critical to create differentiation based on the intangible. And that's why we think emotion is really one of the new big plays in the digital world.

"The core beliefs of Honda are a true point of differentiation. In other words: we feel our [main] asset is our philosophy."

And this long-standing philosophy centres around "The Power of Dreams", which positions Honda as a courageous, forward-thinking, optimistic and innovative organisation.

"We're known for being dependable and reliable. At the end of the day, we also want to be known as an innovative and an exciting brand," said Peyton.

"Because, frankly, 'dependable' and 'reliable' worked great ten or 15 years ago. It's become just an entry card for any good auto manufacturer right now.

"If we get people sharing the beliefs we have – and [are] really trying to stand for those beliefs – it becomes clear to advocates. We think that's the success to make this brand, or any brand, in the long term."

In summing up the challenge Honda has resultantly set out for its agencies, Peyton reported that they need to ensure its philosophy is translated into impactful messaging.

"The marketing itself becomes a demonstration of Honda's thinking. It should make people's brain's tingle in positive ways. You're going to see a type and tone of advertising which is always [aiming for] a smile, it's clever, and so simple," he said.

Data sourced from Warc

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Taco Bell serves up stories with purpose

10 February 2016
PALM DESERT, CA: Taco Bell, the quick service restaurant chain, is tapping into the power of storytelling and brand purpose to build meaningful relationships with its target audience.

Marisa Thalberg, the company's Chief Marketing Officer, discussed this subject at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) Annual Leadership Meeting 2016.

And she argued that media fragmentation and the rise of ad blockers are among the trends that suggest developing powerful narratives will be the most effective way for brands to engage consumers.

"I really do believe that it's only through the best storytelling that [brands] can successfully break through and forge that meaningful, immediate and long-lasting connection. It just creates a whole different imperative," she said. (For more, including further details about the brand's strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Taco Bell reinvests in new marketing skills.)

"Brands are now legitimate publishers. But they're still advertisers. So we're actually both," she added.

For Taco Bell – which has always been popular with younger consumers – this storytelling, whether via traditional or digital media, can draw on the brand's underlying purpose for inspiration.

"We feel that this is not an opportunity to suddenly invent a purpose; it's an opportunity to make sure that people understand our purpose," said Thalberg.

The brand's DNA is anchored in the knowledge that "we're a little bit of a 'constructive-rebel' brand" – a notion letting Taco Bell play in the entertainment space as well as embrace cause-related efforts.

In the former case, Taco Bell was an early adopter of mobile messaging app Snapchat, and spearheaded a campaign to introduce a taco emoji.

More seriously, the company also offers a variety of scholarships for young adults through the Taco Bell Foundation – a program that itself can yield impactful stories for the brand.

"When we thought about who we are and what we're about, we decided to focus our energies into thinking about how to perpetuate this idea of investing in the aspirations of young people," said Thalberg.

Data sourced from Warc

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Sports sponsors should be like fans

9 February 2016
LONDON: Many brands sponsoring sportsmen or women or teams are missing opportunities to make meaningful connections with fans because they don't think like fans themselves.

A recent global survey by Momentum Worldwide, the brand experience agency found that while most sports fans don't object to sponsorship – indeed, 86% would be open to more sponsorship – more than eight in ten believe that sponsors don't consider fans when making deals with players or teams.

"Brand-centric advertising, digital and sponsorship are actually seen as the biggest detractors from [the fan] experience, as they do not put the fan first," according to Anna Dalziel, global growth product director for Momentum Worldwide.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, she argues that if brands were to act more like fans then those fans they're trying to reach would be more receptive to their efforts.

It is necessary, she says, to add value beyond simply badging around the fan experience – awareness of sponsors is no guarantee of consideration let alone purchase.

So, for example, there are possibilities around "owning" platforms where fans can share and trade information. Almost six in ten of those surveyed said the ability to share information enhances the fan experience – being up-to-date with gossip is an important aspect of demonstrating support for one's team or sport.

Physically attending sports events is no longer being a prerequisite for true fandom, but viewing via TV or online is. Social media can play a vital role here.

"Being the conduit for bringing fans together … is a powerful and valuable opportunity for savvy brands looking to put fans first through their sponsorship," says Dalziel.

And as some sports become increasingly globalised, many – perhaps most – fans are unlikely to ever watch their favourite sport or team live.

"If brands can augment the live experience to enable fans to connect pre, during and post an event to feel as if they are there with the crowd and players, then they are on to a winning formula," Dalziel states.

Data sourced from Admap

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Rental and learning future for retail

9 February 2016
LONDON/NEW YORK: To succeed in the future, bricks-and-mortar retailers may have to adopt lessons from the sharing economy and from social media, a new study has suggested.

For its report, How We Shop Now: What's Next?, Westfield, the shopping mall owner, interviewed experts and more than 13,000 shoppers across its own malls in the US and UK to identify consumer trends that will shape retailers' future.

One of these is the spread of the Uber/Airbnb business model into new areas. Some 15% of Americans indicated an interest in renting from their favourite stores, a figure that leapt to 35% among millennials.

As an example of the sort of thing envisioned, the study revealed that almost one quarter (23%) of New Yorkers interested in renting would spend $200 or more on an unlimited clothing rental subscription.

But exercise equipment topped the list of what people wanted to rent (17%), followed by consumer electronics (15%), furniture (11%) and cars (10%).

The study also identified "classroom retail" as a trend, with many shoppers wanting to learn new skills and build their social networks. Around one third (32%) of those surveyed expressing an interest in attending a lifestyle lesson at their favourite store.

Three other key themes emerge from the research, including the likelihood that virtual reality will become ubiquitous as shoppers seek to understand how products ranging from clothes to furniture will work for them specifically.

There is also a new consumer demand for loyalty programs that reward good lifestyle choices, ranging from recycling to healthier eating and charity volunteering.

And "sensory retail" will be increasingly important, with screen-addicted consumers deprived of wider physical experiences.

"This is arguably the most exciting time in retailing history," said Myf Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer, Westfield UK and Europe. "Retailers have to be brave and innovative, identifying what shoppers will want in the future by offering genuine added value to create an experience that cannot exist online."

For example, "Fashion stores of tomorrow might look radically different – bringing shoppers through the doors to attend a vintage clothing club, rewarding them financially for recycling their old clothes, helping them pick a new outfit with virtual reality and then loaning it to them for a party at the weekend."

Data sourced from Westfield; additional content by Warc staff

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Sustainability a must for luxury brands

9 February 2016
NEW YORK/LONDON: Luxury brands can no longer afford to ignore issues around sustainability, as a new report highlights the changing legal, social and business landscape in which they operate.

The study from the Luxury Institute and Positive Luxury, based on desk research and interviews with opinion leaders and leading executives from luxury brands and NGOs, noted that a major development has been a shift in the focus of the investment community which is increasingly looking for sustainable business models as it views company performance in a more rounded way than previously.

That is feeding through to boardrooms and down to individual brands, not just in the way they are produced but in how they get that message across to consumers.

Diana Verde Nietro, co-founder and chief executive of Positive Luxury, observed that millennials aligned with the sustainability concept more than any other, using their spending power to buy into companies which have a positive impact on society and the environment.

"In fact they are twice as likely to buy from brands with strong management of environmental and social issues," she said.

Climate change and finite resources are just two of the major challenges facing all brands, but perhaps especially luxury brands which might be viewed as privileging a few at the expense of the many.

According to Verde Nieto, "We're out of gold basically – almost all the gold we use is recycled – various substances and ingredients in skin care are threatening the environment, diamonds are scarce, and exotic skins are in trouble…basically – and this is the big 'a-ha' – some of the raw materials, crucial to the luxury industry, are under threat".

The legal landscape is changing too. Last year, for example, saw the passing of the Modern Slavery Act in the UK, requiring companies to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement.

Integrating sustainability into business models is moving from a "good thing to do" to a legal obligation, the report noted.

Luxury brands are starting to undertake a range of activities in response, from carrying out product life cycle analyses to reviewing packaging.

But, the study concludes, "more work needs to be done to help luxury companies realise that sustainability and profits go hand in hand, and they can reap the rewards by communicating their positive impact".

Data sourced from Positive Luxury, Harvard Business Review; additional content by Warc staff

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Arab women defy stereotypes

9 February 2016
DUBAI: Arab women are tech savvy, socially engaged and ready to shake off the stereotypes according to research released ahead of the Marketing to Women summit in Dubai.

A survey of 2,000 women across the Gulf region, conducted by researcher Nielsen, found that around nine in ten in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates owned a smartphone and used it to access the internet.

Further, eight in ten believed themselves – and their children – to be absolutely tech savvy, although their motivations for using such technology varied widely.

More than half (56%) said they used it mainly for keeping in touch, while around four in ten used it to alleviate boredom and to play games.

Some 46% would download a brand app to access at their leisure, while just 20% said they shopped online.

WhatsApp was by far the most popular social network in the region. Fully 92% of women surveyed were on it, compared to 66% on Instagram and 64% on Facebook; 50% were on Snapchat and just 34% on Twitter.

Christina Ionnadis, chair of the Marketing to Women Conferences in the Middle East, highlighted the changing attitudes and aspirations of women in the region, many of whom are working and earning.

"They are driving consumption of products from themselves and their families, yet they feel largely stereotyped," she said.

Many advertising campaigns continue to rely on the "safe" celebrity endorsement approach, she added, and to fall into the trap of portraying women in the traditional home-maker/mother category.

"It will take a bold brand to seize the opportunity of this attitudinal shift in women and leverage it to encourage local change whilst driving the emotional connection with their female consumers," she stated.

Ionnadis pointed to the example of #thisgirlcan, the campaign devised for Sport England to encourage greater participation in sports by women, the ethos of which she thought could be adapted to suit the Middle East and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Data sourced from Gulf Marketing Review, Marketing to Women; additional content by Warc staff

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Alfa Romeo taps desire for 'better life'

9 February 2016
ORLANDO, FL: Alfa Romeo, the auto marque owned by Fiat Chrysler, is tapping into the concept of "the better life" as it aims to fuel sales among luxury consumers.

Scott Slagle, Head of Consumer Insights at Fiat Chrysler, discussed this topic at The Market Research Event (TMRE) 2015, a conference organised by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

And he suggested that the target audience for Alfa Romeo – which has its roots in Italy, but was relaunched under Fiat Chrysler's management in 2014 – was largely an unknown entity to its parent company as it set about repositioning the brand.

"Our brands are, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Fiat … We really didn't know the Alfa Romeo consumer very well," he said. (For more, including further strategic insights, read Warc's exclusive report: Chrysler defines luxury for Alfa Romeo.)

Conducting research programs with partners such as Point Forward, a boutique insights firm, helped provide a deeper insight into the preferences of this group.

"Something has really changed, I think, about the way luxury consumers think. And we had to debunk what we thought were stereotypes," said Gary Waymire, President & Founder of Point Forward.

As an example, while it is often assumed that members of this demographic only want "the best", that was not reflected by their actual opinions.

"It's this concept of 'the better life'. And that's the full embodiment of what we think the luxury consumer is about," said Waymire.

"Underlying this 'better life' is, kind of, this notion of ambition. It's always striving, always looking to the next thing, being better than what I was when I was young, being better than my parents, being better than previous generations.

"They really have this baked in to their way of thinking about things … This guides their thoughts about luxury goods."

What constitutes a "better life" is of course a relative notion, and this indicated how Alfa Romeo might move ahead in a crowded category.

Verbatims from qualitative research insights brought further clarity to the concept, as participants associated Italian cars with "sexiness" and "artistry", as well as representing something "unique" compared with many "cookie car" rivals.

In response to this type of learning, the brand ultimately decided to present itself as embodying "a particular way of living, of experiencing an automobile."

Data sourced from Warc

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Chinese automakers go green

9 February 2016
BEIJING: Only around 1% of the 24m new cars sold in China last year were electric or plug-in hybrids, but that could be set to change as government subsidies are beginning to alter the outlook of both industry and consumers.

Around 331,000 electric/hybrid vehicles were sold in 2015 but that was a fourfold increase on the previous 12 months, AFP reported.

"Pollution levels mean the government has no other choice" than to encourage the development of new energy vehicles, according to Jean-Francois Belorgey, an auto industry expert at Ernst & Young.

"If China gets moving on electric cars then that would automatically lower prices and have a favourable ripple effect across the whole world," he added.

The government wants 5m "green" vehicles on the road by 2020, and is now offering subsidies of up to 55,000 yuan ($8,400) for buyers of zero- or low-emission Chinese-brands, which are often matched by local authorities.

As well as the immediate financial benefit to purchasers, they are also able to avoid driving restrictions imposed by city authorities on days when the smog is particularly bad.

With political backing for such vehicles, Chinese firms are rapidly adjusting their portfolios. Geely, which owns Volvo, has announced its intention of shifting 90% of its sales to hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020.

Foreign brands have also spotted an angle, with several now seeing China as a test market for low-cost electric vehicles that can be sold around the world.

Only last week Renault opened its first Chinese factory in Wuhan and will start to produce electric cars there as early as next year.

"If we can succeed in China we can succeed elsewhere," said Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault.

Chinese cities regularly suffer from a pollution haze – the result of coal-burning power stations and vehicle exhausts – and many people now wear respiratory face masks in an effort to mitigate the effects of pollution.

One study estimated that outdoor air pollution had contributed to 1.2m premature deaths in China in 2010.

Data sourced from AFP; additional content by Warc staff

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Brands cut pack sizes to tackle obesity

9 February 2016
NEW DELHI: Smaller pack sizes were once a way for brands to reach new, rural markets in India, but for food and drink brands blamed for contributing to the nation's obesity and associated illnesses, it's now about health.

Medical experts have been warning about the rise of obesity for some time – back in 2007, for example, a study highlighted its incidence among schoolchildren in Hyderabad and warned that lifestyle changes and the increased consumption of high calorie foods were among the factors behind the development.

More recently, the World Health Organisation has suggested that, come 2030, some 79m people in India will be affected by diabetes, twice the number in 2000.

The response of major food and drink manufacturers has been to make their offerings available in smaller pack sizes. Pepsi, for example, is rolling out a 150ml can – half the normal size – while Coke is planning a 180ml option.

Hindustan Unilever, meanwhile, intends to limit to 250 kilo calories per portion some 80% of its packaged ice-creams, whether that's done by reformulating products or reducing the size of the products.

"Unilever shares the public concern about the issue of obesity and related chronic diseases and the tremendous long-term challenge society is facing to deal with them," a HUL spokesperson told the Economic Times.

"As a food manufacturer, we are clear we have a responsibility to help address this challenge both in our product formulation and in our public position," the spokesperson added.

The Economic Times discerned a similar trend at retailers, where "portion control and tempered indulgence are gaining momentum", according to Devendra Chawla, group president/food and FMCG, at Future group, which owns the Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar chains.

"Consumers are consciously choosing smaller portions," he reported, "and brands are following suit."

Chawla said that consumers preferred the taste of regular brands to diet ones and were simply limiting the frequency and size of intake of the former.

Data sourced from Economic Times, The Hindu; additional content by Warc staff

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How advertising can overpower a product

9 February 2016
NEW YORK: Advertising campaigns can become more memorable than the product or service they support if the media mix is not balanced correctly, a new study suggests.

According to four University of Antwerp scholars, writing in the 2015–2016 winter edition of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR), "With increasing budgets, campaign recognition benefits from a greater focus on television advertising, while brand interest benefits from a relatively larger share of magazine advertising."

Their study – "Mixed-Media Modeling May Help Optimise Campaign Recognition, Brand Interest: How to Apply the 'Mixture-Amount Modeling' Method to Cross-Platform Effectiveness Measurement" – revealed that increasing the share of the budget spent on TV ads raises campaign recognition but, at the same time, lowers brand interest.

Conversely, a relatively larger proportion of advertising expenditure in magazines has a negative impact on campaign recognition but enhances positive impact on brand interest.

Leonids Aleksandrovs, Peter Goos, Nathalie Dens and Patrick De Pelsmacker relied on "mixture-amount modeling" – a statistical approach used most often in biology, agriculture and food science, but rarely in marketing communications – to measure the impact of advertising efforts and allocation across different media.

They used the tool "to determine optimal cross-media investments to maximise campaign recognition and brand interest based on beauty care data."

Their findings include the observation that "both brand interest and the probability of campaign recognition increase with the number of GRPs used. The positive effect of adding additional GRPs, however, is greater for campaign recognition than for brand interest."

In their analysis of magazine and television data on 34 advertising campaigns for beauty-care brands, the authors sought to maximise desirable outcomes for campaign recognition and brand interest.

"The optimisation of the media mix," they wrote, "is especially important because the optimal allocation of advertising effort across media could boost campaign recognition by up to 33% and can improve brand interest scores by up to 0.19 scale points in the current data set."

Data sourced from the Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by Warc staff

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Sports marketing is more than ads

8 February 2016
LONDON/NEW YORK: The Super Bowl is over and the ads are being assessed, but just advertising at game time is an outdated approach, according to a leading industry figure, who argues that brands need to leverage data to create relevant "game day" content.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Dan Donnelly, EVP, managing director at Starcom MediaVest Group's SPORTS at SMG in New York, points out that seven-in-ten sports fans are most engaged by pre-game content and rituals, including participation in fantasy sports.

Further, social media channels are expanding their sports offerings to tap into the new age and gender demographics that want sports content on their own terms – at any time, any place and on any device,

Sports fans are inherently social, Donnelly suggests. Indeed, 60% of millennials feel that sport is more about that than anything else.

And with athletes themselves engaging directly with fans on social media, sharing personal stories and views as well as sports material, brands have an opportunity to weave themselves into the conversation in an authentic way.

Donnelly holds up the Samsung-LeBron James relationship as an example of how brands can win in the future. When the basketball player "went dark" on social media before the 2014 NBA playoffs, the smartphone maker created an app to aggregate various content James would typically post in order to keep fans connected.

"An engaging conversation doesn't repeat itself, and marketers need to be prepared to sequence the story," Donnelly noted.

The app highlights another of the seven ways to engage sports fans that Donnelly recommends. He says it is "imperative" that marketers have a mobile strategy that goes beyond game updates and traditional exposure-based advertising.

Live viewing creates opportunities for real-time relevancy, something beer brand Heineken achieved to good effect with #ShareTheSofa, a live show for the second screen hosted by famous ex-players that ran during Champions League Football games.

Other areas sports marketers need to consider include the impact of next-generation technology, the development of eSports and the increasing globalisation of major sports.

Data sourced from Admap

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UK commercial radio overtakes BBC

8 February 2016
LONDON: Weekly commercial radio audiences in the UK have overtaken the BBC for the first time in 15 years, according to the latest official listening figures.

Audience measurement body Rajar released its fourth quarter results for the UK radio market, a study of around 310 individual stations, and reported that the combined reach of commercial stations was 35.1m compared to the BBC's 34.9m.

The last time the BBC reported fewer listeners than commercial radio was in Q4 2000, although the BBC maintained its lead in terms of listeners' time during the quarter with market share of 53.5%, Radiocentre reported.

"Commercial radio stations offer an amazing range of choices for listeners and advertisers. It is great to see this reflected in record audiences," said Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radiocentre.

"The next few months will see an even greater expansion of content with 18 new national digital stations being launched, providing a genuine alternative to the BBC across all kinds of music and speech and for audiences of all types."

Indeed, the rising popularity of digital radio was another highlight of the Rajar study, suggesting a clear shift in radio listening habits in the UK.

More than 48m listeners aged 15+, or 90% of the adult population, tuned in to their selected radio station each week in Q4 2015, but 56% did so via a digitally enabled receiver – either DAB, TV or online.

The share of all radio listening via a digital platform grew by 3.8 percentage points year-on-year to 41.7% while the share of listening hours attributed to DAB increased by 2.5pp year-on-year to 27.7%.

With 30m UK adults now tuning in to radio via a digitally enabled receiver, average weekly digital listening over the quarter stood at 423m hours, up 10% year-on-year.

DAB radio was the most popular digital device, accounting for 66% of all digital hours and 28% of total hours, while listening via TV represented 12% of digital hours (5% of total hours), and listening online accounted for 16% of digital hours, or 7% of total hours.

And in another development, the report found that 26% of adults said they listen to radio via a mobile phone or tablet at least once a month, representing a rise of 20% year-on-year.

The latest forecast from the AA/Warc Expenditure Report, released this week, expects radio adspend to rise 4.2% this year, following estimated growth of 2.8% in 2015.


Data sourced from Radiocentre, Rajar; additional content by Warc staff

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Facebook highlights mobile woes

8 February 2016
SAN FRANCISCO: Omni-channel shoppers in the US are looking for a better experience across all devices, especially mobile, but 71% believe the transaction process could be improved, according to a new survey for Facebook.

As part of its ongoing analysis about how mobile is changing shopping habits, the social network posted an update based on a poll of 2,400 US consumers by research firm GfK.

The study found that 60% of omni-channel shoppers say they will start making purchases on their mobile devices or do so even more this year, while 64% expect to use their devices to conduct more research. In addition, 61% expect to use their smartphones more while in stores, compared to 2015.

However, on top of the 71% of mobile shoppers who feel the transaction experience could be improved, a similar proportion (70%) say the same about their website/app experience.

This is particularly important because of the flexibility and convenience that mobile shopping offers, as borne out by further survey findings that 56% made a purchase on a mobile device because they were already using it, while 55% pointed to the convenience offered.

Facebook advised brands that want to reach these consumers to break down any barriers holding them back from purchasing.

Brands need to create a seamless experience, the report suggested. Tips for achieving this goal include making it easy to enter payment information, offering multiple shipping options and allowing consumers to complete a transaction without having to download an app.

"54% of omni-channel shoppers say they are more likely to shop with a retailer that makes it easy to buy on several devices," the report noted.

"As integrated online/offline shopping becomes the new normal, brands should ensure shoppers' online experiences are as smooth as their brick-and-mortar experiences and equally as enjoyable."

Data sourced from Facebook; additional content by Warc staff

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How Ford drives consumer research

8 February 2016
ORLANDO, FL: Automaker Ford is mixing traditional and digitally-powered research techniques as it aims to understand how consumers use their heads and hearts when buying a vehicle.

Will Neafsey, manager of Global Consumer Segmentation and Tracking/Global Market Research at Ford, discussed this subject at The Market Research Event (TMRE).

He dug down into how prospective buyers make choices when confronted with an ever-increasing number of competing cars – and a specification list which spans everything from colours and trims to engines.

Reading reviews, asking the opinion of friends and looking for online offers are among the more functional actions that people take in filtering through this deluge of information.

"It's all part of what they're learning," said Neafsey. "It's all part of the stuff we have to catch and understand. Prices are so important, but information is very important." (For more, including further insights into the automaker's consumer understanding, read Warc's exclusive report: Ford research: Grounded in quant, with digital insights.)

But a range of emotional factors also play a central role, as these shoppers consider questions like: "How do I want this thing to make me feel? How does it feel when I'm driving this thing around?"

And the "heart-side" of a decision necessarily moves beyond hard-headed pragmatism. "It's not just about making a rational choice," said Neafsey.

"It's making sure that your friends aren't sitting around talking like, 'That car sucks.' You don't want to be the guy who bought that car."

Mixing traditional research techniques, like focus groups and surveys, with methodologies like analysing spikes in web traffic and text mining on social media, can help brands gain both an aggregate and targeted insight into its audience.

"We need to find a marriage between reliable, standardised research practices and new insights drawn from digital sources, especially when the focus is on younger audience interests," Neafsey said.

"They'll buy from us someday. But the average age of people that buy from us is usually the high 40s or low 50s ... So we need to balance the message we hear from the places like social media and the people that we really should be listening to."

"When we look at big data, when we look at things that are not traditional market research where we can control the sample, we have to think about these kinds of purposes because there's no one size fits all."

Data sourced from Warc

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Video ads are worth the expense

8 February 2016
NEW YORK: Although video ads can be pricey, not just because of production costs but also to make them playable on a publisher's site, they still generate clicks at 17 times the rate of banner ads, according to a recent study.

Digital benchmarking firm L2 analysed the video campaigns of 83 luxury brands for its Digital IQ Index: Fashion 2015 report and stated that many will have to rethink their strategies as video is set to account for half of all internet traffic by 2019.

L2 examined brands' video content, share of organic views and the rate at which videos converted to sales compared to other forms of content.

Brand-building videos emerged as the most viewed and most popular in terms of likes and comments compared with videos that had a greater focus on commercial content.

While finding a direct link between sales and social media campaigns can be difficult to evaluate, the report established that interaction rates on video posts are 60% higher on Facebook than posts without video while those on Instagram are 20% higher.

However, with the share of video posts on Facebook growing to only 8% since 2013 – and 6% on Instagram – the report advised brands to consider increasing their proportion of posts containing video, even if video ads can be more expensive.

"Videos are so much more engaging to a shopper than a static ad. They attract, invite and inspire further consideration. As such they come at a higher price tag," said Elizabeth Elder, research associate at L2.

"However, the investment is worth the effort. Studies have shown that the click-through-rate of a video ad is 17 times higher than a static ad."

Furthermore, with more than 80% of users accessing social platforms on mobile devices, mobile marketing will become increasingly important for brands that wish to remain competitive, L2 said.

"We expect [the mobile ad] market to explode," Elder continued. "Currently, brands are underutilizing it and video is such a dominant medium.

"Attractive, visual ads will definitely have an impact on a mobile shopper trying to figure out if she even likes the brand and if further consideration is even worth it."

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff

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Blog: Desktop ads hit saturation point

8 February 2016
On current trends, UK desktop adspend is forecast to begin showing annual declines from the second half of this year, suggesting it has now reached saturation point in the UK, explains Warc research analyst James McDonald.

Data sourced from Warc

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Holiday travel intent rises 240%

8 February 2016
SINGAPORE: As Chinese New Year gets underway on Monday, a new report has shown that the festive period has helped to boost regional week-on-week travel intent by 240%.

According to the Asian segment of a global Q4 2015 report from Sojern, a data-based travel marketing platform, consumers in Asia-Pacific are also cutting their search times ahead of making a booking, Digital Market Asia reported.

Almost a fifth (17%) of Asian consumers searched for trips up to seven days in advance of travel, up from 15% in the previous quarter, while the proportion of travellers planning 60+ days in advance fell slightly to 39% from 41%.

October was the busiest month for both search (37%) and bookings (38%) over the last quarter of 2015, a finding which also could be useful for marketers looking to plan ahead for the Lunar New Year in 2017.

Japan, Thailand and China are the top three travel destinations for Asian travellers planning to observe this Chinese New Year, while Tokyo, Bangkok and Osaka are the most popular holiday cities.

"The travel industry is making massive investments to improve processes and experiences for travellers from around the world, but lack real-time knowledge about travel interest and intent amongst consumers in the region," said Stewart Hunter, director for Sojern Asia Pacific.

Writing for Marketing Interactive, he went on to outline five key observations for marketers seeking to make the most from Chinese New Year travellers in Asia-Pacific.

Understanding their intentions is crucial, he said. For example, while Japan may be the preferred destination for travellers across the region, data shows that Singapore is the top destination for travellers from Hong Kong over the holiday period.

Timing and knowing when prospective travellers begin their planning is also key, Hunter added. As seen, October is a busy month for this activity, but Sojern's data reveals that this is particularly so in Taiwan.

On top of knowing the top destinations, marketers should also work on the reasons for travel. For example, many Singaporeans travel to Malaysia immediately after the first day of the New Year to visit extended family.

In addition, many travellers in the region are looking to extend their Chinese New Year trips, so marketers should cater for that intention.

Finally, marketers need to gain insights into why people are using this time of year to travel. Many travel to see their families, but then there are others who simply want to get away for a short break.

Above all, Hunter said, marketers should transform travel intent data "into smart, targeted campaigns where you're always talking to the right travellers, at the right time, with the right message".

Data sourced from Digital Market Asia, Marketing Interactive; additional content by Warc staff

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Western brands face CNY mockery

8 February 2016
SHANGHAI: Chinese social media users are levelling mockery at luxury brands as they release Chinese New Year products to capitalise on the biggest holiday of the year.

The Chinese New Year holiday traditionally sees a deluge of seasonal new releases from brands across the price spectrum targeted at the lucrative mainland China market.

2016's Year of The Monkey is no different with monkey-themed paraphernalia now available in luxury stores across Asia. But Western brands attempting to co-opt Chinese traditions have drawn some criticism.

Chinese social media users are mocking Western brands for reductive takes on Chinese symbolism and culture that many young people in the country see as passé – while charging a premium too.

Widely mocked new products include a monkey pendant necklace by Louis Vuitton, Estee Lauder's limited-edition Monkey Powder Compact and Piaget's aesthetically questionable watch featuring a monkey holding a peach, The Straits Times reported.

Nike, one of China's most popular brands, made perhaps the most high profile cultural faux pas when it released trainers for Year of The Monkey with a traditional Chinese character 發 ("Fa" meaning getting richer) on one shoe, and 福 ("Fu" meaning fortune arrives) on the other.

While both characters are widely used during Chinese New Year, combining them together to make "Fa Fu" means getting fat, an error sparking great entertainment on Chinese social media.

This may be regrettable as Chinese New Year, the peak shopping season of the year, offers an upshot in sales for luxury brands in particular, which are slowing as China's economy weakens.

The Year of The Dragon, the most auspicious animal in the Chinese zodiac, and The Year of The Horse are traditionally the most popular with Chinese shoppers.

Data sourced from Straits Times, Chinaskinny; additional content by Warc staff

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Warc launches 2016 Prize for Social Strategy

5 February 2016
LONDON: Warc is today launching the Warc Prize for Social Strategy 2016, a global competition with a $10,000 prize fund, to find the best examples of social ideas that drive business results.

The Prize, now in its third year, looks for examples of social media marketing that delivers a measurable business impact. It is free to enter, and open to clients and agencies in any discipline.

The competition asks entrants to show why their strategy is 'social by design'. "We've updated the Prize to reflect the fast-changing landscape of social media," said David Tiltman, Head of Content at Warc.

"We are still looking for the best ideas that drive 'earned media' – but at the same time we want to recognise other uses of social media: social-driven content programmes, for example, or social strategies that focus on key moments in a consumer's path to purchase."

Previous winners have come from all over the world, he continued, "underlining the global impact of social media on marketing communications".

The 2015 competition Grand Prix was won by a case study from Campbell Ewald on behalf of the US Navy. The Project Architeuthis initiative recruited cryptologists via an alternate-reality puzzle-solving game on social media, and saw the Navy beat its recruitment targets.

The $10,000 Prize fund will be divided between a $5,000 Grand Prix for the world's best social strategy case study, plus five $1,000 Special Awards to the best examples of a long-term idea, social content, customer journey, use of analytics and use of a low budget.

In addition there will also be Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for the highest-scoring cases.

The deadline for entries is 14 April 2016, and the winner will be announced in the summer. Further details on the Prize, including the entry kit and tips on writing a great strategy case study, can be found on the Prize website, www.warc.com/socialprize.

An analysis of entries to last year's Prize was authored by marketing consultant Peter Field. In Seriously Social 2015, he reported that creativity is strongly linked to social effects and that social strategies are most effective when they take a long-term view.

Data sourced from Warc

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Brands see 6 Nations opportunities

5 February 2016
LONDON: Rugby's 6 Nations tournament kicks off this weekend and, within the UK, advertisers are looking at a range of new opportunities made possible by the division of the broadcasting rights between the BBC and ITV.

Fresh from its coverage of last autumn's Rugby World Cup, commercial broadcaster ITV will show 6 Nations games for the first time, having partnered with the BBC to ensure the competition remains free to air.

The development opens the door for those brands not sponsoring either the tournament or individual teams to get a slice of the action in a sport whose popularity has surged following the Rugby World Cup.

"It is a really good opportunity to get to a premium audience and it is quite a hard audience to get to," according to Steve Martin, chief executive at M&S Saatchi Sport & Entertainment.

Data from RadiumOne confirm that rugby fans are overwhelming in the AB social grade (71%) and predominantly male (80%). But enthusiasm is not restricted to this group: its research shows that 57% of the UK is "interested in" the 6 Nations.

ITV has the rights to half the games and has signed a two-year sponsorship deal with automaker Peugeot, which will air sponsorship bumpers at the start and end of commercial breaks, while online ads and activation will also appear on the broadcaster's online and catch-up platform, The ITV Hub.

Martin cautioned that dividing games between broadcasters could lead to problems. "With split broadcast the audience sometimes find games hard to find and you have seen that with Sky and BT before where they have shared rights," he told Marketing.

"It will be interesting how they [BBC and ITV] dovetail each other. It is important both broadcasters help fuel the continuity and promote the whole thing rather than get into a massive competitive scenario."

England team sponsor O2 will not be advertising on TV, Marketing reported, as it thinks its branding on the team's shirts will give it the necessary TV exposure. Instead, it will focus on digital marketing activity, a media partnership and out-of-home marketing.

North of the border, meanwhile, soft drinks firm AG Barr has just signed up as an official sponsor of Scottish Rugby.

Data sourced from Marketing, RadiumOne, Campaign, The Drum; additional content by Warc staff

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Millennials: the same but different

5 February 2016
NEW YORK: Generations Y and Z display distinct shopping habits and preferences, according to a new survey, but both are often closer to each other than to older age groups.

GfK's FutureBuy 2015 report was based on interviews with 25,000 shoppers globally, including 1,000 in the US. This found that Baby Boomers (aged 51 to 68) in the US have been slow to adopt mobile shopping habits, with just 7% having made a purchase via a smartphone, and even among Generation X (35 to 50) the figure was only 15%.

But Generations Y (25 to 34) and Z (18 to 24) were much more likely to report having done so, with figures of 31% and 34% respectively.

When it came to making purchases with a desktop or laptop computer, however, Gen Y and the Boomers registered similar levels (40% and 43% respectively), while Gen Z came in at just 32%.

The study also showed that Gens Y and Z differ in their reasons for choosing to buy in store versus online.

So, for example, when Gen Z consumers choose to make online purchases, they are more likely to be motivated by saving money than Gen Y (60% vs 46%).

The differences are even more stark when it comes to recommendations by people they trust: 31% of Gen Z cite this as a reason for making an online purchase compared to only 16% of Gen Y.

Gen Y shoppers buying online were more likely to say they did so because they get better information online (35% vs 22% for Gen Z), have better delivery options (26% vs 19%) and can buy other things at the same time (23% vs 17%).

For in-store purchases, Gen Y was more likely to view this as the easy option (42% vs 29%). Gen Z buyers on the other hand were more likely to be motivated by getting better information there (25% vs 18%).

"We are used to seeing younger shoppers lumped together in contrast with their Baby Boomer parents," said Joe Beier, EVP/ Shopper and Retail Strategy at GfK.

"But there are some important differences between the two 'halves' of the Millennial cohort; in certain areas, we see Gen Y tending toward the 'old-school' ways of the Boomers – but in others, they seem equal to their younger brothers and sisters in Gen Z."

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff

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No more dunking in the dark

5 February 2016
NEW YORK: Brands are no longer so anxious to be seen to respond in real-time to unfolding events and most have moved on from having a war-room strategy for major occasions such as the Super Bowl.

It's only three years since Oreo sparked a rush to real-time marketing with its "you can still dunk in the dark" tweet during a power failure at Super Bowl 47, but the approach that produced that line is now seen as dated.

"The concept of the war room is 100% dead," according to Marc Gallucci, founder and CEO Relevant24, a Publicis Groupe-owned agency.

"The idea was, 'let's all pay attention to what people care about right now and then push something quick out' – but that's not a one-day-a-year thing; it's a business practice," he told Digiday.

As Digiday noted, "chasing real-time blips isn't a sound long-term strategy" and can actually distract from the serious business of structuring internal processes to keep up with an ever-changing digital culture.

Brands have also done their sums and concluded war-rooms aren't necessarily worth the money involved, with some of the most effective social media responses being composed by employees at home on their sofas.

"War rooms are really expensive investments and also taxing on employees," said Orli LeWinter, vice president/strategy and social marketing at 360i, a digital agency owned by Dentsu. "Brands need to be very strategic about them.

"If real-time readiness is crucial to the campaign it can be an asset, but it should be used judiciously," she added.

The nature of social media has also changed since 2013, with brands no longer able to rely on organic reach. "It's a paid-media game today and with that, comes a lot more preparation than real-time inspiration," noted Gareth Goodall, partner and chief strategy officer at Anomaly, a creative agency.

So an idea like "dunking in the dark" can still work but brands are now planning for such eventualities. Relevant24 last year created content in advance based around some possible on-field plays which could then be customised in real time on game night.

"I'd say the war room has given way to a campsite," suggested Kevin Del Rosario, associate director of social at Interpublic's Huge, a digital agency. "Real-time marketing needs to be a built-in strategy all year round," he said.

Data sourced from Digiday; additional content by Warc staff

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Smartphones a 'necessity' for Aussies

5 February 2016
SYDNEY: Smartphones are now regarded as a necessity by Australians, although many confess to being overwhelmed by the device's capabilities, something marketers need to bear in mind when considering mobile campaigns.

Digital Australia, a new report from professional services firm EY based on a survey of 1,500 consumers and 160 digital opinion leaders, highlighted the fact that 81% of Australians now use a smartphone, a figure that rises to 96% among 18-34 year olds.

"They are an absolute necessity rather than an indulgence for Australians," Jenny Young, customer leader for EY, told Smart Company.

But mobile devices also come with a down side: four in ten respondents using a smartphone or tablet said they struggled to keep up with the rapid increase in the capabilities of digital devices

Aside from such technical issues, a significant minority of users reported more physical and emotional experiences with their devices. Around one quarter (24%), for example, said their devices prevented them getting enough sleep.

And a similar proportion often felt overwhelmed by the volume of information they had at their fingertips. "Businesses need to be mindful of that in terms of making their experiences intuitive and easy so users don't have to put a lot of effort into interacting with their websites," Young said.

Personal relationships were another area where smartphones and tablets are having a mixed impact for some: 24% said that their social life would be non-existent without their mobile device, while 23% admitted they spent more time on their mobile device than talking to their partner or friends.

For the majority, however, smartphones and tablets engender a positive effect on users' sense of control and the former especially continues to make inroads into all areas of users' digital lives – across functional, communication and entertainment activities.

Thus, for example, gaming (48%) is the most common entertainment activity but the use of smartphones for playing music, podcasts, TV and film has risen sharply in the past year, from 36% of users to 44%.

In the business arena, some 41% of respondents used their smartphone for banking and finance during 2015, up from 37% a year earlier. And there has been a spurt in the proportion using the device for grocery shopping, up from 18% to 25% in the same period.

Young pointed out, however, that businesses still needed to address "quite fundamental things around privacy and security" as regards the digital experience.

Data sourced from EY, Smart Company; additional content by Warc staff

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CSL in 'brand positioning statement'

5 February 2016
BEIJING: The world of elite football is changing as teams in the Chinese Super League (CSL) have spent almost as much on players as the notoriously profligate English Premier League (EPL) during January.

"It's a brand positioning statement," explained Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at Salford University in the UK.

"It's telling the world 'We're here and this is what we're doing,'" he told CNN. "In terms of China's reputation to be an important nation globally, to be good at football is a large part of that."

It is not only the total spent that is raising eyebrows, but who it is being spent on. That was exemplified by the most recent high-value purchase, when champions Guangzhou Evergrande paid Atletico Madrid €42m to acquire the services of 29 year-old Colombian striker Jackson Martinez.

Many of the players now arriving at Chinese clubs from European leagues and beyond are not at the end of the careers and looking for a quick payday – a trend still common in Major League Soccer in the US – but are younger and can still expect to play at international level.

The spending spree is in part being driven by television money – in October last year, private equity business China Media Capital paid US$1.2bn for the TV rights to the CSL for the next five years, a fivefold increase on what the state broadcaster CCTV had previously paid.

But the traffic is not all one way as Chinese firms are also buying into overseas clubs – in December, for example, CMC took a 13% stake in the business that owns EPL club Manchester City.

And, more controversially, last week Ledman, a Shenzhen-based LED-lighting manufacturer, signed a sponsorship deal with a Portuguese football league which included a requirement, since dropped, that at least one Chinese player appear in each of the league's top ten teams.

The spur for all this activity comes from a Communist Party committee headed by President Xi Jinping, which approved a 50-point plan to build China as a footballing power, including establishing 50,000 soccer schools within ten years and making the game compulsory for some elementary and middle-school students.

But Rowan Simons, author of a book on Chinese football, told AFP the national team would not significantly improve before Xi finished his two terms in office.

"That's how little time this new politically-led football revolution has to run... unless his successor is also a football fan," he said.

Data sourced from CNN, Yibada, AFP; additional content by Warc staff

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Online content faces censor crackdowns

5 February 2016
BANGKOK: Thailand's military junta is allegedly pressing Google, Facebook and chat app LINE for the ability to "scrub" content delivered on its platforms, according to news reports.

Social media is the latest target in a series of content censorship debates raging in South East Asia, where several web-based content platforms are facing pressure from governments to take down or censor content for political reasons.

While Thailand's TV and print channels have been under tight control since a military coup took power in 2014, social media is less controlled. But this is changing. Local prosecutions for lèse majesté, alleged computer crimes and sedition have soared with many arrested for social media posts.

Web firms such as Google must comply with local laws, and routinely block content within a country if presented with a court order. According to leaked documents, reported by Asian Correspondent, the Thai government wants Google to put aside its usual censorship process and remove content flagged as illegal without going through the court order process.

The move marks a worrying escalation in censorship in the last few months across the region, as some governments tighten the screws on online content providers and social media platforms. But there are indications that some platforms are pushing back.

Malaysian authorities recently urged content platform Medium to take down a post alleging the country's scandal-plagued Prime Minister, Najib Razak, was attempting to exit the country as corruption investigations engulf his government. When Medium refused, authorities quickly banned the site in Malaysia, outraging local users.

A statement by Medium on the Malaysian ban read: "We stand by investigative journalists who publish on Medium. Until we receive an order from a court of competent jurisdiction, the post stays up."

Data sourced from Asian Correspondent, Reuters, Fortune; additional content by Warc staff

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Political TV ads make an impact

5 February 2016
NEW YORK: Television ads can move the needle for aspiring presidential candidates, but the impact is largely short term in nature, according to figures from The Economist.

"We found that paid TV airtime did matter, accounting for a modest 13% of the week-to-week changes in polling," the news title revealed in a new report.

To reach this total, the Republican field was split into pairs. Each day both candidates scored over 10% in the polls, The Economist counted how many TV spots – positive and negative – had been aired about the two candidates in the last week in Iowa and New Hampshire.

By measuring the ratio of favourable and unfavourable TV ads – a medium which remains a "the staple on campaign shopping lists" – against polling averages, the study could show if these messages had made a tangible impression.

"If there were any pay-off to media spending, then candidates who appeared in lots of positive ads and few negative ones should have gained ground when compared with their rivals," it argued.

Placing this idea into context, viewers in Iowa saw 866 more positive ads about Marco Rubio than Donald Trump from January 24th to January 30th. The business mogul was also the subject of 220 more negative spots than Rubio.

"After adjusting for their standing in national polls, the front-runner's advantage over the Florida senator duly shrank by 5.1 percentage points," reported The Economist.

"Overall, holding nationwide polls constant, we found that candidates could expect to gain a one-point edge over their rivals in the next week's early-state polling for roughly every 200 net positive ads about them, or every 500 net negative ones about their opponents."

Another key finding, however, was that TV commercials had a short-term effect: the impact of positive ads during the Republican race so far has been 4.4 times greater in the week they aired than over the next seven days.

Such conclusions came with methodological caveats, too. In the first instance, The Economist sought to control for the impact of news events relating to each presidential hopeful by comparing polls in Iowa and New Hampshire with national figures.

But it also warned that factors like rallies, local media coverage and natural "random variation" inevitably influence the scores registered in surveys – as well as remarking that polls themselves are often a "poor proxy" for actual outcomes.

Data sourced from The Economist; additional content by Warc staff​

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Retailers need to step up on mobile

4 February 2016
GLOBAL: Retailers are failing to meet consumer demand for increased convenience while shopping with mobile devices, according to new research from Accenture.

The consulting firm surveyed more than 10,000 consumers across 13 countries for its Adaptive Retail report, while also carrying out a separate benchmarking study that evaluated a global sample of 162 retailers in ten countries across multiple industries.

The consumer survey found that the proportion of consumers shopping "on the go" with mobile devices increased from 36% in 2014 to 40% in 2015.

And the percentage demanding more retail services via mobile, particularly real-time in-store promotions, rose from 40% to 47% in the same period. But only 7% of retailers said they currently have the ability to send real-time promotions.

Retailers appear to have been focused on the basics, with 93% now offering smartphone-optimised websites (89% tablet), and have been slow to respond with the increasingly sophisticated options that shoppers are coming to expect.

For example, 32% of shoppers wanted to be able to scan products in-store using their mobile devices – up from 27% in 2014 – but only 17% of retailers provided scanning capabilities.

At the same time, 42% of shoppers in the survey wanted to receive automatic credit for coupons and discounts via their mobile phones – up from 35% last year – yet only 16% of retailers had the capability to automatically credit coupons.

"Retailers need to understand … that they are actually involved in a race that will likely accelerate as consumers continually seek more value, greater convenience, and better customer experience across all channels," said Patricia Walker, senior managing director in Accenture's Products practice.

That means developing a seamless experience for consumers who expect mobile devices to ease the shopping experience, both online and in-store.

But they also have to chart a path through some contradictory consumer attitudes. The research found that three quarters of shoppers thought it "cool" that a retailer could automatically adjust the price of items for loyalty points and other discounts, while 6% considered it "creepy".

But 41% also said that having sales associates who know the items in their online wish list or shopping basket was "creepy", compared with 29% who viewed it as "cool".

"Despite the desire for the ultimate personalised experience, shoppers still have reservations about some retailer capabilities related to mobile use," Walker said.

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff

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European online ad viewability falls

4 February 2016
LONDON: Online ad viewability levels across many European countries dropped noticeably in the final quarter of 2015, according to a new report.

The Viewability Benchmarks figures from ad verification company Meetrics were based on the definitions produced by the Media Rating Council and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), namely that at least 50% of an online ad appears in the visible area of the browser for at least one second. Impressions triggered by fraudulent activities were excluded from the benchmark.

In the UK, viewability levels for display ads dropped from 52% in Q3 to 50% in Q4 2015. In Germany the decline was slightly larger, from 61% to 58%, while France saw a four percentage point fall, from 69% to 65%, and Austria a five point slide from 70% to 65%.

"After a bit of a rally, things seem to be getting worse again," noted Anant Joshi, Meetrics' Director of International Business.

"Although in the UK, for example, the drop isn't much, it's the direction that's more important," he said.

"Current efforts to address the issue don't seem to be working – either that or the efforts in one area are simply offsetting the inevitable falls generated by more automated buying."

Joshi added that in the final quarter of 2015, some £134m was wasted on unseen banner ads alone.

In terms of particular formats, half-page ads were the most viewable format in the UK (63%), followed by billboards (59%) and MPUs (47%); leaderboards were the least viewable format (43%). The average time viewable ads were in view was 31.4 seconds in the UK.

The report further revealed that, over the last couple of years, the average amount of a web page taken up by advertising was just 8%.

"The ratio between advertising and editorial is much lower than you'd think – particularly with all the talk about online ad clutter," Joshi said.

"On a web-wide level, it's simply a myth."

Data sourced from Meetrics; additional content by Warc staff

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Forbes taps influencers

4 February 2016
NEW YORK: With BrandVoice, Forbes was one of the first publishers to offer a sponsored content program to advertisers, but its thinking in this area has moved on to focus on the role of influencers, one of the company's leading executives has said.

Chief Revenue Officer Mark Howard told Ad Exchanger that BrandVoice had really taken off in 2012 but now, almost four years on, "every major publisher has some form of branded content solution, page views are becoming a commodity".

In a saturated market, he expected that some publishers would fail while others explored new business models, such as moving to a platform-only model – something Forbes itself has avoided – or developing "really robust, immersive [branded content] experiences".

While admiring of the technology and design going into the latter, he was sceptical of its practical application, suggesting such content was difficult to consume on a phone which is where an increasing proportion of media consumption is taking place.

"We are on the cusp of a content bubble," he said. "We can't support all those rich, immersive experiences over and over for every brand and every site on mobile."

He indicated that Forbes was taking a simpler approach that will see it focused on influencers.

"For us, the ability to identify influencers to consume content on behalf of brands and distribute content to those influencers is going to be a big part of how we push forward in 2016," he said.

BrandVoice, Howard added, has grown 70% two years in a row, and he expected "similar growth this year".

Research undertaken for Forbes in 2013 found a "statistically significant lift" when people were exposed to branded content: brand favourability, for example, stood at 37% with the consumer group exposed to branded content, compared to 29% for those who were exposed to control content.

Purchase intent and consideration also showed more pronounced levels, at 31% for the branded content group compared to 22% for the control group, while brand trust went up by 29% for the branded content group compared to 25% for the control group.

Data sourced from Ad Exchanger; additional content by Warc staff

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Marketers must 'make numbers valuable'

4 February 2016
NAPA, CA: Marketers must find ways to make numbers valuable to both enjoy the benefits promised by big data and stave off competition from digitally-empowered rivals, a leading executive from Constellation Research has argued.

R "Ray" Wang – the Principal Analyst, Founder & Chairman at Constellation Research, a Silicon Valley-based consultancy focused on "next-generation" customer service – discussed this subject at the CMO Summit.

More specifically, he suggested the huge range of customer data now available to brands – from their location to cross-channel engagement information – must be turned into tangible, usable insights.

"The thing that's important here is: we have to make all these numbers valuable," he said. (For more, including how Disney has achieved that aim, read Warc's exclusive report: Transformational innovation: the secret to success in 2016.)

"I don't need more data … I need more insights. I need more relevancy," continued Wang. "If 20% of your business isn't coming from these types of insights, you really don't have a digital business."

And the importance of building new operating models, he added, cannot be underestimated as connectivity redefines almost every aspect of daily life.

"Digital starts with a business model shift. We're changing the way we engage. We're changing the way we connect. We're changing the way we bring these new business models to life."

Constellation Research has a client roster including firms like 3M, Citigroup, General Electric, Red Bull, Taco Bell and United Airlines.

And Wang asserted that Amazon – which has moved from simply selling books into fields as diverse as delivering groceries and creating content – is the gold standard when it comes to making data the bedrock of digital business.

"You're witnessing content and networking all converging into the new monopoly. Apple is the same. Microsoft is the same. And so is Google," he continued.

"If you don't realise that you're competing with those four entities in the consumer world, you're dead. Because ultimately, they want all of your revenue."

Data sourced from Warc

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Texting vital for smartphone users

4 February 2016
NEW YORK: US smartphones users are just as likely to be texting friends and family as playing a game or streaming a video, new research has shown.

Research company GfK MRI surveyed more than 5,900 US smartphone owners between September and November 2015 for its Mobile Now report and found that they divided their time equally between entertainment – including games, music, web surfing, and watching streamed content – texting and phone calls.

These activities each took up 22% of users' smartphone time. Social media and email accounted for a further 10% each.

Over two-thirds (68%) of consumers – and more than four-fifths (83%) of Millennials – reported that they text more than they talk on their smartphones. And texting is the phone feature that respondents said they would miss most if it was not available.

When GfK MRI asked consumers which smartphone apps or functions they turn to first thing in the morning, texting was cited most often, by 67% of respondents. Email came in second, mentioned by 63%, followed by Facebook (48%) and the weather (44%).

Hispanics were even more likely to have mentioned texting (73%), with email a relatively distant also-ran (at 64%).

Games came in 7th first thing in the morning, mentioned by 19% of respondents. And streaming music service Pandora (12%) placed above Pinterest, Twitter, and other well-known social media apps.

The study also identified five different types of smartphone user. Mobile Embracers made up around one quarter (24%), integrating their smartphones into every aspect of their lives.

Entertainment Seekers (15%) were defined as young singles drawn to mobile gaming and watching streaming video.

Casual Gamers (18%) are likely to be white women with children, while Info Seekers (18%) are frequently white, educated, married men interested in news and/or sports.

There also exists a large group of users – Mobile Fundamentals (25%) – who need help just downloading a new app.

Data sourced from GfK MRI; additional content by Warc staff

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Aussies open to ads-for-data swap

4 February 2016
SYDNEY: More than one third of Australian smartphone users are open to the idea of receiving ads when they unlock their devices in return for some sort of gain.

According to research company Roy Morgan, 37% of smartphone users over the age of 14 – that's around 5.5m people – would be prepared to trade their attention for cheaper bills or extra data usage.

Lebara Mobile, a Vodafone 3G network reseller, already offers such a deal, having teamed up last October with Unlockd, an app developed by a Melbourne start-up.

Unlockd collects data from a user's device, including device ID, location, time and other contextual factors, in order to personalise the type of ads it shows and when.

Users downloading the app are shown a targeted ad or special offer roughly every third time they unlock their phone. In exchange they can get 2GB of free data or a discount on their phone bill.

Roy Morgan's research, reported by B&T, found that interest was greatest among Dodo smartphone customers, almost half (47%) of whom would like to explore this idea.

But Michele Levine, Roy Morgan CEO, observed that advertisers were unlikely to be attracted by the small reach this offered. She suggested the opportunities were rather greater at some of the larger networks, where interest was also high – at 44% of Vodafone customers, for example, and 40% of those at Optus.

"There are around 1.1m smartphone customers at Vodafone and 1.3m at Optus who could be interested in an ad-supported plan—that's the sort of reach attained by the weeknight news on commercial television networks," she pointed out.

"The future challenge for advertisers and their media agencies using this new, broad-reaching channel will be to achieve accurate and cost-effective targeting—and the only way to do that is to understand the people holding each device," Levine added.

Data sourced from B&T, Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by Warc staff

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Asian chat apps generate most revenue

4 February 2016
TOKYO: Facebook-owned chat app Whatsapp broke the one billion user threshold this week, making it the most-used chat app in the world, but in the revenue stakes Asian chat apps remain on top.

They also provide clues as to how Whatsapp may monetise its service in coming years, as the region's major chat apps forge ahead with e-commerce functionality.

Recent revenue data reported by Tech in Asia shows that chat app LINE – which has just 212m users, mostly in Japan and Thailand – reported more than US$1bn in revenue last year, compared to just US$10m for Whatsapp.

Whatsapp holds an enormous market-share in Asia's crowded chat landscape – an estimated 35% of all internet users in the region, and growing. It is the most downloaded app in India and hugely popular in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

But the platform has yet to capitalise on this popularity to create revenue, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may look towards Chinese chat app WeChat for inspiration.

WeChat has built functionality that weaves it into almost every part of daily life, including bookings, payments, e-commerce and more. It now boasts more than 600m users in China alone.

There is no reported data for how much WeChat is earning from brand accounts or ads, but WeChat-linked mobile gaming alone generated RMB 4.5bn (US$701.4m) in revenue in the second quarter of 2015, up 11% on the previous year.

LINE's revenue is drawn from selling popular digital stickers, merchandise, virtual goods and services, and advertising to brands. Users can also shop online through the app, thanks to partnerships with Japanese e-commerce outlet Rakuten.

Recent comments by Zuckerberg indicate that Whatsapp is set to launch a B2C product, which will allow businesses and service providers such as banks to connect with users directly.

However, across much of South East Asia, many small businesses already allow customers to communicate with them via Whatsapp's existing free platform.

Data sourced from Tech in Asia; additional content by Warc staff

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India's phone market 'in transition'

4 February 2016
NEW DELHI: India is now the second largest smartphone market in the world and going through a period of transition for both consumers and industry, according to new reports.

A study from Counterpoint Research said the number of active smartphone users in India has now passed that in the US and stands at 220m; only China has more.

During 2015, Indian smartphone shipments grew 23% year-on-year to cross the 100m mark, although the total phone market declined 3% to 243m as fewer people bought feature phones, the Economic Times reported.

A separate study from CMR made a similar point as it reported annual smartphone shipments up 18% while feature phones were down 27.1%.

Counterpoint's research also revealed a rapid shift to 4G, with more than half of smartphones shipped during the fourth quarter being LTE devices.

And many phones are now being produced in India rather than imported: more than 20 mobile phone brands are assembling their phones locally while almost half of phones sold in the fourth quarter merited the "Made in India" tag.

"We are witnessing a transition period for the industry," declared Faisal Kawoosa, lead telecoms analyst at CMR. "Transition from mass to niche, feature phones to smartphones, 2G and 3G to 4G, 'offline only' to hybrid, and 'imports only' to domestic manufacturing with imports."

That, he suggested, inevitably meant a decline in overall volumes, but "once this transition is over and vendors adopt the right mix of sourcing and marketing, and develop competencies to address the emerging/niche segments rather than the mass market, we should see the market rebound".

The top end of the market may be hampered by the falling value of the rupee, however, which is expected to push up the price of imported consumer electronics such as the premium smartphones supplied by brands like Apple and Samsung.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff

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