The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

The power of localised copy
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

The Guardian have just released analysis into the performance of 300 brand campaigns that they have carried.  Their conclusion, drawn from surveys amongst their 3,000 strong reader panel, is that making ads contextually relevant significantly boosts effectiveness.

The Guardian’s data shows that when ads run alongside relevant web editorial readers are nearly 20% more likely to feel positively about the advertiser and 23% more likely to think that the message was relevant to them. The impact of context was just as strong in print where ads are 20% more likely to be seen as relevant to the reader when alongside related content.

There are plenty of ways brands can be relevant beyond tailoring ads to editorial though; ads can be adapted according to mood, weather or timing for example. However, perhaps the most interesting form of contextualisation is regionalisation. Its value lies in its simplicity. Whilst obtaining accurate mood data is difficult, tailoring a message to a city is cheap and reliable.


Subjects: Marketing, Advertising, Consumers

31 July 2015 16:49

Memorial service for Tim Broadbent
Posted by: Warc

Tim Broadbent, the world's leading authority on the elusive subject of advertising effectiveness, recently died after a long battle with cancer.

A memorial service to honour and celebrate Tim Broadbent’s life will be held at 11.30am on Wednesday 30th September 2015 at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU.

This will be followed by a reception from 12.30pm at St Bride Foundation, Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8EQ.

If you would like to attend please RSVP by Friday 4th September to


Subjects: Advertising

28 July 2015 15:14

China's new strict ad laws
Posted by: Edward Bell, CEO, FCB Greater China
Edward Bell

If you step back from the buzz of the day to day, there is a palpable sense of things 'tightening up' across China. The raging trade in property – the national obsession that has created more wealth in China than any other endeavour – is now bound by regulation. The much-publicised 'war on corruption' is an attempt to close up the back channels that have defined how China used to work.

And, more recently, we've seen that the welcome mat, once rolled out to multinational corporations in China, has been all but rolled up. The uneven application of anti-trust law is another hoop through which brands must jump. But until recently, amid the tightening of laws and adding of hoops, on the TV screens we were able to watch a TV ad that earnestly told women that with the ready application of a cream, their breasts would grow bigger.

This has, in the spectacular fashion of China, now changed. In one fell swoop, a whole raft of unchecked advertising practices will, by 1 September, be outlawed. The country with 300 million smokers has banned cigarette advertising. Advertising in and around schools is out and functional claims now need to reach a higher standard of proof. That probably spells the end of the breast enlargement cream business.


Subjects: Advertising, Marketing, Consumers

28 July 2015 14:23

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

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

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

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

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


Subjects: Digital, Advertising

22 July 2015 16:02

The era of outrage advertising
Posted by: Darika Ahrens LDN Stock
Darika Ahrens

In the picture, there's a woman on a yellow background. She's young. She's blonde. She's in a bikini. And she asks, in large bold type, "Are you beach body ready?" At the bottom of the poster someone has scrawled "**** off. I'm describing one of the now-infamous defaced Protein World ads. A couple of months ago, in London, the ads were graffittied, parodied, and finally removed after people protested about them online. Detractors called the ads sexist, inappropriate, and body shaming.

It became a big news story. Not one that Protein World necessarily set out to create. And, in my view, the image and messages were no different from what you'll see on every high street and newsstand this summer. But nevertheless, once outrage ensued, the brand knew what to do. The CEO gave interviews saying he'd take the 'terrorists' seriously (yes, he used that headline-friendly word) if their online petition reached one million signatures. It was all obviously a great success. The company has just recycled the same ad creative into a giant billboard in Times Square.

As a former PR, I cringe at chasing negative column inches. But maybe it's time for me to accept that we live in the era of outrage advertising. Here's the formula: brand creates controversial campaign; outrage ensues; brand withdraws or stands behind campaign. Either way, campaign goes big and lives online forever.


Subjects: Advertising, Marketing, Consumers

21 July 2015 15:22

Five tips on the future of strategic planning
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Antonio Nunez, an author, speaker and brand strategist with 25 years experience in the communication industry

Brand Planners. User Experience Planners. Shopper Planners. Digital Planners. Social media planners. Content Planners. Channel Planners. You-name-it planners. Many big agencies' strategic departments resemble a scary Tower of Babel: flooded with data, confronted by hyper specialized jargons and unable to create unifying brand metrics. They work at turtle pace and are fragmented by narrow discipline-oriented points of view.

Many creative teams complain about having to pay the toll in this situation. They are forced to spend more time trying to find an overarching theme for campaigns, which means less time to craft their storytelling productions. Many marketers too. They are left to build their brands relying almost solely on brand personality and tone of voice consistency. Their brands can't generate true meaningful conversations, relying on a collection of key visuals or on superficial anecdotes to influence consumers' perceptions. Those brands end-up lacking purpose and a distinctive point of view.


Subjects: Advertising, Brands

20 July 2015 16:24

Cannes Lions Scratch a Niche: Why nuance and focus are key to Cannes creative success
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Ben Essen, head of planning at iris.

Question. What percentage of Volvo drivers are regular cyclists?

What fraction of Always $3.4 billion worldwide sales are made by 13 year-old girls? How many of Burger King's customers are gay?

Mainstream brands constantly seek Big Ideas powered by Universal Insights. As Byron Sharp tells us, brand penetration requires advertising at scale – and an ability to appeal to as many people as possible. The accepted wisdom is therefore that we must create inclusive ideas that alienate as few people as possible. Research is used to overcome objections and find the common ground acceptable to the average consumer. When our target is everyone and our media is the globe there's no time to pander to the long-tail of niche interests and demographics.

It's interesting, then, to look at some of the big Cannes winners.


Subjects: Advertising, Marketing, Awards

07 July 2015 15:13

Four reasons our keyword obsession needs to stop to protect brand safety
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Nick Welch, Business Development Director at ADmantX.

Keywords are the most commonly used indicator in the purchase of ad placements. Yet there is a problem with relying on this simplistic mechanic – probability. Keyword targeting relies on the likelihood that a word will retain the same meaning in every relevant environment. But words are shape-shifters; their meaning can vary greatly depending on the context they appear in. As such, keywords can only offer marketers a prediction of what the content might be, leaving its true context ambiguous and increasing the risk of inappropriate placements that can damage campaigns.

In fact, almost one-third of advertisers are concerned about the possibility of their ads appearing alongside undesirable content. So how can advertisers and marketers avert disaster and secure brand safety? One answer is advanced contextual analysis. Powered by semantic technology and Natural Language Processing, it identifies the emotions content elicits and matches ads with precision. Going beyond safeguarding against salacious content, this approach generates greater value for advertising campaigns and gives brands confidence that their investment is protected. Still not convinced? Here are four reasons why contextual analysis offers a more robust strategy to ensure brand safety:


Subjects: Digital, Advertising

06 July 2015 10:16

Who runs the world… girls: Brands and the Women's World Cup
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Luca Massaro, managing director of WePlay.

It is no secret that sports events give brands a huge platform to advertise. We only have to look at the Superbowl back in February and the 2014 FIFA World Cup to see the vast amounts of money that sponsors and those brands wanting to 'ambush' spend on being a part of the conversation.

In a gap year between the men's FIFA World Cup and next year's UEFA European Cup, it may be assumed that there aren't many sporting talking points in between. However, the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada has become something of a major point of engagement for fans and brands this summer.

With the recent success of campaigns such as Sport England's "This Girl Can" and the women's England football team claiming their place in the semi-finals, interest in women's sport is rapidly growing. According to FIFA, the Women's World Cup will reach around 30 million female football players and more than 300 million fans worldwide, while the BBC is broadcasting every game for the first time. The growing interest in women's football since the first FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991, is clearly presenting a big opportunity for brands. Here we look at some the brands already tapping into this growing trend.


Subjects: Advertising, Brands

29 June 2015 15:02

Six ways to cut ad costs by 19% – and get better ideas
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Goh ShuFen, president of IAS.

We've all seen the Mad Men episode where Don Draper strides into the room and sells the client a complete idea. One client, one agency, one easy decision. Life was simple then, but today, with multiple stakeholders, markets and agencies, companies need a far more disciplined approach to improving integrated marketing.

When the P&G CFO John Moeller announced his firm was looking to drive $500m in savings from agencies, a key area outlined was how agencies integrate.

It was with this thought in mind, we initiated "Integration 40", a fresh look at 40 of the best integrated marketing campaigns and processes from around the world. We reviewed hundreds of campaigns from six continents before selecting the final list.

Along the way, and through our other consulting work on integration, we discovered something else.



Subjects: Advertising, Marketing

24 June 2015 15:35


Blog Search


  • 2015
    • August (1)
    • July (17)
    • June (18)
    • May (23)
    • April (19)
    • March (21)
    • February (20)
    • January (15)
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010