The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

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

Creativity, trust and the adoption of programmatic advertising
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Graham Wylie, senior director EMEA & APAC marketing at AppNexus.

I doubt this is the last year that the annual advertising industry gathering in Cannes will be billed as the 'Festival of Creativity'; but with data and technology sharply in focus across the opening days of this year's event, it feels as though creativity is taking on a much broader definition.

Take part in a digital advertising survey from AppNexus, Warc and DDM Alliance, and receive a free pre-publication copy of the final report:

Yet as with all things new, it's hard to get good data about this evolution as it happens. All looks clear in hindsight, but few of us have the luxury of waiting for a few years before deciding how we are going to respond.


Subjects: Advertising, Digital

23 June 2015 15:32

The power of storyfinding
Posted by: James Hurman, Founder, Previously Unavailable
James Hurman

In 2010, our agency was briefed by a big brewery to have one last go at reviving a beer that had been in decline for a decade. The previous agency had done seven big brand campaigns for DB Export Gold over that decade, and none had worked. Nobody liked Export Gold much. It wasn't great beer. It had no brewing credentials and a vaguely metrosexual personality that didn't impress men much. Even the client recognised the hopelessness of a beer without a proper story – apparently Export Gold had been invented in the 1990s by the marketing department.

Then I talked to a guy called Doug Banks. Doug's been the head brewer at DB Breweries for over 40 years. I asked him how he felt about this 1990s marketing beer. "Eh?" said Doug. "That couldn't be further from the truth." Then he sat me down in his office in a corner of the building where the marketers never went, and told me a story that nobody else in the company, even the CEO, had ever heard.


Subjects: Advertising

11 June 2015 10:16

Programmatic frequency drives brand metrics
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by John Drake, VP of brand planning at Drake Cooper.

Click-through rate is an easy metric to understand. But the value of online advertising extends far beyond this. I've long believed that we travel across the web like we travel across a city, noticing things – like billboards – as we go. And it's in this spirit where a key part of online advertising can often be misunderstood.

For some reason it seems un-popular to talk about web ads as billboard-like. Maybe it seems too pedestrian. Maybe it seems like an excuse for low click rates. I think it makes common sense. It's how advertising has worked throughout history.

To support the idea of online ads as billboard-like, Millward Brown has made data available through Warc surrounding 8,000 online campaigns from their Brand Lift Insight study.


Subjects: Digital, Advertising

05 June 2015 15:25

Take stock of advertising
Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals
Faris Yakob

A few days ago, the stock price of an advertising holding company (full disclosure: one I used to work for, and of which I still hold some stock) dropped dramatically. Usually stock prices move a few percentage points, but this stock dropped about 32% in a morning, erasing one third of the company's value in a couple of hours – the worst one-day stock performance since October 2001. (It later regained a couple of points.) That morning, the company announced that it was under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and that the CEO was returning $8.5m to the company for improperly expensed items. On top of a quarterly loss, this alleged breach of fiduciary duty shook investors, who then sold a load of stock, which caused the drop in stock price.

This got me thinking, and not just about my investment decisions. The value of stocks is not the same thing as the price of stocks – they are different measures calculated by different methods. This disparity is at the heart of stock market investing. The value of a stock is calculated by fundamentals of the business – including the value of the brand – and the price is whatever the stock is changing hands for. These are often similar, but not always, and leveraging what appears to be underpriced stocks is what value investing is all about.

But the price can change dramatically because investors act emotionally, like any consumer. Stock prices respond to changes very rapidly compared with other financial measures which build over time, and they also build in future values – that is to say, the market responds to future growth of sales and profits, discounted for risk, by building that supposed growth into the stock price.


Subjects: Advertising

04 June 2015 16:45

Premium Publishers have reasons to be cheerful
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Sam Finlay, head of Digital and Custom Solutions at Time Inc. UK.

If there was one theme to emerge from my day at the Digital Media Strategies conference held last month it was that premium publishers are seemingly getting their swagger back, realising they hold real value in today's digital advertising ecosystem. The unique premise that there is no scarcity of supply in digital inventory is now being challenged more than ever as clients and agencies seek transparency, quality and engagement.

Watching sessions involving speakers from Enders, New York Times, Johnston Press, Taboola, Omnicom and Mashable left me with the impression that there are five strong reasons why premium publishers have good reason to be cheerful:

1. Trading automation: once feared for its impending crushing of ad yields, automated trading is quickly growing beyond performance campaigns and into branding. This is where premium publishers can offer the relevant environment with the trust and loyalty of its audience who have an affinity with their brand. Douglas McCabe, CEO of Enders, reiterated research from the AOP which showed advocacy, engagement and direct contact were far higher after seeing ads across original content sites than portals or social networks. If Automation efficiently delivers these benefits to a wider selection and greater volume of clients, then this can only be a good thing.


Subjects: Digital, Advertising

18 May 2015 10:51

Social ROI comes of age: Highlights from Warc Prize for Social Strategy shortlist
Posted by: Lena Roland, Knowledge Officer, Warc
Lena Roland

The Warc Prize for Social Strategy shortlist features 32 entries which Warc subscribers can view here. And what a shortlist! There are some great case studies that demonstrate excellent use of social/digital that drove solid business results. These cases mark a notable maturity in digital marketing, linking earned media to commercial impact.


Subjects: Awards, Marketing, Advertising

13 May 2015 11:50


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