LONDON: Digital-led advertising strategies, particularly those combining video and PR, are increasingly delivering business results for marketers, according to a study of the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions.

Warc's analysis of the 2015 Awards found the growing use of campaigns leading with digital media. What's more, digital-led strategies are overindexing among the shortlist and winners lists.

Of the shortlisted and winning entries, 60% used social media as a lead channel (versus 50% of the total pool of entries), while 44% used online video as a lead channel (versus 34% of the total pool of entries). Television was a lead channel for 48% (versus 40% in the total pool).

2015 marked the first year that a truly digital-led campaign won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions. The 'Live Test Series' campaign from Volvo Trucks involved a series of online films, culminating in 'The Epic Split', which featured Jean Claude van Damme. The campaign led to an increase in consideration and sales.

In the analysis, Tobias Nordstrom, Head of Planning for Forsman & Bodenfors (the agency behind 'Live Test Series') explained how the client had developed a strategy built around online video and PR.

The goal was to reach the web of influencers surrounding the purchasers of commercial trucks; although the target group was very niche, the strategy team concluded that a mainstream campaign was needed to have an impact on their preferences.

"We started off with the thought to use YouTube as our main media. Later on we learned that it's actually two main media – PR and YouTube – collaborating with each other. You need to get views on YouTube for the papers to start writing about it. Then when the papers start writing about it, views increase."

This is the fifth year Warc has produced an analysis of the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions. The channel mix has changed considerably over the past five years. The average number of media channels used in entries has increased from 5.2 channels in 2011 to 7.6 in 2015.

Social media, online video and PR have all seen significant growth: 85% of case studies used social media in the 2015 Lions compared with 51.9% in 2011; 64% of entries used public relations, and the same percentage used online video – in both cases more than double the 2011 figures.

Wendy Clark, President, Sparkling Brands & Strategic Marketing for Coca-Cola North America (and this year's Creative Effectiveness Jury President), commented that the widespread use of digital media means that campaigns need to show more than digital metrics to stand out in effectiveness competitions.

"We observed a dominance of social media statistics (views, impressions, etc.) as evidence of business impact in many submissions. In a digital world, increasingly these statistics are non-differentiating. They are, in fact, table stakes of what all work must accomplish as a baseline."

Data sourced from Warc