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Digital media

Digital media covers general usage of online channels for marketing, including online display, search, online video, microsites and social media (separate in-depth pages are available on WARC for some of these). Emerging formats include virtual and augmented reality, and in-game advertising. While the rise of digital media has led to new real-time, targeted opportunities, there are concerns that they have led to a focus on short-term ‘activation’ at the expense of long-term brand-building.

Key Reading

Important papers from across the Warc database

Les Binet and Peter Field at how the use of digital channels of various kinds should be assessed. This paper builds on their previous IPA report, which found that emotional priming builds more profitable long-term effects and rational messaging is best for generating short-term sales.
This paper provides a best practice guide to boosting the return on investment of digital marketing.
What is digital media planning and how can marketers develop a successful digital campaign?
Stephen Rappaport's lessons learned from 197 digital metrics, 150 studies and 12 essays.
The developments in virtual and augmented reality that are offering new opportunities for emotional engagement.

Case Study

This case study explains how charities the Romanian Ornithological Society and Natura 2000 used a YouTube video and PR to raise awareness of Romanian hunting laws and get the law changed to protect birds.

Case Study

This case study explains how S7 Airlines, the Russian airline, used a video published on social media to increase international awareness of its brand and grow ticket sales.

Case Study

This case study shows how Ikea, a furniture brand, successfully launched its new catalogue by filming a renowned German literary critic reviewing it.

Case Study

This case study explains how PRODISS, a French union for people working in entertainment industries, used an event and social media campaign that built solidarity to encourage people to return to concerts after a terrorist attack in Paris.

Case Study

This case study explains how Sakker El Dekkene (Stop the Shop), a Lebanese NGO, used a stunt to encourage people to report corruption.

Case Study

This case study explains how The Sun, the British newspaper, successfully introduced charges for a previously free fantasy football platform by using influencers and social media ads.
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This article summarises the insights from a series of key papers addressing audience measurement, the quantifying of the number of people exposed to advertising across any given media; this includes radio listenership, TV viewing, newspaper and magazine readership, and traffic on websites.


This event report looks at research into the effectiveness of B2B digital marketing which reveals that businesses need to look beyond traditional methods.

Research Paper

This article shows that advertisers must understand the emotional needs of their consumers in real-life moments when brands become relevant, so they can cut through the clutter at times when consumers are most receptive to their messages.


This article provides marketers with information and guidance about how reach and frequency help brands identify the optimal advertising mix.


This event report looks at media agency GroupM’s move away from buying digital inventory on cost to focus on quality instead, in order to achieve better results.


This event report discusses how Keith Weed, CMO at Unilever, views brands that take a stand on issues and how he feels digital media buying needs to change.
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  1. Article

    This report looks at the trends and technologies that are set to become more important and relevant to marketers in 2017 including live video, VR and AR, web TV and chatbots.

  2. Article

    This article, taken from the Warc Toolkit 2017 report, discusses how to achieve marketing effectiveness in the digital age by striking the right balance between close targeting and mass reach, and between short- and long-term strategies.

  3. Article

    This article, taken from the Warc Toolkit 2017 report, explores how developments in virtual and augmented reality are offering new and increasingly viable ways for brands to emotionally engage with consumers.

  4. Article

    This article summarises Warc's Toolkit 2017, a guide to six key challenges for brands in the coming year.

  5. Article

    This report discusses Marketing in the Digital Age, a new work looking into the causes of marketing effectiveness from Les Binet and Peter Field.

  6. Article

    This article provides marketers with information and guidance about combining TV and digital media strategies.

View everything on this topic

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