We’re getting ready to launch Toolkit 2017, our guide to six trends we think will have an impact on marketing in the year ahead.
This will be the sixth year we have run a Toolkit. The report, which we’ll be running once again in association with Deloitte Digital, draws on Warc’s best practice papers, articles, case studies and research to pull out some key lessons for marketers.
So how did we do with 2016’s predictions? Not badly, as it turns out.
Overall, the six themes we covered 12 months ago have been borne out by this year’s events…
1. Moment marketing
We said: "Many brands… are seeking to identify specific 'micro-moments' – brief opportunities to put the right message in front of the right consumer."
One great example is a campaign for Narellan Pools, an Australian pool-fitting company. Using in-depth data compiling and mining, its agency, Affinity, discovered a correlation between periods of two days or longer of higher-than-average temperatures and the increase in purchase queries. Using a weather-polling app to feed forecast and real-live temperature data into its buying platform, the brand was able to serve banners, search and social ads whenever those conditions were met. The campaign increased leads by 11%, and sales by 23%, whilst decreasing its media spend by 30%.
2. Generation swipe
We said: "The changing nature of childhood means that the habits of under-18s are becoming important to a wide range of product categories – fashion and tech, for example… The rise of 'microcelebrities', on YouTube in particular, is a key development for marketing to this age group."
What’s happened: The tech habits of Gen Z continue to be topics of great interest to marketers and researchers. A recent study by Trajectory in the UK concluded that more than 70% of this group watch two hours of YouTube content every day; it also predicted a continued rise in eSports. Currently worth $463m, by 2019, eSports is predicted to be worth $1072m. Twitch.tv, one of the most popular destination sites for eSports fans, currently attracts 100 million unique viewers a month.
More generally, brands are looking to adapt to changes in the youth audience. Barbie, the iconic doll brand owned by Mattel, has transformed its product range and marketing strategy to reflect its diverse audience around the world. By releasing a new product range spanning a range of heights, body shapes, eye colours and skin tones, the brand achieved renewed relevance to mothers and daughters.
3. The digital backlash
We said: "As digital adspend grows, client-side marketers are becoming increasingly concerned about issues such as viewability and ad fraud. These concerns are being compounded, some argue, by lack of consistency and transparency in the highly competitive ad tech space."
What’s happened: In August Sir Martin Sorrell declared: "Some clients are looking at whether they have over-invested in some new media alternatives." The reason is the growing need for improved metrics for digital marketing. With digital representing 30% of media spend, CFOs, procurement officers and media auditors are looking for better measurement tools. Facebook’s revelation it had been overestimating average video viewing times led to more calls for third-party verification of digital measurement.
Viewability and fraud remain key issues, and are being worked on by industry associations such as the IAB. Ad tech remains an opaque landscape - Bob Liodice, President/CEO of the US Association for National Advertisers, recently called on marketers to help simplify an "unintelligible" digital media supply chain which is so dense that only 40 to 50 cents of every digital dollar actually reaches the consumer.
4. The video revolution
We said: "As the number of video properties and formats rises, brand strategies in this space must evolve at similar speed. YouTube's dominance is coming under pressure from Facebook, while services like Vine, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat all demand bespoke solutions."
What’s happened: Social video is booming. One Forrester report predicted that worldwide advertising spend on mobile video would grow at a 28% CAGR in the next five years, with the main beneficiaries being the social platforms with audience scale, such as Facebook and WeChat.
A 2016 UK study by the Content Marketing Association found that 58% of marketers planned to increase the proportion of their budgets going to video content in the next 12 months; nearly a third were planning for an increase of up to 50%.
In the US, meanwhile, one study found two-thirds of US marketers regard social media platforms as the most important partners in any digital video campaign. The survey found client-side marketers preferred social platforms such as Facebook or Snapchat (65%) to video platforms like YouTube or Vevo (55%).
5. Data-driven creativity
We said: "The emerging partnership of data analysis and creative thinking is taking a number of forms. Smart analysis of data is bringing better insights around which to build creative work, including behaviour-based segmentation. Programmatic buying allows brand-building creative to be tailored to audiences at scale. Campaigns or platforms are being built around real-time data feeds. And campaigns can be tested in real life quickly, allowing optimisation."
What’s happened: All of the above! There is now a growing body of ‘best practice’ examples of using data-powered creative, including the much-garlanded campaign from The Economist, which recently picked up a Gold at the IPA Effectiveness Awards. In the IPA paper, Mark Cripps, EVP, Brand and Digital Marketing at The Economist, advised others to "use creative to unlock the power of the machine. We tested machine-generated, dynamic creative - and it was consistently and significantly outperformed by crafted communications. But we needed a lot of executions. Creating the volume of work we needed wouldn't work with traditional processes."
The various uses of data to deliver powerful creativity was included in Warc’s Connection Strategy Report, and the shortlist of the Data category of the Warc Media Awards includes great examples from around the world.
6. New thinking in attribution
We said: "Although the emerging slate of attribution tools holds rich promise, there are many hurdles to overcome – from difficulties in identifying mobile users, constant change and the residual force of legacy thinking. This will be an area of experimentation and test-and-learn for many brands."
What’s happened: This remains very much an area of test-and-learn – particularly when it comes to developing attribution models that can feed straight back into campaign planning, or even optimise work mid-campaign. An interesting example comes from Aviva in the UK, which previously invested in econometric modelling once every six months. It has experimented with machine learning to create algorithmic attribution modelling that could be automatically hooked up to ad buying systems.
Hopefully we’ll have a similar result with our Toolkit 2017 report – check back in early December to see what trends we’re looking at this year. And if you’re in London, you can sign up for our launch event.