All Posts By

James Murphy

female shop assistant holding open sign

Business reopening? How to be reassuring…

By | Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog

I’ve just bought a carpet. If you’d told me in January when we moved house that I’d have to make an appointment to visit Tapi Carpets, would be met by a lady in medical gloves wearing a full face visor, and be asked to sanitise my hands before so much as flipping through the shag, I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s just what happened, and you know what, it didn’t feel as strange as I thought it would – we just got on with it. A few jokes about the store never being cleaner… “just imagine the germs that were on credit card terminals before – yuck!”… and we were done.

As I walked home, I started to think about the reason it didn’t feel that odd or unwelcoming. Obviously, we’re a few months into this now, so we kind of know that when we buy products or services it’s probably not going to be conducted how it was prior to COVID-19. However, I think the main reason it wasn’t completely weird was because Tapi did a great job in preparing me for the experience.

From the phone call booking the appointment, to the email setting out what to expect, everything was reassuring. We were told we’d be the only people in the store, that their staff “may look a little strange” in PPE, and that the credit card machine would be sanitised with “fluid alcohol or a bleach solution after each use”. This was their first day back open since the government closed all non-essential shops, and they nailed it.

The UK is nervous 

As someone not in a high-risk group, I’m more comfortable than many – we’ve already booked a holiday; I’d be fine getting on a plane in the next couple of months. In short, I’m not representative of the UK. According to a YouGov poll in April 2020, just 32% of us would feel comfortable going back into a pub or restaurant and only around half of adults would be happy to go back into a clothing store (54% men, 42% women). Given these findings, how businesses communicate reassurance is going to be key to attracting physical customers back.

Crafting comforting copy

We’re currently working on many campaigns which include reassuring copy – from a developer offering socially distanced show home viewings, to a university explaining why joining a virtual open day will be just as good as being there in person. Here’s three things to think about when writing re-opening copy:

1.     Be upfront. Don’t pretend that COVID-19 hasn’t changed things – we all know it has. Instead talk honestly about the changes you’ve had to make for the benefit of both your staff and customers

2.     Be detailed. Long form copy gives you the freedom to explain exactly how things will work. Unexpected surprises will unnerve those who are already anxious

3.     Be upbeat. It’s a positive that you’re able to serve your customers. Don’t focus on the negatives. Tapi told me about the “success” of their opening trial and some great reopening offers, not that I might have to wait for an appointment and can no longer just turn up to their stores

If you’ve missed my previous blog posts on brand content in the age of COVID-19, you can find them here

Family with two kids in masks in airport

Pitching for tourists: How and when to market post COVID-19 travel

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

Unquestionably, travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors since COVID-19 hit. New data from Pubmatic has revealed a 96% drop in ad spend from the first week of March to the second week of April, as country after country locked down, and airlines pulled flights.

As we hurtle towards June, we’re starting to see some green shoots, as thankfully infection rates decline across Europe. Flights are once again being scheduled, with British Airways predicting “a meaningful return” to the sky from July.    

The importance of tourism

Many countries who are heavily reliant on tourism, such as Spain and Italy (around 12 – 15% of GDP), already have plans to bring visitors back as soon as possible. Sicily announced that it will discount plane tickets and pay for every third night in hotels in an effort to lure back tourists. Spain’s tourism minister has said they hope to welcome foreign tourists back by the end of June.

After the banking crisis in which the country was badly hit, Iceland turned to tourism, which now accounts for 9% of GDP.  The country is already preparing for tourists in June who will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Reykjavik airport.

In Britain, the focus has turned to domestic tourism to save the summer season. Visit Britain have proposed an extra bank holiday later this year to help businesses who were closed during the first stage of lockdown. Domestic tourism alone is worth £80 billion a year to the UK economy.

Advertising when?

The Irish Examiner recently reported that Tourism Ireland are tendering for a COVID-19 research programme. It’s essentially a piece of work designed to tell them when to begin marketing Ireland as a tourist destination again.

This week, Visit Scotland reported “a slow but steady return to traffic on visitscotland.com and an upturn in long lead (90+days) flight bookings.

Given the long consideration phase when booking a holiday (see our blog on Why long form content is key to influencing travellers) and strong signs that we’re moving to a more optimistic phase (see Why your brand content should now be optimistic), perhaps that time should be now?

Hitting the right notes

Getting the tone right in the current climate will be key – I’ve already seen some great campaigns including Visit Switzerland’s activity-packed “Dream now, travel later”…

Visit Britain have grouped a selection of quintessentially British content together, creating a hub containing everything from recipes you can make at home, to 360 degree videos, and articles on binge-worthy British TV shows.

Finally, Travel Saint Lucia have been hosting live streams twice a week, showcasing activities from kite surfing to live island sunsets. There’s also been interactive content you can join in with, from cooking classes to yoga classes with a stunning backdrop!

Remaining front of mind

All these campaigns have one thing in common – encouraging us to think ahead to when we can travel again. Those that remain front of mind will benefit the most when people start booking in serious numbers again.

Let us help you generate some wanderlust ahead of re-opening. Contact us today to see how we create and distribute inspiring on-brand travel content that performs.

 

Family seaside holiday

Why your brand content should now be optimistic

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog

I’ve just booked a holiday for the first week of January. Will it happen? Probably, but there is of course a chance that it won’t.  Does that matter? No, it’s fully refundable. Like many, I need something to look forward to. It seems I’m not the only one – social platform Pinterest has just released some interesting stats on where they believe consumer sentiment is right now.

Four phases based on consumer trends

Pinterest have split their timeframe into 4 parts:

Phase 1: Triage + Information (First 21 days)
Phase 2: Empathy + Relevance (Days 7-45)
Phase 3: Escapism + Optimism (Days 45-120)
Phase 4: Recovery + Rebound (-10 days from quarantine lift onward)

In the first few weeks of lockdown searches centred around recipes and things for kids to do. These have now levelled off in line with phase 3 according to the platform, with planning for the future now growing strongly. Thoughts have once again tuned to categories such as travel and wedding plans.

This mirrors what we’ve seen across our own network with engagement across food, home and garden performing exceptionally well during April and education campaigns for September university courses taking off during the past few weeks, as students plan their future.

The research phase lengthens

Whilst we may be entering a more optimistic phase, one thing that has changed is how we research potential purchases. New research from Bauer Media found that 32% of consumers now take longer to look up and consider a product or service than they did pre-lockdown. Notable category finds were that:

“59% spend longer when buying kitchen equipment, and 52% spend longer when purchasing entertainment electronics”

Cars, houses and holidays

We know big ticket items have a far longer funnel even in more normal times. As we explored in a previous travel blog, research from Expedia shows that in the 45 days before making a purchase, British consumers visit websites an average of 121 times!

The journey to purchasing a car typically lasts around 24 weeks according to Facebook research. 13 weeks of that time is spent researching and building knowledge online through content before a potential customer even sets foot inside a dealership.

Buying a new home can involve an even longer consideration period (16 months), with online research lasting 7 months before an active search begins according to the digital house hunt (Google).

Planning content ahead of trends 

Given that the research and consideration phase has more likely lengthened during lockdown, it makes sense to be in market with useful content to aid the buying journey now, ahead of expecting consumers to be comfortable with booking travel / visiting a dealership / viewing a show home.

Even if people aren’t ready to commit to booking the trip of a lifetime right now, they have almost certainly started the process. Producing and distributing optimistic content now will sow the seeds for conversion when the time is right.

 

Up arrow

2019 full-year IAB UK Adspend results: Unstoppable smartphones

By | Ad Spend, main blog

So, the full-year numbers are in – the UK’s digital advertising market is up 15.4% YOY and was worth an incredible £15.69bn in 2019.

We submit our spend numbers to PwC twice a year, along with 57 other participants, including all the major publishing and adtech companies.

The key takeaways this year are:

  • Smartphones account for almost all growth – up 26.7% YOY
  • Over half of all digital advertising (56%) is delivered on smartphones
  • Video remains the largest display format – making up 46%
  • Sponsored content spend increased 7% YOY
  • 95% of native advertising on smartphone appeared in-feed

Content formats

From a content perspective, both native and sponsored content registered increases in spend (up 9 and 7%) but it was video formats that experienced the majority of growth (34%) thanks to smartphones. In fact, smartphone video spend has doubled in two years thanks to the availability of 4G and faster handsets.

Video and social formats

Pre-mid-post roll video was overtaken by outstream in 2017 due to the scale offered by the format – it now makes up 62% (growing by £400m YOY) of all video spend including social. Talking of social – it now accounts for 23% of all digital adspend, with 25% growth YOY.

What the future holds

This year’s report is obviously released against the backdrop of COVID-19 but includes long-term Brexit uncertainty. Pre-COVID, GroupM’s 2020 forecast was for a 11.1% increase in online spend, nearly double the general ad market. As print and OOH suffer during the current lockdown, it remains to be seen if digital can pick up some of the slack until we return to some semblance of normality.

You can discover more & download the full report at https://iabuk.com/adspend

 

corona virus covid-19

Brand content in the age of COVID-19

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog

We’re now several weeks in to living life as we’ve never known it before. Coronavirus has changed everyone’s plans, from that city break that never happened, to multimillion-pound ad campaigns. But in times of crisis there are opportunities for some brands, as consumers take comfort in certain products and look for leadership from companies they trust.

Let’s split this into three parts: who consumers want to be advertising, who is advertising and who is succeeding in advertising during these uncertain times. And when I say advertising, what I mean is communicating. If you’ve never read Jeremy Bullmore’s definition of “What Is Advertising” – perhaps now is a good time as it’s a great read – his 1976 definition basically stands true today:

‘Any paid-for communication intended to inform and/or influence one or more people.’

Who do the public want to hear from?

So, let’s start with who consumers want to be advertising. Rather than make the bold assumption that now is not the time to be communicating, selling, or even discussing coronavirus, Opinium asked the British public just that.

The first surprising finding was that majority or those surveyed wanted to hear the same amount or, in certain sectors, more from brands – it wasn’t deemed to be a time to go dark by most. Perhaps less surprising were the sectors people wanted to hear more from:

Healthcare and pharma – 33% wanted to hear more
Supermarkets – 33% wanted to hear more
Food and drink – 28% wanted to hear more
Retailers – 21% wanted to hear more
Household goods – 20% wanted to hear more

When looking at who should be fronting the messaging, the response, without question, was those in the front line, with influencers and celebrities coming bottom. Practical, authentic information is in demand during a time of crisis. A 12 market brand trust report from Edelman found that brands should sell solutions…

84% percent of respondents said they want brand advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges.”

Who’s active right now

Aside from the Government, the most active sectors according to Winmo have been FMCG (comfort food in particular), home improvement (homes & garden) and entertainment (subscription streaming services, toys, computer games). There’s also been a big shift in channels with OOH and print budgets shifting online. From our own perspective, we’ve seen incredible engagement with home and garden content as people spend every day at home looking at all the jobs they’ve put off!

Who’s succeeding

Brands seen to be adding value by directly helping with the crisis are generating plenty of brand love online – from Barbour manufacturing scrubs, to Tesco donating millions to food banks, but there’s also plenty of space for those brands helping the public maintain some sense of normativity – Nike, for example, has made it’s training club app free of charge.

We’re currently helping brands react to the new “new” by using long form content to communicate information. Our tips on how to communicate in a crisis are here, or feel free to get in touch to see how we can help you distribute brand content across premium publisher’s here.

 

Reading a morning newspaper

Communicating in a crisis

By | main blog

Well, that was a strange week. We’ve all been working from home for the past two weeks as thankfully we were already set up to work remotely, but this week has been the first under lockdown, with all our partners and clients “WFH”.

On the face of it, nothing has changed – many campaigns are still running, reporting and optimising continues; new content is being created – but in reality, everything has changed. Campaigns have been pulled; campaigns have been tweaked in record time to adjust to the new “new” – tactical content has been created in a flash. Here’s my thoughts on how to communicate in these difficult times:

Don’t run what doesn’t need to be run. There are umpteen articles on the danger of brands turning silent at the moment, but frankly if you’re not selling hamburgers right now, why would you advertise? Use the time and save the budget to plan something spectacular for your return. “Did you miss us?” Expect plenty of that narrative from big brands in hopefully the not too near distant future.

Do run if you are still open for business but adapt. We’ve re-versioned several live campaigns this week to switch CTA’s to different ecommerce partners or send traffic to virtual tours. Some budgets have understandably shifted to digital in the past week as fewer people see OOH or are unable to buy / be given print.

Be tactical. Whilst this is a tough time for everyone there are opportunities / needs for certain sectors. Sales of frozen food and gym equipment are booming. Banks and the government need to communicate often complicated messaging. People have more time to consume content, so perhaps use this time wisely to feed the top of the funnel with longer form brand content for awareness and activate DR once restrictions lift?

Be purposeful. Chances are, if you are serving your customers right now, you’re performing some kind of service. Perhaps now is a good time to communicate how you are adapting your products or services for the benefit of consumers.

Tell your story. In times of crisis there’s often uplifting stories too. Is there some positive news you could tell? From the couple who got engaged in an Iceland Supermarket to breweries producing hand sanitiser, there’s some wonderful stories that have come out of this as we all pull together.

Above all, stay at home, stay safe and prepare for making up for lost time. If you’d like help with something tactical, we can help turn campaigns around in a matter of hours – please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.

 

Hands showing signs

How to produce brand content that performs in 2020

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, main blog

January, by its very nature, often allows for a period of reflection. The madness of Q4 has passed and it seems like an opportune moment to take a look back at what worked well in 2019 and do more of the good stuff in 2020. With that in mind, I’ve been revisiting some of the most successful content we ran last year to see why it worked so well.

I’m going to keep this quite top line as we’re planning more regular sector specific pieces throughout the year (health, property, fashion, food & drink) – if you missed our recent travel content tips, you can find them here.

So, in no particular order, here’s some recommendations for your future brand content campaign:

Be authentic

We’ve been running multiple articles for a leading London hotel over the past 12 months. Whilst London recommendation pieces have worked well (arts, restaurants, events), the most powerful theme was actually under our noses – the hotel itself. Writing about the history of this iconic hotel and how you can feel it in the building proved to not only to be the most successful content in terms of engagement but also CTAs. The audience were keen to discover how they could buy into the magic.

Be useful

Campaigns that provide useful information based on the specialism of the brand continue to perform exceptionally well. Examples include an eye drops brand explaining how you can tell if you’ve dry eyes via a blink test, a housebuilder detailing exactly how Help To Buy works and a children’s food company with top tips for teething toddlers. If you’ve earned the right to talk expertly about a subject, use it for all its worth!

Be inspiring

It’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re in the market to sell something, whether that be the wider brand or an individual product. Think about how the content you are creating gives the reader inspiration to do something, whether that be create a spectacular cheeseboard for Christmas, start a new university course, or go and explore a new country. Three very different outcomes, but all successful this past December.

Computer keyboardBe data driven

Whilst the creative process is unlikely to be replaced by AI anytime soon, a good content strategy should make use of the wealth of amazing insights we can now report on. For several brands this year, we’ve tested advertorial content alongside softer, less product led content. Each article produced different outcomes, but broadly we found that advertorial content produced better CTAs, with the content marketing style pieces producing better CTRs. Map these to your business goals to produce better outcomes going forward.

Finally, if you do all these things, don’t be ashamed that you’ve something to sell in return – It’s what the value exchange is all about!

Contact us today to discover how we can help you create meaningful engagement with your target audience.

 

World Travel

Why long form content is key to influencing travellers

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Content, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

2019 has been turbulent for the travel industry. 17 airlines have gone bust so far this year including heritage brand (and high street travel agent) Thomas Cook. As a parliamentary enquiry examines the reasons behind the company’s collapse, it’s clear there were multiple factors – from a botched merger to a pile of debt.

However, one reason that can’t be overlooked is changing consumer habits. According to trade body ABTA, only one in seven of us booked our holiday with a high street travel agent last year, and of those people it tended to be older and less wealthy consumers.

For most of us, both the starting and end points of planning and booking a holiday is now online, with many of us choosing to be our own travel agent, purchasing our flights and accommodation separately. But this user journey is far from simple – research from Expedia shows that in the 45 days before making a purchase, British travel consumers visit travel sites an average of 121 times!

Family seaside holiday

Decisions, decisions!

Perhaps the most surprising finding from the same report is that:

“More than half of British online travel shoppers begin their research with multiple destinations in mind — 54% are still considering multiple destinations when they begin their travel booking journey”

So, with nearly half of all consumers open minded regarding destinations, the opportunity for tourist boards, hotels, airlines and OTE’s (Online travel agents) has never been greater – with three quarters of the 50 million of us online in the UK engaging specifically with travel content.

January blues

As we approach peak booking period in the UK, when around 5 million brits secure their getaway each January, now is the time to inspire potential bookers and get front of mind. The way to do that? Inspirational long form content. Indeed, 65% of us are influenced by brand content while planning their trip according to travelagentcentral.com

Cruise Holiday Sunshine

So, what works?

We’ve run hundreds of travel campaigns over the past few years for hotels, airlines, train operators, cruise lines, OTE’s and tourist boards. Here’s three reoccurring content ideas that I’ve noticed driving the best engagement for our clients:

Think ahead – as summer draws to a close, minds turn towards Christmas markets. As the cold dark nights of January hit us hard, thoughts turn towards sunshine and beaches. There’s a good reason the BBC schedule Caribbean detective drama Death in Paradise each January! Use these themes in both article copy and headlines to connect with your audience.

Specialist Themes. Run multiple articles aimed at different interest groups. Think foodies, adventure travellers, solo travellers and even train geeks. Some of the best performing content we’ve run has targeted specialist interest groups, rather than just a broad-brush approach to a destination or country. You genuinely wouldn’t believe how many people love trains…

Build an itinerary. Successful brand content usually includes one of two things – useful or interesting information (and hopefully both!). It’s what we call the value exchange between advertiser and audience. City breaks are now the nation’s favourite getaway, and by their very nature, tend to be for a long weekend. “48 hours in the city of your choice” is a fantastic format that hooks the reader and provides useful information.

For more insights into native travel campaigns or to book a campaign, please contact us

 

Why CTR doesn’t tell the whole story

By | main blog

This week, industry body for digital advertising, The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched a provocative campaign with the strapline “Don’t be a #clickhead”.

This slightly cheeky pun provoked mixed reactions in our office (mostly dependent on your sense of humour!) but was designed to draw attention to a pretty serious campaign on the effective measurement of digital advertising.

So why take away the CTR?

The main villain in this tale? The click through rate (CTR)! The bullet proof metric we’ve all become beholden to, but one that doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

From our perspective, True Native (publisher hosted brand content) has the ability to be optimised towards additional or different KPIs dependent on the campaign’s goals. Whilst reach is always going to be important, and CTR isn’t going away any time soon, should we not be optimising towards time spent with content rather than the initial CTR?

For some of our campaigns this is a core metric – pure engagement with content. For others, it might be CTAs (calls to action on the brand site) from the article. If we agree what the goal of the campaign is in advance of creating content and flighting, we’re going to get better results as both content and tech work in tandem.

Measuring multi-channel effectiveness

We know that long form publisher hosted brand content leads to an 11pt lift in unaided awareness, 18pt lift in online ad recall and a 13pt lift in purchase intent* but how does this fit in with your wider campaign across different media channels? How do you prove the value of each media as a touchpoint? As part of the campaign, The IAB have produced a practical Toolkit covering four key tools that brands should consider using in their measurement approach:

  • Brand Studies
  • Econometrics /Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM)
  • Attribution
  • Controlled Experiments

The value of content

Measuring the success of long-form content beyond initial engagement can fit into any of the above, but it’s important to consider that where attribution is used, content tends to be top to middle funnel activity. We’ve seen some great results where multi-touch attribution (page 11 of the IAB Toolkit) is used and content can be seen as the starting point in the customer journey (discovery) despite the final ad event being another channel.

You can download the toolkit at www.iabuk.com/measurement

* comScore / Nativo study

 

We’re now IAB Gold Standard certified

By | main blog

We’re delighted to announce that we have achieved the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Gold Standard certification.

Upon receiving the accreditation, Adam Rock, Managing Director said:

“We are proud to have achieved the standards set out by the IAB to attain Gold Standard certification.

It’s important to demonstrate that our industry is committed to ensuring the highest possible standards online as native advertising continues to grow in importance to brands, agencies and publishers.

The IAB have recognised that the industry needs to come together to combat ad fraud, ensure brand safety and improve the entire digital advertising user experience. Our non-interruptive formats on trusted publishers are testament to our support for the Gold Standard.”

Supporting better standards 

The accreditation process involved TAN Media implementing and supporting the ads.txt initiative, adherence to the Coalition for Better Advertising LEAN standards, and working with UK regulatory group JICWEBs towards attaining The Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) certification for brand safety.

Improving digital advertising 

The IAB Gold Standard has three aims – to reduce ad fraud, to improve the digital advertising experience, and to increase brand safety. The initiative was launched in October 2017 as part of the IAB’s commitment to raising standards in digital advertising and building a sustainable future for the industry.