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TAN joins TAG – the ad industry’s global brand safety programme

By | Banner - Publishers, Brand Safety, main blog

At TAN, we’ve always realised the importance of brand safety. Given we work with long form sponsored content, delivered in trusted publisher environments, where our advertisers appear is of paramount importance.

We were one of the first members of the IAB’s Gold Standard which set out a range of industry practices designed to improve the digital advertising experience for the general public, while reducing ad fraud and increasing brand safety for advertisers.

To achieve our certification, we supported the ads.txt initiative, ensured our formats were in line with the Coalition for Better Advertising LEAN standards, and obtained our Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) certification for brand safety, audited by UK regulatory group JICWEBs.

JICWEBS merges with TAG

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), is the world’s leading programme to fight criminal activity and increase trust in the digital advertising industry. JICWEBS and TAG first joined forces in March 2017. Since then, the two organisations have aligned their programmes to further improve standards, avoid duplicative effort, and extend their global reach.

Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG said upon announcement of the merger: “From Manhattan to Manchester, Madrid to Macao, and Mumbai to Melbourne, every company in digital advertising can comply with TAG’s standards.”

“By bringing TAG and JICWEBS together, we are making it easier for every company in the supply chain to adopt the high standards necessary to protect themselves and their customers across the globe,” said Jules Kendrick, CEO of JICWEBS. “Rather than wading through an acronym soup of regional alternatives with differing standards, costs, and compliance requirements, companies can make sure they comply with one set of industry-wide certifications.”

TAN continues to improve the ad experience  

As a currently audited participant in JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Programme, TAN Media are now certified by TAG, which in itself will continue to form part of the IAB Gold Standard.

Upon receiving the new TAG Brand Safety Certified Seal, Adam Rock, Managing Director of TAN Media said:

“We are proud to have worked to make advertising better for both consumers and brands over the past few years. It’s important to demonstrate that our industry is committed to ensuring the highest possible standards of trust online. It’s fantastic to be part of a truly global initiative.”

Further Resources

For more information on the merger of JICWEBS and TAG please see here

For more on the standards required for the TAG seal please see here

For further information on the IAB Gold Standard please visit www.iabuk.com/goldstandard

 

internet video conference with friends

The language of now: Communicating during COVID

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

It there was a prize for the most hated phrase of the year, I’ll happily bet you a socially distanced pint that “The new normal” would walk any public vote. I think the level of hatred is justified for two reasons: 1) It’s overuse in absolutely everything, from B2B marketing, to signs in your local pub 2) It’s incredibly depressing – basically you’re saying what you are experiencing now (which is invariably worse than what went before) is here, without an end date, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Positivity matters

So, how do you express that things are different right now, but in a positive way that makes people want to engage, rather than resent?

We’ve been experimenting with the language used in many of our campaigns – emphasising the positives of now and avoiding the negatives. We’ve seen lifts in performance when thinking this way – from highlighting outside space in property headlines, to articles explaining the many reasons why you shouldn’t wait to start a university course – keeping it positive: what CAN you do right now, rather than what you can’t.

Looking forward, not back

Many recent campaigns have chosen to focus on what we’ve been missing these past few months. The now notorious Detol ads were positive in their tone, they just mistook some of the things we really cared for – turns out we didn’t really miss many features of office life! I’d also argue that we’re now at a point where copy should be looking forward, rather than back, at a period of time many of us would rather forget. Here’s a more forward-looking campaign running now for LNER:

LNER Advert - Dad with son at BBQ

They stray dangerously close to the NN with the use of the word normal, but this feels warm, rather than annoying. YES! I am ready for a BBQ with my Dad – great, something genuinely good to look forward to.

Christmas is coming

There’s no doubt Christmas is going to look quite different this year and brands are going to have to negotiate a tight line between celebration, and the realisation that we are still very much in the middle of a global pandemic. When thinking about Christmas 2020 content, here’s three things to consider:

1. Look forward, not back. People are understandably fed up

2. Think about what people want right now. Family trumps consumerism – research from Havas found that nearly half of all shoppers it surveyed in the UK cared less about Black Friday this year

3. How can your product or service make someone’s life better? Give reasons to be optimistic.

Here’s to looking forward to all the good stuff!

People Shopping Online

Why digital is so resilient in tough times

By | Ad Spend, main blog

As the lockdown eases, advertisers who went dark during Q2 are beginning to return, but what does the future hold? Is there pent up demand? Will those who shifted budgets to digital return to linear media?

There’s no doubt Q2 will be one to remember – pretty much every media owner dependent on advertising took a big hit. The New York Times revealed a 55% drop in ad revenue in May. The Advertising Association is forecasting a 16.7% decline in UK adspend year on year. IPG’s MAGNA predicts that print, radio and OOH will see 20-30% declines in 2020.

Linear media falls worse than the financial crisis

UK Print media is likely to suffer the most according to MAGNA (-28%) – physical newspaper sales were already in freefall and some freesheets are in trouble as there’s still an absence of commuters to pick up their product.

There’s a similar storm brewing for OOH. This week (25th June) – CityMapper’s CMI index shows only 26% of London moving compared to a usual week. Whilst out-of-home is expected to recover over the next few months, it’s unlikely to return to pre-lockdown levels while many companies continue to work from home.

TV has been popular with smaller advertisers during lockdown as costs have tumbled. One of the great ironies for commercial TV was that that while they achieved record audiences, those who wanted to advertise were thin on the ground. MAGNA expects TV to decline 17% YOY, but a strong Q4 could recover some loses.

Resilient Digital

And so, to digital. The good news for those of us working in online advertising is that most forecasters see the sector as by far the most resilient. IAB Europe recently reported that:

“…digital is looking to be the least affected advertising media, predicting a decline by -5.5% in 2020 in Europe compared to a stronger contraction (-21.3%) for other media.”

From a UK perspective, MAGNA have been even more bullish, predicting only a 3% contraction in UK digital ad sales due to the speed of execution – campaigns that were dialled down, can be dialled up just a quickly – and partly due the growth in ecommerce during the lockdown.

It’s certainly noticeable that FMCG brands who traditionally sold only through retailers have created online DTC channels. Want some Ben & Jerry’s? Go to their website as they now deliver to your door!

Sponsored Content formats

The reoccurring theme we’ve heard from our clients during lockdown is that there’s a great deal more to communicate post-Covid. From the new way brands are having to conduct business, to how they plan to help their customers navigate these unusual times, long form content can help guide consumers. As the UK unlocks, communication will be the key to successful business, and that communication is likely to be online.

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.

 

Shopping on computer

E-commerce is booming: How business is transitioning online

By | Banner - Advertisers, main blog

Five weeks in, the impact of COVID-19 has already had a major impact on our buying habits as brands shift to online sales. Supermarket supply chains have largely recovered after initial panic buying and consumers have moved on – purchasing items to ease the burden of the lockdown.

At TAN, we reacted quickly, helping clients to repurpose campaigns that had a bricks and mortar focus by changing CTAs to e-commerce channels as retailers were forced to close their doors.

Unsurprisingly, online sales are booming with many dipping their toe in the water for the first time – non-food sales increased 18.8% during March compared to 2.5% last year. MediaCom’s Lockdown Diaries reported that there are:

“…many new shoppers online… March was a record month for online penetration. Annual penetration increased by 0.5%, an incremental 140,000 households. New online shoppers are older, have lower incomes and are more regional – demonstrating a broadening of appeal.”

What’s hot right now

While some retailers without an online presence are facing a challenging time, others are experiencing a mini boom. The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, revealed sectors that have experienced a big bounce as consumers adapt to the lockdown:

Beauty – 36%+
Electricals – 40%+
Garden – 90%+

Another interesting finding, and something that mirrors our own experience of pivoting campaigns towards online channels, is that:

“…multichannel retailers outperformed their online only counterparts for the first time since April 2019”.

As traditional retailers throw additional resources at their online channels it’s been interesting to see how brands have adapted to their high street doors being closed. Dixons Carphone’s shares jumped this week after the group revealed that UK and ROI online sales increased 166% in the five weeks to April 25th as consumers purchased laptops and other tech for lockdown living.

Born Online

Online only brands were naturally already set up for the situation we now find ourselves in. Whilst fashion has been one of the hardest hit sectors, Boohoo has reported a year-on-year rise in sales during April. A Boohoo spokesperson told the BBC:

“Sales of tops have gone up in particular, with everyone wanting to look smart on Zoom calls.”

Bring on the booze

Other notable success stories include those selling alcohol – the sector was up 22% in March (Kantar) with Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd having to temporally stop taking online orders after its biggest day of digital sales. If a 300-year-old business can adapt, then hopefully other more traditional retailers can follow suit.

Preparing for reopening 

Obviously not every business can transition to pure online sales. Larger purchases, such as buying a new car or home, require multiple touch points usually ending with a physical viewing in person.

Let’s look at a car purchase journey. Detailed Google research conducted over a period of months on one user revealed that she had over 900 digital engagements before committing to the purchase.

With that in mind, assuming lockdown restrictions are eased, even over a period of months, now is the time to build awareness in the upper funnel as consumers spend more time online ahead of physical visits. Doing the brand and prospecting work now will ensure you are ahead of the game when reopening commences.

 

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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.

 

Couple of man and woman sitting back to back and reading

Clearing 2020 – how to attract home students

By | Banner - Content Creation, main blog, Uncategorized

The government announced today that students will be receiving their A Level results on 13th August, meaning that universities and their media agencies now have a firm date in the diary to start planning this year’s clearing campaigns.

Despite not sitting exams – 9 out of 10 students say they are continuing their application as planned according to a recent Ucas and YouthSight study. Ucas said:

“Overall applicant behaviour in the 2020 cycle is currently consistent with previous cycles, with the expected number of new applicants each week, and no significant moves to change firm choices or providers, or to defer entry, so far.”

Student concerns

It’s obviously been an unusual year, with grades decided by teacher’s assessments and a wait to discover when results will be announced. As such, the same survey found that:

“Over half (51%) of respondents feel supported at the moment, but want more help. While 37% said felt fully supported now, this is higher amongst white applicants (40%) and lower amongst BAME applicants (29%).”

How content can help

One way universities can help is by producing and distributing useful content that addresses head-on their potential student’s concerns. Some of the best performing articles we’ve run for universities have done just that:

Practical guides to student finance
Articles addressing how to socialise at university
How clearing works and is it for you?
How to balance life with studying
What to expect from your first week

As well as helping with practical advice, you’ve also the chance to explain how your university is best placed to support potential students, remaining front of mind during the selection process.

Who’s your audience?

It’s also a concerning time for UK universities, with overseas students who account for a third of all tuition fees, likely to arrive in far fewer numbers this academic year.

Last year a record number of students found a course through clearing. This, combined with a rush to recruit home students, is likely to make this year’s clearing process even more competitive and important for institutions. 

Why now is the time for engagement online

As we enter the second phase of lockdown, we’ve seen engagement rates increase across our network of premium publishers as screen time increases. With other channels, notably OOH and print are challenged at this time, we’re able to help repurpose assets quickly to get campaigns away while attention time is high. Contact us today to see how we can help you plan a tactical campaign.