Ineffectual ideas shackle agencies

Well done Thinkbox and Lara O’Reilly for highlighting the absolute necessity for brand marketers to stop trying to use outdated, ineffectual and pointless methods of creative prediction that shackle their agencies to the ‘mast of mediocrity’ and deprive their shareholders of substantial additional value.


Allegedly fame, emotion and likeability are the keys to unlocking hidden value for brands. Amazing and revelatory surely? Actually, no. We’ve known it for years – widely researched by some of the finest minds focused on the statistical measurement of advertising effectiveness. Luminaries such as Field, Binet, Ehrenberg and du Plessis have proved that inspiring creative work outperforms rational communications on every level by a margin of 10:1. So why haven’t we changed?

There are two possible reasons: First, over 90 per cent of our clients are superbly adept at spreadsheets and numerical reasoning but nervous about trusting gut instincts when it comes to creative stimulus, so use research to shore-up decisions.

Second, most agency account managers have been allowed to believe that saying ‘yes’ is infinitely more valuable in the short term than questioning a client’s decision-making process. I include a large swathe of planners in this, who have forgotten their role is to help clients make better long-term decisions based on their business, marketing and brand objectives rather than to appear smart at interpreting spurious creative research.

So I implore agencies (and clients) to be confident about delivering what we know works: emotional-based creativity. Let’s work together to deliver sustainable, significant business advantage by enjoying and celebrating what we do best and stop perpetuating the myths and ineffectual processes of the past.

Mark Hancock, head of strategy, Lida

2013 will give birth to the digital database marketer

Your article on data quality raised interesting perspectives on how different sectors utilise data to construct a ‘single customer view’. There is little doubt that the explosion in internet-connected devices and the diverse channels through which customers interact with brands, has brought forth a concept which analysts have been preaching to us for a while.

This is the year of omni-channel marketing, giving birth to the creation of the digital database marketer. This new breed will be able to marry the disciplines of web analytics and database marketing and combine the different techniques, data types and mind-sets so that organisations can generate more value from their analytics and marketing teams.

This will enable more technology, similar to AdSmart to be introduced as more organisations achieve the capability of piecing together the puzzle of the individual customer. Yet whatever the form of customer engagement, organisations must be able to understand the individual as one person across all customer touch-points, in order to avoid faux pas such as offering different prices on different devices, due to being recognised as an existing customer on one device and not on another.

Brands must have access to highly granular individual-level data, and have the analytic capability that allows them to link together all devices and histories of interaction into a single customer view.

Is only omni-channel customer insight enough? No. For this insight to be fully capitalised, it must also be available in real-time. Only with real-time data can organisations drive the ultimate in customer engagement; true real-time one-to-one personalisation via websites, emails and other digital channels.

Katharine Hulls, VP marketing, Celebrus Technologies

Charity begins with data

I read with interest your interview with Romain Bertrand at Just Giving and would like to set the record straight.

Mr Bertrand’s stand-out comment regarding competitors: “there were a lot of statements…to get rid of Just Giving” is simply untrue.

 Virgin Money Giving’s remit is only to play a part in growing the overall online fundraising market. We have never campaigned against Just Giving, only sought to drive the giving market and the amount of money that goes to charities through our low charging structure and not for profit status. For example, a £10 donation through Just Giving equals £11.74 with Gift Aid. Through Virgin Money Giving, a £10 donation equals £12.15 with Gift Aid applied. We charge 2 per cent on the net amount donated and Just Giving charge up to 5 per cent on the gross amount donated, ie including Gift Aid.

Regarding its data story: Just Giving has improved its data and reporting but Virgin Money Giving’s has been good since we launched in 2009. We invested a lot of time and money at launch to have a superior reporting system – we give all charities access to online data for free so that they can contact and market to supporters. The challenge is encouraging, supporting and training charities to allow them to make more use of the data, those that do have had great results. 

Scott Mowbray, head of PR, Virgin Money

Message in a venue

Your article on alternative venue uses highlights a great way of attracting audiences to what otherwise could be viewed as yet more standard industry events. But it is easy to lose sight of the messaging, themes and feel of an event when choosing a space. An event communicates a brand’s value and so the venue needs to be aligned with this goal. If it isn’t, then such communication is likely to come across confused at best and plain wrong at worst.

Make sure what is being communicated is matched by the surroundings.

Dina Green, managing director, inVNT

Retailers must buck up ideas

At a time when high street retailers are seeking innovative ways to drive footfall and coupon redemption is growing, it is surprising that many retailers cannot redeem digital coupons.

Digital coupons represent an effective way to drive sales, but at present the process of redemption in-store is not as simple as it should be. For example, for coupons stored on a mobile device, there is no standard for transactions at the till or any other method of transferring coupon data efficiently to the electronic point of sale system. There are many different systems and this needs to be consolidated to provide greater clarity for retailers. To address this, retailers need to act fast and work with solution providers to agree a standard that can be used by the industry.

Consumers need to have a choice in format. While mobile coupons tap into the trend towards increased smart phone usage, many prefer options such as loyalty card, print at home or mass printed coupons. For retailers to feel the benefit, all forms of coupons need to be securely redeemable at the till.

Anke Puscher, director business development Europe, Valassis

Age-old problem

As you point out, the key learning for smart retailers is that online and offline channels are not mutually exclusive and that data linkage is key to creating a successful multichannel retail strategy. However, I would like to provide additional thoughts about how changing UK demographics will effect shopping behaviour further.

UK consumers are getting older and savvy in scouting out deals, as we recorded in our Town Centre Futures 2020 report. In five years, there will be half a million fewer teenagers and young adults in the UK, while in 10 years there will be 3 million more people aged 70 and over. If high street stores are to win customers, they must perform a balancing act, simultaneously fulfilling consumers’ need for convenience and value, and offering the quality and service expected by an ageing population.

Retailers must have multichannel marketing strategies that take into account the changing needs of consumers, if they are to succeed in an increasingly unforgiving market. 

James Miller, lead retail consultant, Experian Marketing Services



Npower bids to become ‘true retailer’

Seb Joseph

Npower is planning to ape the marketing strategies of brands such as Marks and Spencer and John Lewis to become a retail focused brand and focus less on sport sponsorship as it confirms it will not renew its Football League sponsorship.


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