Tesco voices brand safety frustrations
It’s been just over two years since The Times revealed brands were having their ads appear next to inappropriate content on YouTube, kickstarting a debate around brand safety that has dominated conference agendas ever since.
While conversations felt much quieter in 2018, with YouTube even claiming the conversation had “moved on”, alarm bells are now ringing loud and clear again and brand safety was a topic of high importance at this year’s AdWeek Europe.
One thing remains the same: it is still a hugely complex and complicated challenge for brands and publishers alike.
Tesco believes too much of its media spend is still being “siphoned off” to ad tech instead of being used to reach customers in quality environments.
This is a cause of growing frustration, as the supermarket’s head of media and campaign planning, Nick Ashley, explains: “What I want to be doing is trusting the publisher environment that what I buy is going to be safe and right for my brand and increasingly I can’t do that because it’s so complex and fragmented.
“What’s frustrating is increasingly advertisers are having to pay to put the tech in to make sure their advertising is in brand safe environments.”
Ashley thinks publishers should foot more of the bill. The issue with that is publishers’ own money is being siphoned off and disappearing down the longtail of the digital ecosystem. They are losing revenue to Google and Facebook too. It’s the day before pay-day, every day.
It is likely we will be having these conversations for many years to come as fraudsters and ‘bad actors’ become ever more sophisticated and the rest struggle to keep up. But if one good thing comes of it in the meantime, it is that we will see brands investing more in quality media and safer environments.
Audi launches campaign as part of drive to bring creativity to marketing effectiveness
Audi has unveiled a new campaign for its smaller models, which puts the product at the heart of the story without once showing the driver. This is key for the brand as it avoids its cars being linked to one specific type of customer or lifestyle, which can put off anyone that doesn’t fit this image.
Instead the cars can be seen performing a synchronised driving routine in an empty swimming pool. Given the go-to option when it comes to advertising more compact models is often a busy woman or young man, which immediately alienates anyone older and the opposite sex, this is a shrewd move.
“It’s quite a democratic thing, you don’t want to stereotype. The minute you show a driver, or certainly a lifestyle, this becomes the Audi lifestyle but this doesn’t feel like a very progressive way to act,” says Anna Russell, national brand and retail marketing lead at Audi.
The campaign, which was created by BBH, also follows an intense focus by Audi on marketing effectiveness, which has helped generate an estimated £1.78bn in incremental for the brand between 2015 and 2017.
Key to this success has been understanding the effectiveness of creativity, in addition to media spend. Prior to launch Audi now tests ads to see how the creative and messaging will impact sales, and it finds that when an ad has real cut through it is three times more efficient at driving orders.
It’s early days for this latest campaign but by using econometrics to thoroughly understand the potential impact of a new ad it takes out a huge chunk of guess work and gives any brand activity a head start.
Monzo readies first major ad campaign
Challenger bank Monzo has gone from strength to strength since it was founded in 2015 with the startup’s growth largely thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations. However, despite Monzo previously shunning advertising in favour of friend referrals, the business is now ready for its next stage of growth so is prepping its first major TV ad.
Monzo’s head of marketing Tristan Thomas says: “The next stage is, how do we grow that even faster? How do we supercharge that organic growth with paid marketing and advertising?”
The challenger tested the water last October with an outdoor ad campaign on the London Underground, which had three simple messages. The first was around the colour of the card, the second around how many people had signed up and the third quotes from its community of users. Having seen success with this campaign, its first TV ad will likely feature similar messaging.
The goal with the TV campaign is to increase brand awareness beyond “east London millennials”.
Despite Monzo’s clear preference for doing things in-house, Monzo is working with a creative agency for the campaign for the first time. Thomas is not going to rule out collaborating in the future, but is yet to decide whether to bring activity in-house, work with an agency or a combination.
Given this is Monzo’s first real test of paid advertising, if it’s successful in driving sign-ups and brand awareness, it could also “pave the way” for Monzo to invest more heavily in marketing.
Monzo’s challenger status has been key to its identity, with the bank continually boasting it’s word-of-mouth statistics, so it will have to tread the line with its new campaign between gaining awareness outside its current demographics while retaining its reputation as an alternative to big banks in order to maintain its millennial audience.
Online businesses continue to power TV
It feels like there is a sense of irony that online businesses are TV’s biggest spenders, especially when so many of them have been blamed for poaching spend from more traditional forms of media.
But it is also a sign that even these online giants recognise the power of television and its ability to reach audiences at scale and in a high quality, brand safe environment – something that they themselves cannot guarantee.
In 2018, Amazon spent 21% more on TV advertising than the previous year, meaning it is now TV’s third biggest spender behind only P&G and Reckitt Benckiser.
Other notable online businesses investing in TV are Google, Just Eat and Trivago. Together, the category accounted for £760m of TV’s £5.11bn total.
TV advertising is 21% cheaper than a decade ago and is arguably delivering more value for advertisers than ever before. But in an increasingly click-driven world, where ROI can be measured almost instantly, investment in media that have time and time again proved their effectiveness often comes at the expense of short-term gains.
“TV is a trusted, high quality environment for brands, and we are seeing signs of money moving back to TV from lower quality online environments that can’t guarantee a safe environment for brands,” says Lindsey Clay, CEO of UK TV marketing body Thinkbox.
“It is a testament to TV’s continuing power to deliver that a company like Amazon, which understands its customers so well, is using TV to power its success.”
Birds Eye capitalises on the Captain’s industry dominance by ditching Inspirations range
Frozen food giant Birds Eye has binned its premium frozen fish brand ‘Inspirations’, absorbing it under the Captain Birds Eye umbrella.
The move comes after the company’s UK marketing manager for fish, Rebecca Nascimento, confessed Birds Eye overall had being doing quite well since the introduction of the new captain last year and thought it essential to capitalise on “one of the most distinctive assets in the food industry”.
So well in fact that Captain Birds Eye is outperforming the frozen fish market with growth of 4.7%, compared to a total market growth of 0.1% (for the year to 23 February). The brand also has a household penetration of 47%, according to figures from Nielsen.
The newly appointment captain, played by Italian actor Riccardo Acerbi, is arguably considered to be a “more authentic” character, allowing him to operate in the premium segment. Additionally, bringing the Inspirations range under this banner will help the range to be seen as “every day premium”, according to Nascimento.
“It makes sense for us as a businesses to maximise the power of [Captain Birds Eye] rather than having many segmented brands. That way there’s more power for the future and more power for long-term growth,” she says.
Adding: “Bringing [Inspirations] under the captain makes it slightly more ‘everyday’. Still ‘everyday premium’ but that’s where the biggest opportunity lies in terms of the category. And that’s what we want to achieve with this, accessing those everyday meal times where you want something that’s a bit more special.”
The company will also be injecting £7m into above-the-line advertising for Captain Birds Eye.
Overall, it’s a lesson in Birds Eye’s ability to recognise its strengths and not being afraid to ditch what’s not serving the brand.