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Marketing budgets make surprise return to growth

Marketers increased marketing spend in the first quarter as they look to protect their brands amid rising uncertainty, but the growth is not expected to last.

UK companies revised their marketing budgets up markedly in the first quarter of 2019, a stark contrast to the final quarter of 2018 when spend stagnated, as they made efforts to protect their brands amid ongoing economic uncertainty.

According to the quarterly IPA Bellwether, a net balance of 8.7% of marketing executives reported increasing their budgets, up from 0% in the final three months of 2018 and the highest level since Q3 2017. More than a fifth (21.6%) reported spending growth, while 12.8% said budgets had been cut.

The internet was once again the best performing category, with the net balance of those increasing spend jumping to 17.2%, up from 2.1% in the prior quarter. In particular, search/SEO saw a swing from cuts of -3.9% in Q4 2018 to growth of 14.2% last quarter.

There was also a renewed drive for big-ticket ad campaigns with a net balance of 5.2% of marketers increasing spend, a turnaround from the 6.2% decline in the prior quarter. Events also saw expenditure growth of 3.4%.

However, sales promotions, market research and direct marketing budgets all took a hit, while PR spend was reported as flat.

Paul Bainsfair, IPA director general, says: “This sharp increase following Q4 2018’s flatlining signals that UK marketing budgets have received a much-needed kiss of life in an economy gripped by Brexit uncertainty. The smart marketers realise that to grow their businesses, they must invest in them, particularly in mass reach, long-term media.

“While the forecast for the year ahead remains uncertain given the seemingly endless Brexit negotiations, those that want real competitive advantage should follow the proven rule that if you increase your share of voice above your share of market, you should expect to experience growth.”

Despite the uptick, marketers are still erring on the side of caution with forecast for marketing spend in the 2019/20 financial year. A net balance of just 3.4% expect budget growth, down from 18% who expected growth for 2017/18 and the lowest level since 2009.

Main media and events are both expected to see growth, with brand building initiatives put in place in the first quarter continuing in the coming financial year. However, there was a negative outlook for other marketing, PR, sales promotions, market research and direct marketing.

This negative outlook is shown in the downbeat outlook respondents have for their own company’s financial prospects, with a net balance of 2.7% saying they are pessimistic about the future. Industry-wide financial prospects are also negative, with a net balance of 22.6% saying they are pessimistic.

Given this negativity, and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) downgrading its growth projections for the UK by 0.4 percentage points since October, the IPA has cut its forecast for ad industry growth this year. It is now forecasting a modest 1.1% annual increase in ad spend in 2019, down from a previous estimate of 1.3%.

“Our downgrade reflects the challenging environment caused by Brexit uncertainty, slowing global growth and rising competitive pressures,” says the report.

However, with the OBR increasing forecasts for consumer spending and capital expenditure between 2020 and 2023, the IPA has also increased its forecasts. It is now expecting growth of 1.8% in 2020, rising to 3.1% in 2023.

By: Sarah Vizard – Source:

Stand Out from the Competition with Three Trendy Restaurant Marketing Strategies

In 2019, almost every suburb of America has a bustling hub of international restaurants, ready to whisk your taste buds around the world. To really succeed amongst this competition, follow these 3 hot restaurant marketing strategiesto stand out from the crowd. 

1. Pop-Up Somewhere Unexpected

Your local community should have a reasonably busy calendar of events throughout the year, especially in the warmer months. Craft festivals, food markets, or music events are all great places to have a small pop-up restaurant. It’s a terrific restaurant marketing strategyfor several reasons:

  • It’s only a short-term investment without too much commitment
  • You open your menu to a completely new market of customers
  • The events offer built in infrastructure and crowds
  • You can test small batches of new menu items 
  • It’s a great way to engage with your community
  • Because the alternative foods at the event will likely be quite average, your menu will absolutely stand out. 

The National Restaurant Association agrees on its broad appeal saying, “Most pop-ups have served edgier gourmet cuisine, suggesting that the model works well for this segment. At the same time, more quick-service restaurants are jumping on board, and many industry analysts believe the format can work well for any concept.”

2. Give Your Customers What They Want

Yes, that does sound like the most obvious restaurant marketing strategy ever, but do you really know what attracts your customers in 2019? While you’re busy plating the best meals you can, it’s easy to overlook what dining trends your customers are talking about and how important that is to increasing your revenue. 

Restaurant marketing agency Placepull said, “Things like reducing food waste, using only local ingredients and low carb meals are all very much in vogue these days, and can give you that vital competitive edge to ramp up your revenue. Spend 10 minutes each day chatting to your customers and you’ll quickly get a feel for what trends will bring them back into your restaurant again and again.” 

What do they like?

What don’t they like?

Is live music important?

Is good wine something they look for?

Talk to them, in person and on social media – we promise you they will be more than willing to give you their opinion. It’s by tuning into your customers’ interests and desires that will put you head and shoulders above your competition who are not looking at the big picture. 

3. Make You Restaurant Your Living Billboard

This restaurant marketing strategyis all about street appeal. The windows of your restaurant are the best on street advertising you can have. Everyone is attracted to a busy restaurant, so make sure you put your first customers next to the window. 

This way when people from outside look in, they’ll see satisfied customers laughing, drinking, dining and enjoying their time with you. That should create enough food envy for them to walk through your doors.

And before they even see your windows, music can send hints of what lies ahead if they walk a few more steps towards you. People are naturally curious and will absolutely walk towards music to see what it’s all about. 

For the price of an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker, you can get the curiosity of people from half a block away. It’s been proven to work too, as VisionCritical says 90 percent of people would select a business that was playing music over one that wasn’t.

Walk by your restaurant in the shoes of a passer-by, and think about what you can do to make it stand out from the street. Think of all the senses and try to appeal to them. 

Those were three restaurant marketing strategies that will almost guarantee to help you stand out from the competition, and increase your revenue as a result. Whether you start off small with some music outside, or launch right into a brand new food truck, there is something here you can start today to make sure you’re a step ahead of your competition. 


The Hotel Yearbook publishes two special editions on trends in the hospitality sector: Technology and Digital Marketing 2 min

On 10 April, The Hotel Yearbook is launching two specially focused publications. For the sixth year in a row, The Hotel Yearbook is publishing its annual look at key trends in technology in the hotel sector, and for the third time, it is also publishing an in-depth review of developments in digital marketing. Both of these e-publications feature editorial contributions from a wide range of experienced and internationally respected senior executives, consultants and academics.

Palma, Mallorca, Spain, 10 April 2019 – Technology is affecting every aspect of managing a hotel successfully, from security and reservations systems to revenue management and brand building. The Hotel Yearbook, a Swiss-based family of annuals addressing topical issues in the global hotel business, recognized this fact several years ago when it launched its first special editions: Technology and Digital Marketing. These two dynamic areas are the subject of the company’s latest publications, premiering today at HITEC Europe in Mallorca.

The Hotel Yearbook 2020 – Technology gathers ideas and insights from two dozen senior executives, opinion leaders and academics from all over the world to ask, “What lies ahead in this fast-evolving part of the hotel business?” Among its highly respected authors are Floor Bleeker from Accor and Chris Anderson and Chekitan Dev, both from Cornell. Taking the role of Guest Editor in Chief of this edition was Prof. Ian Millar, Senior Lecturer IT at Switzerland’s Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne.

“This sixth edition of The Hotel Yearbook – Technology is an indispensible compilation of observations and insights concerning the tech trends impacting the way hotels are being managed today – and will be tomorrow,” said Prof. Millar. “It’s an excellent source of valuable ideas that hoteliers can put into action and benefit from.”

The Hotel Yearbook 2020 – Digital Marketing is the second publication coming out on the same day. Guest Edited by consultant Martin Soler, co-founder of Paris-based Soler & Associates, it presents articles contributed by more than twenty experts and practitioners in this field, including citizenM’s Robin Chadha, ESSEC’s Peter O’Connor, NYU’s Max Starkov, and other leading academics from Cornell and Lausanne.

“Hotels have a rapidly growing array of digital tools and platforms they can work with when it comes to online marketing,” said Editor Martin Soler. “The Hotel Yearbook 2020 – Digital Marketing aims to give practitioners an overview of the changes, challenges and advances in the market, as well as show how digital marketing is being focused on the basics such as brand building and the customer journey.”

“These two new publications provide an excellent portfolio of ideas and insights into one of the most complex parts of the hotel business, i.e. using technology effectively and efficiently,” said Henri Roelings, founder & CEO of Hsyndicate, and publisher of The Hotel Yearbook. “Ian and Martin have successfully brought their experience and networks to bear on this task, assembling a stellar list of contributors from all over the world, each with valuable ideas to share. I’d like to thank them both, and I’d also like to express my thanks once again this year to HFTP (Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals), our long-standing publication partner, for their fantastic support of our Yearbook initiatives.”



Let’s be real: Game of Thrones marketing is kind of genius. These are the hype wizards who have, you’ll remember, not only brought White Walkers to London but coerced more than 3 million people to watch a block of ice melt for 70 minutes. But as HBO’s much-binged fantasy epic comes to a close, so too do all the opportunities to glom on to the fanfare, leading marketers to set their store of wildfire alight, covering the internet in a blaze of trailers, posters, brand partnerships, and “activations” that can make it seem as though winter is coming everywhere.

The marketing budget for this season of Game of Thrones,according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, is about $20 million, and frankly, it shows. Most television programs do not get Budweiser Super Bowl commercial money—and the marketing for Thrones is going far beyond TV spots. This time around there are sneakersalbums featuring guest spots by A$AP Rocky, and even a South by Southwest “experience” where fans were asked to literally bleed for a glimpse at Westeros.

This is to be expected. Game of Thrones has always been exceptional, a show with an outsized place in American cultural consciousness, but what that level of fandom apparently means to marketers on and off HBO’s payroll has been astounding. For the past few weeks, Game of Throneshasn’t been a TV show—it’s been an emblem of automatic newsworthiness and saleability.

In business circles, the success or failure of these activations will likely be judged by dollars earned, or by a more nebulous metric like engagement. But that’s not how we’ll be judging them here. Instead, the measure is how hard it would be to explain to an alien (or, you know, somebody who hasn’t watched Game of Thrones) what the heck this product or event has to do with a show about monarchy and dragons.

Among the best were HBO’s various #FortheThrone stunts. That SXSW event—actually an American Red Cross blood drive—was dubbed Bleed for the Throne, and it drained fans far beyond Austin. Create for the Throne is a collection of artist reimaginings of 18 of the show’s most iconic props, and the results are beautifully nerdy. Quest for the Throne was a worldwide scavenger hunt for six hidden Iron Thrones. The prize? A crown and bragging rights.

To be clear, just because a lot of these stunts sound over the top doesn’t mean people aren’t clamoring for them. As soon as the Quest for the Throne started, New York–based Game of Thrones superfan Natasha Speth found her Instagram flooded with news of the hunt. “There had to be one in New York, I just felt it,” Speth says. She was right. A throne appeared at the Fort Totten Torpedo Battery. Speth texted her “fellow nerds,” dressed herself resplendently as Sansa Stark, and set off to Queens. “I gotta do stuff that makes me happy,” Speth says. “So I waited in line for four and a half hours on a Saturday morning. It would have been a huge missed opportunity not to sit on the Iron Throne cosplaying as Sansa.”

Speth, like many other Thrones aficionados, is open about her fandom, and rather relishes seeing the world inundated with Westerosi kitsch like a behemoth throne in Rockefeller Center or Mountain Dew cans that display Arya Stark’s kill list when cold or an Oreo version of the show’s opening credits. “It’s pretty hilarious,” she says. “I think HBO is doing a good job pushing it without diluting.”

Most of HBO’s official marketing campaigns and partnerships center on products you can easily imagine a fan enjoying: White Walker whiskey and wines for each House to serve at viewing parties, AT&T stores turned into costume emporiums and Magic Leap AR experiences. But for others, the sheer effort put into all those limited-edition Oreos and $100 T-shirts and Las Vegas fountain displays and Urban Decay makeup palettes and secret Valyrian Shake Shack menus starts to take on a particular aroma: flop sweat, the anxious stench of companies aware that this season presents their final opportunity to milk the Game of Thrones cash cow.

Nowhere is this utter lack of chill more evident than in the most try-hard corner of social media: fast-food Twitter. Go on, tell me it doesn’t make you cringe a little to see the official Game of Thrones account palling around with Wendy’s and Mr. Peanut. This is a show that’s burned little girls alive. Now they’re selling luxury T-shirts and making “Nut’s Watch” jokes? Shame! Most of these products have nought to do with Game of Thrones but a sigil or a punny name, making them not just last-gasp attention grabs but unsubtle ones at that. And Thrones is so marketable that in many of these partnerships, it’s not really clear who is doing who a favor. Is a kinship with Bellagio Hotel and Casino really selling Game of Thrones? Or are we just witnessing a grand handshake agreement to make as much money from fans as possible?

In this time of maximalist marketing and peak Game of Thrones, commodification in the extreme was inescapable. It’s even lead to companies with no obvious HBO affiliations trying for the Game of Thrones spotlight. Fantasy-sports-style apps—like Game of Shows—are angling to get their slice of the hype. Streaming service Now TV is offering a chance at free Game of Thrones tattoos done by the same artist that inked Sophie Turner’s Stark family sigil. Dating app OkCupid offers a Game of Thrones “profile badge” meant to help single Thrones fans identify each other and find dates among their peers. Machine learning platforms are predicting each characters’ chances of survival. And, in what may be the craziest attempt of all, New York’s Highline Hotel launched #GameofWiFi, a challenge to other hotels to provide the fastest Wi-Fi in the land so guests may download Game of Thrones with maximum speed.

Does it all seem like a lot? It is. But love it or hate it, HBO is just following a proverb of internet capitalism: Make and market thy own wares, or somebody else sure will.


10 Tips for Improving Your Content Marketing Strategy with Instagram and Other Tools

Instagram is one of many platforms that small businesses can use to actively communicate with customers. The platform offers many features that may be attractive to business users, for everything from marketing and sales to customer service. To help you make the most of your Instagram and overall content marketing strategy, here are some tips from members of the online small business community.

Achieve Instagram Marketing Success

Today’s businesses need social media to reach customers where they actually spend time daily. Platforms like Instagram are constantly changing. So it may be necessary to get some expert insights to really make the most of it. Here’s a guide from Andrew Page of Agiliron to help you achieve Instagram marketing success.

Use Facebook and Instagram Stories to Grow Your Brand

Both Facebook and Instagram offer users the opportunity to create and share “stories,” which are usually fairly informal posts that can help customers really get to know your brand. If you’re interested in utilizing these features for your own business social media strategy, check out this post on The Power of Marketing by Hernan Vasquez.

Learn from the Top 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers

If you want to keep up with the trends surrounding social media, you need to know the players. This TopRank Marketing post includes a list of 50 influencers who are especially popular in the industry right now. You can also see commentary on the post over on BizSugar.

Grow Your Instagram Following Strategically

If you want your Instagram content to have a major impact for your business, you need to accrue some followers who will actually see your posts. But how can you get more people to follow you? Amanda Bond shares some strategies in this Social Media Examiner post.

Calculate Your Influencer Marketing ROI

Influencer marketing can give businesses the perfect opportunity to connect with more customers on social media. But you need to make sure that your investment is actually worth it. In this Content Marketing Institute post, Shane Barker goes over a five-step process for calculating your ROI.

Create a Balance Between Informative and Profitable Content

Whether you’re creating content for social media or your blog or website, there should always be a purpose behind it. Often, that purpose is to inform your readers or customers. But it’s also necessary to take your bottom line into account. In this Iris Content post, Annie Ianko discusses creating a balance between informative and profitable content.

Make Use of Instagram’s In-App Checkout Feature

Instagram recently unveiled a new option for ecommerce brands that will allow customers to actually complete the checkout process without leaving the app. To learn more about the feature and how to take full advantage of it for your small business, read this Marketing Land post by Amy Gesenhues.

Generate More Leads for Your Company

In order to make sales, you first need to generate leads. Social media platforms and forum sites offer some opportunities for doing just that. Lisa Sicard elaborates on some others in this Inspire to Thrive post. BizSugar members also chimed in with their thoughts here.

Update Your Customer Service in the Social Media Age

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram aren’t just for pushing sales or sharing product photos. They can also be powerful customer service channels. And today’s customers often expect them to be. Learn more about how social media has changed customer service in this Social Media HQ post by Eric Gordon.

Redefine Your Target Audience with Market Segmentation

It’s always important to understand exactly who you’re creating posts or content for. Even if you feel like you have a pretty good idea of your target audience, it may help to get even more specific. Kiesha Joseph offers some thoughts about market segmentation in this Content Marketing Geek post.

By: Annie Pilon – Source:

Marketing To and Protecting Visiting Children

Last month Tourism Tidbits examined the marketing issues that surround child or young adult tourism and travel. This month Tourism Tidbits takes on a second aspect of this segment of the tourism and travel industry. It is a specific and continuously more difficult issue: that of providing travel safety for the child and young adult market. Safety and security are always a concern of the travel industry, no matter who the traveler might be. A major issue when dealing with children is their safety and security. In the case of young travelers the situation becomes even more difficult and emotional. There are many reasons for this heightened need for safety and security. Among these are:

  1. Children are perceived to be more vulnerable
  2. Most people tend to be highly protective of children
  3. The legal ramifications of injury to a child may be even more severe
  4. Children evoke emotional reactions, and these emotions may crowd out rational thinking.

Child safety and security tends to become the responsibility of three groupings

  1. The child or young adult
  2. The parent of guardian of the child
  3. The host institution

The following is a partial list of precautions that all of us need to take when dealing with the child segment of the travel market. To help you provide a safer ambiance for family vacations consider the some of the following.

Just as in the case of marketing efforts tourism security efforts need to segment the market into at least four age brackets: Some suggested brackets might be: (1) new borns-2 years, (2) 3-7 years, ((3) 7-12 years, (4) teenagers until the legal age of 18. The essential issue is to realize that while both a 17 year old and a 2 year old are legally both minors, from a safety, security and sociological standard they operate in a very different ways and require very different guidelines. To help you maintain these various groups safe and sound Tourism Tidbits offers the following suggestions. It should be noted that these are only a few suggestions of the many that are needed and final decisions should be made by an onsite professional

Keep video cameras going. In case a child is lost (or Heaven forbid kidnapped) a video camera may be an excellent tool in locating the child.

In places where adults and children mix, consider the use of ID bracelets being offered at the time of ticket purchase. You can use the id bracelet either as a check-in/check-out device or give them away as a souvenir. In either case, should the child be lost, the security agent will have a name and phone number to call. It is a good idea to place both the local and home number on the bracelet.

In areas that have special young people’s sections make sure that it is only children who enter. Adults should not be allowed into a children’s section. If an adult is needed there in case of an emergency, he/she should only be allowed to enter accompanied by a trained security agent.

Develop policies on older children or unaccompanied minors. Younger children may be less of a problem than older children (12-17 years of age). These are guests who are legally still minors, but can often do a great deal of damage or may demand that they be treated as adults even though such treatment is against the law. Make sure that all your personnel are familiar with your business regarding minors’ safety and behavior of and with minors. Employees need to know

  • policies and laws that specifically deal with people under the legal age of maturity
  • how to handle an angry or non-compliant minor
  • how to handle someone who may be making a scene
  • when to actively intervene or call for additional help
  • how to check Ids without offense personís ID is checked and questioned as to the whereabouts of his/her parents. In the hour before closing, it is very important to make sure that unsupervised young people are accounted for. In cases where the young person falsely believes that he/she is grown-up ask for both a driverís license and a social security number.

Be aware of Child abandonment/abuse. A form of child abuse is abandonment of a child. Train your personnel to be on the lookout for all forms of child abuse. For example, if an adult is hanging around other people’s children ask for that personís id, turn security cameras on the person, and attempt to get the license number of vehicle being driven. The more information you have, the easier it will be for the police to act should there be a problem. Do not assume that a child abuser will return the next day. It may be weeks or months, or never, until that person returns.

Develop cooperative information centers. Work with your local police departments, hotel associations and other attractions so that information can be passed between security departments rapidly and easily. Remember people judge a locale on just one negative incident. When something goes wrong in one place it can affect the entire local tourism community.

Be careful of safety concerns. Do a safety analysis, look for and correct such things as: glass doors against which inadvertently a child may run into, issues of food safety, or balconies over which a child may climb and jump.


Point-of-Sale (POS) Terminal Market: Rising Uptake in Retail and Hospitality Industry to Accentuate Growth

The global point-of-sale (POS) terminal market features a fairly fragmented landscape with an elevated level of competition among players of all types, notes Transparency Market Research (TMR). Over the years, the competition is likely to intensify accentuated by the entry of software vendors and aspiring players. They are focusing on launching advanced technologies that increase the functionalities of the POS terminals, to gain a competitive edge over others in the coming years.

Some of the prominent players in the market are NCR Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Panasonic Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, Cisco Systems Inc., MICROS Systems Inc., VeriFone Systems Inc., NEC Corporation, PAX Technology Limited, and Ingenico S.A. A number of players are focused on offering services for technologically-driven consumers in various application industries, which help them enhance the value of business operations.

The global POS terminal market was worth US$54.68 bn in 2016 and is estimated to rise at an impressive CAGR of 11.5% from 2017 to 2025.

The major product types are fixed type and wireless and mobile type POS terminals. Of these, the fixed terminal type holds the sway and accounted for a lion’s share in the overall market in 2016. The dominance is attributed to their extensive uptake among in various parts of the world in recent years. However, in the coming years, wireless and mobile POS terminals is projected to emerge at an attractive pace. The growth will be driven by their cost-effectiveness, intuitive human interface, and affordability among small and medium-sized businesses.

Geographically, North America is the leading market, as it accounted for the major revenue share in 2016. This can be attributed to the substantial number of early takers for this payment technology. The growth of the regional market is fueled by the rapidly rising demand for POS terminals in the retail and entertainment industry.

The substantial demand for cost-effective technologies for managing payments and inventories in a wide range of end-use industries such as retail, healthcare, warehouse and distribution, and hospitality is a key factor driving the demand for POS terminals. The intensifying need for secure, user-friendly, and convenient payments in various application segments is driving the POS terminals market. The rising adoption of POS terminals in the retail and hospitality sectors in a number of developing and developed economies is driving the growth of the overall market.

The significant demand for secure and convenience payments options for small retailers in various countries is a key factor bolstering the demand for POS terminals. In addition, the emerging demand for mobile and wireless among small and medium sized businesses, attributed to the marked affordability, is boosting the POS terminals market. Furthermore, the soaring popularity of POS terminals in warehouses in various parts of the world is expected to aid in the rapid expansion of the market.


‘We need to simplify and democratise marketing effectiveness’

Too often marketing effectiveness is the sole preserve of strategists and only spoken about when entering awards, but for advertising’s impact to be understood outside the marketing department this needs to change, says BBH’s managing partner of effectiveness, Tom Roach.

Marketers need to make marketing effectiveness simpler, more accessible and more understandable if the impact of advertising and creativity is to be better understood outside the marketing department, according to BBH’s managing partner of effectiveness, Tom Roach.

Speaking this morning (4 April) at a Thinkbox event about effectiveness and creativity, Roach said both clients and agencies need to foster an “even greater” effectiveness culture. That means moving effectiveness away from the preserve of “data geeks and a subset of strategists” to something everyone in the marketing team understands.

“We need to democratise [marketing effectiveness],” he said. “We need to find ways to make it simple, understandable, creative. We need to share our stories and stats as far and wide as we possibly can. And we talk about making the numbers dance – can we illustrate the numbers in a way that is as simple and powerful as possible?”

BBH, which last year was crowned the IPA’s effectiveness company of the year, has done this in a number of ways. It has effectiveness posters in the corridors of the agency (see above) which use campaign assets and summarise the data in as simple a way as possible.

It has also created data visualisation videos for social that aim to summarise a 4,000-word IPA entry in 20 seconds.

“If we can take effectiveness beyond the data geeks and strategists then we’ve got a chance of proving the value of what we do,” said Roach.

He added: “We believe creativity and effectiveness are partners, they belong side by side. When we show work we always try to talk about the effectiveness of that work and when we talk about effectiveness we always try and show the work.”

Forward-thinking brands are trying to create a culture of marketing effectiveness, rather than having one team responsible. Diageo, for example, has created a marketing effectiveness tool called Catalyst that all its marketers can use to get real-time data on the impact work is having.

However, the vast majority of brands still have separate people responsible for effectiveness (if anyone is) and those people are siloed in marketing or insights. According to an IPA study in 2017, just 22% of brands feel marketing effectiveness “is no one business area but a shared responsibility”.

Ian Hampton, senior marketing manager at NHS England, admits that as a client it does not “do enough to show off our effectiveness in the office”. He points to the difference between the office of the chief press officer, which is covered in examples of its work and the headlines it has made, and that of the marketing team where there is little evidence of the impact.

If we can take effectiveness beyond the data geeks and strategists then we’ve got a chance of proving the value of what we do.

Tom Roach, BBH

“Everyone who walks through [the press office] can see what they are doing,” he said. “We don’t do enough showing off of our effectiveness. As a client, those posters and short films are absolutely right. I am leaving this building thinking how we can do them.”

However, he admitted that proving the effectiveness of government communications, in part because it is most often about behaviour change rather than commercial result, is tricky. But only by doing that can marketers “earn the right” to be creative.

“You need to earn your right to be creative. You will see the [growth in] maturity of our output from the NHS in creative terms. We’ve earned the right to be more creative by showing we are delivering effectiveness,” he added.

The most recent example of that work is the ‘We are the NHS’ campaign, created by MullenLowe, which launched last year. It was the first time since 2005 the NHS had run a recruitment campaign and coincided with the organisation’s 70th anniversary.

While it was a recruitment campaign aimed at attracting and retaining staff, it also needed to have a halo effect on people’s perceptions of working for the NHS and the NHS more generally.

It is still too early to judge its impact, but there are already positive signs. Recruitment for nursing staff had plummeted following the decision to get rid of bursaries in 2016. The campaign managed to reverse that trend, with applications to UCAS to do a nursing degree returning to growth.

It also led to a change in perceptions that the NHS hopes will improve retention. For example, the number of people who agreed with the statement, ‘I would get greater job satisfaction in a role outside the NHS’ fell from 48% before the campaign launched to 38% post launch. The number of people saying they would consider returning to the NHS increased from 42% to 61%.

“There is a time and a place for targeting. There is also a time to talk to the nation and this campaign shows the success [of creativity],” he concluded.

By: Sarah Vizard – Source:

“Stepping backward”: why blockchain in marketing isn’t the answer yet

When we last checked in a year ago, the blockchain marketing technology landscape was projected to quadruple.

It’s been 12 months, and that hasn’t exactly been the case. It certainly grew — from 88 companies to 290 as of February 2019, according to research from Brave — but underlying issues with blockchain’s design means that it’s not quite the problem-solver the industry had hoped it would be. At least not yet.

As a distributed ledger technology (DTL), blockchain has the allure of building trust among cautious marketers by limiting the number of third parties in the media planning process.

But since it’s still a relatively nascent tech with questions around latency and cost, established companies are only going as far as the testing phase while the 200-plus startups battle each other.

Mark Pearlstein, chief revenue officer of DoubleVerify, sees the potential. He said blockchain has the ability to provide value across the board.

“Blockchain is interesting because it acknowledges that the industry is a team sport, there are multiple intermediaries at play, and if everyone commits to transparency and commits to entering into this immutable ledger, it provides valuable intelligence to both sides,” said Pearlstein.

However, he said, DoubleVerify is in “evaluation mode” about implementing blockchain in its brand partners’ marketing strategies.

So, let’s evaluate.

What it solves

GroupM recently released a report outlining the efficacy of blockchain in marketing. It focused on three key implementations of the technology: facilitating reconciliation, managing consumer data openly and securely, and optimizing measurement standards at an impression level.

“Blockchain is attractive to technology players and systems integrators because they see it as a powerful catalyst modernizing clunky, inefficient, and often only partly digitized processes. It also represents the opportunity to engage with clients around big, complex, and, ultimately, lucrative projects,” the report read.

GroupM predicted that by 2020, all major corporations will hire consultants to see how DLT will cut costs, though every dollar spent on the tech will see another $20 spent on updating internal systems.

Jack Smith, chief product officer, investment, at GroupM, said the company is testing blockchain internally and with some third-party vendors at the client level. He added that GroupM is looking at deploying blockchain to mitigate reconciliation discrepancies between publishers and vendors.

“It’s mechanisms like [blockchain] that will reduce the number of emails we’re now sending back and forth with publishers to try and figure out what the root cause of the impression difference is,” said Smith.

Smith added that blockchain — because it’s an immutable open ledger that transparently stores information — could serve as a platform where consumers can “control their own data and have it link to a device.”

Leigh Christie, director of Isobar’s NowLab America’s, said blockchain can help solve the “erosion of trust between the consumer and a brand” by making the supply chain more transparent — whether that’s how a company uses customer data or where it sources its product materials.

Christie added that Isobar’s innovation lab is investing in blockchain martech, and that “multiple brands” are working with the testing group.

When it comes to integrating blockchain into programmatic buying strategies, GroupM’s report recommended that a simple or distributed database-led solution is often enough.

Blockchain and Marketing report, GroupM

What it doesn’t solve

Part of the reason blockchain isn’t ready to be wholly implemented in programmatic strategies is because its latency issues make real-time buying a near-impossibility.

Gartner analyst Andrew Frank doesn’t expect blockchain to be fully operational across marketing for another 10 years, saying: “There’s obviously a speed and scale problem when it comes to thinking about the rate of transaction processing required by things like real-time bidding markets.”

Analysisshows that the average blockchain transaction time takes 1.5 seconds. Because digital advertising requires transaction speeds of 10 milliseconds, Pearlstein said DoubleVerify would be “stepping backward” with advertisers if it implemented the tech.

Because blockchain can track ad dollars, Pearlstein likened it to ads.txt as they both serve as transparency tools. But like ads.txt, blockchain isn’t a catch-all for fraud, especially because its latency issues can cause brand safety concerns, for example, by exposing advertisers to domain spoofing.

“We’re not anti-blockchain, but even when it’s fully deployed it’s still only going to solve a part of the problem by definition of what blockchain does. It’s not that it’s bad; it inherently can’t do everything a brand is looking for,” said Pearlstein.

The cost

As an immutable distributed ledger, blockchain is great at serving as a transparent data house, but that can come at a cost.

“Blockchain is designed to be immutable, meaning you can’t really delete the data, so it grows and grows and grows. What does that mean for cost? And, it wouldn’t potentially be just us holding or owning that data; it would be others that we’re participating with, maybe in a consortium,” said GroupM’s Smith.

Pearlstein echoed this sentiment, saying the challenge is around finding a financial incentive for building out blockchain capabilities that work in real-time “because once a single company takes ownership of the ledger, it’s no longer this neutral third-party distributed ledger.”

There are public blockchains and private, centrally controlled blockchains, but as Christie said, “in many cases, when people are talking about centralized, private blockchains, they’re really just talking about a slight variation on a traditional database, but leveraging the hype around the term blockchain.”

So brands either save on cost by owning a distributed ledger but negate blockchain’s transparency benefits, or they participate in an open ledger that tears down their coveted walled gardens at a potentially exorbitant financial cost but with friendly returns in brand equity from consumers.

For blockchain to really find footing in marketing, Pearlstein said, “There would need to be some agreement in-market on a funding method that’s ubiquitous to anybody that wants to play in blockchain that’ll fund the ledgers and the speed of the ledgers.”

By: Andrew Blustein – Source:

3 Content Marketing Trends to Watch Out For in 2019

From being just a buzzword in 2011, content marketing has become the number one priority for the marketing department in 2019 and accounts for 36 per cent of a marketers’ entire budget

More than 64per cent of SMEs expressed that their current marketing efforts weren’t delivering results. However, out of the 36per cent who found success, 2 in 5 of them had invested in content marketing and the success was attributed to quality content, a well thought out content strategy, and right investment in content distribution channels. Investments in marketing should continue by SMEs as competition intensifies with bigger brands.

Content marketing trends will continue to adapt and evolve in 2019; giving companies opportunities to sustain their success.  As B2B marketers, to stay ahead of the game in the constantly evolving landscape, look out for these three predictions in content marketing.

3 Key Trends You Will See in 2019

Artificial Intelligence Drove Content – Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI) supports innovation in European digital journalism. In 2017, Google invested more than $800,000 in the Press Association’s initiative to generate news stories solely through the use of AI.

In this initiative, while journalists will be involved in spotting and creating stories, AI will be used to assist with massively increasing local stories that would otherwise be impossible to provide manually.

While content and creation and ideation are still not fully automatable, technology can be leveraged to understand your target audience better, map the content they are consuming and create content which they are looking to consume.

New Formats of Content – With consumption of content increasing on mobile platforms, the need of the hour is to develop a content strategy that is more refined and creates better customer engagement. Short case formats, Infographics, Videos are all new formats and are using motion graphics and animations in ways never imagined before.

However, companies need to continue investments the highly sought formats of ebooks, white papers, blogs are optimized for mobile platforms will see success in their omnichannel marketing strategies.

Interactive Content – The internet of things (IoT) has brought content to us through voice-controlled technology.

Through a deep understanding of consumer demographics and the way they want to use content, voice-activated software like Alexa and Siri are rising phenomenally in importance.

In order to experiment with this fairly new trend, brands need to consider if their audience is an adopter of voice-enabled devices if they can consistently produce high-quality audio content and if they are looking for a new channel to reach their audience.

ALigning Trends with Strategy

Many of the content marketing trends such as those listed above are already impacting our lives. Keeping abreast of the trends and aligning the objectives of the business with the evolving needs of the consumers, identifying the right partner who can help brands achieve such desired outcomes is what will result in a successful content marketing strategy for SMEs.

Karthik Nagendra – Source: