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Adland in 2022 has been, at times, predictable: as always, Super Bowl ads were packed with celebrities (70% of all ads), reflecting the big ticket price of a 30-second slot. True to form, John Lewis launched an evocative and moving Christmas ad that garnered 227M impressions in just a week.
Elsewhere there were unexpected twists: Netflix announced that it would be launching a new plan with ads, and there were several weird and wonderful collaborations (see Wendy’s and Rick and Morty, Greggs and Primark, and Goop and Lacoste).
Explore some takeaways from this year’s Solve for X as you head off for the holidays.
Netflix announced at Cannes that it would be creating a new subscription plan that brought ads onto the platform for the first time. Elsewhere Walmart added streaming services, and Amazon piloted TikTok-style ads. With the proliferation and fragmentation of media channels only increasing, people have unprecedented choice and control over what they want to consume. While this offers opportunities for wider distribution, it also means content has to work harder than ever to attract and retain attention.
CreativeX analysis of 3500 CPG ads revealed unconscious bias connected to the level of ad spend put behind certain gender portrayals. Female characters shown in domestic settings made up a larger proportion of ad spend than those breaking stereotypes. The data demonstrates that representation in ads is only half the problem; ensuring that media budget is put behind representative content needs to be a priority.
Described by Grace Kite as “The most important metric in marketing”, advertised emissions provided an insight into the environmental impact of advertising. The study demonstrated that advertising adds an extra 28% to the annual carbon footprint of every single person in the UK. However, environmental concerns were not top of marketers' minds. CreativeX’s survey of 280,000 ads from global CPG brands found that less than 2% mentioned climate change initiatives.
Google announced in August that it will stop the use of third-party cookies in Chrome by the end of 2024, giving brands some breathing room to develop new methods of attribution. One possibility is MMM studies - the most established measurement model - which are evolving. Nestlé pioneered the inclusion of creative data in their MMM study of ads on Meta, discovering that ads with a higher Creative Quality Score had a 66% greater ROAS.
Despite creative remaining one of the most influential levers for driving marketing’s business impacts, it continues to be overlooked for more easily measurable inputs like targeting. Rory Sutherland states, “if you optimize targeting, that’s helping you find your customers. But good creative can actually create them.”
Creative effectiveness was named an industry priority by WARC at Cannes 2022, and category leaders are working on ways to link the creative to business outcomes. Last year, Heineken linked creative elements to a 50% increase in brand uplift, and with the current global climate encouraging marketers to attribute every part of their spend back to business impact, expect this interest to grow in 2023.
As we enter 2023 with economic headwinds forecast across the globe, what learnings from previous recessions can we add to our New Years' Resolution list?
Brands that keep advertising during recessions enjoy greater sales and growth compared with those that go dark. Anastasia Leng advises marketers to “Measure twice before you cut.” There are opportunities to improve efficiencies within existing media investment through improving existing processes (many of which probably haven’t been scrutinized for a long time).
Getting the right proportion of media spend across the right channels is critical for boosting campaign success and protecting budgets. Oxford SB’s analysis of 1105 multi-media campaigns revealed that campaigns could be 2.6x more effective with a different media spend allocation. Adding more channels also improves effectiveness. Data from Analytic Partners revealed brands can increase ROI by 19% by going from 1 channel to 2.
Creative built natively for each platform can be 2.2-3.6x more effective than TV creative repurposed for digital channels yet data from 1M creatives across multiple channels show the average F500 firm doesn’t adhere to this. Despite the inclusion of these being statistically linked to improvements in media efficiencies, as much as 7/10 creatives may be missing basic platform-recommended best practices, such as YouTube’s ABCDs and Meta’s Brilliant Basics.
Advertisers’ measurement bias stems from an understanding that it is complicated to measure the effectiveness of the creative, so other levers have been prioritized. This is no longer the case, as AI technology unlocks a whole new owned data source from the asset itself - creative data - enabling advertisers to improve the quality of their executions in market against proven best practices. To get the most out of creative data seek out statistically significant patterns and repeatable insights (watch out for any big claims of causation).
Mark Ritson argued that “empty salience” should be marketers' highest priority because everything is meaningless anyway. But “empty salience” ignores advertising’s larger purpose. As George Lois argued, “Advertising can be and should be, and at times has been, revolutionary and subversive.” In 2023 marketers should avoid the safety of the status quo and drive for authenticity and creative excellence.
To kick off the New Year, expect to learn how marketers can come out of the economic storm stronger, with more efficient and effective creative processes that protect against wasted budget and align production and agency partners on scaled ways of working.
Happy holidays, thanks for reading!
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