Maxus Mouth

Beyond The Beacon - What's Next For Retail Tech?

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 04/02/2015
Today’s consumer is more switched on than ever – both savvy in terms of products and pricing and also quite literally connected throughout the shopping experience to a wealth of digital information readily available via their smartphone.
During a recession so severe it killed off established retailers such as Jessops and brought others to their knees – including HMV, Habitat and Blockbuster, improved e-commerce and home delivery services collided with tough market conditions to shift purchasing behaviour increasingly online. 
People are, of course, still shopping – but increasingly, we find that they crave a more enhanced and meaningful retail experience, one that seamlessly bridges the gap between the online and offline worlds.
This presents an important opportunity for retailers and brands alike to crank up the role they play in purchase decision making, and a flood of emerging retail-focused technology promises tempting ways to allure the connected consumer and challenge the notion of ‘broken’ physical retail space. 
Some retailers are already exploring the concept, taking the first steps to becoming more experiential, sensorial – becoming the embodiment of their brand rather than the physical shell in which products are sold. Apple has consistently broken ground here, its stores serving as modern-day cathedrals to technology, even securing tourist attraction status. 
A recent retail tech innovation, iBeacon, has captured a lot of attention in the retail world in the past 12 months. At first thought, the idea of targeting offers to shoppers based on their real-time, in-store location sounds a clear win-win. In reality, abusing beacons runs the risk of endlessly pinging the shopper who above all wants to get in, grab their shopping list items, and get out as fast as possible.  
Where Beacons become useful – and this applies to all emerging tech in the retail space – is when they make life more convenient for the shopper. Why shouldn’t contactless Bluetooth payments make queue management more effective; why can’t the reams of paper offers thrust into consumers’ hands at checkouts be downloaded directly to mobile apps?
Advances in retail tech are happening quickly. But retailers and advertisers facing up to incredible pressure on margins quite rightly have to invest cannily. More than half of branded websites are still, incredibly, not optimised for mobile, presenting a strong case for getting the basics of existing technology perfected first and foremost. There is little point in gathering reams of data if the website isn’t optimised to work on a mobile device. And if you can’t feed the data you have collected into a CRM programme so that beacons can recognise customers when they enter the store, then why bother?
Although there is a great buzz right now, with high interest and excitement and lots of testing and learning taking place in individual stores, we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. In-store tech is just one piece of a complete puzzle that people running the business need to understand. It doesn’t exist in isolation. 
Mention ‘digital or ‘automation’ to some clients and they automatically think quicker and cheaper. The reality is that technology creates a richer rather than leaner offer. What you are actually getting is more of everything. Much of the current innovation in technology is so easy to grasp that it masks the hard work and investment required to maximise their benefits. In fact, you’re generating more data, more learning, more connection points and more levers to pull across the marketing machine. For example L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app enables your smartphone to become your mirror, enabling you to try on a range of looks and products in real time. 
Allowing you to apply an array of products and looks to an image of your face, and see the results instantly.   What is truly interesting here is how much invaluable customer data you can capture, and how you can then apply that across your communications. 
Ultimately, the sheer variety of rapidly emerging technology on trial makes it tricky to predict exactly which bits of kit will succeed. One thing we can be certain of is that those that do gain traction in years to come will be those that benefit the customer more than the brand or retailer. 
From Tesco’s Clubcard to ‘Shopper Assist’ mirrors offering product information and complementary suggestions, the emphasis with winning ideas is always on building customer relationships by being helpful. Every day I’m presented with a new piece of tech or hardware that is undeniably brilliant in its capability, but I always come back to the average mother going to the supermarket. That piece of tech that is relevant to her, that makes her experience richer and simpler now - which is utter genius. 
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How to spark impactful conversations with experiences

By Olivia Magnusson-Murray, Experiential Account Director on 17/11/2014
We don’t just consume brands, we talk about brands all the time. Obviously we do, as we work in media, but an average adult discusses around 11 brands in a typical day (TalkTrack® Britain). And while digital serves as a huge catalyst for conversations, only 10% of brand conversations take place on social media; research from Keller Fay suggests that face-to-face dominates 90% of brand conversations.
That has a huge impact on brands, so how do we as marketers spark conversations and spread word of mouth? We are always looking for a way to get our clients’ brand or product to the masses, whether this is launching a new line, changing brand perceptions or propelling a product to ‘latest craze’ status. What makes a brand or product take off and generate word of mouth?
In Malcolm Gladwell’s marketing classic ,The Tipping Point he seeks to explain how ideas, trends and social behaviours cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire. He states, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” 
Experiences connect a brand to people by telling stories that extend the brand relationship through content – but engaging with the right, influential people is key – the 15% that drive conversations (according to TalkTrack® Britain). 
So how do we do this? 
In short – invite and involve. Brand experiences can ignite a community and help people discover what’s useful and personally relevant to them. 
Experiential marketing done well integrates the brand into people’s lifestyles, generates content and spreads word of mouth. Red Bull’s Soap Box race, Coke with their Happiness campaign and adidas’ use of their ambassadors for #takethestage have been successful in this space for some time now. Heineken with Departure Roulette and Open Your City are engaging with their audiences in creative ways and producing some great content from these brand experiences. Even the relatively unknown airline WestJet generated a huge Christmas presence last year with their Christmas miracle campaign – it has over 36 million hits on YouTube.
Here are some top tips for creating brand experiences that make impact:
• Incorporate experiential and content generation at the planning stage – this is crucial to ensure it is integrated with all other media touchpoints to successfully excite, engage and amplify.
• Understand your audience. Gaining extensive audience insight should be the starting point of any client brief to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. Experiential specialists within media agencies will have access to cutting edge audience insight tools and best practice for finding killer insights.  
• Tailor the experience using technology appropriately to engage your audience.  This means staying at the cutting edge of innovation.  A bespoke installation may be perfectly well suited to a game show-style experience at a shopping centre, while edgier tech such as Oculus Rift can ignite higher budget experiences. 
• Location, location, location! Deploying an experience on a Leeds high street on a Wednesday afternoon probably wouldn’t reach a target audience of 35-year-old males. Equally, don’t be tempted to target Shoreditch just because it’s trendy. Understanding exactly who your audience is will lead you to where they are.
• Set clear KPIs for measurement early on, taking care to define and manage expectations for each piece of activity.  Experiential campaigns can have wide-ranging objectives, from delivering X amount of samples at POS to generating thousands of YouTube views. Bear in mind that every influencer you reach with an impactful immersive experience may potentially reach out to 60 or more people through word of mouth. This is invaluable when we remember that face-to-face dominates 90% of brand conversations.
We are in a new experience age of marketing where technology, innovation and brand experience converge, where experiential marketing needs to be seamlessly woven into a brands’ media plan; whether this is part of the 70% established core activation or edging into the 10-30% where a brand pushes the boundaries of innovation.
We need to create an emotional connection and grab people’s attention, to talk to people rather than market to consumers. A multi-sensory, physical experience with a brand can create that meaningful connection, no matter how involved a person is with a brand they won’t share unless prompted. George Lois states that “Any great creative idea should stun momentarily - it should seem to be outrageous”. Having a targeted real world presence, creating engaging content and maximising social value is a surefire recipe for success. 
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My Five Top 5 TVRs (Television Reflections)

By Malik Roberts - Maxus Launchpad Graduate on 04/11/2014
MAXUS MOUTH : I’d like to start this blog post by saying that working at Maxus has completely shattered any preconceptions I had of what ‘the real world’ should be like. I started my employment with this exciting agency by undertaking a rigorously planned training week (seriously, I saw the Excel spreadsheet), which saw my fellow Launchpad Graduates and I back at school, taking notes in our branded moleskin notepads (more on that later), while we sat through a series of introductory presentations designed to wet our media whistles. As a part of this introductory training week we also had the opportunity to visit several media owners in their swanky offices. I never thought I’d come home from a day at work and be able to write a comment to one of my friends on Facebook that, ‘I’ve just gotten back from the Google offices – Google and I are now friends, I’ve been invited over for coffee whenever I’d like!)’
… That’s right, I’m friends with the whole company… 
Shockingly enough, my employment at Maxus consists of more than visiting media owners and taking notes at presentations.  And so, at the end of the training week we all started our first rotations within the different Maxus departments. I’m pretty sure my constantly meeting the other grads in the kitchen was of no coincidence – we we’re all missing the comfort of the Red Room, and were probably seeking solace in the social area of the kitchen, dousing the butterflies in our stomachs with lots of tea and coffee! 
My first rotation is with the amazing Team GET (Gregor, El, Tilly & Iain - they’re still trying to work Iain’s initial into the team name). They’ve somehow managed to put up with my incessant question asking and have taught me a hell of a lot in a very short space of time (thank you guys!). Everyone here at Maxus has been incredibly helpful and generous with their knowledge and expertise, and so, in that spirit, here are my 5 TVRs (Television Reflections): 
1|It’s all about Maths Men (and Women), not Mad Men: Before I started working at Maxus my idea of what it’d be like to work in media was a little skewed. I’d walk into the office in a luxury brown corduroy suit and matching fedora hat (I have fantastic fashion sense), sit down at my desk, sip my whisky, then go into a boardroom and deliver the presentation of a lifetime, all completely off the top of my head. I might have got my style right, but the amount of skill and talent that goes into the work at Maxus is staggering! Be prepared for hard but immensely rewarding work – most of it Excel based. 
2| So… This goes here right?: Starting out at Maxus was very exciting for me, but also very daunting. Everything was completely new and I had lots and lots and lots of questions! Seriously… I asked, and am still asking a lot of questions. I feel very lucky, in that no matter how many questions I’ve asked and no matter how stupid I’ve felt they were, they were always answered in great depth. I’ve never once felt like I was wasting someone’s time, getting in their way or slowing them down (even though I probably was!). I think this point is one that is salient amongst all of the Grads, as this positive attitude towards training and the sharing of knowledge is universal at Maxus. 
Ask lots of questions!  
3| Branded notebooks for EVERYONE!: Working in the TV team has provided me with so many fantastic opportunities for training, from seminars hosted by Thinkbox to more intimate talks from members of the Maxus team. I’ve made an effort to go to every single one, and have noticed that branded notebooks (and Oyster card cases) are pretty regular occurrences at these events. I think I’ve been given a notepad from every presentation or seminar I’ve been to – nothing gets forgotten anymore, it’s all written down! 
It’s a good job Christmas is coming up… 
4| You’re in media now, darling: This was a big one for me. Without going into too much detail, I studied film at university and sent a lot of my work into many of the media owners that we contact here at Maxus daily. I did this, only to be met with out of office emails, rejection letters or (the most soul crushing response of all) no response. Now I’m on the phone to them most days, and it’s been pretty exciting being able to work with them on campaigns and build up a rapport (they’re people too, just like us!). 
5| Explaining what your job is is a job in itself: Finding a way to explain to friends and family what I do in my exciting new job can be pretty difficult. Quite often I mumble something about PIB reports, sales house schedules, DEN runs and DDS. I’m still learning about these things myself, and so quite often my description of them is rather vague! All that jargon can often sound horribly intimidating and dull, but with the training and support that Maxus put into their Launchpad Graduates, the media world becomes a lot more human and accessible. I’ve also found that if I explain my role with enough confidence (even if it’s gibberish), I come across as a big time media mogul who’s going to put someone’s name in lights! 
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My First Week At Maxus

By Becky Broe on 14/10/2014

Becky Broe the second of our 2014 graduates shares her first week experience....


Entering into the Maxus building and glaring up at the glass bridges feeling like I was stepping into The Apprentice, but to then be welcomed by warm and friendly staff ushering us to the ‘Red Room’ which would be the ‘Graduate Training Suite’ made me feel a whole lot better.
After embarking upon the ice breaker tasks, I learnt how each one of us had come from very different backgrounds; from language to biology and business to finance – but we all had one thing is common, a passion for Maxus and a ‘lean to change’.
The week consisted of morning training sessions involving specialists in each channel introducing us to their field and role; this was a great chance to take a proper insight to how media really works.  The digital and outdoor media types were most interesting.  This was also a great chance to view Maxus clients previous campaigns with a behind the scenes look as to how they became a success and the strategy that was used.  
Meeting the heads of departments was also fascinating as we were able to quiz them, find out which was their favourite campaign and their views on their channel going forward into 2015.
The afternoons consisted of media owner visits which was not just exciting but a fantastic opportunity to meet clients and gain knowledge on what they do, not to mention the indulgence in food offered to us throughout.  These afternoons were also most enjoyable as all ‘us grads’ were able to continue to bond, discover and quiz one another on our backgrounds and passions in media whilst travelling to each destination.
Then came buddy time! We finally all met our buddies and were able to have a group discussion of ‘the Maxus knowledge’. It was a great realisation to how great the company is and how numerous backgrounds fit into one ‘family’.
I am more than ecstatic to start in the L’Oreal team and get stuck into 2015 planning!  It will be tough but knowing I have a supportive network around me gives me confidence for my Maxus future ahead!
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My First Week At Maxus

By James Bottomley - AV Account Executive on 08/10/2014



We have just welcomed our 2014 graduates to Maxus and over the next few days they will be sharing their experiences during their first week at Maxus. First up is AV Account Executive, James Bottomley.............

So it’s a Monday morning and the nerves I was so desperate to suppress have risen hastily from the pit of my stomach to my eyelids, thrusting them wide open. It’s day one of the rest of my life. 
My job at Maxus is my first ‘proper’ job and, as I pack myself into the sardine tin-like train carriage, I ponder what real life is actually like. See, before this job came up, I was happily at uni, content with waking up at 1pm after a long night of binging on both alcohol and Breaking Bad. 
Everybody told me that once I graduate that is literally it. Spending your days staring glumly in silence as you ignore the bloke next to you on the train whilst you both consciously curse your miserable life choices. 
So anyway, I was dwelling on such advice as I took the train towards my new office and it was not filling me with too much excitement. So this whole ‘anxious anticipation’ vibe I was feeling made the whole nerve problem even worse. 
These continued to rumble inside of me until I reached the doors of the building. I took a breath, stepped inside and made my way up to the seventh floor. I met all the other grads and we exchanged customary awkward hello’s. We then made our way into the red room, our adopted home for the week, and keenly unpacked our notebooks and pens as we awaited the many introductions from various people. 
Andy - our familiar face, our beacon of safety amongst the no-man’s-land of new-job danger, our pillar of stability – was the first person we all properly met and so I think we all felt comfortable talking to him from the outset. I was still nervous during all of these introductions (most of all during COO Tim’s presentation) but the stuff they were telling us about the company and where it had come from and, most importantly, where it was going, started to numb the nerves and replace them with excitement. It seems Maxus is pretty decent. 
So the week went on and we started getting to know what this digital media malarkey was all about. Every morning we would have three knowledge sessions, each covering a media channel or business operation. We all professionally scribbled down detailed notes on each knowledge part, I think to make ourselves feel like we’re cool media guys with swanky notepads (and by the end of the week we did indeed have a collection of swanky notepads!).  
Then in the afternoons we were left to our own devices to attend meetings with media owners. So we cavaliered around the big city as if we had made it in life. Heads held high as we triumphantly marched towards the technology mecca of Google’s offices, or the wry smiles we carried as we bowled towards Channel 4’s urban-themed office. It was pretty cool and all the preconceptions of real life work and how grey it was were erased from my brain. 
Maxus doesn’t follow that rule. Maxus is colourful, Maxus is fun and Maxus is going somewhere. We’ve been lucky enough to jump on the bandwagon as it quickly races towards media agency mega-success and our first week here has made us all hungry for more of what we have done.  
So as I sit here comparing what I thought work would be back on that Monday morning on the train to what is actually is, I think to myself: Thank god for digital media and the cool things that comes with it. And that was my first week at Maxus.
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To Ice Bucket or Not To Ice Bucket?

By Tom Dunn - Digital Strategy Director on 25/09/2014
I recently walked into a management meeting where the mood was akin to that of a COBRA summit. Did somebody forget to submit our entry for agency of the year? Had the impending office move fallen through? No, we were in fact contingency planning for Maxus’ potential nomination to the Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m sure brands have faced the same issue. How can we do a better video than our competitors? What happens if people don’t like it? Will we be seen as relevant and topical, or will we be accused of shameless bandwagon-jumping?
Whatever your views on the challenge, you can’t deny it made an important impact on society and showcased the potential reach of cause-based activity on social media, while raising huge sums for ALS. And the campaign showcased how a social platform can facilitate change for the greater good, while reaching audiences who might not typically engage with a cause offline.
Lessons we can all learn from ALS
From a media angle, there are some pretty simple lessons that brands and agencies could adhere to.
1. Make it easy to get involved (buckets, ice and smartphones are easy to come by).
2. Make it interesting (the challenge in itself makes for good viewing, but it allows scope for variations on a theme). 
3. Find the balance between effort and reward (in this case, having a bucket of ice thrown over you is quite taxing, but is perfectly pitched as a forfeit for not donating).
4. Make sharing fundamental to the mechanic (one of the rewards of taking the challenge is the chance to nominate someone and get your own back). 
Compare this with many brands’ social activity where users are routinely asked to take selfies (product in one hand, thumbs-up in the other) and upload them to the pre-approved hashtag for the chance of winning some product. This way social nirvana does not beckon. 
It’s also been a timely reminder of the pitfalls of social media campaigns. Once the campaign takes on a life of its own the original ‘brand’ message can get diluted and adapted as users focus too much on the mechanic (buckets and ice) and lose sight of the message (the charity). Also, there is always the risk of the originators of the challenge somehow finding they face a backlash as users get bored of their newsfeeds being filled by identikit videos, and yet another article titled “10 celebrity ice bucket challenges you may have missed”. 
Human interest is crucial
But what can brands learn about how they should be getting involved in social causes in general? 
The biggest social media events have always had a cause at heart. The everyday sexism project, the clean-up after the London riots, #leaning in, have all used social media to highlight a cause, build awareness and use the weight of people power to address the issue. And these have led to genuine behavioural change, so the accusation that a re-tweet doesn’t make you a genuine activist doesn’t hold water. 
There’s no reason brands shouldn’t have a point of view about causes, and make that point of view central to their social media. They have the resource, the budgets and the customer base to take a more active role in shaping the world, but so much of what we see from brands is knee-jerk (some may say cynical) bandwagon-jumping. Whereas campaigns that make a genuine contribution to improving society, like Dove’s Real Beauty or Lifeskills by Barclays, are few and far between. 
As Facebook and Twitter become more and more dominated by advertising, it’s going to be easier for brands to buy eyeballs as a proxy for doing something worthwhile, and spend less time focusing on the creative. The key lesson from ALS is that it doesn’t require huge innovation or resource to capture the public imagination. Just a good execution and something that people care about. 
Above all the aforementioned lessons, my golden rule would be that cause-based activity needs to follow the basic principles of social media and indeed all good marketing. Choose your moment carefully. By all means be brave, but if there’s even a chance it could backfire, leave well alone. 
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Native: Is this just ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’?

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 14/07/2014

Speaking at Adobe's London Digital Marketing Summit, Will Hayward, vice-president, advertising at BuzzFeed said native advertising was currently seen as an example of the "blurring" of editorial and commercial.

This sounds a lot like the old marketing tool, the advertorial. And if native advertising is to challenge the advertorial format, it needs to be seen as a grown-up part of the media mix.

Advertorial – a one-sided approach
From my perspective an advertorial is an agency and client’s last ditch attempt to make a low interest category or brand interesting.

The reality is that the well qualified editorial team are often too busy filing interesting content to worry about the brand pillar of a personal toiletry product or holiday destination to provide scintillating content that aligns the best interests of all parties. The task is inevitably farmed out to interns or freelance writers, often on short timelines. The publication in this instance holds all the cards and takes a commercial approach.

In essence it is a parasitic relationship where a lot of the power is held by one side of the arrangement.

But publishers and media owners are facing a changing consumer consumption model that demands content 24 hours a day (accelerated by mobile devices). Current staff structures can’t support that and just replicating the same content onto every media outlet will surely erode any business model in the long term. Until these stakeholders find a way to financially monetise their digital offering, this is not viable in the long-term.

Native advertising – equal inputs and outputs
In comparison, native advertising offers equal benefits to all parties. Content, stories, opinions and points of view are all written in the brand’s tone of voice. Plus, the product managers still get their brand endorsed by a credible media publisher.

Yes, it requires more work from all parties: the brand to understand they are aiming to create true ‘content’ not just a picture with a publications endorsement, and the publication to understand that it should be seen as a solution to a content problem they are experiencing not just fast buck onto their bottom line. But as this approach is more collaborative – it offers a symbiotic relationship as opposed to a parasitic one.

If native advertising is such a win-win it shouldn’t be a particularly hard sell. However, the same barriers that come up every time a new development in digital media takes place are alive here.
Firstly, what role does it play in the media mix?

Native Advertising is about leveraging the valued, trusted editorial of the publisher in a way that doesn’t distract from the users’ experience, but instead provides an engaging content experience. If we believe this, then planning native as a way of combating lowering response rates from direct response display formats surely is not the answer. As an industry we need to make sure that clients don’t see it in that way, but instead see it as another string to the bow of digital media and measure it accordingly.

Secondly, who creates it? By its nature, native advertising doesn’t adhere to set formats; there can be no IAB standard. This hugely increases the number of creative assets needed for a campaign. However, as with other developments in digital media, formats that sit outside of standard creative (e.g. mobile ads, search ads, social ads) tend not to have been picked up by the creative agencies. This has increased the responsibility for media owners and media agencies to work on brands’ creative, or opened the door to niche companies to take advantage.

However, the first steps needed to over-come these challenges must be taken by media agencies. We must educate our clients on the features and benefits of native, as well as identifying the publishers who’re building out creative service teams to help brands create content that fits the voice of the outlet – an area which advertorials don’t match up.  Finally, and most importantly, unless agencies and clients are prepared to effective measure native campaigns, we’ll all miss an exciting opportunity to satisfy consumer’s desires for engaging branded content.

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Predicting Cannes 2014 – Man vs Machine

By Felicity White - Digital Account Manager on 16/06/2014


Unless you live in a cave you’ll probably have had the mandatory summer email for sweepstakes; be it on the Open, World Cup, or Cannes. But now some of the smartest minds in our industry are pitching man against machine to predict the winners of Innovation at Cannes 2014.

Decoded, a coding training academy, have developed an algorithm called ‘The Oracle’, which they claim can predict the outcome using ‘big data’.  This will be pitched against stiff competition – the Leo Burnett team who claim that its Cannes Predictions reel has an 84% success rate in forecasting Lion winners over the last 26 years. Leo Burnett has only missed a Film Grand Prix twice, and one of those years was 1997, when none was awarded.

So, what are they predicting? Leo Burnett have picked the Samsung ‘Smart Bike’ which claims to be the world’s safest bike. This is based on last year’s judge’s focus on ideas which have real human impact; combined with monitoring online buzz, local insight, and gut instinct.

The Oracle has picked ‘Beats Music’, the music streaming service. This decision was made purely on the basis of last year's data, looking at which agencies, which regions, which cities, which holding companies, and which kinds of campaigns had the greatest success.

So who will predict correctly? You’ll have to tune in to the last day of the festival on June 21st to find out.  Personally, I’d like to think The Oracle is most informed, since it is predicting a 77% chance that WPP will outperform Omnicom in Film Lions. Come on WPP!

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Twitter, a remote control or a means of greater TV targeting?

By Andrew Reeves - Account Director on 22/04/2014


Last week saw an intriguing announcement from Sky for a service called #WatchOnSky which is enabled through Twitter. It will appear across Sky’s Twitter feeds and allow people to see the epic 'Game of Thrones' the gripping 'Mad Men', through to sporting events and movies.

The mechanic itself is simple to operate with Sky providing tweets about shows to people and if it includes the ‘#WatchOnSky’, it can be expanded to reveal ‘Watch’ and ‘Record’ icons that link directly to Sky’s mobile TV service Sky Go to either watch it on the go or record it to your Sky+ box to watch when you get home.

Sky currently offer 54 channels through Sky Go and this service builds on the Sky Go and Sky+ apps. This is all very handy for the consumer and puts them in total control of when and where they watch TV as more and more people move towards time shifted viewing.

Looking at this from a planners perspective this seems like a very clever move and will allow Sky to tap into a rich stream of customer data irrespective of the device the content is being consumed on as people have to be logged in to get access the service.  As Sky moves towards a majority of Sky+ boxes and therefore Adsmart enabled households any additional data that can be collected and collated will allow them to build a richer picture of the makeup of individual consumers. This in turn will allow Adsmart campaigns to be more targeted and accurate than the standard BARB audiences that TV campaigns are currently bought against.

It’s no full solution to evolving the standard buying audiences and I can hear the digital teams scoffing at the prehistoric levels of targeting but it’s a strong step in the right direction. Let’s just hope that the twitter activity doesn’t retweet any guilty pleasures we record for everyone to see!

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Marketing Mix Modelling Must Evolve With The Times

By Rhys Jones - Global Effectiveness Activation Manager on 17/04/2014

Marketing Mix Models(MMM) have, in recent times, increasingly come under attack from various sources, who question whether or not flaws in the underlying methodology mean that far too much emphasis is placed on short term volume driving activities (such as price and promotion), at the expense of more longer term strategies such as advertising investment:

The problem however lies not in the underlying methodology behind MMM, but rather, in its application to understanding the impact of different marketing strategies on the consumer’s journey to purchase a product.

Let’s look at the typical purchase journey:

Quite clearly, the consumer’s journey is a complex one and often begins long before the actual intention to purchase, with a shortlist of possible brands being drawn up through a mix of past experiences, peer recommendation and general brand awareness brought about through marketing and product availability.  This brand shortlist is then continually refined the closer the consumer gets to the point of purchase, again having being influenced by past experiences, peer recommendation and general marketing activity.

At the point of purchase, the decision to purchase is likely to be heavily influenced by pricing, point of sale marketing and the alternatives available, and less so heavily influenced, by marketing more highly geared to influence higher up the consumer funnel.

Exposure and interaction between media touch points is complex too, with many channels (such as digital and social) interacting with traditional channels to influence consumer response.  

Couple this with the fact that no two consumers are ever the same, then it becomes clear that today’s marketers are, now more than ever, in need of a framework that can help them understand this complexity and subsequently develop the right strategy to grow their brand.  

MMM is the ideal methodology to accomplish just this task, yet many marketing mix models
fail to truly recognise this complexity in their design, instead condensing the consumer journey merely to the point of purchase, examining just the direct link between various marketing factors and sales rather than examining the true impact across the consumer journey.


It is therefore little wonder that such models fail to give marketers the depth of insight they so desperately need, and indeed overvalue the more direct sale marketing activities at the expense of their more brand led counterparts.  

So what’s the solution?

The advent of so called ‘big data’ has meant that the breadth and depth of data that can be gathered on consumers is on a scale never before seen. This, coupled with the application of more advanced modelling techniques than the familiar time series based approach, has meant that over simplification of models and subsequent insights no longer need be a problem for MMM.  At Maxus we believe that there are three areas of improvement any practitioner can make to their models so that they deliver true insight to their clients:

1. Include more granular, better tracked data sources

Combining the already well-established tracked data sources of digital and social media with customer level sales data and new customer level ratings data for offline media, means that models can, like never before, be built at the consumer segment level.

Modelling at this level means that marketers will be able to glean insight into  how different media strategies influence different consumer groups. Ultimately marrying the delivery of the results with the segmentation and media planning work that was done in advance of a campaign at the consumer segment level.

2. Include additional KPIs within the models

Since the 1990’s, much has been made in accountancy circles of the so called ‘Balanced Scorecard’ (Kaplan & Norton, Harvard Business School) approach to evaluating business performance. Such an approach advocates the use of a more ‘balanced’ set of KPIs including softer brand and internal measures, as well as the
usual financial measures as a means to evaluating business performance. Quite obviously, such a framework has a place in evaluating the consumer journey and as such can be applied to an MMM framework to encompass a whole range of consumer KPIs, such as brand awareness and customer satisfaction levels in addition to the usual sales KPIs common to most models.

Inclusion of such KPIs would mean that marketers could gain insight into the true role more brand led marketing is playing, rather than focusing purely on its role at the point of purchase, an area where it is likely to be significantly undervalued.

3. Make use of more exotic model frameworks to model results

The big problem with the standard statistical modelling approaches to MMM is that they are unable to cope with the inclusion of multiple KPIs, or indeed the interaction effects that are likely to exist between them and the individualvariables they contain. However, a number of other modelling frameworks, such as SEM (structural equation models) mean that more complicated model designs involving multiple, interrelated consumer KPIs and associated explanatory variables can be handled within a single framework. This in turn makes estimating the effect of different marketing activities on all elements of the consumer funnel relatively simple, so that marketers can at last understand the true role different media play in eliciting a consumer response.

It’s clear then that MMM isn’t necessarily a flawed concept when it comes to measuring the impact of marketing on the consumer. Rather, that it can, with a few tweaks to the underlying data, model design and application, become one of the most powerful tools marketers can call upon to help decide on the correct strategy in today’s consumer landscape.

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