Each year the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) holds a week-long event dedicated to driving improvements and sharing the latest thinking in marketing effectiveness. The centrepiece to this is a day of presentations, discussions and sessions in London that’s designed to energise and empower delegates to share with their agency colleagues and clients. This year’s theme was ‘Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era’.

This year’s event included presentations from industry heavyweights (Les Binet and Peter Field shared the outtakes of their new publication) plus a couple of relevant celebrity sections, all chaired by the BBC’s Naga Munchetty, who kept the conversation on topic and asked probing questions.

Summarising a day so packed full of content in one blog is a difficult task, as each speaker really warrants their own discussion. So grab yourself a brew and put aside 5 minutes to read through this summary of the topics of EffWeek, but keep your eyes peeled for our webinar later this year where we will share the content in more detail.

Whilst there were innumerable points to share, a summary of the main themes is:

An optimistic mindset matters

Lorna Hawtin told us all how optimism, creativity and curiosity are all linked, and how it’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity. Optimism is a muscle that can be exercised though, and gets stronger the more we use it. Additionally, there are causes for optimism out there, including the UK’s natural strength for creative output and that although the national economic picture is one of uncertainty, individuals remain far more optimistic and this mindset can be tapped into.

Culture matters in marketing

For marketing to prove its value to the business, there needs to be an effectiveness culture throughout the business that shares a common language. For marketers, this may well include building bridges with finance. Agencies report that the current state of affairs isn’t perfect – too often the focus is on the short-term instead of long-term, success isn’t defined up front, and although there’s a shared responsibility for success, the culture to support it isn’t there yet.

Cross platform brand fluency helps with managing marketing

Given The Behaviours Agency’s interest in Behavioural Economics, this section especially appeals. In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman paints a picture of the human mind operating in a System 1 and System 2 way. System 1 quickly makes decisions and is effectively appealed to through advertising. System 1 is more emotional and instinctive, and so prefers brands that are famous (come easily to mind), that give a good feeling, and that are fluent (i.e. recognised quickly). With that in mind, advertising that uses heuristics such as recurring characters, phrases etc can be shown to be more effective than advertising that appeals in a more rational way.

Metrics matter in measuring marketing

A recent survey revealed that CMOs are often ‘data rich, but insight poor’, as the availability of instant feedback from digital channels gives them a huge amount of data to sift through. Jon Webb of Gain Theory advocates that measurement should be “as simple as possible, and as complex as necessary”. Also, before measuring, you should ask yourself ‘What do I plan to do once I get the results of this measurement?” to see whether it’s a metric really worth monitoring. As a final note, you should choose KPIs that make the business objectives seem more immediate – assuming you’re aiming for profitable growth, the KPIs should make it feel urgent and present right now.

Effectiveness in context

Building on their earlier work, recommending a mix of short-term activation with longer-term brand building for maximum effectiveness, Binet and Field introduced a more sophisticated model. They argue that although the balance of sales activation to brand building should be roughly 40/60 in favour of brand, this ratio can change for different sectors. Additionally, in categories where activation is easier, you should prioritise brand building and in categories where activation is harder you should prioritise it more. As a key point, brand building is critical to reducing brand sensitivity.

Creativity still matters

Several of the contributors at the conference discussed AI, social media and having a ‘fail fast’ approach. At first glance it might seem that the place for creativity is shrinking against this background but nothing could be further from the truth. New media has always looked likely to change the advertising industry completely, but it’s important to see social media, content marketing, data monitoring etc as tools that can be used for marketing. They’re therefore just different media for creativity to be used in. Additionally, new methods of research might look like they’ll stifle creativity, but used well they can supercharge its effectiveness.

If you’re interested in introducing more marketing effectiveness in your organisation, or would like to hear how behavioural economics can unlock marketing that delivers greater ROI, why not get in touch.

By James Kay

Account Director