Learning from a decade of effectiveness

  • Date 10th February 2021
  • Author Angela Smith
Learning from a decade of effectiveness

If it wasn’t already obvious, the Advertising Industry loves a good awards show. But while many are drawn to the more cosmetic end of the spectrum, AFFINITY has always focused on the shows that reward work that delivers a serious ROI. (We are The Outcomes Agency, after all.)

Two shows in particular that draw our attention are the London-based IPA Effectiveness Awards and the global Effie Awards, with their APAC and Australian off-shoots. What makes winning these particularly special is that each entry has undergone rigorous rounds of judging. Recognition attests to the hard work and brain power spent creating initiatives that lead to significant outcomes that can be seen on the balance sheet.

And if you’ll excuse a slight humble brag, we’ve been pretty good at demonstrating that for our clients quite a bit in recent years (including the honour of the IPA Tim Broadbent Prize for Most Effective International 2020) . But you don’t move forward by standing still, so we recently completed an analysis of an effectiveness “hall of fame” from across both shows, exploring projects, big and small, to uncover what worked and what we can learn from them. Here’s our top five : 

Commercial effectiveness of social is growing

Historically, social media and social media influencers weren’t heavily featured – or judged – for their commercial effectiveness. This was likely because of shortcomings in proper measurement. However, we’ve slowly seen that turn around across many different sectors. By 2018, social had already surpassed other media channels and represented the most popular channel in IPA entries.

“The days of the ‘social account’ being run by the interns is, mercifully, largely over.”  - IPA 2018, insights from winning campaigns

Social media now plays an intrinsic part in a business’s marketing mix, and is a channel where tangible returns on marketing dollars spent are expected. Brands are seeing – and measuring – real value in creating short term social initiatives and long-lasting advocate relationships.

A PR strategy pays off 

Similar to social, PR saw its importance grow significantly in the last few years. With the possibility of a story being seen by millions – and the potential knock-on effect of that on a campaign – marketers need to take into account the role of earned media as part of any initiative. And to do this right, PR needs to be part of the discussion of any new initiative, pre-launch.

“A few papers did an excellent job of earning media, often on limited budgets, with a PR strategy that was baked in. Several approaches were taken towards securing coverage, underlining the power of a seductive idea that translates into social channels and can be shared organically, as well as guaranteeing pick-up from news outlets.” - Lessons from the 2020 IPA Effectiveness winners

Advertising is getting more and more complex:

The advertising landscape has evolved tremendously over the last 10 years: GDPR, the Cookiepocalypse, brand safety measures, programmatic buying, data management platforms (DMPs), customer data platforms (CDPs) – to name a few – have all had an impact. 

A common thread across many winning case studies were those that had successfully expanded and diversified their channel mix, or had deployed tech platforms or data systems for an edge in those areas.

The fact is, today’s marketers have more and more available data at their disposal and more Martech platforms that they need to understand. Staying up to date with the potential of both can allow you to push the boundaries further for a more effective and creative use of media platforms.

Research correlates with effectiveness

 Mark Ritson, a branding expert and columnist for UK-based trade title Marketing Week, analysed nearly 6000 Effie entries dating back to 1968, with a greater focus on entries in the last ten years.

When looking at the role of research in the Effie papers, Ritson’s analysis found a commitment to up-front research makes marketing efforts more effective and prevents marketers from jumping straight to tactics:

“The first step in marketing is taking a step back, always, to work out what's going on.”

Research can help decipher presumptions from facts, and delve deeper into the why; uncovering crucial insights for stronger initiatives.

Emotion always strikes a chord 

A consistent thread in submitted papers throughout the years is a focus on emotion. It’s hardly surprising when you consider 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious. Emotion is the deciding factor in what really drives purchasing behaviours. Facts might stop you but an appeal to your softer side is more likely to convert you. (Even when you’re a judge.)

Ultimately, the successful blending of a wide range of marketing tools, initiatives and bravery, must all come together to create effective initiatives and positive outcomes. While the secret sauce to great outcomes will always have innovation as an ingredient, distilling trends and drawing learnings from the last 10 years of effectiveness can help deliver a shining star to those looking to make an impact with their marketing. Or to paraphrase a famous saying: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to stay ineffective.”

Better input always leads to greater outcomes

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