Advertising's first steps on the new-media journey

Digital and social media offer new ways to reach audiences. This year's IPA Effectiveness Awards winners start trying to evaluate their impact on business, the Convenor of Judges, David Golding, writes.

What a great time it is to be working in advertising. Not many pieces in this magazine start with this assertion. They don't because there's plenty within our industry that demands scrutiny and comment - the talent-drain, tight margins, crowd-sourcing etc. But now and again, it's important to step back and take a broader view of the world we operate in.

The UK public devours an average of eight hours and 40 minutes of communication and media time every day; this is more time than we spend sleeping. And, while our industry creates some of the commercial messages and online interactive ideas that fill these hours, we clearly have the opportunity to create ever more ways to reach ever more content-hungry and engaged consumers. Our headroom for growth is huge, which makes it a pretty good category to be working in, doesn't it?

This year's IPA Effectiveness Awards rather suggest the answer is yes. Sixty-eight papers were entered, the greatest number for 15 years. This alone suggests an industry, and an awards scheme, in strong health. But more encouraging still is the fact that these entries increasingly span the huge range of ways that media today works, and I mean really works, to deliver commercial returns.

There's much to learn from the winners and I'd like to reflect upon the areas where the cream of this year's crop have added to the bank of knowledge already generated by these awards over their 30 year history. First up, how to deal with dark times ...

Turning a recession into an opportunity

In 2010, the UK economy was coming out of a serious recession. As a result, this year's Effectiveness Awards have been characterised by brands illustrating a range of different approaches to navigating successfully through tough times. Where some, such as Heinz, push the importance of long-term brand reassurance, others such as Barclays and Audi have adapted their communications to build fresh value propositions into their brand promises, without compromising long-term equity as they do so. Whether we're about to double-dip or slowly recover, what we have learned in 2010 will be vital for future recessionary marketing.

Using a brand's fans as a marketing force

It wasn't just the contraction of the economy that set the trajectory for many brands, it was also the expansion of media channels and online interactivity that formed a component of some winning entries. In anticipation of the greater levels of media usage and evaluation, this year's joint entries were granted an extra 500 words to allow them to expound about their media choices and results.

There's no doubt that digital and social media are offering up new ways of reaching, engaging and influencing audiences and within this year's winners are papers that start the journey toward evaluating the business impact these can make. It's genuinely exciting to be reading about Wispa's Facebook fans and how their power was harnessed to help first relaunch, and then elevate Wispa to become Britain's best-selling chocolate bar.

Orange has also won this year with a paper that explores new territory around how we can understand and profit from online customer behaviours. In doing so, it gives us a fresh perspective on that most common online metric: "cost-per-sale". A decade ago, a paper for easyJet changed the rules of internet marketing, challenging the convention that click-through rates are the benchmark for advertising effectiveness, and in 2010 Orange has broken the rules again. Rather than focusing on "last click wins" measures, this paper presents a new understanding of how consumers actually behave over the entire online experience.

Both Orange and Wispa will be landmark papers in the future, and two that everyone should read today.

TV still has a big role to play

This year isn't simply about the new media ousting the old. TV advertising is clearly alive and well. As the Grand Prix-winning Hovis paper demonstrates, there is still a lot of power left in the big TV ad, in fact, you could say "it's as good today as it's ever been".

The nation's "Campaign of the decade" wasn't just a popular ad; it was an effective one too. But it isn't just Hovis within this year's awards that shows that the "big ad" has its place among the marketing weapons a client might select. Whether it's Hovis or Virgin Atlantic or T-Mobile, we see clear effectiveness cases being made around one moment of standout creative brilliance. In the case of Virgin Atlantic, the "still red hot" campaign, built around the unique glamour of flying Virgin, delivered 20 per cent of the business' overall revenue during its time on air. In each case, social media is shown to amplify the impact of the ad, and that is a valuable learning in its own right. But, ultimately, what we have again this year is clear proof that stirring, surprising and sassy advertising can still move the nation like nothing else to shop, fly or call someone.

Behavourial economics at work

One area where this year's awards really have added to the body of industry knowledge is the subject of behavioural economics. This fledgling science, so championed by the IPA, really proved its worth in several of this year's entries. Most notable are TDA Teacher Training and DoH Tobacco Control. Both are wonderful examples of multi-layered strategies to "nudge" people down long and difficult journeys, to either a change in career or the end of a hardened habit. The power of well-placed little nudges is really proven in these papers. I suspect the phrase "pinball planning" as coined in the TDA's Best Multi-Channel paper, will become commonplace in all agencies very soon. This model is intelligent, insightful and impactful and delivered record levels of enquires and switching to the teaching profession. It's a brilliant paper, and prescribed reading.

Sponsorship drives a new business model

Sponsorship is rarely the central tenet for a winning IPA Effectiveness paper so it's wonderful to be able to fully appreciate what O2 has achieved by turning the former Millennium Dome from a national joke into a national treasure. Far from the more customary sponsorship approach of simply badging an event or team, O2 has used its association with The O2 to create a whole music platform for the brand, designed to help create a unique loyalty among its customers. It's worked brilliantly generating significant brand profits even without Michael Jackson's doomed residency.

Marketing can still do incredible good

Of course, it's not just the commercial impact of advertising that the awards have highlighted and celebrated over the years, it's the social value too. Dip into any copy of Advertising Works and you'll see how advertising has the power to get children off drugs, off the street and to put away their guns, and how it can help people to reduce their smoking, lock their car doors, thwart burglars and use the milkman. And this year, we have wonderful new cases proving how advertising can help reduce the impact and incidence of strokes, tackle smoking among the most hardened fag-fans and encourage the elderly to leave charitable legacies. All these social and charity papers illustrate the most sensitive of research techniques and some of the most comprehensive media selections. They are an incredible testament to the good advertising can do.

Proof that advertising works

What a huge honour and responsibility it has been to be the Convenor of Judges in the year the IPA Effectiveness Awards celebrate their 30th birthday. That's a significant milestone for a significant set of awards. The founding fathers set out with a very simple manifesto: "Advertising works and we're going to prove it." And over the three decades that followed, that manifesto has been more than lived up to.

We've learned so much about how to measure advertising across years and across traditional media and how to prove its effectiveness in varied and manifold ways.

And we've never been better at sharing what we know. The volumes of Advertising Works remain a peerless reference source and required reading for anyone whose job or studies involves the business of communications, and the IPA online Databank (idol.co.uk) makes it easy to search among them to find the most relevant case studies to whatever marketing question you need an answer to. And many more of us will be asking the right questions when it comes to evaluation as the IPA Excellence Diploma continues to flourish and the first students pass the recently introduced Eff Test.

Evaluating new media

We are very clearly entering a new era when the opportunities facing advertisers are many and new.

How we go about filling the daily eight hours and 40 minutes of media time that I mentioned earlier, in order that we continue to create commercial value for clients, is going to be a real but fascinating challenge.

Will the tools and the skills learned in the evaluation of broadcast campaigns provide the evidence needed to understand how mobile, social or digital media is working? How does an iPad app or a Facebook page really add profitable value to a business? Should we all be looking to learn more from the evaluation of PR and direct media within the mix of advertising effectiveness measurement? I'm sure we should. I'm sure we will.

This year's Awards have started a process of reinvention of the measurement of the effectiveness of new media and new campaign structures. It was a delight to see entries reporting the effective use of so many new channels. But there's still a huge amount to do. The large majority of the winners this year are still focused on traditional above-the-line media. We are all feeling our way to really knowing how best to deploy and measure advertising today and it will be over the next ten years that a whole new set of best practices will emerge. It will be incumbent upon agency planners to keep reconsidering and challenging how every media available can work and does work, and how they can fit together.

But it won't be their task solely. The research industry must play its part to find new tools for measuring highly targeted, niche and interactive channels. And so too must client researchers and marketing teams, who ultimately hold so much of the market and sales data. And trade journals like this one will continue to champion the value created by the industry as a whole. But it will be down to the IPA Effectiveness Awards and the future convenors and jurors to play their part in acknowledging and publicising each new step on this new evaluative journey.

It will only be through learning from each other that the industry will blossom over the next 30 years as much as it has over the past 30.

We are clearly just at the beginning of the journey towards understanding how new media works, as individual channels and together, to deliver profitable returns for brands. It's going to be a long and winding road, but it's great to have taken the first steps. That's what these awards have always been about, recognising how new and creative thinking can reap significant business rewards for brands, businesses and their owners. The collective learning from all the IPA Effectiveness Awards over the years is immense. And I'd like to think that this year we have added significant new evidence to this rich resource, showing how all advertising models can work to transform business fortunes in the UK and around the world. All-in-all, not bad for just 30 years of work.

David Golding, founding partner, Adam & Eve; Convenor of Judges for the 2010 IPA Effectiveness Awards

Advertising Works 19 is now available to purchase. It contains full versions of the 25 case studies that won Gold and Silver Awards and summaries of the 13 Bronze Award winners from the 2010 IPA Effectiveness Awards, in addition to insight and analysis from experts across the advertising industry. Advertising Works 19 costs £125 plus VAT and is available to purchase from the IPA website: www.ipa.co.uk