Small and big agencies and some of the biggest names in adland have their fingers and toes crossed for victory, after the IPA shortlisted 38 campaigns for the Effectiveness Awards, which take place this autumn.
It got me thinking about effectiveness beyond awards, as an intrinsic part of business culture.
What can marketers do towards growing a culture of effectiveness?
Back at the end of the noughties I was very excited about my new role at Cadbury and even more excited about all that we were planning as a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics.
We were investing in initiatives above, below and through the line and part of my job was to evaluate these efforts.
The goal was to drive a legacy. The feeling was that this was probably a one-off opportunity for us to engage with a huge market locally.
However, this created a challenge: how do you measure a legacy? How do you know if you’ve created one and how much revenue is it worth?
The answer to all of this would take a much longer article than this but one thing is very clear now.
We’ve been able to apply a number of learnings from and since the Olympics, which have been applied in our first year of partnership with the Premier League (pictured, above).
Over the last few years we have steadily been growing a culture of effectiveness in our business, which is now consistently driving real and measurable business results.
Based on much of what you read in the marketing press we are supposed to be spending less on advertising, spending less on TV (because it’s, at best, not being watched or is dead), spending more on digital, creating more content in house, killing the agency model and destroying creativity through big data.
So far we’ve managed to avoid doing all of these things and, in most cases, have done the opposite while building a healthy culture of effectiveness.
The approach to creating great campaigns is not exactly rocket science and isn’t in need of reinventing despite many people seemingly being intent on doing so.
As soon as you start with the channel or being deliberately "digitally" led, you are immediately potentially limiting your success.
The combination of the story or idea, the audience and finally the channels pays back on far more occasions than the other way round.
An added element for more impulsive, snacking brands like ours is how to involve our customers in the process too.
For the Premier League activation in particular, this has been an essential part of our efforts.
Test and learn
We don’t always get it right and not every one of our campaigns drives a record-breaking ROI.
We can’t always explain why every element of a campaign works even if we know what the ROI is.
But this is liberating as it allows us to have a test and learn culture and to work with many partners who are constantly helping us to evolve and develop how we advertise.
Over the last couple of years, as well as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat, we’ve also worked with likes of Oath, Mumsnet, Spotify, Buzzfeed and Match.com.
At the same time we’ve done specific activations with The Sun, The Daily Mirror and Global Radio.
This allows us to incorporate different thinking and create specific content to reach new audiences.
Great work doesn’t always drive a short-term uplift in sales and neither should it be expected to.
There should be room in your plans to do both and not one at the expense of the other.
Looking at ROI in relative terms
Another evolution in our thinking is in moving away from seeing an ROI in absolute terms but rather how can we improve it.
This allows an even playing field across all of our brands and categories across our region and helps to focus our efforts on growth.
It’s easy to get lost in a debate around why an individual ROI is higher or lower than the expectation but it’s far more productive to talk about how it’s evolved from one year to the next.
How did the plans change, was the creative the same, was it optimised for the channel that was used, how many impressions, cost per point?
The answers to all of these questions are helping us to make better decisions and build learnings, which identify what sort of campaigns are more likely to drive better results.
Working with partners
We are also keen to be involved in healthy ongoing conversations around wider issues of brand safety, transparency and measurement.
We welcome being a part of the work that ISBA and the IPA are doing to improve things from an industry perspective.
It’s also encouraging to hear about the work that Newsworks, Thinkbox and Radiocentre have been doing to help build an understanding of how consumers respond to advertising.
A lot of this work doesn’t necessarily create headlines but it certainly helps nail the point that long-standing media channels have somehow become dated or unsound.
My view remains that a culture of effectiveness in a client will allow all media channels to play to their strengths.
Matt Stockbridge is growth analytics manager at Mondelez Europe