The Lowdown 2021 #April


As shop doors finally reopen and we enjoy a pint in pub gardens and much needed haircuts, this month we serve up the low down on cinema projections, shine a light on unseen content, sing the praises of audio and gen up on Google's video experiment tool. Cheers!

Open for business

The retail and hospitality industries breathed a collective sigh of relief on Monday 12th April when their doors were finally back open, albeit only into the garden/ onto the pavement for pubs and eateries.

Picture source: Campaign, 'Heineken: celebrity hairstylist Michael Douglas cutting hair outside The Gregorian in Bermondsey': 'Heineken pop-up ends the long wait for a pint and a haircut, simultaneously'


On the first weekend, 2.8 billion was spent in physical stores, 6 million pints were sold (based on the Centre for Retail Research and Vouchercodes.co.uk) and London Underground usage was up 18%. Proof that life is finally creeping back into town and cities with general footfall up (The Guardian and The Retail Gazette).


In the BBC's article, 'Shoppers making 'revenge purchases' flock back to High Street', Catherine Shuttleworth, a Savvy retail analyst said that

"A lot of people have money in their pockets that they want to spend. Whilst online is a way we can do our shopping it is quite boring and dull, and I think we have overdosed on that."

A combination of school holidays, good weather and being able to meet others certainly fuelled footfall figures. Springboard's Diane Wehrle thinks that based on previous lockdowns, footfall will continue to increase over the next few weeks which will bring some much needed positivity to the high street.


Ears on the up

As reported in 'The Era of the Ear' in Campaign, Charles Vallance suggests that brands should be considering the value of 'OTL' - opportunity to listen. The proliferation of technology such as smartphones, the digitalisation of radio and streamed music services has created a plethora of listening opportunities which have exploded during lockdowns (it seems everyone has created their own podcast!). This technology has been paired with better and more accessible audio equipment meaning our ears can be inundated with content wherever we are, all day long. Media platforms such as TikTok and Clubhouse have already jumped on this aural bandwagon and beta efforts are coming from Twitter and Facebook.


Creatively, this should encourage brands to think more carefully about soundtracks, voiceovers, slogans and jingles. Although the strength of visual is unrefuted, more thought should be given to audio's value potential.

Beware of unseen content

Despite attention on viewability in recent years, Marketing Week's article, 'Brand loyalty, consumer spending, data: 5 interesting stats to start your week' suggests that there remains a way to go with 45% of online content still going unseen (though better than 69% last year).

Picture source: Contentsquare, as shown on Marketing Week 'Brand loyalty, consumer spending, data: 5 interesting stats to start your week'


The level of unseen content varies by sector, with beauty and clothing having the worst record. It also fluctuates by device with mobile getting bottom marks at 49%, followed by desktop at 46% and tablet at 39%. Here at M.i. we know that viewability doesn't automatically translate into actual views or consumer attention, and are therefore now working with Lumen to help clients better quantify the true value of their impacts / impressions.

Video experiments in Google ads

As reported in Social Media Today, Google is introducing a video experiments tool in Google ads which will enable brands to test and compare different video marketing tactics.

Picture source: Google Ads Help, 'Create a video experiment'


Ali Miller, Director of Product Management at YouTube Ads has said:

"Knowing the outsized impact of creative on driving sales, we’re launching video experiments globally in Google Ads over the next several weeks. These experiments are easy to set up and quick to deliver results you can act on. So whether you’re looking to understand the impact of different video ads on Brand Lift, conversions or CPAs, you too can make more informed decisions that improve your results on YouTube."

This tool will be accessible within the Google Ads dashboard in the 'Drafts & Experiments' tab and there will soon be a 'Video Experiments' option.


Based on global studies, Google have suggested that when used for lower funnel performance on YouTube, advertisers saw a 30% lower median CPA (from the best performing creative) and for upper funnel, saw a 60% higher ad recall from the better creative. Google suggests several potential areas for testing including:

  1. Text sizing

  2. Zooming in on product/people

  3. Clearer calls to action

Further support on how to set up a video experiment can be found here or talk to your M.i. Business Director today.

Heading to the drive-in?


Undeniably, the cinema industry has had a shocker over the past year - 2020 was down 80% on 2019 (as quoted on Statista). However, drive-in cinemas opened on the 12th April and with indoor screens finally reopening from 17th May - the flickering of the film projector is looking brighter. Based on a UK wide survey commissioned by the Film Distributor's Association carried out by Metrixlab (and shared in Variety's article):

40% of audiences are planning to return within the first few weeks after reopening and a further 36% within the first couple of months.

Home cinema can't fully replicate the shared experiences of collective viewing in red velvet seats with over-sized boxes of popcorn, so surely cinema is in for an enormous resurgence?


In the Drum's 'Cinema advertising post-pandemic: what does the future hold for the silver screen?', the figures are more reticent, with global ad spend only predicted to reach 2019 levels by 2025. The amount of money gained from a theatrical release is a massive incentive for studios to get back into cinemas as soon as possible but not every cinema will have been able to weather Covid's storm. There will be some people who will continue to watch on VOD first and Kathryn Jacob at Pearl & Dean suggests that the time between theatrical and VOD releases could shorten to 45 - 60 days. So cinema returns but the opportunity for advertisers to reach film fans in recent releases via VOD instead seems likely to persist.

OOH migrating to audience-led trading


As reported on Mediatel News, our outdoor specialists, Talon Outdoor, have made the decision to change their digital out of home trading approach to be completely audience-led as opposed to the more traditional cost per panel. They believe this will allow planners to more easily assess the value of DOOH compared to other media.


Using the widely recognised CPM model, Talon's Performance Director, Phil Dack believes:

“Our new approach enables us to trade the value of audiences for clients and enables us to change the supply in less demanded day-parts and across towns and cities as we negotiate audience behaviour changes. We can demonstrate a more consistent weight of audience delivery in places like London, particularly with the proliferation of new digital locations, to better follow the audience to environments like malls and local high-streets, rather than be driven by invisible factors dictated by location and environment.”

M.i.'s, Investment Director, Jo Blake agrees that this is:

A good and much needed move from Talon. Any medium should be planned and bought on an audience led basis not just by format. This approach should be the norm.”

M.i. Media is the media agency for clients seeking to accelerate their growth through effective advertising. Click here to get in touch.