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The Lowdown - August 2021

As we continue to wait for some summer sun, in this month's Lowdown we highlight Twitter's new Shopping functionality, sustainability aspirations this Christmas and what happens when you stop advertising. Read on!


Twitter continues to evolve in the ever changing social market - keep up!

Source: 'Twitter Shopping: Testing the Shop Module', blog by Bruce Falck

Bruce Falck, Twitter's Revenue Product Lead, has announced that they are putting more energy into testing the potential for shopping on Twitter and has launched a Shop Module pilot:

"The Shop Module is a dedicated space at the top of a profile where businesses can showcase their products. When people visit a profile with the Shop Module enabled, they can scroll through the carousel of products and tap through on a single product to learn more and purchase - seamlessly in an in-app browser, without having to leave Twitter."

This initiative aligns with Twitter's efforts around Professional Profiles which allows businesses to have access to features to help drive engagement and business outcomes.

In further developments, as reported in Tech Crunch, Twitter is giving their Space hosts (a feature introduced last year to anyone with 600+ followers) the opportunity to invite two co-hosts. Spaces will therefore allow one main host, two co-hosts and up to 10 speakers. It is hoped that the co-hosts will help moderate the space, vet speaker requests, tap speakers and remove speakers if necessary.

As new features are continually launched, some inevitably don't quite make the grade, and one such feature, 'Fleets', has headed off into the sunset, as reported on The Drum. Fleets hadn't delivered new users to Twitter as hoped, but instead was used by those already Tweeting.

The social space continues to be a fast-paced world of new trends, apps and features which could help drive even better advertising performance for your brand, so it's definitely worth keeping up with the changes!


What happens when you stop advertising?

An Australian research report has looked at the impact on sales when brands stop advertising for long periods. Advertising can be cut for several reasons - saving money during periods of financial pressure, running out of budget due to unforeseen extra spending or even 'milking' the brand (holding on to budget to improve net profit). But, what are the likely outcomes when a brand stops advertising? Here are four key findings (with more detail to be found in the report):

  1. If a brand has stopped advertising for 1 year+, sales often decline YoY. On average sales fall 16% after the first year and 25% after two years.

  2. The rate of decline is fastest for brands that are already declining before the advertising stops (as the chart below illustrates):

Source: University of South Australia: Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science: What happens to sales when brands stop advertising for long periods?

3. Small brands suffer greater declines in sales.

4. Larger, growing brands can continue to grow for one or two years after advertising stops but sales go into reverse quicker for smaller brands in growth.

The study illustrates that the situation of the brand (big/small, growing/declining etc.) will have a bearing on the sales response. Of course, the decision to quit advertising needs to be assessed very carefully.


Is it too soon to talk about Christmas?

After 2020's Christmas festivities were seriously disrupted, thoughts are already turning to what people are hoping for from Christmas 2021. Research carried out by Opinium for the IPA has explored this in more detail. Luke Green, IPA Insight Analyst says their data suggests:

"...a complex array of consumer attitudes towards Christmas 2021. While it appears that half of the UK population will be channelling their pent-up excitement into enjoying Christmas 2021 more following last year’s enforced lockdown, others may still be cautious. What does leap out is that consumers intend to be more sustainable this year."

The sustainability aspect seems to be one of the key findings. 56% of 18-24s are planning to be more sustainable this Christmas. However, this falls slightly for the older demographics with 27% of 45 - 54s and 25% of those aged 55+.

Many brands have already taken the step to develop their sustainability credentials over Christmas, such as Cook (the frozen food retailer), who will be carbon offsetting their Christmas Lunch bundles.

As sustainability issues gain momentum and ESG becomes a marketing business target, then brands are going to think seriously about not only the sustainability of their product but also their media plan. As Luke Green from the IPA notes:

"With ESG rising in importance for businesses too, this could be an opportunity for brands and their agencies to think about and communicate their sustainability credentials more this Christmas, while not losing sight of the festive feel."


Attention versus viewability?

Attention as a metric over viewability is fast becoming a hot topic in our industry - one recent article addressing this is on Mediatel, 'Attention Revolution: the reinvention of invention'. Professor Karen Nelson-Field discusses the measurement conundrum presented by viewability and attention in digital:

"Viewability is about how the ad is presented on the screen to a viewer; attention is how a viewer responds to the ad presented on the screen."

The article outlines how current viewability measurement is inadequate but really the critical aspect is attention...

"...even if there is a human behind the view, they are most likely highly distracted (usually by other fun things on the page). On average, between 70-80% of an ad has no active attention paid at all."

Her recent research shows that optimising on attention has a 6x greater likelihood of brand choice than optimising on viewability. Therefore, attention is more closely linked to business outcome and should therefore be the key ad effectiveness metric. Attention is certainly a metric we have increasing focus on here at M.i.


The effect of the pandemic on charities

nfpSynergy have released their latest findings from their report 'Hidden But Vital: Charities and the Pandemic'. Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, it's been extremely tough for charities - many of their regular income sources have been closed down and some key target audiences have stopped giving. This has left many charities chasing the same leads... Here are a few of the 'highlights':

  • Prior to the pandemic, 69% of the public said that they donated to charity in the last 3 months compared to 55% in March 2021. Worryingly, the largest reductions have come from the older demographic - a drop of 30% of 45-65s (pre pandemic versus now) and a drop of 18% for 35-44s.

  • Socially distanced methods of giving have increased since pre pandemic: websites (20% to 38%), giving by standing order or direct debit (30% to 41%), debit card or credit card (26% to 41%), membership subscription and by SMS/text (10% to 23%).

  • In Jan 2020, 55% of the public said that protecting the environment should come first and 24% said the economy should be prioritised. In March this year, the numbers were much closer: 42% for the environment and 43% for the economy, the first time the economy has been higher since 2012.

It's clear that these are particularly challenging times for charities and there is not going to be a one-size fits all solution. If at all possible, listening to your audience and testing and learning in all aspects of your marketing activity (channel, format, ask, value etc.) will hope to steer you in a positive direction.


What's Zuch got to say?

As reported in The Verge, in June Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new initiative to employees - that he wants to build a metaverse (a maximalist, interconnected set of experiences like seen in sci-fi).

For those not familiar with the term 'metaverse', there was an essay written in January 2020 by Matthew Ball, who set out to identify a metaverse's key characteristics:

"it has to span the physical and virtual worlds; contain a fully-fledged economy; and offer “unprecedented interoperability” — users have to be able to take their avatars and goods from one place in the metaverse to another, no matter who runs that particular part of it. Critically, no one company will run the metaverse — it will be an “embodied internet,”

Indeed. To be honest we're still trying to get our head around this, let alone the implications, but as ever we'll give you the lowdown as things progress!


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