The Lowdown - February 2022

In this month's Lowdown we reflect back on the latest IPA report, applaud radio for a supersonic 2021 and see how travel confidence is creeping back. However, in the shadow of worldwide events, we also want to point you in the direction of a worthy read from Mark Ritson on marketing in a war (as many of us grapple with what really matters at a time like this). Read on...


Meaningful marketing

Mark Ritson tells it as it is in his latest Marketing Week column “At times of war, marketing is rendered superficial and ridiculous". We’re mindful that our Lowdown of media matters really doesn’t matter compared to the dreadful invasion of Ukraine. As Mark puts it:

“The ‘risk’ of inflation was looking relatively benign compared to the threat of nuclear weapons”.

Mark’s advice to brands is to avoid empty gestures and think about how you might be able to help.

Our client, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) remains in Ukraine and in the wake of the escalating conflict, is seeking ways to adapt their response as the situation evolves. Read about how they are reacting here.


Mind the gap

The IPA have released their latest 'Making Sense, The commercial media landscape' yielding valuable insights, particularly into the evolution of the distinct media habits of 16-34s and 55+s pre, during and post pandemic.

The correlation or overlap between the "time spent with media channels" of 16-34s and 55+s dropped to an eyewatering low of just 8% during lockdown (meaning a 92% difference in the media consumption time of the two age groups). The latest data post lockdown implies that the correlation has improved slightly to 18%, driven by 55+ embracing more digital communication.

Source: IPA: Making Sense, The commercial media landscape'

The correlation in reach (of curated commercial media channels) between the two different age bands has also bounced back from lockdown lows, again driven by the greater digital adoption amongst older audiences.

Source: IPA: Making Sense, The commercial media landscape'

This data clearly illustrate the big differences that still exist between the media consumption of different generations. As the IPA suggests...

"...what is needed is a nuanced understanding of media usage by target, the context of usage, and, arguably most importantly comprehension of how attention and mental availability vary by media at the moment of engagement'.


Commercial radio - 2021 best ever performance

As reported by Campaign, in 2021 commercial radio had its biggest year ever in terms of revenue, celebrating a 25% increase on 2020 with digital the fastest growing.

The latest Rajar figures (Q4 2021) show 89% of the population tuning into radio every week, an average listener tuning in to 20.3 hours of live radio per week and 72% of listening now on digital platforms.

Meanwhile, as reported in The Guardian, LBC's mid-morning radio show presented by James O'Brien now has more listeners that Nick Ferrari's breakfast show. Rather than a shift in the political landscape, this is just one example of a change in how audiences are listening across the day, with increased working from home making audience numbers peak later in the morning than the usual breakfast norms.


Facebook's daily active users fall for the first time

As reported on the BBC, for the first time in 18 years, Facebook has seen its daily active users drop. Mark Zuckerberg is confident that (recently rebranded) Meta's investments in video and virtual reality will pay off but the BBC's James Clayton sounds a note of warning:

"Meta changed its name because it wanted to focus on the Metaverse. But Meta is nowhere near building a Metaverse yet, it's a pipedream at the moment.
Instead it is pumping billions of dollars into trying to create one - all because Mark Zuckerberg thinks there's an appetite for it - a huge risk."

Meanwhile as reported in Campaign, the Digital 2022 report from We Are Social and Hootsuite (based on Android users) illustrates that other social media platforms (not least TikTok) are hot on Facebook's heels:

Source: Digital 2022: The Evolution of the digital landscape in the UK

The time spent on TikTok exceeds that of Facebook, and though Facebook's UK penetration is currently much higher than TikTok, that lead is diminishing. Facebook / Meta needs the metaverse to materialise so it can monetise it fast.


Confidence in travel returning

As reported on Skyscanner's Horizons Brief: Travel Trends & Insights, relaxed restrictions have brought a very welcome wave of travel bookings to the sector with UK bookings to the Maldives apparently exceeding 2019 levels. What we thought most interesting was looking at how many days in advance of departure holidaymakers are booking with short leadtimes eg 2 months or less up significantly on pre pandemic levels:

Source: Skyscanner's Horizons Brief: Travel Trends & Insights

Skyscanner's VP of flights, Hugh Aitkin comments:

"Global and regional booking horizons do remain shortened when compared to 2019, impacting traditional seasonality. However, taking Europe as an example, there are some early signs of normalisation as a fifth of consumers are currently planning trips up to two months in advance, up 14%."

It's good that finally things seem to be moving in the right direction for the travel industry, but uncertainty remains with the cost of living crisis and war in Ukraine.


And finally...

Every week our latest digital recruits share their thoughts on something hitting the digital headlines. This week, Olufemi Allen-Taylor considers Search Engine Land's article, '4 things to beware of with Google's Performance Max automated campaigns'

What is it all about? Google's automated advertising system Performance Max.

What do I think? Interestingly, the article compares Google Performance Max to self-driving cars. Based on the 5 levels of automation defined by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration, the article places Performance Max at level 2 or 3 automation out of 5. At this level, a crash can be avoided if there is a driver in place to engage with the driving task and monitor the environment at all times. So, I believe, for Google Performance Max to work effectively, it is essential to have human interpretation and input:

  • set the complete automation goals

  • supply highly optimised feeds

  • leverage first party data

  • write helpful ad components.

This will help advertisers cruise to success!


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