Are the reports of newspapers demise greatly exaggerated?

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed I recently shared an article about South Wales Evening Post editor Spencer Freeny retiring. I didn’t share the article because I’m interested in Spencer Freeny, although I hope he enjoys his retirement. What caught my attention was some of the quotes from one of Wales’ most experienced newspaper editors and a lecturer from Cardiff University’s School of journalism.

Here are the key points that caught my attention:

  • Recently published circulation figures show the South Wales Evening Post is the most popular newspaper in Wales, selling an average of 36,623 copies a day in the first 6 months of 2012. However, the figure represents an 8.8% fall in circulation compared to the same period in 2011.
  • The BBC article stated “Mr Freeny said that advertising revenue had about halved at regional newspapers over the past five years.”
  • A lecturer from Cardiff University’s School of journalism (Dr Andy Williams) made this comment referring to regional newspapers. “I’d say it was in crisis. It’s not in a healthy state at all. The main reason is that advertisers don’t want to advertise in papers anymore.”

You can read the full article here

Before I go any further I think it’s important to state that this blog isn’t about badmouthing the current state of the press industry. I also want to highlight that Mr Freeny does think there is a future for regional press.

Both Mr Freeny and Dr Williams also mention other contributing factors as to why revenues and circulations are falling at regional papers, such as the internet, new media formats and a changing society. But….. It’s the comments about advertising revenues and advertisers that really interest me.

I’ve already established that readerships, circulations and press turnover have declined since 2007 in my blog, ‘The curious case of the shrinking ad media that’s doing better than ever!’ However, I have delved deeper for this blog and here’s what I found.

Media market share according to Nielsen – Wales (local advertisers)

As you can see from the figures taken from Nielsen, press still claims the largest proportion of advertising revenue spent in Wales.

Let’s look at the bigger picture and see what’s happening to press across the UK.

Media market share according to Nielsen – UK

Press not only takes the number 1 spot in terms of market share (by a long way) in Wales, but it also comes out as number 2 in the UK market. It’s held these rankings since 2008. These are hardly figures that suggest advertisers simply don’t want to advertise in press. In fact, when I started thinking about this blog I looked through three regional papers, all three were laden with adverts from both national and local advertisers.

When looking at the market share I think it’s important to establish if the size of the market increased or decreased. Comparing 2008 to 2011 the Welsh market shrank by -9%, but the UK market grew by 1%.

I wanted to see how other ‘traditional media’ had fared over the last few years. The graphs below look at advertising revenue (according to Nielsen) generated by press, TV and radio from 2008 to 2011.

In the Welsh market it is evident that the press revenue did decline in 2011, but the fall wasn’t as steep as the graph suggests. In fact press revenue only fell by -9% from 2008 compared to 2011. Radio and TV near enough plateaued over 2008 through to 2011. Across the UK, TV advertising revenue has grown since 2008. Radio seems to have stayed the same, neither growing nor declining.

Press seems to be up and down, but saw a greater decline than in the Welsh market and fell by -12% from 2008 when compared to 2011.

I’m not suggesting that the press industry can solely be measured by their market share of advertising revenue, or the actual sum of revenue they generate from advertising. Ultimately for any company the vital figures are those on your accounts (such as turnover and profit). After all that’s why any company trades, to make money. I looked at the accounts for several regional press owners, as expected they all saw a decline in their turnover and profit over the past few years.

Hard copy might be losing its appeal to consumers which are reflected in the declining circulation figures. And yes, it may no longer be deemed as ‘fashionable’ to advertise in hard copy editions, especially with more modern or new media platforms such as digital and social media advertising. That said, press continues to generate more money than any other media platform in Wales.

I can’t remember the last time I read a positive article or blog about the press industry; they all focus on the negatives in the industry. If the media and blogs I have read are correct, then how does the industry continue to dominate advertising revenue both in Wales and the UK?

Is it simply a question of fashion and fads? Perhaps it’s just that we in are in a world where the traditional is seen as passé and the new-fangled latest thing is always the best option by default?

One is certain, while Press as an industry continues to weigh in with the comparatively huge revenue that it does, it’s a long way for extinction

As always please leave a comment below, or email me or tweet me @realradioodi


Social media: The good, the bad and the ugly

For a bit of fun I thought I would look at corporate/brand social media successes and blunders.

Let’s take Waitrose as an example. The food retailer invited Twitter users to finish the following sentence ‘I shop at Waitrose because…….’ using the hastag, #WaitroseReasons. Whilst there were some honest tweets, some took the opportunity to poke fun at the brands ‘middle class’ image with replies such as:

  • I shop at Waitrose because the butler’s on holiday
  • I shop at Waitrose because I once heard a 6yr old boy in the shop say “Daddy does Lego have a ‘t’ at the end, like Merlot?”
  • I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people.

Waitrose were slow to respond to the ‘funny’ tweets. Eventually they did tweet “Thanks for all the genuine and funny #WaitroseReasons tweets. We always like to hear what you think and enjoyed reading most of them.”  The shy response from Waitrose indicates that the company hadn’t foreseen the potential backlash when they put the first tweet out.

Even charities can make the odd social media blunder; an American Red Cross employee accidently sent a personal tweet from the corporate account. The employee accidently tweeted that they intended to get drunk using the hashtag #gettingslizzerd.

Rather than merely deleting the tweet, the Red Cross came back with this inspired response:

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

The Red Cross then went on to address the tweet on their blog, explaining that they are a 130 year old humanitarian organisation; we’re also made up of human beings. The charities followers showed a positive response and some even pledged donations whilst using the hashtag #gettingslizzerd to show their support.

We’ve all asked to speak to a customer services advisor’s manager. But imagine if the CEO addressed your concerns directly? That’s exactly what happened to Mark Nei when he took to twitter to complain about Vodacom (South African Telecommunications Company), when the networks service went down.

Rather than a standard response from the company’s twitter account, Pieter Uys (CEO) took to his personal twitter account to reply.

And this is my favourite example of how a brand can use social media to address customer service issues.

Back in July O2 experienced something of a crisis; a lot of O2’s customers couldn’t use their mobile phones to make calls. As expected the irate customers took to twitter in order to vent their frustrations with the telecoms provider, some in a particularly rude manor.

Below are some of the ‘tamer’ tweets that they had to deal with. You can see from these tweets that the person in charge of the Twitter account that day took a humoured approach to their responses.

Not all companies are as sucessful as the examples above when it comes to addressing their customers grievences via social media. So I have handpicked some of the bad and quite frankly ugly responses.

First up it has to be Chrysler, Similar to the American Red Cross blunder the account manager accidently sent a tweet from the Chrysler account which was intended to come from his personal account.

I think it’s important to mention that the twitter account was outsourced to an agency. Chrysler came under futher scruitinity for their inablitlity to make light of the situation and an attempted cover up of the situation.

Chrysler decided to delete the tweet and claimed their account had been comprimised. Eventually they did ‘fess up on their blog and admitted that the comment had come from an employee at their social media agency. Needless to say the contract between Chrysler and the agency was terminated.

The next attempt at social suicide comes from a BBQ restaurant. This time it was the manager that took to twitter and Facebook to relive his frustrations over a particular diner.

Not only did he use inappropriate language and left abusive comments but in addition uploaded a photo of the customer in question. There is a complicate back story here. According to the manager the customer did not leave a tip. However the customer insists she did tip the staff and the abuse was down to a previous unfavourable review she left about the restaurant.

The restaurant did remove the posts, but as with anything online it was too late the comments had already been shared and captured.

Now for the pièce de résistance, Kenneth Cole (a fashion retailer) tweeted a particularly insensitive message at a particularly inappropriate time.  In order to celebrate their new spring collection they posted the following tweet.

As most of us would anticipate, a tweet like this caused outrage across the internet. It was even given its own hashtag #KennethColetweets. An hour after Kenneth Cole sent the tweet they followed it up with:

They then went onto apologise on their Facebook page, unfortunately the damage had already been done.  The information was shared across the internet and Kenneth Cole watched their reputation go up in flames right before them.

Social media accounts are run by actual people, so on occasions accidents will happen. What can we learn from these examples?

  • Recovery of such occasions is important
  • Triple check which account you are using
  • Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your boss/customers
  • World ‘issues’ aren’t amusing

What’s your favourite social media blunder? Please feel free to leave a comment below, email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

Turbulent Times of Motorhome & Caravan Sales

I have already looked at the UK staycation market in my Hi-di-hi Campers blog, off the back of this I was asked to look into the sales of touring caravans and motorhomes. One of my colleagues recently spoke to someone in the industry, and explained they were experiencing a decline in the number of sales.

How big is the UK caravan industry?

  • Each year it generates around £6bn to the UK economy. (This includes revenue from sales of products, related services and holiday bookings)
  • Employs around 115,000 people
  • 1.5 million people regularly take touring caravan/motorhome holidays
  • The Caravan Club has 1 million members (around 80,000 live in Wales)
  • The Camping and Caravan Club has over half million members

The staycation market is increasing in popularity, but touring caravan and motorhome registration statistics demonstrate this isn’t the case when purchasing said vehicles to staycation in. The UK motorhome market experienced growth year on year up until 2008, after which the economic climate took a turn for the worse and figures reveal that motorhome sales were also affected.

One way to see how the industry has reacted to the fall in sales is to review their advertising revenue. In total I reviewed the advertising spends for four caravan/motorhome dealers in Wales, the amount they spent on advertising per annum somewhat varied from £3000 to £730,000. It’s typical to see advertising spends reduce when the market shrinks. However it’s essential to increase your market share when the market is shrinking, in order to even stand still. To increase your market share you need to take if off someone else, the only way to do that is to out promote your competition.

Unfortunately their financial information isn’t available on the systems I use, so I can’t see the impact of the decline in sales against their turnover.

We have already established the market for new recreational vehicles declined in 2011. So, many dealers focused on the used market, one dealer indicated that small and medium vehicles under £27k sold extremely well. Sales of used touring caravans were reported to be better than sales of new caravans, but this didn’t instil much confidence for the retailers.

The sales of new and used holiday homes mirror the same decline in sales as motorhomes and caravans. One area of this industry that bucks the trend is park homes. Production of park homes increased by 23% between July and September 2011, compared to the same period in 2010. This could be down to the rising costs of mortgaging and running a bricks and mortar property.

In most of the reports I analysed they simply put the reduced sales down to the turbulent economy. Yes some of the population are experiencing financial hardship, but it seems like an easy label to apply to the shrinking market.

Here are some reasons why I think we aren’t buying caravans and motorhomes:

  • Fluctuating petrol prices, petrol is 30p per litre more than it was in 2008 and diesel has increased by 32p per litre.
  • Some consumers are trading down their cars for smaller more economical cars, which may not have the ability to tow a caravan.
  • New build houses offer fewer parking spaces, many house builders stipulate you can’t park recreational vehicles on your drive, there are storage facilities around the country but are an additional expense.
  • In times of austerity consumers want to feel as though they have had a ‘bargain’, but dealers don’t have the margins to discount the motorhomes/caravans that consumers are so used to seeing on the high street with other goods.

There are some positives though:

  • 2011 was the first year that diesel car sales overtook petrol sales.
  • 35% of cars sold in 2011 averaged between 55-70 mpg
  • Touring caravan manufactures are making lighter caravans, aimed exclusively of small car owners.
  • The Camping & Caravanning Club has reported a huge rise in the number bookings for its European Winter Rallies; almost 61% more getting involved this winter than last.

Fortunately the proposed intention of adding 20% VAT onto holiday and caravan sales from the 1st of October has been reduced to 5%. If they had gone ahead with the initial 20% VAT then the impact on the industry would have been disastrous. HM Revenue & Customs estimated that if they did implement the 20% VAT, the demand for caravan and holiday homes could have decreased by 33%.

The market has experienced some challenging times, if the VAT is introduced then it looks like it will continue. On the positive side, 83% of the Camping & Caravanning Club members are 46+, and 46% of the Welsh population are 45+. If you have read my ‘Why are marketers stepping over pounds to pick up pennies’ blog, you will already know this demographic is the most lucrative demographic to target. Not only do they have more disposable income but more time to spend it, and I’m guessing more time to holiday in their new caravan/motorhome.

Please leave a comment below or get in touch with me directly, or @realradiojodi

Magazines: What’s it all about?

I’ve already looked into advertising on TV and in press, so this week I thought I would investigate magazines. As with all advertising mediums, the magazine industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. The recession and advancements in technology have transformed the industry, both positively and negatively (depending on which magazines we are talking about).

The shelves in newsagents (or any other magazine retailer) are filled with a huge selection of magazine titles. There seems to be a magazine for almost every hobby or interest, from fishing to music or cooking to cars. Magazines aren’t limited to the consumer market; there is a wide selection of trade magazines available. One trade magazine we may all be familiar with is Marketing Week.

As I have mentioned, the magazine industry has been suffering of late. Recently the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) released the magazine circulation figures for January to June 2012 (they only covered consumer titles). The figures weren’t great; circulation of women’s weekly magazines fell by 10.8%, one of the largest drops in the declining market. Other magazines that suffered were celebrity and men’s lifestyle magazines. There were positive results for some, specialist and news sectors performed well. The magazine Style at Home experienced an increase of over 50%.

In the UK, the number of magazines distributed declined by an estimated 28% between 2006 and 2011. There were further concerns over the traditionally stable area of online subscriptions. They saw a mixed bag of results, with several companies posting significant declines.

To get a real picture of how the magazine market is faring, we need to look further than hard copy circulation figure. Magazines are now a multi touchpoint experience; the bigger picture now includes tablet and mobile applications and digital editions to name a few. Digital applications are attractive for publishers as well as advertisers. It has opened up new audiences and targeting opportunities.

Consumer magazines report their paid for digital sales separately from their print sales. For Jan – June 2012 60 magazines chose to report their figures compared to 16 the previous year. The number of paid for digital sales increased by 92% compared to the previous period.

The printed market looks like it will continue to decline, whilst other channels will grow. One title that is adapting to the changing times is Heat; the magazine is aimed at young females. Their circulation decreased to 326,677, but their overall brand reach was last updated at roughly 2.8 million. This looks set to increase again with the launch of Heat TV and Heat mobile.

Generally speaking trade titles have been harder hit than consumer magazines. Up until five years ago trade magazines made the majority of their profit from paid for weekly magazines – most of that came from the recruitment classifieds. When broadband was introduced advertisers started listing their recruitment opportunities online (not necessarily in an online trade title) – withdrawing the profit from hard copy editions.

Now many trade titles generate their profit from their online presence, conferences and events. Some publications such as Media Week and Press Gazette no longer publish hard copies and only publish their content digitally.

I’ve briefly touched upon how the internet has affected the market, but it’s not just about magazines going online. Social media has played its part in the decline of printed titles, whether it is a consumer or trade title. Magazines no longer offer exclusivity in terms of content; a recent example is the Katherine Jenkins and David Beckham rumour. Katherine Jenkins took to Twitter to deny rumours that she was having an affair with Becks, within minutes it was a talking point around the office. It wasn’t that long ago that we would have to have waited until the following week to read the story in one of the glossies.

Essentially, individuals on a consumer or corporate basis are reluctant to pay for information that can be accessed on the internet for free. Online and digital media has opened up other opportunities for advertisers at a lower cost. With tablet ownership expected to increase and the number of publishers moving towards digital channels, the future reporting of these channels will make for an interesting read.

The Little Nuggets

(Welsh average)

  • 19% almost always read magazines
  • 51% are very interested in magazine topics
  • 16% say newspaper and magazine articles on holiday and travel influence their holiday choice
  • 32% magazines give me ideas for how to improve my home

(Source: GB TGI Radio+ 2012 Quarter 2, Kantar Media)

As always please leave a comment below or email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

Cunning stunts – The power of ambush marketing

I recently read a short article about how Skinny Vines pranked soft drinks company Innocent in a publicity stunt. The new company, a low calorie wine maker, hung a banner that said ‘Forget the juice… drink wine’ from Innocent’s head office in London. It’s a great example of a nascent branch of marketing that already has some really serious players. The first company that jumps to the forefront of my mind is Paddy Power.

Whether you agree with Paddy Power’s ethics or not, they are without a doubt successful pranksters.  As soon as their adverts are uploaded onto YouTube they go viral, they aren’t scared to step on other peoples/brands toes (which in turn creates endless press coverage).  In 2010 they also took the crown for creating the most complained about advert of the year.

It’s often the case that the publicity their adverts create is valued at more than the cost of the campaign itself.

Most of us will be familiar with some of their marketing stunts, but let’s have a look at some of their most controversial adverts over the last few years.

The Last Supper Billboards – Dublin: 2005

They created billboards with a mocked up image of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper. Paddy Power poked fun at Jesus and his apostles, the image showed them gambling with poker chips, playing cards and roulette. The slogan read “There’s a place for fun and games”. The advertising authority received more than 100 hundred complaints and ordered Paddy Power to remove the poster. The ASA said that the advert breached multiple guidelines referring to taste and decency as well as religion. Paddy Power did as they were asked and removed the posters …….. but replaced them with a new caption “There’s a place for fun and games. Apparently this isn’t it”. Even though Paddy Power had to remove their initial adverts, they did receive a huge amount of publicity both in Ireland and abroad.

Ryder Cup Hollywood Sign – Celtic Manor, Newport: 2010

They had already pulled this stunt a few months before at Cheltenham Races. They erected a 270ft long and 50ft high sign similar to that found in Hollywood, on Cleeve Hill above the racecourse. They decided to dust off the Hollywood sign and resurrect it. This time they hired land from a farmer in South Wales, and up the sign went. They didn’t rent any old field; this field overlooked the Ryder Cup course at the Celtic Manor. After a bit of a scuffle, eventually Cardiff County Council did order the company to dismantle the sign. Paddy Power came out on top again with the amount of publicity this ambush generated. Unfortunately Terry Matthews (owner of the Celtic Manor) added to their publicity by branding them ‘scum’ on national TV. However, we may have seen the back of the Hollywood sign, rumour has it that they managed to lose the sign after taking it down!

Blind Footballer Kicking a Cat TV Advert – 2010

The piece de resistance (aka the most complained about advert of 2010). The advert was run on TV and insinuated that a blind footballer kicked a cat into a tree (only insinuated because they didn’t show
the footballer kicking the moggy). Complaints flooded the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) office; in total they received 1313 complaints. This not only made it the most complained about advert of 2010, but also put it into 3rd place for the most complained about UK advert at that time. The public claimed that the advert was disrespectful to blind people and may encourage animal cruelty. ASA decided not to uphold the complaints as they felt they were light hearted and surreal.

Imogen Thomas Newspaper Adverts – 2011

This time they enlisted the help of former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas. The advert was created to promote its offer to refund all losing bets on Manchester United in the Champions League Final. At the time the claims of Imogen and Ryan Giggs having an affair were flying around. The first advert circulated included the slogan “Imogen can’t keep quiet about this”. They then took it one step too far for some; the next advert showed Imogen blowing into a whistle with the caption “Blow me!” A number of newspapers rejected the wording and pulled the adverts from running.

Stallions or Mares TV Advert – Cheltenham Races Ladies Day: 2012

A particularly controversial advert! The commercial showed transgendered ladies amongst a crowd of racing spectators at the Cheltenham Festival. The voiceover was guessing their gender ‘stallions or mares’. The ASA received 421 complaints and banned the ads. Yet again Paddy Power came out unscathed, they uploaded the advert onto YouTube and was viewed over 600,000 times.

Tranquilise the Chavs TV and YouTube Campaign – Cheltenham Festival: 2012

Cheltenham Festival was targeted again, this time the advert showed a hitman running round the ground tranquilizing stereotypical chavs. The idea came from a fans Facebook comment “Hope the chavs don’t ruin Cheltenham like they did Ascot” (after a drunken brawl broke out in Ascot the previous year). The advert was banned from airing on TV only 4 days into the campaign. It’s still available on YouTube and has clocked up 1,440,016 views.

Bendtner’s Lucky Paddy Pants – 2012

Earlier this year they signed up Danish footballer, Nicklas Bendtner. Bendtner was playing against Portugal when he adjusted his ‘kit’ and revealed his lucky Paddy Power pants. UEFA didn’t let Bendtner off lightly, he received a one match ban and around an £80,000 fine. Needless to say Paddy Power picked up the UEFA bill.

Egg & Spoon Race Billboard – 2012

Paddy Power couldn’t contain their excitement for the London Olympics. They ran the following billboard campaign at three stations in London.

At first Olympic organisers demanded that the billboards were removed. Paddy Power disagreed that the advert violated Locog’s marketing rules; eventually Locog withdrew the request to remove the adverts.

If that’s not enough examples of Paddy Power’s marketing then you might want to check out some of their other controversial campaigns.

  • Cheltenham Racecourse Hollywood Sign
  • Paddy Power Vuvuzela Truck
  • Uffington Horse
  • Paddy Power Takeaway

What’s your favourite Paddy Power marketing campaign? Or can you think of any other companies that have pulled a marketing stunt or prank? Please leave a comment below, email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

Is it too early to use the C word?

For most it’s probably too early to start writing your Christmas wish list to Santa, the festive period has certainly started cropping up in the business world. My colleagues have already started creating and booking Christmas campaigns for their clients. Recently I’ve come across a few articles about brands such as Dior and The Body Shop unveiling their Christmas collections in September.

Another company that started early was Asda, starting their Christmas promotions four months before the big day. In August they opened 17 grottos at stores around the UK (the grottos were only open for a few days). Staff dresses as elves handed out Christmas savings cards; the cards allow customers to save up to £144 to spend over the seasonal period.

Before forecasting what Christmas 2012 has in store, let’s recap 2011.

  • It was a tough year financially
  • The weather impacted fashion sales – it was particularly warm towards the end of last year
  • Unemployment and redundancy threats impacted purchases
  • Consumers wants a good time
  • Subsequently, consumers spent record amounts in the last 2 weeks of December

Unfortunately, I don’t think we will see any drastic changes for 2012. Financial concerns such as the housing market to the cost of fuel have continued throughout 2012. A year on and we still can’t control the weather, who would have thought that there would be floods in July? Job stability and unemployment is still a concern for a lot of people. On the positive side we still want a good time. It’s the only time of year that we can treat ourselves, friends and family without the burden of feeling guilty.

Now for the good bit……presents!

Whilst I love Christmas (in December, I’m not one that gets all excitable in October unlike some I know) I accept that it tends to be focused around children. So I was surprised to find out, in 2011 toys and games only accounted for 12% of gifts given. Clothing and footwear were the most popular presents and accounted for 17% of gifts given.

Spending on gifts by category, Christmas 2011

Source: GMI/Mintel, Base: 1874 adults aged 16+

  1. 17% Clothing & Footwear
  2. 15% Other
  3. 13% Electricals
  4. 12% Toys & Games
  5. 8% Jewellery
  6. 7% Vouchers
  7. 7% Perfume/Toiletries
  8. 6% Video & PC Games
  9. 5% Books
  10. 5% Music/DVD’s
  11. 3% Household
  12. 2% Experiences

The data in the graph below represents the figures for 2011; the answers are similar to those for Christmas 2010. On the positive side, fewer had to borrow money in 2011 than in 2010. More left shopping to the last minute but far more started early to spread the cost.

The use of Christmas shopping online has increased year on year since 2007. The biggest online shoppers are the 35-44 age group, they are also the group with the most people who bought the majority of their gifts online (rather than some of them). The younger generation lead the way when it comes to new technology, and are the most enthusiastic group when it comes to buying through their mobile. The internet isn’t just used to buy gifts online; a lot of consumers use the web to inspire them for gift ideas.

The festive period is crucial for many businesses, for some the majority of their annual turnover is generated from the Christmas period. If we take household electrical appliance retailers, the sales of white goods are generally purchased as replacements, but brown goods (smaller appliances) and pc related goods are gift items purchased for Christmas. Multi retailers such as department stores also flourish in the festive season; they offer consumers the convenience of purchasing a variety of gifts from one store.

The run up to the festive period is the one time of year that consumers are all looking to purchase gifts. This means the competition between retailers advertising their products is at a peak. According to Nielsen in Q4 2011 £6,352,735 was spent on advertising locally in Wales, compared to £5,555,410 spent in Q1 2011. The industry that spent the most on advertising last year in Q4 was Entertainment and Leisure; some 30% of their total advertising revenue was spent in this period.

It goes without saying that it’s not only retailers that benefit from the Christmas season. Not everyone wants to spend all day in the kitchen or squeezed together on the sofa! The hospitality and catering industry do particularly well in the run up to Christmas. Not only do they benefit from those that want to eat out around the Christmas period, but also with office parties and of course New Year’s Eve.

If you haven’t already started to plan for your business and the Christmas period, then it’s time to start. Other companies (and probably your competitors) already have. If you combine that with the rising number of consumers starting their shopping early, the expression snooze you lose comes to mind.

The Little Nuggets (Welsh Average)

32% find it difficult to say no to their children

13% tend to spend money without thinking about it

50% like to pay cash for everything they buy

74% spend money more carefully than they used too

Source: GB TGI Radio+ 2012 Quarter 2, Kantar Media, Wales BARB region

As always please leave a comment below, email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

The Facebook Advertising Debate

Facebook advertising is a controversial topic; it seems to generate rather passionate opinions. The big question is, does Facebook advertising work? Like a lot of things, I think the answer is heavily based on individual opinions and expectations.

So here are two imaginary characters that are going to duke it out for us. ‘Derek’ (D) is for FB advertising. ‘Gail’ (G) doesn’t think FB advertising is the best platform to invest in.

I’ll get the debate started…….

Do you think FB advertising works?

D: Yes, if it didn’t why would companies of all sizes continue to use it?

G: No and several large companies have pulled their FB advertising accounts. One that springs to mind is the $10 million General Motors account.

D: Well, at the time GM was emerging from a bailout crisis, they needed to cut costs in order to protect their balance sheet.  The company was reportedly targeted to reduce their marketing expenditure by $2 billion over the next five years. They did what any commercially savvy company would do, worked out what advertising worked best and cut out what wasn’t as successful. Mary Henige, GM’s Director of Social Media tweeted “We have more than 8mil friends on FB; not leaving them; engagement & content isn’t the same thing as advertising.”

G: Quote “cut out what wasn’t as successful.” Do I need to say anymore?

D: FB is a rich pool of data, I’d say pretty accurate too considering users update their profiles as they progress through the different stages of life. It’s also the largest single online community reaching millions of people around the world.

G: Yes FB is the largest single social network platform, it reaches 51% of all internet users but that’s nothing in comparison to Google’s Display Network reaching 90% of all internet users. The information may be valuable; however FB was never designed to be a marketing platform but a communication tool. An apple will always be an apple. Oh and I forgot to mention you can’t reach them through their mobiles!

D: The information available on FB can’t be replicated in the same quantity from any other single media platform; this data is valuable to marketers. It’s not necessarily about the mass reach but more so the targeting options available. Now you can target your ad’s based on demographics such as gender, marital status, geo-graphical area, interests etc…. the list is almost endless.

G: Blah Blah…. You mention the reach and targeting options, which all becomes insignificant when you take into consideration the click through rate. FB don’t actually publish the CTR (I wonder why), but I have come across independent analysis from Webtrends. They looked at over 11,000 FB campaigns and established the average CTR in 2010 was 0.051%. Let’s say a campaign targeted 80,000 impressions, using the average CTR around 40 people would click on the ad. That’s just clicking not buying; yes the conversion to sale will vary from business to business.

D: What do you think to these figures then? In 2011 Facebook made $3.7 billion and 85% of that was from advertising revenue. If it doesn’t work then how are they generating these sorts of revenue figures?

G: Have you seen the FB Q1 2012 revenues? Their earnings fell in the first quarter of 2012; they were 6.5% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2011 and profit was down 32% from the end of 2011. So whilst they have done well in the past, 2012 looks set to be a shaky year for them.

Back to me now!

This debate could have kept going on forever

And it’s not all about Facebook ad’s, they are now testing a new format that will see brands’ page posts appear in users news feeds regardless if they are a fan of their page or not. It’s not the same as the current sponsored stories which require a user’s friend to like the page before the sponsored story is displayed. The sponsored ads appear on both desktop and mobile news feeds, I wonder if users will deem this as socially acceptable.

Using Facebook adverts can be cheap, that’s not the same as cost effective. Because you can stipulate if you want to pay per click or by the number of impressions, it’s could be worth seeing if it is something that would work for your business. There are alternatives out there that warrant further investigation. Check out this infographic, it compares the value of the world’s biggest online display advertising networks: Facebook vs. Google Display Network.

As always please leave a comment below. I don’t doubt that I have missed points from both perspectives so please feel free to weigh in!

Email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

Online travel firms investigated for price fixing

Towards the end of July the Office of Fair Trading released a statement alleging some of the world’s largest online travel companies have been involved in price fixing. Other than a couple of newspaper articles, it doesn’t seem to have attracted a huge amount of attention. However, I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard about this scandal.

The OFT started investigating the allegations made by small online travel company back in 2010. The companies involved so far are Expedia, and Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). At this stage it is thought that the alleged practices are widespread throughout the industry. Essentially the online travel companies banned hotels from selling their rooms cheaply. The online travel companies did this to stop their prices being undercut by competitor agents. If a hotel refused to do so they were threatened with removal from the travel company’s website.

So far Expedia have confirmed they have “engaged in cartel conduct on breach of the law” from October 2007 to September 2010. They are fully co-operating with the OFT’s investigation, it’s reported that they are even providing information on their competitors under a leniency deal. and IHG both deny any wrong doing and have three months to respond to the OFT’s investigations.

If found guilty of fixing prices, the OFT can enforce fines up to 10% of annual turnover worldwide. If Expedia are the only company to apply for leniency, they could avoid the fine altogether. Firstly, they would need to prove that other companies have broken the law. If they don’t see 100% of the fine waived it could be reduced by around 25% to 50%. Surely the point of imposing a fine is to deter other companies from offending, or the guilty companies re-offending.

Key statistics from the OFT’s website show that:

  • In 2010, the revenue generated from UK hotel room bookings was approximately £10.1 billion.
  • £849 million of that revenue was booked online.
  • The UK’s online travel agency sector is the largest in Europe, in 2010 the industry turned over around £5.3 billion in 2010.
  • The alleged misconduct between and IHG started on the 1st January 2007 and is ongoing.

The investigation isn’t only looking into domestic room rates but also international bookings. It is likely that many UK consumers that have used these sites have being overcharged since 2007. If they are making their reservations through or IHG, then it is likely that they are still being overcharged.  It has been suggested that consumers may be able to claim compensation for bookings made with these companies over the last few years.

Consumers use the internet to shop around for the best deals, regardless of the product. Certainly in Expedia’s case (because they’ve admitted it) they have only been in a position to offer the best deals because they manipulated and bullied the market (those weren’t Expedia’s words). The problem was they weren’t the market/hoteliers best deals but all that the online travel agents were prepared to offer.  Depending on the outcome of this investigation and the media exposure it attracts, it could potentially affect consumer confidence in other industries when shopping online. Justified or not!

I don’t think this will be my only blog in relation to this investigation, but for now please leave a comment below, email at the station or tweet me @realradiojodi

Also please get in touch if you are setting up a ‘holiday scam claims’ company to talk about advertising 🙂

High Street Cluedo

Every couple of months I come across an article about the receding British high street. Each article briefly touches upon various factors contributing to the decline of the high street. The usual reasons are; supressed consumer spending, competition from multi-channel retailers such as Tesco, high business rates and there is the odd mention of the internet. Throughout this blog I will investigate some of the reasons why I think the high street isn’t as successful as what it once was.

If you Google something along the lines of ‘fall of the UK high street’ you will be greeted with endless pages of articles and statistics for the last few years. If you don’t have time to rake through the plethora of results don’t worry because I have. Essentially the recession has not been kind to the British high street, not only SME’s but also larger chains of retailers. In the first 6 months of 2012, the high street saw 35 failed retailers, it doesn’t sound like a huge number but those 35 retailers had 3053 stores between them. Some of the stores we have lost so far in 2012 are Peacocks, Past Times and Julian Graves.

The number of retailers that went into administration peaked in 2008 and has fallen significantly since. The peak in 2008 coincides with when the UK went into recession, consumer confidence was low, banks started to tighten their lending criteria and redundancies followed. I’ve already talked about consumer spending in another blog: To spend or not to spend, that is the question? It goes without saying that the recession has impacted consumer spending, but they are still spending. Many would consider it foolish to think that the recession hasn’t had a negative impact on the high street, and I agree but I think there is more to it.

Another threat for the high street is the expanding portfolio of multi-channel retailer’s such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s to name a few. Not only were they responsible for endless closures of local convenience stores, butchers and grocers but over recent years they have continued to diversify their product offering. Who would have thought twenty years ago you would be able to book a holiday, buy a mobile phone, buy clothes or a car insurance policy through your local supermarket? A number of major supermarkets even have their own bank and one has recently announced they now offer mortgages. Not only have they extended their product ranges but also increased the number of stores in their portfolio.

Online shopping is having a major impact on the high street, and I think this is set to continue. Even the way in which we can buy online is evolving on almost a daily basis, gone are the days waiting for the dial up connection, to then lose the connection at the checkout stage. Now we can access our favorite stores on a multitude of devices such as mobiles and tablets, more importantly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • In 2011 online sales in the UK were £50.34 billion which accounted for 12% of UK retail trade.
  • 87% of internet users have brought something on line in the last 12 months (from February 2011)
  • Online spending exceeds that of any other European country.
  • Ofcom estimates that average online consumer spend is £1031

The internet hasn’t only increased the products we have access too but more importantly how consumers make their purchases. A company at the forefront of this change is Tesco. They have recently opened the UK’s first interactive virtual store at Gatwick. The virtual store will allow passengers to browse as they would in a physical store. Shoppers are able to order goods from the virtual store using barcode scanners on their smartphones, their shopping will then be delivered when they return from holiday. This may be new concept for the UK but it’s been in place in Korea for a year now, allowing commuters to shop in subways and at bus stops.

Amazon is another online retailer which is constantly revolutionising online shopping. You can buy practically anything on Amazon now. When they first started they connected retailers to buyers, but they encountered a few fulfillment problems. Back then if you purchased something through Amazon and the retailer failed to send the goods the consumer blamed Amazon for the missing items, even though the liability fell with the retailer and not Amazon. In order to protect their reputation Amazon opened their own fulfillment centres (they have 8 throughout the UK). Now if you order something via Amazon it is likely that the item has been dispatched from their fulfillment center and not directly from the retailer. It has also allowed Amazon to offer a same day delivery.

Most of us will be aware that a large proportion of consumers research items online prior to purchasing them in store. One retailer to take advantage of this is Argos with their click and collect service, you can browse and order products online and then pick them up in your chosen store.

In summary, there are a number of issues contributing to the failing British high and I don’t think we can pin point one particular reason. One thing is clear; in order for high street retailers to survive they need to develop their online presence/strategy. Companies such as Amazon and Tesco have set the bar so high in terms of their online services; other retailers need to attempt to catch up.

Do you have any examples of developing retailers? If so please leave a comment below or email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

It’s not what you view, but how you view it!

When I started writing this blog I researched the topic and found a number of interesting statistics. It’s not a form of media that my colleagues come up against very often, other than the facts and figures I didn’t know an awful lot about it. By chance (thanks to LinkedIn) I came across a man that does know about the industry, so we met up for a coffee and he was kind enough to let me pick his brain. So I would like to thank Jason Gill from Peter Gill and Associates for educating me on TV advertising.

Of all the media available in the market, TV is more often than not the most expensive platform to advertise on. There are two main expenses when it comes to running TV campaigns, airtime and creating the advert. Due to the costs involved it is often perceived to be exclusively for larger brands. However, this is no longer the case…..

Not so long ago a huge production crew was required to create the advert, it was the number of crew members that made it expensive. Developments in technology have changed (for the better) how visual adverts are created and recorded. Now you don’t need as many people to make the adverts, which have reduced the production costs. Jason mentioned he was recently involved in creating an advert that only cost a few hundred pounds, so spending thousands of pounds on an advert isn’t always necessary.

The cost involved when buying TV airtime will vary depending on what you require (it’s no different from any other media in that respect). Things that affect the price are, seasonality, the duration of the advert, the time of day it is aired and the channel that you want to advertise on.

Here are a few reasons why advertisers use TV.

  • In 2011 the average individual daily hours of TV viewing were 4 hours 3 mins (9 minute increase from 2002) (this equalled the record set in 2010)
  • The average weekly reach (based on at least 3 mins consecutive viewing) was 94.8%
  • 40% of primetime tweets are about TV
  • Total TV revenue (linear and sponsorship) reached a new record high in 2011

When it comes to advertising revenue market share, TV really blows every other media out the water. According to Nielsen, in 2011 TV accounted for 38% of all advertising revenue throughout the UK.

The advancement in technology has changed how consumers interact with adverts, running a successful television campaign now requires more than an engaging, emotional or educational visual content.  Joint research from Thinkbox (TV marketing body) and the IAB shows that as a result of seeing an ad:

  • 57% of people agreed that they have conducted online research.
  • 36% had visited a brands website to find out more.
  • 28% had searched the web to find out where to buy the brand.
  • 21% had purchased online.

The increase in broadband, laptop and smart phone ownership has essentially brought the high-street into the living room and TV is the point of sale medium.

A TV campaign is no longer restricted to only airing the advert on TV, now you can up-weight the campaign to include mobile marketing and an online presence with the broadcaster. Did you know that 57% of TV viewers view the web simultaneously? Companies aren’t limited to only using broadcasters other services. Now they can run online campaigns in conjunction with their TV commercials, mainly through social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It’s all about engaging with the audience and building the company or brands profile. One brand to do this incredibly well was Old Spice; do you remember the hunk on the horse?

This advert was fantastic for a few reasons; Old Spice had managed to create an advert that was not associated with the perceived ‘granddad’ Old Spice customers. They went on to create one of the most memorable social media campaigns, a two day marathon of personalised video responses to questions asked by fans on Twitter and YouTube. I found a few statistics for the social media campaign:

  • 80,000 Twitter followers in 2 days
  • Facebook interaction increased 800% with personalised videos
  • Sales figures increased by 107%

I can’t really write about TV advertising without mentioning ad-avoidance. I’m sure at some point we have all fast-forwarded through adverts. According to Thinkbox, 2.5 billion ads are seen every day. As long as we have seen the advert once, 65% of us would be able to recall the advert as if it had been played at the normal speed. Thinkbox also say that “Of all the TV watched in the UK, 93% is viewed live, so only 7% of ads are even capable of being skipped. In fact we are watching more TV ads at normal speed than ever, 41% higher than in 1999.”In fact, Digital Television Recorders (DTR’s) are allowing consumers to rewind their favourite adverts and watch them again. (Note: Thinkbox’s figures are in relation to the % of adverts skipped, not avoided. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, 44% of TV adverts are avoided).

In summary, consumers are watching more TV than ever before. It’s no longer solely about the content or idea behind the advert but also how they interact with you online. If you still think TV advertising doesn’t work or is no longer successful then I’ll leave you with this: TV’s profit return on investment has increased by 22% in the last 5 years.

The Nuggets – I was challenged by Jason to find this information!

  • 97% (25.2m) of UK households are digital
  • 10.853m have Freeview
  • 10.253m have Sky
  • 3.763m have Virgin
  • 1.4m have Freesat
  • 575,000 have BT Vision
  • 460,000 have analogue

(Source: BARB and BT Vision, Sky and Virgin)

Please leave a comment below, email me at the station or tweet me @realradiojodi

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