“VCCP bolsters media proposition with acquisition of adconnection creating a £50m billing agency”

VCCP Media: Mead (l) becomes the chairman of the expanded group, while Becker is the CEO

VCCP, the full service communications agency, has today acquired the independent media agency, adconnection.  The business will be fully merged with VCCP’s existing media operation, VCCP Media, creating a combined media capability with billings in excess of £50m. 

The staff base will be around 70 and clients will include ASOS, Bonhams, Maplin, Jessops, Relish Broadband, Sofa.com, Vue Cinemas and MTV.

Catherine Becker, current CEO of adconnection becomes CEO of VCCP Media and Nick Baum, MD. Paul Mead will be the Chairman.

The deal signifies the intent of VCCP to lead the emerging trend of connected, full service agencies in the post-digital age, bringing market leading creative, media and data offerings together under one roof. Founded in 2002, VCCP is currently ranked amoungst the top 6 agencies in the UK, with 750 staff spanning across 5 offices, and billings in excess of £220m.

“We have grown a very successful media business organically at VCCP but this deal will give us real scale and the ability to offer clients genuine full service communications under one roof” commented, Adrian Coleman, Founding Partner and Group CEO of VCCP 

Catherine Becker, CEO of adconnection said:  “Our two businesses have very complementary skillsets and a fabulous client base. We share core values around performance and innovation so I am incredibly excited about the potential to deliver outstanding results for our clients”

The acquisition comes just 4 weeks after VCCP’s parent company Chime Communications plc was acquired and taken private by the US based, Providence Equity Partners.

Despite what some clients might think, media agencies are adapting well to an increasingly fragmented landscape, writes adconnection's Catherine Becker.

Media agencies - centre stage rather than side-lined?

Media agencies - centre stage rather than side-lined

Despite what some clients might think, media agencies are adapting well to an increasingly fragmented landscape, writes adconnection's Catherine Becker.  Read the article here

I read with interest Dominic Mills' article on Delusions of Adequacy on Mediatel Newsline and was saddened to hear many clients feel media agencies are not equipped to answer key challenges required by today's marketers.

I remember when I started in the industry and media was given 10 minutes at the end of the creative presentation, usually presented over sandwiches, and we could measure very little. Now, with sophisticated real-time data analysis and genuine understanding of exactly what works and what doesn't, media is, in my experience, leading the strategy and solutions.

Today we work in partnership with clients at the very top board-level for established companies. Often with start-ups or newly funded companies from venture capitalists we will work all the way through to inputting into the business plan, through to implementation, measurement, and feeding back to the board/investors on results. No longer is the media agency side-lined.

The huge changes and fragmentation in media has meant our role is even more vital. It's not just a question now of briefing a creative agency to "do a TV ad" or a PR agency to "create some buzz or cut through", it's a much more strategic and integrated framework of communications channels woven together in a central theme based on true consumer insight.

Media agencies have had to adapt quickly and move faster than ever before, and in doing so are now consistently delivering on the following five key areas:

1. Managing the explosion of customer data

Media agencies are absolutely delivering this. Not only are we learning from the new social media, mobile data and tracking of customers from first media contact all the way through the purchase cycle through to sale and lifetime value, we are also using this data to target consumers.

We use a sophisticated social PMD which allows us to target within minute groups, all electronically, not just in terms of demographics but down to social media preferences, likes, and purchase habits using client's first party data. We can target extremely accurately on a number of platforms including on Facebook, Twitter and Gmail.

On Facebook, for example, rather than serve a creative we think will work against a specified target group, we are able to input 200+ images, 200+ headlines and almost infinite text combinations. Our systems are able to read the conversions and sale of those customers to determine the best combination of copy and creative to deliver the greatest ROI.

By harnessing the data yielded from our systems, we have significantly improved the effectiveness of our clients' campaigns.

2. Analysing and using data to automate or personalise marketing communications

The automation is shown in the above examples, but personalisation is absolutely possible too. We are able to display the name of our customer not only in the text of ads but also superimposed within video and creative. The growth of digital - not just online and mobile but also on, for example, digital outdoor - means we can modify ads to be highly personalised.

This extends to harmonised buying across offline as well as online. A good example of this was a recent campaign for our client, Maplin, in which we ran harmonised TV and social. We had the hashtag #maplinmoment displayed on the TV ad and we served Twitter ads exclusively to those hashtagging about the programme in which our TV ads where shown so we knew they were watching.

Crucially, when consumers responded, we had round-the-clock Maplin experts to answer individual queries which not only led to huge engagement and a massive increase in sales, but also made the whole experience for the individual consumer highly personal.

3. Exploiting new channel and device choices

It is vital that media agencies stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest trends, channels and devices. At adconnection we have created the annual Innovations Challenge - an event that pits media owners against each other in a highly competitive environment.

Each media owner is given just five minutes to pitch a new media idea, not sold to any other client or agency and completely new to their business. It's a great social event, it generates three to four media firsts a year for our clients, and it ensures we are aware of all new channels and device options.

Alongside the above, we are often beta-partners with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google to maximise the opportunities of these new channels. This is all fundamental to future proofing our clients against the changes and the multi-screen world, and media agencies can and should deliver these solutions.

4. Overcoming financial constraints and demonstrating ROI

This is one area in which media agencies have been more established. As the performance agency, we have absolutely identified that financial constraints are one of the key challenges clients face (it's in the first page of our creds), and we have the teams and the systems to measure and demonstrate ROI.

The majority of our clients only rebook a campaign if they can demonstrate the positive ROI of the previous one so it is essential we set up all the measurement in advance to deliver this.

The great thing is that media is now more measurable than ever so we can absolutely deliver this. Because we are the ones buying the media, we can see this in real-time so are best placed to get back to clients and make the changes in real time to further optimise. Our flexible trading arrangements with the great relationships we have with media owners enable us to do this.

5. Generating content

We have recognised that content marketing is a key seismic shift in our media business on many levels and we've created considerable cross-media content for a number of our clients. For the broadband provider Relish, for example, we recently developed a content strategy that resulted in the client ranking higher than its big spending competitors in the natural listings on targeted Google search results.

Media agencies are extremely well placed to generate effective content for their clients - we have the consumer insight (thanks to rigorous research techniques) and the targeting and retargeting tools and capabilities.

At adconnection we create strategies to work across all comms channels (PR, media, creative, content, CRM, etc.) as well as a strong digital offering with industry-leading analysis and optimisation systems.

Media agencies absolutely deliver and strive to get a deeper relationship and more effective result at the top table. Our closeness to media owners and divergent skill sets mean that media agencies can be in a unique place to tie all these fundamental needs together to deliver results.

Catherine Becker is CEO of adconnection


Media Things: The trend of Trending ... Lee Baring Head of TV, adconnection

When working at a fast growing agency such as adconnection, you get to meet many prospective clients who have a varying amount of satisfaction with their current agency. They will come from a number of different sectors with a number of different reasons why they are thinking of a different approach.

Within the e-commerce sector, if a client is unhappy the complaint is quite surprisingly similar. Their grievance is usually one of two things, but both involve the same subject, data.

Complaint a) “We are struggling to grow our business, every time we spend more on TV our CPA’s increase and our agency recommend us to reduce our budget”.
Complaint b) “We want to obtain a greater understanding regarding the effect of our TV advertising. We know it works, but we can’t make it consistently work and our agency’s analysis doesn't seem able to develop it”.

These complaints are frustrating for a number of reasons. From a media practitioners point of view, we know how damaging a bad agency experience can be to a brand, usually leaving a bad taste in the clients mouth and fulfilling the myth that the only thing agencies care about is taking the client’s money. However by applying a little intuition and a smattering of common sense we can help those clients achieve their objective in an efficient, scalable manner.

Unique phone numbers
TV Response Analysis has changed over the years. In the early 90’s ads were aired with unique phone numbers, the consumer used that number and was therefore attributed to that specific ad. With the explosion of information access via the internet, the user doesn’t need to respond instantaneously anymore. In fact they don’t even need to know the brand website or even the brand name. As long as they know the general theme of the advert they have just seen such as “what’s that ad with the meerkat in?”, a handy search engine will point you in the right direction.

This has made the analysis of the consumer journey from ad to response a much more varied one and therefore more complicated one. Most systems that we have seen being used, will try and attribute response to an individual spot and base performance from then on. An antiquated method and one that belongs way back in time before our lives revolved around the internet.

Another failure in TV attribution is the word itself. We shouldn’t be using the word “attribute” as this implies an actual. A finality. A certainty. When in fact it’s a guess! Once you lower your blood pressure and accept that you can’t, with 100% certainty, track a respondents route you can start to build a greater understanding regarding the effect of TV advertising.

Trend Analysis

This should be a key word in TV response analysis and is one phrase that is key in adconnection’s response analysis systems. Predictive Analysis, the type used by Netflix, Google and most blue chip companies around the world never offers certainties, it offers coincidence.

“When we do this, this seems to happen”
“When a customer is 30-45, response rate increases by 13%”
“65% of consumers that have viewed House of Cards go on to watch Orange is the New Black”

One Superbowl spot
It is this type of approach that helps us improve our understanding of our client’s schedules. It is why we know that for certain categories, a spot in breakfast television can increase a day’s average response by 35%. It is how we know that a viewer watching a film is far more likely to respond when the film has finished rather than at the moment the ad has aired. It is why Steve Jobs spent an entire year’s marketing budget in one go on one Superbowl spot. 

It is the reason we will never a say that a station isn’t working, but will offer why an environment doesn’t seem efficient and it is how we manage to help our clients grow because finding the most responsive airtime isn't about finding the cheapest, smallest spots.

If you’re interested why not research the how a multiple analysis systems, combined into one brain, helped a computer win the champions of champions series in the States at the world famous game show, Jeopardy – based on identifying trends that point to the most likely answer by combining knowledge from many different sources. 



Information is everywhere, the consumers ability to engage with brands has never been closer yet the smaller the journey has become the more complex it has grown, just ask Watson, the super computer!  



Top Graphic by Shutterstock

adconnection - the latest campaign for Maplin across TV and digital



Taking advantage of latest changes in viewing habits, adconnection has planned a fully integrated, cross-channel campaign that moves Maplin to all aspects of TV, AV and digital. In addition, through the use of extremely granular targeting of Maplin’s niche target audiences adconnection can massively reduce wastage even across multiple channels.
 
Alongside a first night TV roadblock and high profile spots within key ad breaks, this year’s campaign is going one step further to incorporate a number of ground-breaking video and digital formats.
 
The campaign will run on TV catch-up sites such as All4 (previously 4OD) and Demand 5, Sky adsmart to target relevant audiences with a frequency cap, as well as on other online video platforms. This will include in content video ads and interactive pre roll ads in which viewers will have the opportunity to select one of three Maplin ads to watch.
 
Henry Swift, Head of Marketing at Maplin, had this to say of the campaign: ‘With consumers increasingly watching TV & video content across a range of devices it was important to build a campaign which reflected this. By moving from a TV led to a fully Audio Visual strategy means we can tell the Maplin ‘story’ in a variety of ways and tailor content to a relevant audience’.
 
Dan Grossman, Account Director at adconnection “We’re looking forward to building on our successes with Maplin from last year’s TV campaigns. Key to our strategy for this year is implementing a fully integrated multi-channel campaign to amplify the effect of our TV spots. Harnessing new media technology and video formats, along with harmonised social media, gives us the opportunity to reach our audience across multiple devices in a highly targeted and efficient way”.
 
TV advertising, supported by a full suite of harmonised digital activity, will launch on May 3rd.
Anything you'd like to discuss? Get in touch on contact@adconnection.co.uk


Need to know news - Google's algorithm change : adconnection

MOBILEGEDDON: GOOGLE’S MOBILE-FRIENDLY UPDATE

As of tomorrow, 21st April, Google will be rolling out a significant mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, expected to be complete within a week.

The algorithm, which has been referred to as ‘mobilegeddon' amongst webmasters and SEOs, is predicted to have a major impact on mobile search results.

How will it work?

This algorithm will label sites as being mobile-friendly and use this information to determine where a site should rank in the search results.

Statements from Google indicate that it will be an on or off algorithm, this means that websites will simply be labelled as being mobile friendly or not.

It will be run on a page-by-page basis. If a site is 12 pages with 6 pages that are mobile friendly and six that are not, only pages that are mobile-friendly will benefit.

Where mobile usability is a particular concern or if you are looking for advice on how to test the algorithms for your site, adconnection's digital team can put together a report on potential mobile-usability issues. We can also outline what can be done to fix these issues by accessing the site's Google Webmaster Tools account.

Conclusion

From a media perspective, the benefits of mobile advertising on a mobile-friendly site or app are clear. Ad viewability will surge as mobile-friendly companies climb the search rankings and those companies without a good mobile site will suffer.

The rise of mobile and mobile advertising has placed increasing pressure on brands to make their sites more mobile-friendly. Google's new algorithm will encourage those brands yet to crack mobile to now make it a priority or else see their search rankings deplete in the face of their mobile-savvy competitors.

For more information on the above, and to ensure your site is mobile-friendly and Google optimised for SEO and PPC, contact our Digital Performance Manager, Dan Harrington. 

Twin Design / Shutterstock.com



adconnection launches leading tee time booking engine GolfNow in UK TV campaign

adconnection is coordinating a strategic TV advertisement campaign in the UK on behalf of GolfNow, a leading tee time booking engine and golf course technology provider.

The campaign will run in August and September and promotes the ease in using GolfNow to book tee times online, along with the great deals available at numerous golf courses on GolfNow in the UK. The advertisements will air during several golfing and other sporting telecasts in the coming weeks on BT Sport, Sky Sports, ITV4 and Eurosport networks. The spots will appear within additional, predominately male audience programming.