Performance ‘Focus 18’: The Full Report

Set against the backdrop of Brighton’s 5* The Grand Hotel, we sorted the performance proof from the flagrant fugazi, deduced digital certainty from salesy smoke and mirrors, and we partied ‘til dawn on the seafront; welcome to Performance ‘Focus 18’.

Report contributions from TSW's Ellie Roberts, Richard Maisey, James Russell, Laura Capp, Laura Munroe, Pete Legg, Paul Cranwell, Ben Pearson, Ben Wilcockson, Matt Whelan and's Hannah Thorpe.

The aim was to rewrite the rules of performance; to redefine what performance means. 

Bold enough to take on Europe’s largest digital-focussed conference Dmexco, Performance ‘Focus 18’ sought to explore marketing solutions which really deliver, not just what’s ‘in vogue’. We addressed big topical industry issues and invited experts across all disciplines to help solve them.

First to the stage, TSW founder Jim Lewcock, welcomed some of the UK’s most ambitious and best-loved brands and media owners to the day.

Inspired by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy, Jim opened the sessions with an outline of the cornerstone of the strategy: Value Innovation - the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost. This set the scene for a day of speakers delivering just that; finding value via performance, and innovation via future-facing ambition.

With a wide spectrum of discussion – from direct, trackable response, through to top of the mind awareness and neurological behaviour – speakers took us on an epic journey of fails, successes and experience-inspired predictions of what’s to come.

If you were there, here’s a recap… And if you weren’t, here’s a flavour of what we learned… And yes, we’re already thinking about Performance ‘Focus 19’...

Disruption through digital innovation with Ed Relf, Laundrapp

Launched just 2 years ago, Laundrapp is an online logistics company which collects, cleans and delivers your laundry right to your doorstep. The trailblazer in its category, Laundrapp is active in 100+ towns and cities across the UK, and will be active in 15 international markets by the end of 2018. Despite these skyrocketing stats, Relf launched into some of the challenges Laundrapp faces.

Ed Relf, Laundrapp

Ed Relf, Laundrapp

Most predominantly is the idea of changing the consumer habit. Combine this with the increase of cost per installs, the proliferation of marketing channels and people downloading & using fewer apps (to name a few), and you begin to wonder how Laundrapp has achieved its heights in just 2 years…

Some of the key advice given by the digital entrepreneur included the following:

  • Understand how to drive quality users / downloads (avoid vanity metrics; millennials, great for acquisition / virality, but do they spend?)
  • Sell / Convert / Keep; Simplify the user acquisition / engagement funnel % onboarding (educational but quick)
  • 1st order is almost irrelevant; 2nd order retention is key, change consumer habit
  • Find 3 channels that will work; don’t forget traditional above the line channels
  • Multi-channel is CRITICAL; follow your customers’ habits (platforms / technology)

And remember, there is always room for a gut feel! Let your competitors be constrained by the data.

Chris Wojciechowicz, Autotrader

Chris Wojciechowicz, Autotrader

Turning the ignition on a new emotive brand with Chris Wojciechowicz, Autotrader

With a 40-year long heritage, and a fully digital transformation in 2013, Wojciechowicz took us through the challenges and future-facing strategy of UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace.

Autotrader conducted extensive research of their audience and their feelings around car buying, findings included: 85% knew they’d have to expend lots of time and effort and 80% don’t think the car they have chosen is perfect. Research also found that hard-wired out-of-date perceptions were limiting engagement and their growth potential.

To confront these issues, Autotrader looked to position themselves at the heart of the marketplace. Through combining their driven-by-innovation culture, inspirational values and clever data harnessing, they sought to move from a strong trademark to an emotive brand, whilst also becoming a modern, relevant digital brand.

They identified their positions:

  • What? To help their audiences to buy and sell vehicles
  • How? To provide their audiences with the right tools, services, insight, expertise to help them to easily get the right result for them
  • Why? We make it easier for everyone to achieve more in the automotive marketplace

These key positions have been core in establishing their DNA-infiltrated brand essence: More Made Easy.

Autotrader continue to operationalise their modern digital brand essence into all systems and processes, conquering those out of date perceptions as they move forward.

De-mystifying digital performance

(L-R) Hannah Thorpe,; James Bentley, Adobe advertising Cloud; Gerry White, Just Eat
A panel led by TSW’s Matt Whelan with James Bentley, Adobe advertising Cloud, Hannah Thorpe, Gerry White, Just Eat.

Matt kicked off the panel by challenging the ‘fugazi’ currently evident in the marketplace, and by establishing that automation is not always optimisation. He questioned what 'programmatic' really means for advertisers today; is it simply a way to make scheduled media buying sound more complex or have we really found a smarter approach?

Using this as a starting point, the panel agreed that the technology we use needs to have a quantifiable benefit to the advertising - generating greater returns and smaller costs - rather than just be a time-saver for the buyer. We discussed how this is particularly important in a digital world where the most effective channel, search, is increasingly expensive, and the least effective ‘higher funnel’ channels, are proven less effective by the day.

After covering a number of digital media channels with the aid of live voting from the audience, the panel concluded that the key to setting your marketing mix is being able to attribute performance correctly. Knowing the value of each channel in the short and long-term helps us to develop more effective campaigns with larger ROI. Attribution was a key point of interest for the audience, at least half of whom look at last click or completely siloed channel reporting. Savvy marketers know that the bigger picture is important, but it still eludes them due to multi-click and multi-device journeys.

Key takeaways were that our approach to marketing budget needs to change. Each channel can no longer be looked at in isolation, as learnings can be carried across each team to truly develop an integrated strategy. It’s only through integration that you’ll be able to develop the most successful campaigns in 2018.

Print: Brave New World

Introduced by Jim Lewcock, the ‘Brave New World’ print session set to challenge the perception that print media no longer performs as well as other media channels, including digital and TV.  

Jim Lewcock, TSW
(L-R) Tom Wallis, Gousto; Luke Ibbetson, XCM; Parry Jones, TSW; Matt Cory, Spark at the Telegraph

Matt Cory MD of Spark at the Telegraph kicked of proceedings with an acknowledgement of the inconsistency of quantifiable metrics. With machines in Japan and China being able to generate a Facebook ‘like’ for 50p or a quality review for £1, are followers and digital engagement metrics really the measure of a successful campaign? Quality needs to be a key part to every campaign as well as looking at measurement metrics.

Luke Ibbetson from XCM agreed that adding quality to your campaign makes for much more efficient buying and creating a strong scale-able campaign. Data intelligence can make a more successful and saleable print campaign and overall improve the ROI.

Tom Wallis from Gousto also pointed out that as you grow you need to move from 100% DR towards more brand channels. DR advertisers will see a natural attrition after time, which is why brand advertising is core to growing your company. Tom mentioned that they also address burnout by a quarterly creative refresh and continuous creative testing. They have seen month on month improvements in a market where many people are struggling with ad blindness and deteriorating responses.

Jim summarised by insisting that we need to invest in print as a channel, and the print specialists of our industry will be the ones driving the most impact and value from offline channels.

AI & the Future of Media with Volker Hirsch

Hirsch opened his thought-provoking and (at times) rather unnerving presentation with a surprising comparison: Data is the New Oil.

Not dissimilar to the challenges and rewards self-made billionaire John D. Rockefeller faced in the 1800’s oil industry, data’s exponential growth is rapidly moving into the limelight for both right and wrong reasons.

In terms of size, it is almost unfathomable to conceive the scale at which we are mining data. Hirsch emphasised that we are utterly incapable of collecting, storing, processing, analysing, or making sense of this colossus scale of data.

Volker Hirsch

With the scene now set, we were introduced to ‘machines’, referred to as ‘data nodes’, and reminded of the functionality of machines already in society, from factory workers to police officers…this functionality will continue to dominate society.

Signs of AI’s staggering capabilities are already surfacing, with Facebook algorithms, Deepface: Convolutional Neural Networks (face recognition with 98% accuracy) and AI chatbots which have developed their own human language.

AI simply has more network nodes than human beings; more sensors, more raw data, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Combine this with the fact that four of the world’s largest companies are tech companies, mining data at an unfathomable rate; we could be facing a world controlled by the likes of Facebook and Google and their commanding algorithms…

Is linear TV really dead?

The AV section brought together three different perspectives on the now and the next of the AV advertising market. TSW’s CCO, Matt Pover, introduced the section with a reminder that linear TV is still being consumed en masse with an average viewing for adults of 3.5 hours per day. However, as viewing behaviour changes advertisers need to be versatile in how they approach and adapt the market to get the most from the medium.

Next to the stand was Oliver Robertson of Thinkbox. Olly cited the ongoing investment in content, the developments in home tech (improving viewing experience), and the expansion of AV platforms; the latter means we can watch better quality TV content in more places, through more platforms, on more devices, than ever before. Online brands are realising this; in fact, as a standalone category, online businesses were the largest spending in 2016, capitalising on the rapid growth of second screen usage, where analysis shows that TV contributes over a third of web traffic through search.

Nick Lamb of Sky echoed the positive state of the TV market, and talked about a ‘golden age’ of TV with unprecedented choice, quality and access. Nick highlighted how Sky are spending £5.2bn on content this year alongside ongoing development of platforms. Within the TV advertising market, Sky see on the one side ITV and C4 delivering premium content, Facebook and Google on the other side delivering video underpinned by deep consumer insight and data. Sky see themselves in the middle, bringing both areas together, leveraging data to inform improved planning and placing ads into the best sports, drama and entertainment content. Sky are also addressing the discrepancy between planning, where we can plan and trade seamlessly cross-platform. The Sky AdVance platform takes steps towards seamless trading of AV ad space whether on a main set, mobile or tablet.

Matthew Pover, TSW
Oliver Robertson, Thinkbox
The AV Panel

Finally, Jason Spencer from ITV took to the platform reiterating that it’s never been a better time to be a TV advertiser, especially for online brands. Jason talked about how TV still delivers an emotional connection and mass simultaneous reach. He discussed how customer data and insight is helping to deliver better understanding – but that fragmentation of media and TV is making it easier to be niche and more difficult to be mass. This is the challenge to ITV – ‘where brands live’ – they’re investing £1bn this year in TV content to address this issue, in large part into content for harder to reach younger audiences such as Love Island. Investment is also going into supporting this with developments in companion apps, social interaction and merchandise. ITV are investing in platform innovation through the ITV hub, and looking to take sound commercial bets on future developments, partnerships and new revenue streams.

As advertisers, our challenge will be how to best utilise the vast amounts of available data to create versatile AV plans that can apply targeting on multiple levels – by the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of channel and programming, daypart and day, but increasingly by the ‘where’ of location, platform and device.

The Creative Sessions

Our first guest, Lisa Killbourne from Independent Eye, kicked off the first of two creative talks, with her session: ‘We’re all Brand Scientists now’.

Lisa began with a snapshot of how behavioural economics should help brand communications strategies, and make brand scientists out of all us marketers. Why? Because customer decision- making is the base on which every business rests, and if we understand that decision-making better, our research, advertising, strategic planning etc. will all be on firmer ground.

Having laid the foundation of behavioural economics, Lisa presented the difference between System 1 (The Limbic Brain: Feelings – loyalty, trust, decision making, no language) and System 2 (The Neocortex: Rational, analytical, thought & language) decision making and how a mix of both systems create effective advertising.

Further to this, Lisa delved deeper into the effects of behavioural economics, describing it as a robust model of human understanding to help us creatively solve today’s communications problems; in turn, it helps us to demonstrate how and why our marketing and comms work. Essentially, there are techniques and shortcuts that our brains use to process the huge amount of information we receive – to understand, to learn and to make decisions. These (cognitive biases) form the basis for behavioural economics principles.

Examples of it include:

  • Scarcity Value: “When we think something is scarce it has greater value in our eyes. When we believe it’s plentiful, its perceived value falls.”
  • Price Perception: “We value something according to the price that’s demanded for it.”
  • Self-efficacy: “People are more likely to act if there is evidence to suggest they will definitely be successful and get the outcome they want.”
  • Norming/ Social Proof: “People’s behaviour is influenced by social norms about what they perceive is ‘acceptable’, popular or trending”

Lisa concluded to state that emotional communications are proven to be more effective than ration advertising (Source: Les Binet & Peter Field, Marketing in the Era of Accountability (2008), The Long And The Short Of It (2012)). System 2 still has its place (surveys, landline interviews & focus groups collect accurate data for larger decision-making such as buying a house or car), though it is emotion which leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.

“We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think” Antonio Dimasio

Laurence Parkes from Rufus Leonard introduced us to his session: ‘When Brand = Performance. Finding the Most effective moments to invest in your Brand’.

Laurence identified that the challenge for brands is to deliver consistent, connected and meaningful experiences. To assist with this challenge, he outlined the following steps:

  • Map your journeys

Rufus Leonard’s ‘Brand Experience Index’ (BXi) incorporates how the elements of think, feel, sense, do and connect affect the consumers’ brand experience. With this in-depth mapping of how consumers interact with your brand, you’re better placed to deliver the right message at the right time in the right way.

  • Identify hero moments

Identify which parts of the consumer’s interaction with your brand are the most valuable and loyalty-stimulating. Laurence used Premier Inn as an example, where the brand identified that the most valuable part of the consumer experience, or the ‘hero moment’, was getting a good night’s sleep – hence the focus on ‘Your perfect pillow’ & ‘Your perfect bed’.

  • Optimise continuously

Use statistical methods (supported by the tools) to analyse data from tests to build conclusions and recommendations. Using user flows & heat maps in analytics tools to tell detailed engaging stories from test variations. Establish your most successful formulas to deliver maximum performance.

Using their three-step process Rufus Leonard have seen staggering successes with clients in a broad range of sectors including Premier Inn, British Gas, The AA, O2, BBC and Lloyd’s.

High impact influencer campaigns

Influencer Marketing has been around for a while, but with the rise of Social Media the complexity and the scale that can be achieved means it’s now changing the rules on what can be done… with some incredible results; Goat’s co-founder, Harry Hugo showed us how they do it.

Essentially, Influencer Marketing is all about creating bespoke content, leveraging the relevant personality with a large, engaged social following and using their sphere of influence to multiply the reach. This is not celebrity endorsements, it’s generating content that resonates with the community.

Some interesting stats were shared: 92% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional celebrity endorsements; nearly 40% of Twitter users say they have made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer.

Sounds great, but surely there are some downsides? Well, there are some perceived problems….

  • It’s not trackable… well actually it is. Like all marketing, there are many ways to prove the value of this proposition. Not only can you measure the ‘soft’ metrics (impressions, clicks, reach etc), but you can also track direct sales and conversions.
  • Linked to the first point is value, as it is trackable impressions and followers aren’t important, direct sales are. Which influencer will deliver you the best value? The one who has 1m followers or the one that will generate 2,000 sales?
  • Working with Influencers can be difficult, creative control must be balanced between the Influencer and Client.
  • The older generation can be reached... Generation X spend more time on social media than Millenials and 64% of Gen Xers have bought a product/service seen on YouTube!

Finally, Harry shared his Top Tips for Influencer Marketing:

  • Community – people are socially, emotionally and financially invested in their digital community.
  • Brand/Influencer Balance – Content + Community + Correct Metrics = Conversions.
  • Multiplier Effect – Multiple Influencers used in a short space of time can create a huge ripple.
  • Content Must Be Emotionally Impactful – You need engaging content.

The Future is Transactional

“Money for nothing and the cheques for free”

itransact Sales Director, Malcolm Stoodley, came on stage to this Dire Straits hit with the very simple message to the brands and agencies.

“With retail getting squeezed on margins and online competition creating ever growing pressures, then consider talking to itransact about how Transactional Media could be a new revenue stream that could be money for nothing. Free money straight to the bottom line.” Malcom Stoodley, itransact
Cheques for free
Malcolm Stoodley, itransact
Cheques revealed from under chairs

This is done by allowing complimentary 3rd party brands and suppliers to access customers by advertising to them via the customer journey. This can be in a variety of forms including website ads, post checkout ads, sponsorship, inserts to their customer parcels and even post purchase emails. Evidence was shown of how strong response levels are with Transactional Media compared to regular inserts, DM and website advertising as ads targeting consumers in their shopping journey have stronger levels of engagement.

He challenged the brands in the room to simply ‘have a chat with us’ to establish how itransact could generate, what could be, a sizeable income.

Just before the end of his session, he asked everyone to take an envelope from under his/her chair to reveal a cheque for £250k with itransact’s contact details on, highlighting that the incomes should be considered as a serious opportunity to generate added income from existing assets.

International Breakaway Session

The international breakaway session kicked off with Alex Phillips, LNP China’s Sales and Marketing Director, untangling the difficult subject of launching western brands into the Chinese markets with tried and tested methods. Next, Qin Wang talked us through her platform - Kaola; an m-commerce app that allows overseas brands access into the Chinese market.

Once Alex and Qin gave us their insight on expansion into China, we moved onto a broader scope of international TV, with our panellists: Ben Wilcockson, TSW’s Group Account Director for UK & International TV; Alistair Jones, PublicEurope’s Group Head of Sales; and Oliver Baker – RTLconnect’s International Sales Manager. The panel was led by Richard Downey, TSW’s Global New Business Director.

The panel covered a variety of topical issues facing international TV and other media channels.

They outlined common mistakes made by brands when expanding internationally, such as failure to incorporate localisation, unsuccessful adaptation to the countries planning/buying structure and using the same strategy in each country. The panel continued to explore the demands of operating in more challenging environments (mainly for language and cultural reasons), such as Russia and Japan. In these cases, it was recommended to work with a local agency to help navigate the market.

The discussion led into which channels easily integrate alongside international TV; overall it was suggested digital, influencer marketing, content and radio would be the best routes. They also suggested testing in smaller, cheaper markets with similar behaviour including the Netherlands for Germany, Canada for the US, or Ireland for the UK. Reducing the risk, and getting a better understanding before entering the larger, more expensive markets.

There is often uncertainty and fear when approaching international TV. Accepting the market differences is essential, then implementing your own strategy is the best way to approach.

If you would like us to send you any of the presentations from the report above, or to learn more about Performance 'Focus 18', or any of TSW’s services, please email Cathy McPherson, Marketing Director, at or call Cathy on 020 7539 6137.