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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’.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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”

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:

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

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 [email protected] or call Cathy on 020 7539 6137.