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IPA Bellwether: UK marketing budgets flat-line

Hopes of a sustained revival were extinguished in the second quarter of 2019 as firms reported no change to available marketing budget expenditure amid growing political and economic uncertainty.

Following a return to growth in the opening quarter of the year, buoyed by firms taking a more pro-active approach to offset risks to their businesses, latest Bellwether data signalled a stalling of growth, with the net balance falling from +8.7% to +0.0%.

The 20% of panel members reporting greater marketing spend was completely offset by those cutting expenditure, while the remaining 60% kept budgets unchanged since Q1.

Growing economic uncertainty, continued ambiguity over Brexit and additional risk through a change of political leadership in the UK were mentioned by firms as factors expected to challenge the business environment over the coming year.

This created hesitancy among clients and delayed decision making. Panel members also raised concerns that difficult conditions domestically were damaging consumer confidence and impacting consumption.

Businesses were also wary of headwinds from external sources, particularly spillover effects into UK markets from global trade disputes and weaker growth at key export destinations such as Europe and Asia.

Nevertheless, marketing executives were given extra discretion over internet-based advertising in the second quarter, as signalled by a net balance of +11.5% of firms reporting budget growth (+17.2% in Q1). Within internet, search/SEO budgets also grew solidly (net balance of +9.9% from +14.2%).

Main media advertising budgets were also given a boost in the second quarter, as some firms used big ticket marketing campaigns to build brand recognition and expand customer bases. There were also suggestions that marketing was being deployed as a defensive strategy due to increased competitive pressures. Overall, a net balance of +5.6% of companies reported greater main media marketing budgets (+5.2% in Q1).

The only other Bellwether category to register growth in the second quarter was events. The net balance increased to +4.8%, from +3.4% previously, its highest since the first quarter of 2018 and corroborating with forecasts made earlier in the year that events budgets would grow over the 2019/20 financial year.

Meanwhile, available market research spend was reduced for a sixteenth successive quarter (net balance of -2.9% from -4.2%), while PR budgets were also cut (net balance of -5.2% from +0.0%). A second successive downward revision to sales promotion budgets was also recorded (-7.1% from -3.7%). Aside from the ‘other’ advertising category (net balance of -12.8% from -5.4%), it was direct marketing which was the worst performer, with the net balance falling to -9.0% (-3.5% previously), the lowest level in over ten years.

Panel members remained negative regarding financial prospects in the second quarter, casting more downbeat assessments towards both industry-wide and company-own finances than seen during the opening quarter of 2019.

With precisely 34% of marketing executives reporting a pessimistic outlook towards finances in their industry, compared to approximately 8% that were optimistic, the resulting net balance (-25.6%) signalled the second-most negative assessment since the fourth quarter of 2011 (surpassed only by the Q4 2018 reading of -28.6%). Furthermore, this was down from a net balance of -22.6% seen in Q1.

Latest data also pointed to deeper negativity towards own-company financial prospects. The net balance fell to -9.8%, from -2.7% in the first quarter, signalling the highest degree of pessimism since Q4 2011.

Bellwether remains cautious towards 2019, expecting only a modest 1.1% annual increase in adspend over the year as a whole. Various factors underpin its reservation, namely ongoing Brexit uncertainty, but also recent developments in the UK economy, which this year so far have largely been negative. It cites there is a real possibility that the UK economy will contract in the second quarter, and the Bellwether panel comments, as well as latest Bellwether data, highlight that businesses are looking to contain costs and shield against challenging demand conditions.

Nevertheless, Bellwether believes businesses will be eager to accelerate marketing efforts once uncertainty has cleared, and subsequently see 2020 onwards being more positive on the adspend front. It expects growth of 1.8% in 2020, followed by stronger rates of increase in 2021 (2.0%), 2022 (2.2%) and 2023 (3.1%).

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

SME GDPR compliance only ‘skin-deep’

72% of UK SMEs report being ‘very aware’ of GDPR and its requirements, but 60% say that the recent changes to data protection have had a ‘slight’ or ‘no’ impact on their business, while 8% do not know.

The figures, from a survey commissioned by Shred-it, have revealed a positive understanding and engagement with the principles of GDPR among SMEs on its first anniversary, but also highlight a possible cosmetic understanding and key areas of concern around the more complex aspects of full compliance.

The independent survey of 1439 SMEs comprised a series of unprompted questions and covered a range of businesses in specific market sectors across the United Kingdom with 85% having 10 to 49 employees.

When asked about GDPR readiness nine in ten rated themselves as a ‘4’ or ‘5’ out of 5; the main actions taken were reviewing policies (45%) and emailing customers for consent (35%). These are considered to be the lighter ‘front end’ aspects of GDPR compliance according to Shred-it’s experts.

The survey data showed that one third (32%) of SMEs reported that GDPR has had a ‘great’ or ‘considerable’ impact on their business. When those businesses that had experienced challenges with GDPR compliance were probed further, they cited data breaches and disclosure requirements as the main challenges, with healthcare (27%) and real estate (25%) the main industries affected with those specific areas. Small proportions also reported issues with subject access requests, again with healthcare (28%) and real estate (15%) being the main industries affected.

Ian Osborne, Vice President UK & Ireland for Shred-it, said: “On the surface it is good news. It is clear that many feel they are already compliant with GDPR having reviewed areas such as ‘consent’ activities and publishing a privacy notice. These typically deal with the ‘front end’ aspects of GDPR. However, while many say they are ready, there is a real question mark over the extent to which the majority of SMEs are prepared to respond to a data breach or how to react to a subject access request, for example. Our survey suggests that there is still a need for a large education exercise to show SMEs what is really involved in GDPR compliance at depth.”

Of the 10% that said they were ‘not quite’ or ‘not at all’ ready, who rated themselves as a ‘1’ to ‘3’ out of 5, 42% (54 businesses) said they have not been dealing with it; when asked what was holding them back, their unprompted reasons were that data protection authorities were ‘only interested in bigger companies’, it was ‘not applicable to us’, it was ‘too complicated’, and they were ‘too busy’. Of the 10%, two in five would only trust someone in-house to help them comply with GDPR – only one in ten would consider external support and only 4% would trust the data protection authority for assistance. The SMEs that would consider external support were unsure what services they needed and when they would intend to look for support.

In the twelve months between 25th May 2018 and 2019 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, has taken 59 enforcement actions.

Osborne added: “Our survey seems to show two clear pictures emerging. One is where the majority of SMEs are genuinely engaged with the process of compliance; within that group there are many who believe they are already compliant but may have missed some key more complex parts of the GDPR. It is the minority in that group who have recognised its greater challenges and are wrestling with its more complex areas. The other is one where some SMEs recognise they are not ready, seem unwilling to address the issue of GDPR compliance and are reluctant to seek support in any form to help them. When the relevant authority’s fines become more common headlines across the UK, we expect that views may change about what compliance really means.”

6 killer marketing metrics that really matter

By Adam Oldfield, MD of Force24

The life of a digital marketer is rarely straightforward. Whilst other communicators may perhaps argue it’s easier for their digital peers to evidence ROI, those within the world of email marketing, for instance, may be quick to defend their position.

Because yes, they have a wealth of metrics at their fingertips, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Rather than focusing on what is arguable a vanity metric – like a click rate or, even worse, an email open – it’s important that marketers look deeper at the data to offer a true bottom line impact.

Insight relating to a brand’s data subjects, list segmentation, and the evolution of those segments, will help a marketer to understand what excites people and drives them to engage. Instead of asset-based reporting, professionals should therefore be concentrating on audience reporting, to assess campaign performance through a user’s eyes.

But how do marketing departments get these bottom up metrics that matter?

  1. Segments are key

Not exactly a metric in itself, but the data that matters can’t be uncovered until segments have been built to see how they are performing, how they’re growing (or shrinking) over time, and what the average lead score is. The more segments created – the better. Automation should make this possible in only a few easy clicks.

  1. Lead score matters the most

‘Lead scoring matters only for B2B marketers’ is a huge myth! Savvy lead scoring takes ALL engagement from any type of user. A points-system should be set so it can be tallied and a pre-defined ‘tipping point’ – tailored to the brand – should trigger when to act. Lead scores help to decide exactly who to focus on at any given time.

  1. Analyse average lead scores per segment

The average lead score of a segment may peak and trough over time. This data can be used to draw engagement curves that indicate seasonality, optimum purchase times, crucial cross-sell periods and when an existing customer is most likely to re-book/buy. This type of analysis also helps to quickly identify strong or weak segments within a data set. It also helps draw correlations between lead scores and campaigns, web activity and, most importantly, the number of leads actually secured. 

  1. Segment evolution

It is important to understand how a list is growing or shrinking – is the data in a segment diminishing, for example? And what might this mean? 

  1. User web engagement

We know browsing behaviour gives us a deeper insight into a user’s interests and needs, but only one in six organisations use it effectively. Web collateral should therefore be designed to support this information gathering, and engagement across this online real-estate should be analysed.

  1. User marketing preferences

It’s just as important to understand what your segment does NOT want to see – you’ll be surprised by the level of variation between data sets.

Marketing spend set to remain stable in 2019

80% of businesses plan to spend more or the same on PR in 2019 compared with 2018.

The findings are found in a new report, ‘Spotlight on Marketing,’ commissioned by marketing communications agency Voiceboxx.

100 communications professionals were asked a series of questions at the beginning of 2019 to help understand the nature of the marketing landscape for the year ahead, taking into consideration GDPR regulations and Brexit.

Out of those polled, 80% said that their budget for creative/branding would increase or stay the same for 2019, with creative design essential to direct mail, which all respondents were planning to invest in through 2019.

Digital tactics were also high on the agenda for marketeers, with 87% of businesses using video as a tool and the platform being the marketing tactic most respondents would like to utlise in 2019.

Other key points from the report revealed:

• 43% of respondents said their website needed improving in 2019
• 47% plan to spend more on their website in 2019, than they did in 2018
• Over half respondents said keeping up to date with social media trends was a challenge
• Most marketeers plan to invest more in strategy in 2019, than 2018
• 30% of respondents see new CRM system and staff training as essential for 2019
• 57% of businesses want to use social media advertising in 2019

Overall, the survey found that respondents saw 2019 as a year for improving communications across all channels, with analysis revealing marketeers already use a wide range of tactics, with new activity areas for 2019 being low priorities.

Has GDPR made marketers more data conscious?

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 has undoubtedly disrupted inbound and digital marketing strategies.

From adding compliance overhead to the soaring cost of inbound campaigns and fear of non-compliance undermining confidence in outbound campaigns, marketers are struggling to meet revenue targets.

But GDPR has also served as a massive wake-up call: marketing teams have, finally, recognised the sheer inadequacy of existing data resources.

James Isilay, CEO, Cognism, welcomes a new generation of revenue focused, data-aware marketers who are confidently combining trusted, compliant data resources with Applied Intelligence to deliver focused, targeted outbound marketing campaigns that result in a significant revenue uplift…

Blessing in Disguise

Marketers have had six months to come to terms with the realities of a post-GDPR world, but as the dust settles it is not the fear of punitive fines that is dominating the agenda but the challenge of achieving ROI given the spiralling costs affecting every stage of the sales and marketing funnel.

From the addition of the Data Protection Officer to the sheer weight of compliance overhead now borne by marketing and the spike in PPC costs, the marketing budget has taken a massive hit. The logistics associated with meeting GDPR requirements for routine data cleansing, ensuring that contacts are registered and that any out of date records are deleted are without doubt a challenge for many companies.

Yet what has really taken many by surprise is the sheer inadequacy of existing sales and marketing databases – and the knock on implication for marketing campaigns. The fact is that approximately one-third of data degrades every year and most sales teams have been using data that is up to 60% out of date: recognising and addressing this fact alone will make GDPR a blessing in disguise for marketing teams.

Data Confidence

This new era of data awareness is, in many ways, long overdue. If companies want to maximise the value of marketing data resources, the number one priority has to be accurate and up to date information. That means ditching the spreadsheets and embracing a CRM platform to achieve better data control; and it means ensuring that any data provider is by default providing GDPR compliant data and can prove strong privacy and compliance credentials. But it also means recognising and addressing the speed with which data degrades: how is the business planning to ensure data is kept up to date, accurate and alive?

It is only when armed with a trusted, accurate, real-time and GDPR compliant data resource that a business can truly begin to transform marketing performance, and hence improve the revenue stream. Combining this trusted data resource with Applied Intelligence (AI) marketing can transform performance – from gaining more insight into customer personas to identifying purchasing triggers, and delivering highly targeted, highly effective outbound campaigns.

Global Compliance

Compliance to data privacy regulations is becoming a fundamental requirement for marketers globally – from Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) to the diverse interpretations of GDPR throughout Europe and state-specific demands in the US – and that is great news in raising data awareness and understanding. But no marketing team is rewarded for achieving regulatory compliance: it is driving revenue from those data resources that remains the primary goal. And with the cost of inbound marketing campaigns continuing to spiral, there are very real opportunities for those companies able to combine real-time, compliant data resources with AI to deliver highly targeted, highly effective outbound marketing to drive tangible revenue uplift.

Online sellers ‘not using own data to improve business performance’

Online sellers are using e-commerce solutions to gather better data insights, yet many are failing to use it to make better business decisions, according to new research.

Whilst 42% are using data to improve customer service, only 24% are using data for buying behaviour analysis and two thirds are not using it to improve the user experience.

The survey of 559 global B2B organisations by Sana Commerce found that many are still only focused on using e-commerce for sales and improving online shopping for customers – traits associated with e-commerce 1.0 and 2.0.

48% identified driving sales as the top priority for their e-commerce solution and 38% said it was to improve the user experience.

Despite having data available at their fingertips, online sellers are not using their data to achieve desired business performance outcomes. The main response to tackling competition is competing on price (47%) and increasing the online customer experience (38%) rather than enhancing the proposition.

Only a third said they would use data to improve personalisation and 26% said they would use data to improve targeting and account-based marketing.

Sana says many online sellers seem to be overlooking the true value of e-commerce 3.0 and improving integration with key business systems such as the ERP to drive broader business benefits.

Michiel Schipperus, CEO and managing partner at Sana Commerce, said: “It’s encouraging to see online sellers building on their digital transformation strategies and considering the implementation of these advanced technologies, but it’s important to first establish how they can be implemented strategically. E-commerce 3.0 has enabled better integration between internal systems as a growth strategy and way to improve businesses agility. M2M and other forms of automation represent a significant investment, so e-commerce businesses need to ensure they’re being used to their full potential and improving key business drivers.”

The survey of B2B organisations in Europe and the US was undertaken by independent market research company Sapio on behalf on Sana Commerce. You can download the report here.

Complaints to the ICO ‘have doubled’ since GDPR came into force

Complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about potential data breaches have more than doubled since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect, according to law firm EMW.

There were 6,281 complaints between May 25 2018, when GDPR came into force, and 3 July 2018, a 160% rise from just 2,417 complaints over the same period in 2017.

EMW says that businesses should be concerned about the significant increase in complaints and the size of potential fines that can be levied under the new GDPR.

Under the new regulations the cap on each fine will be raised to £16.5 million (or 4% of worldwide turnover of the entity being fined) – 33 times more than the current maximum £500,000 fine.

Increasing numbers of individuals are making complaints over potential data breaches, including some more disgruntled consumers making several, repeated complaints. Greater media publicity and Government advertising means there is a heightened awareness of individuals’ new data rights under GDPR. There is now a greater public focus on the accountability of businesses of all sizes in handling personal data.

EMW says individuals are most likely to make complaints when their sensitive personal and financial data is at risk. The financial services sector received over 10% of all complaints (660), with businesses in the education and health sectors receiving a combined 1,112 complaints.

James Geary, EMW Principal for Commercial Contracts, said: “A huge increase in complaints is very worrying for many businesses, considering the scale of the fines that can now be imposed. There are some disgruntled consumers prepared to use the full extent of GDPR that will create a significant workload for businesses.”

“We have seen many businesses are currently struggling to manage the burden created by the GDPR, whether or not an incident even needs to be reported. The reality of implementation may have taken many businesses by surprise. For example, emails represent one of the biggest challenges for GDPR compliance as failing to respond promptly to subject access requests or right to be forgotten requests could result in a fine. The more data a business has, the harder it is to respond quickly and in the correct compliant manner.”

37% of UK businesses ‘still not GDPR compliant’

New research shows that over a third of UK business haven’t fallen in line with GDPR, while a similar amount still send marketing emails without consent.

A survey of 1,021 UK workers carried out by MarketingSignals.com, revealed 37% confess they are still not following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

When asked to elaborate on why the business wasn’t falling in line, 35% said they are still sending marketing emails without the expressed consent.

In addition:

  • 31% say they still have the data of those who haven’t agreed to opt in to having their data stored.
  • 27% say they haven’t secured the data in case of a ransomware attack.
  • 22% say they have a longer process for those choosing to opt out from receiving information.
  • 14% say their firm hides privacy choices from people
  • 17% say they are still unsure as to what the benefits of GDPR are

Gareth Hoyle, managing director at MarketingSignals.com said: “The research shows there are many ways that businesses are admitting to not following the newly enforced GDPR regulations. GDPR is the most fundamental change to ever happen to data privacy, so it is imperative that businesses follow this and complete the process as soon as possible.

“Businesses need to understand that acting responsibly and ethically with customer data is crucial to protect and enhance brand reputation and ensure customer trust. Not only this, but it will enhance the quality of data collected which is a good thing for UK businesses.”

Online video viewing to exceed an hour a day this year

The average person will be spending 84 minutes a day watching videos online by 2020, according to the latest forecasts from Zenith.

In that year, China will have the keenest viewers, with the average person spending 105 minutes a day watching online video, followed by Russia (102 minutes) and the UK (101 minutes).

Zenith says this rapid rise in consumption is leading to a significant shift in the way brands plan campaigns across both television and online video.

The research covers 59 markets and encompasses all video content viewed over an internet connection, including broadcaster-owned platforms such as Hulu, ‘over-the-top’ subscription services like Netflix, video-sharing sites, e.g. YouTube, and videos viewed on social media.

Global online video consumption grew by 11 minutes a day in 2017, and we expect it to grow by an average of 9 minutes a day each year to 2020.

It accounts for almost all the growth in total internet use, and is growing faster than media consumption overall, so it is taking consumption time from traditional media.

Although some of this extra viewing is going to non-commercial platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, Zenith says plenty of it is going to commercial platforms, so the supply of commercial audiences is rising rapidly.

In fact, the firm estimates that online video adspend grew 20% in 2017, to reach $27bn. Growth peaked at 36% in 2014 and has fallen steadily since then, but still remains high. It forecasts 19% growth in 2018, and an average of 17% annual growth to 2020, when online video adspend will reach $43bn.

Video’s share of online display advertising is rising steadily: it accounted for 27% of display adspend in 2017, and Zenith expects it to account for 30% in 2020.

Online video advertising is still only a fraction of the size of television advertising, but because television is stuck at 0% to 2% annual growth, this fraction is rising rapidly. The online video ad market was 10% of the size of the television ad market in 2015, and 14% in 2017. By 2020 Zenith expects online video adspend to be 23% of the size of television adspend.

“Online video is driving growth in global media consumption, as smartphones with high-speed data connections make high-quality video available to people on the move, and smart TV sets give viewers unparalleled choice in the living room,” said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith’s Head of Forecasting and Director of Global Intelligence. “The rapid rise in video viewing makes online video the world fastest-growing advertising format, creating new strategic and creative opportunities. Brands that do not currently have a strategy for online video need to think about getting one.”

INFOGRAPHIC: DMA reveals global consumer privacy trends

The Digital Marketing Association (DMA) has detailed consumer attitudes to privacy across 10 nations, encompassing attitudes, opinions and preferences and how they change depending on their location.

The research, conducted in partnership with Acxiom and Foresight Factory, found that:

  • 51% of people are ‘data pragmatists’ who exchange their data as long as there is a clear benefit.
  • 21% are ‘data unconcerned’ who do not mind how and why their data is used.
  • 23% are ‘data fundamentalists who never share their data for any reason.
  • The data pragmatists are most likely to be found in the US, Spain and Singapore, while data fundamentalists are found en mass in in Australia, Germany and The Netherlands.
  • Nearly half of all consumers would use their data to negotiate better offers.
  • 83% of consumers would like more control over their data.

The DMA concludes: “Although each nation differs in some ways, globally consumers are remarkably similar – most aspects of privacy remain the same wherever you are. Globally, the majority of consumers are pragmatists – willing to share their data so long as there is a benefit. Trading data is a common desire among consumers and data as a commodity will become more important to companies in the years to come.”

The DMA has produced a handy infographic to break down its findings and will be running a webinar on July 11th to delve deeper into the results.