How do we turbo-charge our advertising effectiveness?

Given the recent Warc Effectiveness rankings, should we be concerned about the UK slipping down the advertising effectiveness league?

By creative salon

The UK has lost ground in advertising effectiveness, according to Warc's latest ranking.

Having previously occupied the second place position — behind the US — between 2014 and 2019, it slipped to third in 2020, fourth in 2021, and is now seventh.

Should we be concerned and what should we do to reverse this? We asked some top planners to find out:

Emily Harlock​, chief strategy officer, The&Partnership

Other markets have sharpened the focus on effectiveness and as part of that, seem more open to having media and creative sit side by side. It’s a seemingly obvious shift that innately breeds a culture of effectiveness but one that eludes too many UK planning processes.

We’ve got a tough year ahead of us as an industry, with clients focused on communicating value amidst the cost of living crisis. Strengthening our UK effectiveness position has to lie in the partnership between client, creative and media. We’ve all got closer during the pandemic - with more access to each other than ever. It’s time to use that closeness ± and our brilliant UK creative muscle — to greater effect.

Rachel Hamburger, strategy director, Lucky Generals

Without creative effectiveness we don’t have an industry. But there are some simple things we could do to restore our position at the top of the rankings. Let’s start by encouraging clients to set us hard measures of success, sales uplift and (long term) market share increases. Let’s stop the never ending creep of interim measures, which often only have a loose relationship to in-market success. We need to hold ourselves to account with proper ways of measuring our work. This should be a challenge we relish, because the best way to make effective work, is to make creative work.

Sue Unerman, chief transformation officer, MediaCom

Let’s not be parochial. It is a good thing that effectiveness is thriving around the world. The fact that the UK top 5 slot is being challenged is a great sign that consideration for effectiveness, and of course for outcomes rather than just outputs, is important now across the globe.

Consideration for how to eliminate wastage, how to measure effectiveness and how creativity drives business are important not just locally but worldwide. During the pandemic of the last two years it has continued to be crucial that businesses and marketers take a long term view and its good to see that this is a worldwide — not just a UK — consideration.

Should we be worried by the UK’s position in the league? We would be foolish to ignore it. We must consider that many advertisers do wait for the prestigious IPA Effectiveness Awards to muster a body of effectiveness evidence, and that these run every other year, convened this year by the inimitable Harjot Singh. Our strong showing in 2020 of these awards, when I was convenor, produced a truly inspirational body of work, and I expect to see the same this year. However, every leader in our sector must make sure that effectiveness is built into their (and their teams’) objectives and key results.

It’s our collective responsibility to champion effectiveness and its measurement for the ultimate health of our sector. Any business that doesn’t do this, that doesn’t put effectiveness at the heart and centre, and through every muscle and sinew of activity is short-changing its own future.

Jamie Peate, global head of retail strategy/head of effectiveness, McCann

At McCann we make effectiveness our priority and commit time and resource to building shared effectiveness culture with our clients — hence McCann Manchester being named in the recent WARC 100 list as the 8th most effective individual agency in world.

However, with the UK dropping down the overall ranking from 4th to 7th place in 2022, this sadly may not be a consistent priority across our industry. This is likely to be related to resource prioritisation, with agencies not perhaps able to allocate time, people and budgets to effectiveness, senior leaders not always taking ownership of it, and any spare resource going towards ‘more glamorous’ creative awards.

Add to this increasingly relentless commercial pressures and ensuing business priorities for clients and we are faced with a growing lack of understanding and appreciation for what effectiveness culture can deliver long-term.

Effectiveness and building a shared effectiveness culture is really important because it both reflects the true value of marketing comms and puts creativity (the ying to the yang of effectiveness) front and centre due to its multiplying effect.

UK agencies should come together and make a collective commitment to getting the UK back up the ranking again in 2023.


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