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Tuesday, 06 October 2015 00:00

Alisun Armstrong

"The biggest and best surprises come from the low-budget category! Every year, we see amazing ideas and executions that didn’t demand big bucks to get big results. And they’re usually in service to great causes, nonprofits, or other for-good endeavors, which makes their success even more noteworthy." said Alisun Armstrong, Executive Director of the Midas Awards, in the interview on AME & on Creativity & Effectiveness.

Here's the Q&A....

1. The AME Awards has 22 years of honoring the World’s Best Advertising & Marketing Effectiveness under its belt. Is there a link between creativity and effectiveness?

A creative campaign may have a much better chance of being enjoyed by the viewer, but creativity alone isn’t enough. There’s an extra mystery ingredient that turns that enjoyment into consumer action. The AME Awards Winners Showcase is basically a year-by-year list of the agencies and creatives who possess that ingredient, use it in liberal application, and prove that entertaining work may stick in the mind… but an effective piece sticks and inspires action.

2. What are the mainstay components of award-winning entries that have scored top honors in the AME Awards?

One word: Results.

While execution, idea, and marketing objectives/strategy are all important, the biggest burden an AME entry bears is proving its effectiveness—whether it’s earned media, a sales uptick, or whatever desired outcome is called for in the marketing brief.

It can be beautiful. It can be informative. It can be hilarious! But if it didn’t move the needle, it’s not AME material.

3. AME Awards the highest-ranking Gold-winning entry in each region with a Platinum AME. What is the significance of the Platinum Award, and how have Platinum winners increased brand awareness?

The Platinum Award winners represent the best-of-the-best, by region. These winners have come out of three brutal rounds of scoring at the very top—and one of them will also earn the biggest AME honor, the Grand Award. And because the number-one thing the judges are looking for is results, the Platinum winners, sort of by default, absolutely must have increased brand awareness.

4. In this multi-channel world, buzz is very important in gaining the attention of the consumer. How has social media and metrics changed AME Grand Jury members’ view of award-deserving work?

I think it’s made the judges more demanding. The most consistent bit of feedback I get from the jury is lackluster evidence of results, which accounts for 30% of the overall score—the most heavily weighted of the four components of the scoring matrix. With all the metrics available through social media/video and email, tracking and scheduling apps, etc. it’s easier than ever to prove a campaign’s effectiveness, and the judges are absolutely in the right for expecting more from entrants—if creatives aren’t taking advantage of this wealth of information (and using it to their advantage by tweaking/adjusting on-the-fly if something doesn’t seem to be getting any traction) for their entry, it will be reflected in the score.

5. AME introduced the AME Green Award in 2011. Have you seen a rise in creative effectiveness and an increase in the number of green-themed work over the years?

Absolutely! It’s bitter-sweet, though—we’re seeing an increase in eco-themed entries because conditions on this planet, whether due to natural or human causes, continue to deteriorate and demand a call to action. But on the plus-side, creatives are coming up with brilliant ways to bring attention to the issues, and people are responding. And when this combination of creativity and effectiveness results in an AME Award, these issues get even broader exposure, amplifying the message.

6. How has allowing each entry to be reviewed in its social, economic, and cultural context contributed to a wider worldview of creative and effective excellence in advertising?

Execution is region-blind. For lack of a better term, I’d say it’s “easy” for any juror worth their salt to recognize great production value, superior design and art direction, etc.—and our Grand Jury is a collection of some of the best creative, strategy, and marketing people in the world. But when it comes to idea, effectiveness, and challenge/strategy/objectives, a little local knowledge goes a long way.

There are subtleties that could go unremarked without cultural immersion, target audience responses that may not seem like much, and even quite possibly language barriers for the entrants that mean they can’t precisely parse their data in English on the entry form. So the regional juries, in a sense, screen the entries in the first two rounds; when the group comes together for the final round to determine the Platinums, any doubts a juror from a different part of the world has about the results are quelled.

7. What examples of creative and effective work have you seen that did not require massive media dollars to move consumers to engage and buy the brand?

The biggest and best surprises come from the low-budget category! Every year, we see amazing ideas and executions that didn’t demand big bucks to get big results. And they’re usually in service to great causes, nonprofits, or other for-good endeavors, which makes their success even more noteworthy.

A few recent examples: The 2015 Platinum winner—and Green Award winner, too—was Leo Burnett Manilla’s “Aid Couture” for Ariel and Downy. They spent zero dollars in media, used donated clothing, and raised 1,800,000 PHP for typhoon victims. Leo Burnett Melbourne used less than $2,500 and a hashtag, “#SPCSunday,” to create a national movement that saved Australia’s oldest fruit processing company… and won an AME Gold Award.

It’s refreshing to see the industry flexing their creative powers in constrained conditions. Producing creative, effective work on a tight budget isn’t easy. I’m proud that the AME Awards recognizes the important campaigns that result from that hard work.

“The Midas Awards continues to be the only competition that honors advertising and marketing created for financial institutions on a global scale, and the Midas Report aggregates the top performers to create the definitive “who’s-who” in the field. This information doesn’t exist anywhere else, and considering the challenges faced by a team working on these accounts, goes beyond mere recognition for individual campaigns to reveal the leaders in the industry.” Said Alisun Armstrong, Executive Director of the Midas Awards, in an interview.

Here’s the complete Q&A   ….

1.  You have been at the helm of the Midas Awards for the past 3 years. What changes have you observed in financial advertising?

I think the biggest change is in the tone. People here in the US may remember the E.F. Hutton ads from the late 70s, which were a little unusual in the financial space for the injection of humor into what was otherwise presented as very serious business and absolutely no laughing matter. From banks to insurance, I think financial companies have been gradually getting a little more and more lighthearted ever since, while dialing back on the air of exclusivity often associated with their services.

There’s also been a serious up-tick in the creativity in sponsorships—it’s going well beyond just hanging a bunch of logo banners or buying stadium naming rights. Advertisers are doing more to include the fans, promote their sport in general, and a lot of them are tying their outreach to also benefit a cause for good.

2. In 2014, you launched the Midas Brand Report. What was your rationale for creating this ranking report?

Gutsy, effective, and creative work deserves credit, and so do the brands that green light it. I felt it was important to honor the brands that trust their creative team—unless they’re on-board, the campaign won’t be running. Successful campaigns in this niche really are something special, and everyone should get their chance in the spotlight.

3. What changes are in store for the 2015 competition? What new categories were unveiled this year to address emerging trends?

The biggest change is the addition of the Effectiveness category, added at the suggestion of a few judges and entrants over the last few years. Campaigns submitted in this category are evaluated not just on the idea and execution, but the jury will also take the results provided into consideration when they decide their scores.

4. The Midas Jury includes client and agency leaders from the creative and marketing disciplines, as well as internationally recognized experts in financial policy and communications. How do you go about recruiting this gold-standard team?

The jury plays such a crucial part in any awards competition, and not just because they score the entries and ultimately decide the winners. The jury is also the face of the competition, its street cred. The panel also shapes the details of the competition through their feedback and suggestions. So I keep an eye on who’s making news in the industry, and what campaigns are getting a lot of attention and who’s behind them. We also accept nominations. But I also tap a very valuable internal source: our winners. They’re already familiar with the competition. They’re already fans. Plus, they’ve demonstrated that they can create the World’s Best Financial Advertising, so I know they’ll recognize it when scoring.

5. What global regions are emerging as creative leaders in the financial communications industry? Which countries consistently the park with brilliant, award-winning work?

South Africa is a powerhouse. They’ve been steadily gaining ground over the last few years, and with 13 Midas Gold Awards and three agencies on the Midas Report, they are the country to beat. The US continues to be a dominant force, with Canada, Turkey, and the UAE also making some waves.

6. What is the criteria Midas judges use for evaluating entries?

The first round of scoring, which determines the Shortlist, parses the evaluation of the work into its essentials through a three-tiered matrix: idea (40% of the overall score), brand relevance (35%), and execution (25%). The second round adopts the more standard one-to-ten rating to decide the Silvers, Golds, and Grand.

7.  What is the ROI for agencies entering the Midas Awards?

Aside from getting an impressive, heavy, shiny gold or silver ingot to add to their awards displays, Midas winners benefit from the exposure offered in our Winners Showcase, as well as our results announcements that go out to press organizations around the world. We feature our winners in our weekly newsletters and in social media. We also partner with organizations like AdForum, where the top winners enjoy additional showcasing of their work.

8.   Why is the Midas Report an important creative ranking?

The Midas Awards continues to be the only competition that honors advertising and marketing created for financial institutions on a global scale, and the Midas Report aggregates the top performers to create the definitive “who’s-who” in the field. This information doesn’t exist anywhere else, and considering the challenges faced by a team working on these accounts, goes beyond mere recognition for individual campaigns to reveal the leaders in the industry.

9. What makes an entry a standout award-winner?

Based on comments from the Grand Jury like “daring,” “riveting,” “great concept,” “smart,” “clever,” and “terrific idea!” on the top-scoring campaigns, it seems like the idea reigns supreme. While execution is always important, the jury wants to see work that “makes the world of (savings/insurance/finance) interesting.” If instead you want to invoke the ire of the Grand Jury and ensure your work does not get recognized, submit something that would elicit comments like, “generic,” “boring!” and “bank-like and uninspired.”

10. What advice would you give to creatives entering the Midas Awards for the first time? Any inside tips?

I strongly recommend starting off by reading the rules and regulations carefully—there’s a lot of information in there that will help you understand the process from the get-go. I’m also a firm believer in proofreading before hitting submit.

But first and foremost, I recommend that you let the work speak for itself. Keep the longer-form answers short and to the point, make sure any results reported are defendable, and make sure your case video (if you have one) is well-paced and trimmed to only include what’s necessary.

With over 35 percent of our population below the age of 20, it’s the age of the millennials. It is expected that youth population in India will reach 464 Million by 2021. This highly desirable audience continues to evade stereotypes – for good reason. Millennials are evolving, maturing, and most importantly, fragmenting. They are a mobile-first generation, and their media consumption habits are more online than offline. Stated Anshuman Saha, India Sales Head, Exponential Interactive.

In this interview, Anshuman divulges the facts about the digital marketing in India and how marketers are and should change their views on the so called ‘new media’.

Here is the Q&A…..

1. Tell us more about Exponential’s footprint in India. What can we expect in the coming months?

Exponential is a global provider of advertising intelligence and digital media solutions to brand advertisers. We operate in 22 countries worldwide, reaching more than 450 million unique users every month. In India, we’re the second largest ad network – we reach 35 million unique users monthly.

We are progressively working towards improving our global and local publisher partnerships, developing responsive creatives on VDX, improving cross platform reporting for better analysis of media spends, and integrating our offering with mobile attribution companies for better optimization of CPD/CPI campaigns. We’re also looking forward to introducing AERO, our game changer dynamic behavior optimization technique, to the market.

2. Tell us more about the launch of VDX, and the offering in India. What differentiates Exponential from other players in the market?

At Exponential, it’s about finding the right audience and reaching them with video across multiple screens. VDX or Video Driven Experiences are new formats that effortlessly deliver video to audiences and have been developed with the ultimate purpose of providing consumers with an immersive brand experience.

VDX builds on the advantages of television and video ads, enriching them with the benefits of digital advertising. This includes things like targeting consumers who are the most relevant to a brand.

We’re very excited to roll out VDX in India and it is available in the country across media from inpage display to mobile (tablet and phone) and in-stream. This will help advertisers in India ensure consistency across devices as well as full brand immersion. In addition, VDX leverages our audience platform, introducing a hyper-granular level of audience targeting which is not generally available with TV ads.

Together with offering advertisers high impact rich media ad formats like VDX, Exponential offers advertisers value by providing a range of campaign metrics to measure ROI such as impressions, engagement rate, post engagement behavior, video completion rate, post expansion CTR, CPM, cost per engagement & cost per view.

3. Why is VDX significant? What are some behavioral changes that you have observed in Indian society, which drive the need for a solution like VDX?

With over 35 percent of our population below the age of 20, it’s the age of the millennials. It is expected that youth population in India will reach 464 Million by 2021. This highly desirable audience continues to evade stereotypes – for good reason. Millennials are evolving, maturing, and most importantly, fragmenting. They are a mobile-first generation, and their media consumption habits are more online than offline. To truly engage with Millennials, we need to take a closer look at how they experience the world and some insights that come to mind include – Millennial consumers are more demanding: Millennials not only seek better control over privacy, but want to shape their “digital self.” As digital profiles have become key to consumers’ lives, it is important for the younger generation to control their personal online narrative.

The new age consumer also looks for recommendations, not just based on things they like or activities they’ve done, but experiences that give them the option to move outside their comfort zone. 48 percent of consumers in the online space expect brands to know them and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs. The cultural shifts we are witnessing show a move where people want all aspects of their lives to be rich and full. This means that brands will have to work harder to meet consumers’ demands and expectations.

“Real” is no longer synonymous with “offline”: Technology today is able to offer more complete, more engaging and more sensory digital experiences. Consumers seek enhanced experiences that are frictionless when moving between digital and physical worlds. While ecommerce and m-commerce is on the rise in the country, search influenced offline sales for the same period is estimated many times higher. Search on web and mobile is on the rise as well and consumers are certain to carry out a search sometime in the buying process. Mobile and being connected all the time has fundamentally changed the consumer’s path to purchase.

Increased Video consumption: The latest ComScore Video Metrix report shows that total online video consumption has doubled in the past two years to 3.7 billion videos per month. This dramatic growth has been driven by a sizeable increase in the number of online video viewers, in addition to increasing consumption per viewer. India now boasts 240 million strong connected audiences across both desktop and mobile, with over 70 per cent of the user base consuming online video content. Mobile video is really only just starting out – it is going to be another game changer in the way we connect with audiences.

4. What are three biggest trends that you think will shape the digital marketing industry in India in the year to come, and what are some of the biggest challenges we face in this growth?

What does marketing look like when the Internet surrounds us like the air that we breathe? It’s fascinating to think about. Digital is truly shaping the way marketers approach communications and is also reshaping customer expectations. Three trends for India are:

The use of integrated marketing strategies: As screens are getting smaller, our attention span is diminishing. In this world, what matters most is the context for consumption: the sit-back environment of TV, the lean-forward nature of desktop or the mobility of the smartphone. What advertisers need is a way to record, aggregate and segment data to form individual user-based ad experiences.

It would be a sort of user-based experience where we’re served ads on any screen and where ads are served sequentially to build a narrative that takes people from awareness to purchase. The ideal digital strategy should be integrated across desktop, mobile, and more traditional media such as TV, print and radio.

The industry needs to make a conscious effort to bring different marketers together to collaborate across screens and channels to deliver one experience to customers, wherever they are in the decision making process. There could be different calls to action on different screens. This is how advertisers can reach niche audiences at scale.

The power of glance: Marketers have faced a shift in the length and format of content. The Tweet, for example, forced us to tell our stories in less than 140 characters or less. Today, video and imagery is taking center stage and forming the building blocks of great content together with the written word. This makes just one glance just as powerful in shaping consumer behavior. Savvy marketers use native advertising to blend different types of content and formats depending on the audiences they target. The best advertising should be frictionless, appearing at the right time to the right person.

Pre-eminence of mobile data: Clickstream data simply misses too many elements of the consideration and purchase process, and gives attribution benefit to social media, word of mouth, and traditional media/advertising. Today’s smartphone-equipped consumers can take actions in the moment in a way that can be directly attributed to the medium that drove the action, without friction. Mobile data can unify online and offline activities, providers marketers a whole picture of consumer behavior. This is allowing, digital marketers to move away from channel-based thinking and towards a more behavior-centric model

However, we also know that India is a complex market with different levels of economic development and infrastructure across the country.

One of the biggest barriers to the growth of digital advertising in India is are probably the low levels of literacy. The numerous local languages also make targeting difficult. However, the use of pictorial formats and video can help overcome these issues.

Another challenge we face is the measurability of online media. Budgets allocated to digital are far lower than traditional media buys because quantity is still being preferred by some advertisers, over quality. Because of our ability to track digital with metrics such as views, clicks, visits, response rates, purchases etc., digital marketing is perceived as extremely ROI driven. At times, marketers fail to understand the premium that should be associated with quality over quantity.

5. How can the industry prepare for the future?

According to the annual Global Entertainment and Media Outlook from PricewaterhouseCoopers, India will be the fastest growth market for mobile Internet in the world by 2016. This is going to be a key driver in boosting digital media spend in the country and online budgets will shift from offline to online.

The industry needs to educate traditional marketers to treat digital marketing more holistically. Rather than purely focusing on ROI from digital campaigns, marketers must have a clear digital strategy starting from well designed and easy to navigate websites with specific call to action, effective website optimization, and accurate tracking mechanisms to validate attributions coming from different sources. It is also critical to have a strategy that differentiates between branding and performance campaigns.

The digital media industry in India today is also in need of an industry body, similar to Indian Broadcasting Federation or the Indian Newspaper Society, to safeguard the interest of online publishers and other digital stakeholders.

“There’s a lot happening at Pepe Jeans this year. Kids wear from Pepe Jeans is a strong line for the company globally; and we look forward to introducing the line for the first time in India in the coming season.  Our growth story continues to grow stronger with each passing year. This year we also plan to open approximately 40 new stores across India.” Said Kavindra Mishra, CEO- India, Pepe Jeans London.

In an Interview with MediAvataar India, Kavindra divulged the impetus to their growth in the India market. Also, what makes them tick when it comes to the GenX.

Here is the complete Q&A…

MediAvataar: What does the brand Pepe jeans stand for in the Indian Market?

Kavindra: Pepe Jeans is more than a brand; it’s a lifestyle. Pepe Jeans is defined by fashion forward designs and a cool attitude.  Inspired from London’s energy and street wear styles, every garment exudes a playful attitude. We make jeans that look great & fit well.

MediAvataar: With a flurry of international apparel brands entering the market via various touch points, how do you plan to stand out?

Kavindra: Pepe Jeans London remains at the front of the fashion pack with a winning formula based on its ability to deliver the strongest denim-led fashion. We realized that accessibility is key; hence we are focused on an Omni-channel approach.

MediAvataar: How do you see the e-commerce space in India? Where do you see it heading?

Kavindra: E-commerce has revolutionized the way in which brands do business. It has made brands highly accessible.

We sense a great opportunity in Tier III markets. With the help of e-commerce brands are able to reach out to these markets successfully. Consumers too are increasingly making purchases on e-commerce platforms. It allows them the convenience of making purchases in the comfort of their home. However a majority still prefer visiting the store to ensure a product touch and feel before purchase.

MediAvataar: How do you mange the counterfeit aspect of doing business in India?

Kavindra: We have enhanced our anti-counterfeiting efforts with a dedicated in-house legal team that is quick to take action. When consumers or partners from across India alert us about possibly fake goods passed off on the streets as merchandise from the brand, the legal team immediately takes the necessary action and precautions.

MediAvataar: What are you latest collaborations?

Kavindra: Pepe Jeans recently collaborated with the presti­gious Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge, to launch a new col­lec­tion to­gether: the Cam­bridge Collec­tion, a col­lege-style line of menswear for spring/sum­mer 2015. The col­lec­tion is in­spired by the tra­di­tional sports prac­ticed at the Uni­ver­sity, such as rugby, row­ing and cricket. This joint col­lec­tion from Pepe Jeans and the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge in­cludes rugby-in­spired polos, T-shirts and shirts bear­ing the Cam­bridge logo.

An interesting media collaboration for us this year was the Grazia Young Fashion Awards 2015. As a young and fashion forward brand, Pepe Jeans associated with the Grazia Young Fashion Awards – a platform that supports young talent in the field of fashion.

MediAvataar: Do you ever want to broaden the TG from youth to older consumers?

Kavindra: Pepe Jeans is for the young at heart. We believe that there are no target groups, just mentality groups. The brand caters to consumers who are style and fit conscious.

MediAvataar: Do you think that virtual space will ever get bigger and better than brick and mortar?

Kavindra: E-retail and brick and mortar stores are not competing ideas. Consumers today buy from varied channels, for instance, an EBO, departmental store or online. An Omni-channel strategy is the future of the retail industry.

MediAvataar: Tell us more about the latest marketing campaigns that you are running and how is it helping the brand?

Kavindra: Season after season Pepe Jeans unveils fashionable international campaigns in India. Our marketing approach each season consists of a robust print and outdoor plan, supported by PR and social media. This season we were also part of two great collaborations. Pepe Jeans was the sponsor of the music vertical of the prestigious HT Kala Ghoda Arts festival 2015. Pepe Jeans is synonymous with a youthful and rebellious spirit; and music is the truest form of this expression. Pepe Jeans was also the title sponsor of the Grazia Young Fashion Awards 2015. From Sienna Miller and Kate Moss to Alexa Chung and Brit super model Cara Delevingne, Pepe Jeans London continues to be passionate about discovering and nurturing new talent. As a young and fashion forward brand, Pepe Jeans associated with the Grazia Young Fashion Awards – a platform that supports young talent in the field of fashion.

MediAvataar: What do we expect in the future for the brand?

Kavindra: There’s a lot happening at Pepe Jeans this year. Kids wear from Pepe Jeans is a strong line for the company globally; and we look forward to introducing the line for the first time in India in the coming season.

Our growth story continues to grow stronger with each passing year. This year we also plan to open approximately 40 new stores across India.

MediAvataar: Your thoughts on the Apparel industry on the whole in India?

Kavindra: The future of the apparel industry looks promising, thanks to the strong domestic consumption. With consumerism and disposable income on the rise, the retail sector has experienced a rapid growth.

 

“India has a unique publisher landscape but the major element that will be leading its future in digital marketing will be the dominance of mobile as a consumer’s most important screen. This means India is at the forefront of the cross-device challenge and could be in a great position to lead moving forward.” Said Chris Dobson, Executive Chairman, The Exchange Lab, in an interview with MediAvataar India.

Here is the complete Q&A.......

MediAvataar: What is your vision for The Exchange Lab in Asia?

Chris: As one of the fathers of programmatic and a market leader in Europe and Canada, our vision is to expand further in the U.S. and Asia, bringing our pioneering service to agencies and clients while ensuring we recognise the characteristics of the differing markets. Our agnostic and independent approach means we can tailor our multi-DSP philosophy either as a managed service or with a greater degree of self-serve as clients gain interest in being more ‘hands on’. Our global around-the-clock approach means we can service campaigns 24/7 – customer service is where we intend to excel.

MediAvataar: What differentiates The Exchange Lab in its approach to its work?

Chris: The Exchange Lab pioneered the multi-DSP approach allowing brands to access the best and most appropriate tactics and ‘footprint’ to suit their sector and geographical mix. What makes us unique is that we’ve built Proteus – our proprietary trading management platform – allowing us to manage this approach at scale and deliver class-leading performance and insight to marketers.

MediAvataar: What do you consider has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?

Chris: Interesting question – for me, a particular highlight was being awarded the Chairman’s Award at Microsoft by Bill Gates himself, mainly because I had pioneered the use of data over context and as a performance driver (in MSN Messenger) long before this approach had become centre stage, as it is today.

MediAvataar: How would you describe the Asian programmatic landscape?

Chris: The Asian programmatic landscape has evolved significantly over the last couple of years with an increasing number of advertisers, marketers, and publishers embracing the new potential opportunities it offers. It is important to realise though that each country or market within Asia is at a different phase of this programmatic evolution due to different stages in the economic growth, varying cultures, business protocols, and service expectations. Asia is in a great position to take advantage of markets that are further ahead in programmatic and that have already learnt valuable lessons, meaning it can adopt the technology without the experimental phase.

MediAvataar: Where do you see the future of digital marketing in India heading?

Chris: India has a unique publisher landscape but the major element that will be leading its future in digital marketing will be the dominance of mobile as a consumer’s most important screen. This means India is at the forefront of the cross-device challenge and could be in a great position to lead moving forward.

MediAvataar: What global market trends over the last year do you think will progress programmatic in India?

Chris: The biggest global trend is quite simply the large-scale adoption of automation in marketing. This is propelling programmatic forward, which is already running at growth rates double what was expected just a few months ago. Given the publisher landscape, you can also expect the automation of native marketing solutions to be widely adopted as programmatic grows across the continent.

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