Latest Posts


Stand United for the Super Bowl

Ipsos ASI Super Bowl blogIn a world of media divergence there are now few moments where audiences of all ages are United. This is in part why events like the Super Bowl have become increasingly iconic and relevant places for brands to talk to us one to many (rather than the one to one, many to many, or many to one that is now part of everyday brand communications).

And Super Bowl is arguably one of the grandest stages of them all, where Entertainment takes centre stage and for many there is more chat about what goes on in the breaks than the play itself.

So imagine you have 30 seconds to talk to America: how do you tell your brand story?  Do you entertain or inform? Challenge or reminisce?  Use a puppy or David Beckham? Read More

Sunlight and Seduction


I’ve always felt our task as media sales people to be pretty straightforward. When trying to persuade a potential advertiser to part with their precious media budget we first aim to convince them of our ability to deliver the eyeballs of appropriate consumers in a suitably receptive mindset. Then we focus on a format that should really do their message justice, ideally for a reasonable price. That’s it. Not that complicated really. Read More

All I want for Christmas …

Being laid low by ‘flu isn’t much fun (note to self: have that flu jab yourself that you organise for everyone else).  But catching up on a restorative spell of daytime TV viewing and YouTube surfing means I’ve have enjoyed  a high frequency dose of Christmas advertising.

And there certainly is a bumper crop this year, with some definite themes.

The Down-to-Earth-Reality-TV-Style ad: Tesco have been running this style of ad throughout the year, and I’m sure everyone can remember at least one Christmas like those captured in their Christmas special (personal favourite 1993 curtains for hair);  Aldi have long captured perfectly the humour of the everyday situation, and Sainsbury’s have taken this style to the next level – with an hour long YouTube documentary.  This isn’t about selling you an aspirational, perfectly baked Mary Berry Christmas.  This is about keeping it real and relating to everyday family situations,  appreciating that it’s often the little things which make a difference to our lives – whether it’s getting friendly service at the till, or a great deal on your Christmas booze.   This reflects the need for brands to connect with everyday people and understand that when life is a struggle big budget ads potentially don’t play as well, as well as maybe reflecting the ongoing longevity of  reality TV.

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 Another week, another effectiveness study. This time it is radio’s turn to tell us it is one of the most effective pound-for-pound media channels in terms of delivering ROI. The study – ‘The ROI Multiplier’ –  shows strong, consistent returns across a large number of campaigns for most media channels – but especially radio – and provides further insight via Radio Gauge to identify ways advertisers can improve their ROI (the main one seems to be ‘invest 20% of your budgets in radio’). It has led me to pose the question, though; just how effective are these kinds of effectiveness study? Read More

Converting the digital transistor resistor

Dude listening to the radio in fake relaxed poseThe Government has previously announced that, by the end of this year, it will “make a decision on whether a radio (digital) switchover is in the best interests of broadcasters, manufacturers and consumers” – or listeners, if you prefer.

RAJAR Q2 2013 reports that just over half (52.5%) of the UK population tunes in to digital radio each week, however, the share of all radio listening via a digital platform now stands at 37%, still short of the Government’s 50% target required for the digital switchover.  Put another way, nearly two-thirds of all radio listening hours are via a traditional AM/FM analogue receiver.

The three main platforms, DAB, DTV and the Internet, have all contributed to the growth in digital listening and so has mobile, thanks in part to its rather fine UK Radioplayer app.  Furthermore, there have been some recent milestones to help maintain the momentum, such as the digital TV switchover, smartphone penetration exceeding 50% of the population and the growing number of new cars and transit vans having DAB radio fitted as standard.  UK commercial radio’s upcoming 40th birthday in October will be a timely opportunity to celebrate the medium, give another push to digital and maybe influence the Government’s decision.  The challenge to convert the digital “transistor resistors”, however, increases substantially as those who remain in this battle-hardened group are determined to fight it out until the bitter end.

Approaching half (44%) of the population have a DAB radio in the household. We know from Ipsos MediaCT’s recent research that of those adults without DAB radios, the proportion claiming they are not at all likely to buy a DAB radio rises from 35% in 2010 to 41% in 2013.  We also know that 16% of the GB adult population have no (or choose not to) access to the internet in any way, rising to 39% of those aged 65 or over.

The Government will of course achieve its aims for a Digital Britain and so I can’t help but think that the Battle of the Analogue Alamo will soon be over.

John Carroll is a Senior Director in Ipsos MediaCT (@MediaCarroll)

Points of transition – lessons learned from QPR


A few weeks back I wrote about the value of advertising to people when they’re removed from their usual routine. The idea was that they’re then potentially more inclined to notice stuff, being more alert and focused. I’ve been thinking more about the concept, particularly with regard to individuals being extra receptive when things change, at “points of transition”. Read More

A True DOOH Innovation

You may have noticed a brand new Digital Out Of Home (DOOH) format on the streets of London in recent weeks: digital screens on top of black cabs. And you can expect to see many more over the next few months as the roll out of this new media format gathers pace. Sure to divide opinion, this new DOOH format has dared to mess with London’s beloved, and ‘iconic’ black cabs.

The DOOH market has seen remarkable growth in recent years. More advertisers are now using DOOH formats than ever before, with campaigns becoming more creative and dynamic by the day. Much of this growth is attributable to a mass upgrade of traditional poster sites; the best and most prominent paper poster sites have been replaced with digital equivalents, and with it new ways of communicating with an audience. There are physically a lot more digital sites these days, so of course there will be growth. But until now, has the DOOH industry really innovated and created something brand new?

Digital taxitop screens represent a genuine innovation and a major leap forward for the DOOH industry. Consider the technological challenge: create a digital screen that can withstand all weather conditions, vibration, glare and heat, and do all this whilst conforming to a multitude of safety regulations and with minimal impact on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The journey from idea to prototype has been a long and arduous road for the two main players in the taxitop screen market: Eyetease and BrightMove Media.

The Eyetease iTaxitop screen

The Eyetease iTaxitop screen

Whilst both companies have developed a similar product – a digital screen on the roof of a taxi – the technology used by each company is very different. The fundamental difference is that Eyetease have opted for an LCD screen, whilst BrightMove have chosen an LED screen*.

BrightMove's TaxiCast screen

BrightMove’s TaxiCast screen

As you might expect, the two giants of Taxi Media – Verifone and Ubiquitous – are involved too. Verifone have chosen to roll out the Eyetease screen, whilst Ubiquitous have formed a strategic partnership with BrightMove Media. The screens have started to carry their first test campaigns and have been introduced to many of the major media agencies.

Importantly from a media point of view, the digital taxitop screens offer a huge amount of different targeting capabilities, which will require a commercial innovation in the way media space is bought on the screens. Campaigns can be geo-targeted, meaning that if a cab goes through Piccadilly Circus, for example, then it could display a Coke ad, and then change to a McDonald’s ad as the cab travels past one of its restaurants. To use a footballing term, it’s a sort of ‘zonal’ media opportunity.

On a more basic level, the digital format also opens up taxi advertising to brands that might previously have chosen not to use the medium. These brands might include those with ever-changing price points, or those only wanting to appear for a day or two at a time. Traditional taxi media formats might have been prohibitive for some brands requiring a quick turnaround of message.

So, the opportunities are very exciting. London streets will certainly look very different, especially at night when the screens will light up the streets like a Christmas tree. Having spoken to many industry folk and friends about this new format, it becomes clear that this is going to be a Marmite proposition. The problem, you see, is that many of us think of the black cab as iconic, and not to be messed with. Do the screens make a cab look ugly? Is it vulgar, or does it add something? I’ll let you decide, but I’ll leave you with one thought: when you think of a New York cab, do you visualize one with, or without the ad on the roof? This new format could become an icon in itself.

*For more information about the technical specifications of each screen, click on these links:

Have we taken leave of our census?

Have we taken leave of our census?Our 200-year-old census is under threat. Time has been called on the decennial bastion of market research. The ONS have announced that they will shortly be launching a consultation to discuss two possible options: either an online-only census every ten years or a re-packaging of administrative data regularly collected every year by the Government combined with a rolling annual survey.

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YouTube’s Journey from Time-filler to Destination

Once upon a time, YouTube was considered a time-filler by many of its users, achieving a small fraction of the dwell times that TV channels could attract. All that appears to be changing… Read More

A world of possibility

ROOF1_BAA_RT10 2-Low-Res (3) (1)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for accountability, and evidence, and measurement, all of that stuff. After all, I’m a man with an electrical engineering degree from a posh university. I’m no stranger to the science part. I’ve even enjoyed what some have laughingly called a “career” in media, where a large part of that so-called career has been spent initiating and implementing research studies. So I really can speak this language, and I also get how it’s now more important than ever when the pressure is firmly on costs and budgets. Read More