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WARC 100: Lessons from the world's best marketing campaigns revealed

27-April-2017
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WARC 100: Lessons from the world's best marketing campaigns revealed

WARC on Wednesday released an analysis of the world's best marketing campaigns to uncover shared creative, media and measurement strategies based on the WARC 100, an annual ranking of award-winning campaigns according to their business impact based on their performance in over 80 effectiveness awards from around the world.

In WARC 100: Lessons from the world's best marketing campaigns, the 2017 WARC 100 rankings are compared with both the previous year and with all other case studies published on WARC in the same year, to establish any significant differences between the highly awarded WARC 100 campaigns and a more 'typical' example of an effective marketing campaign.

Key findings included in the 2017 WARC 100 analysis report are:

1. WARC 100 campaigns are increasingly TV-led

The highly effective campaigns listed in the WARC 100 use a wide variety of media channels. As might be expected, digital channels figure prominently, but an interesting counter-trend emerges when the analysis is restricted to 'lead' channels in the WARC 100 campaigns. Over the last three years, the percentage of campaigns leading with TV has steadily increased, alongside a sharp fall since the 2016 analysis in the percentage of campaigns leading with social. This in part reflects the changing nature of social, but may also reflect the wealth of recent research suggesting that marketers should use TV to ensure maximum reach.

2. There is a shift towards consumer participation

There has been a significant rise in the number of campaigns that use some kind of participatory element. This is clear in the rise of 'participation' as a creative approach, and its growing use as a measure of success. Evidence from neuroscience supports this approach. Campaigns with an event element can help drive a wide range of brand associations, with a strong emotional layer. If a brand can reinforce and grow these associations, the benefits for brand recall and loyalty are positive.  Online, a rise in participation-led creative approaches ties into the widespread use of social as a lead media.

3. Relevance is key to a data-driven approach

For the first time, data-driven campaigns have made the upper reaches of the WARC 100. Both Narellan Pools and The Economist identified moments of opportunity to deliver highly relevant messages. Both campaigns used programmatic ad trading and understanding, the use of which has increased in recent years, resulting in an increase in personalized digital campaigns that make use of complex consumer data. From a neuroscience angle, the brain forms memories and brand associations more strongly when messages are perceived to be personally relevant.

4.  Profit is a key differentiator for awards judges

The proportion of WARC 100 campaigns using profit as an effectiveness measure has increased significantly this year compared to last year's top 100. It is clear that campaigns able to calculate a profit figure, as opposed to sales or revenue increase, hold a significant advantage in the effectiveness awards tracked by the WARC 100. Five of the top 10 campaigns used profit as a hard metric of effectiveness, with each reporting significant increases in profit as a result of the campaign.

David Tiltman, Head of Content at WARC, says, “Our analysis and key findings of this year's WARC 100 point to an industry that's changing. We are seeing that the dominance of social media as a lead channel is decreasing, TV-led campaigns remain highly effective, and there is a growing use of consumer participation as a creative approach. The use of data-driven techniques has risen considerably as marketers take increasing notice of neuroscience as a means of understanding campaign effectiveness.”

Now in its fourth year, the WARC 100, a benchmark for commercial creativity and advertising effectiveness, is built on a rigorous methodology developed in consultation with Douglas West, Professor of Marketing at Kings College, London.

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