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“It takes 20 years to build a reputation

and five minutes to ruin it. If you think

about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Ebiquity now offers a

single perspective on managing your

paid and unpaid communications.

Warren Buffett now part of...

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Welcome to Response, the international media

and marketing journal brought to you by


We recently presented at the 2011 Festival of

Media in Montreux, and the entire two day

event was dominated by social media. At times it felt as though

there was little interest in anything else.

There is no doubt that social media is an important channel

for consumer engagement, but it needs to be integrated into a

marketing communications programme which embraces the best

of the traditional and the new means of reaching and influencing

consumer behaviour.

Much of the Festival conversation centred around ‘paid-for’ (ie

placed) social media presence, which is perhaps inevitable

given that this was an advertising festival first and foremost, but

it is increasingly clear that social media can play a far more

important role in helping build and sustain brand reputation.

This is why Ebiquity has acquired Echo Research, a leading

brand in reputation management, specialising in the ‘earned’

space, and the role of social media in building a strong brand

reputation is explored by Ben Lloyd of Echo and Federica Aperio,

Ebiquity’s International Practice Leader for Digital, in this edition.

Ebiquity is also consolidating in Russia through the recent

acquisition of the Joined Up Media Company, the leading media

benchmarking company in Russia, and we focus on the Russian

media market as part of our mid-year review of the media markets.

In a wide-ranging edition, we look at how data has become a

brand’s best new friend and cover subjects as diverse as the

regional/local nexus for media management and how best to use

QR codes.

It is this very diversity in the media and marketing environment,

we think, that requires today’s brand guardians to take a rigorous

view of how they monitor and measure their brand communications

performance, with a view to pulling the various levers of success to

maximum effect.

All the articles from this issue and previous ones are now

published on the Ebiquity blog;

which delivers regular news and opinion from across our global


We hope you enjoy ‘Response’. If you do or don’t let us know on

Ebiquity in numbers

In order to generate the insights for our clients, the teams at Ebiquity

collect, handle and analyse vast amounts of data…

• Our advertising database contains over 15million creative

executions from all media and spanning 70 countries worldwide

• Worldwide we capture over 14,000 creative executions every day

• Last year Ebiquity’s media teams audited over $14bn of media

spend from almost 300 different advertisers worldwide

• Our Echo Sonar team analyse 1.85m white-listed social media

sites every two hours and 48,000 news sites daily

• Our Effectiveness team have done over 500 projects evaluating

around $16bn of marketing expenditure

• Our promotional effectiveness database spans over 15,000

promotions in 30 categories

View more insights at

In 2011 , we opened a state of the art data processing centre in the UK.

Data: a brand’s new best friend


Data: a brand’s

The use of data is cha

Nick Manning explains why it’s becom

Amarketer’s life is not what it used

to be. Even the strongest brands

are no longer accorded the same

respect on the high street, by

consumers or the media.

In 2011, all brands are under increasing pressure

to manage an ever-expanding range of line

extensions and produce a return at a time when

the retail environment is tougher than ever.

That’s partly because consumers are not what

they used to be. They are no longer content to

simply buy products that are good value and

do the job. They want brands that are socially

responsible and they have the tools to find out if

they are not.

Even the retail environment is not what it

used to be. E-commerce has transformed the

landscape in all categories. Amazon is even

successfully selling pet food, exactly the type of

product that the naysayers thought would not go

digital. Traditional retailers are fighting a price

war that puts suppliers under immense pressure.

Marketers now have to co-ordinate hundreds

of TV channels and the need to match the

fireworks of advertising with the slower-burn

bonfire of favourable consumer sentiment,

nurtured through social media and other usergenerated


On top of this, nothing that a marketer

does can move forward without proof of

effectiveness, or to put it into marketing-speak,

a clear demonstration of return on investment.

Companies simply don’t sign off budgets

without clear performance indicators that can be

measured – and ideally, exceeded.

View more insights at

Data: a brand’s new best friend


new best friend

nging marketing practices forever.

e so important and how advertisers need to respond.

The new tool for the job

It may be harder to co-ordinate activity with

multiple touchpoints but the redeeming feature

of today’s multi-channel digital world is the

continuous flow of data, thrown off by old and

new channels alike, much of it in real time.

There is also more data of a more conventional

nature regarding economic, seasonal, social,

consumer and retail factors, including the

staples of product, pricing, distribution,

competitive activity and other influences on

business performance, all of which can be used

to help explain and predict brand and business


The ability to analyse this data, which helps

to explain the effectiveness and efficiency of a

communications strategy, also gives marketers

the tools they need to guide future strategy.

A data-driven approach is critically important

because in a multi-channel world, nothing

works in isolation. A well-modulated channel

strategy makes the whole add up to more than

the sum of the parts, and a good measurement

programme can identify the contribution of each

channel separately and together, allowing for

predictive models to be built in order to improve


Making data work for you requires a variety

of ingredients, the most important of which

is efficient data capture. No amount of clever

analysis can compensate for incomplete or

inconclusive data, so having the right datacapture

tools is even more important initially

than having the right people to interpret the


What is also critically important in the datarich

world we occupy is that marketers are able

to incorporate a range of techniques, varying

from the more classical econometric modelling

techniques, through web analytics and the

bleeding edge of online response attribution,

all the way through to media performance


Marketing needs to catch up

If data is the new brand’s best friend, then

marketers will need to up their game. The need

to measure marketing performance is only

matched by the apparent inability of many

companies to do so.

A recent UK survey found that 86.4% of

marketing people thought that the measurement

of marketing effectiveness was “very” or

“somewhat” important, but only 45.7%

considered their organisation “excellent” or

“good” at measuring it.

Previous generations of marketers were not

rigorous in their measurement of effectiveness.

Today’s interactive channels provide a far greater

degree of measurability and the new brands in

e-commerce and the service sectors are leading

the way in the measurement of cause and effect.

Today, the world of brands has changed. While

the classic role of brand marketing continues to

be the need to drive consumer engagement to

grow business, the means of achieving this have

changed beyond recognition.

It has all got much harder, thanks to the

complex, multivariate world we now occupy but

there is no longer much excuse for neglecting

the measurement of effectiveness. The means

and method of measurement have also evolved

with the digital age, and the new channels

lend themselves elegantly to the new need for


Too many brand owners are failing to develop

proper approaches to measuring integrated

communications, in part because they are too

focused on the process of integration itself.

One area where they can easily adopt a coordinated

approach is in the integration of

measurement. Data, which makes this possible,

really is the brand’s best friend.

Nick Manning is Managing Director,

Business Development

“The need

to measure


performance is

only matched by

the apparent

inability of many

companies to do so.”

View more insights at



Containing Costs

No clear patterns of pricing are emerging from the global TV markets.

Advertisers will need different strategies for each country, says Martin Sambrook.

Akey issue for most international

businesses in 2011 is the

need to control costs. The

global recovery is driving

commodity prices ever higher

and putting their business models under

huge strain.

Cost containment strategies will also need

to address the issue of media prices if they

wish to protect the cost:sales ratios that are

factored into advertising and promotions


The challenge in 2011 will be to manage

a global recovery that is uneven, with

significant differences both between and

within particular regions.

In general, we see sustained and significant

inflationary pressure due to resurgent

demand across APAC, Latin America and

North America. This is putting quite a strain

upon advertiser budgets.

Europe, however, has polarised into

inflationary markets such as Russia and

stagnant pricing in countries such as the UK.

The pattern that’s emerging is not unrelated

to the continuing effects of the financial

crisis. In markets such as Greece, Ireland,

Spain and Portugal, media prices should

be deflationary or stagnant at best in

2011. This is a real turnaround for the

Spanish market, which experienced major

inflationary pressure in 2010 caused by

sales house consolidation and cuts to the

supply of commercial minutage.

In the UK demand has also significantly

slowed down after a year when some

audience prices rose by as much as

20%. This is perhaps not surprising as

the government’s taxation and public

expenditure policies were always likely to

constrain consumer spending. We expect a

flat or marginal deflation for media pricing

in the UK as a result.

In markets such as France, Italy and Poland,

advertisers will also have to manage

structural change in the TV market. The

continued growth of digital, cable and

satellite is stealing audience share from the

traditional channels.

View more insights at


Advertisers will need detailed media

planning that finds the right audience

at the best price without incurring a

disproportionate price increase caused by

inflation on traditional channels.

Inflation is more serious again in Russia

and is expected to be around 30%. The

continuing strength of the two key sales

houses ensures that as market demand rises,

prices are likely to continue to increase.

Multinational advertisers will clearly not be

able to adopt a standard approach. The

challenges in each market will have to be

tackled on their own merits and some will

be much simpler to deal with than others.

The critical decision will be whether they

feel able to reduce investment in markets

where inflation is deemed to be too high

to generate an acceptable return on their

media investment.

Martin Sambrook is

International Practice Leader

for Media at Ebiquity

Spotlight on Russia

The Russian advertising market continues

to grow in 2011. After a 15% increase

in demand in 2010, a further 23% rise in

total investment is expected.

The economic recovery is in full flight and

TV prices are expected to rise by 27-28%

on national TV stations and by around

35% on regional TV channels.

Advertisers had hoped that new

legislation would make the market more

competitive but while Video International

has changed its status – from seller to

“technical advisor” – it retains control

of more than 75% of the market. Rival

Gazprom Media has the other 25% of the

national TV market.

Outdoor suffered from a big drop in

demand during the economic crisis but

that is now history and inflation has hit

19% in 2011. Total spend, however,

remains below the pre-crisis peak level of


Pricing improvements have allowed

outdoor contractors to return to


profitability and invest in new

developments but there are concerns.

Further consolidation could occur in

2011, resulting in reduced flexibility on

rates and higher inflation.

Print inflation of 10-15% has been caused

by rises in paper and printing costs but

the market itself is stagnating. The radio

market is seeing stable growth in demand

but after taking a significant hit during the

crisis, the bounceback has pushed media

inflation predictions as high as 28%.

Internet penetration within Russia keeps

growing and spend should increase by

30-40%. Prices for the most-demanded

sites have gone up by 10-15% and

FMCG brands are increasingly investing

in the medium.

Significant growth has come from search

spend, which is now comparable in size

with the banner ad market.

Glyn Harper is CEO,

Ebiquity (Russia, CIS&CEE)

2011 Media Inflation Forecasts (Spring 2011)

TV National Press Online Radio Magazines


Czech Republic -4 0 0 0 0

France 5 3 6 2 2

Germany 3 -2 0 1 0

Ireland -5 -4 -1 -2 -3

Italy 5 1.2 5.5 2.3 0.5

Netherlands 5 n/a n/a n/a n/a

Poland 4 4 6 3 3

Russia 27 15 15 28 15

Spain 2 3 10 2 -5

Sweden 12 3 2 6 3

United Kingdom -1 -2 +2 to 5 n/a -3


Brazil 10 5.5 10 5 8

Mexico 9 5.5 3.5 5 4

USA 8 -2.5 4 2 0


Australia 5 5 5 to 10 0 to 2 0-5

China 16 10 20 10 8

India 2 5 n/a 10 *-5%

* general interest magazines only Source: Ebiquity offices and selected partners

View more insights at

A Reputatio

Social media has many talents. Enhancing y

Ben Lloyd and Federic



If you’ve just been to a marketing conference,

chances are you sat through at least a couple

of presentations on social media.

You may have been dazzled by claims of

thousands or millions of fans gained as a

result of marketing activity or you may have

been sceptical.

So much is claimed for social media but all

too often the detail remains behind closed

doors. And so much of what is claimed

doesn’t seem to have any relation to an

accurate measure of improved performance

for the business.

The first part of the problem in any

discussion of social media is that it’s not

always clear what people mean by social

media. It’s certainly more than Facebook –

in many markets Facebook is not the leading

social platform. It also includes Twitter,

YouTube, a host of blogs and forums and

any other digital or mobile location where

consumers can connect and converse.

Critically, social media does not just

mean the environments that are owned

and controlled by a company but also the

conversation that happens outside them, at

review sites for example.

The second part of the problem is that

social media can deliver many different

things; it can be a customer service tool, a

communication vehicle and a knowledgesharing

platform to name just three ways

that companies have successfully utilised it.

Finally, many marketers are wary about stories

of social media attacks on brands that come

underfire by activists and campaigners. The

perception remains that being active in social

media opens brands up to potential attack.

Taking a baseline

Solving these challenges requires a rigorous

approach. One that creates a baseline of

behaviour in order to monitor how your

social media performance is responding to

everything else that the company is doing.

So the first step for marketers is to establish

a credible monitoring process. This will

enable them to understand the impact of the

latest ad campaign, the dodgy sandwiches

that were served in the staff canteen or even

the poor financial results for the previous


The second step is to be clear about how

you plan to use the mix of paid, owned and

earned media to communicate with key

audiences. It’s also crucial at this stage to

find out if customer service, operations or

any other departments are also using these


Unlike TV and press, social media can be

used effectively across a number of different

departments and a co-ordinated approach is

essential. Many companies have set up social

media teams that span the business and

report into multiple divisions.

Monitoring enables brands to create a

positive feedback loop that demonstrates the

impact of each corporate message and action,

to ensure that lessons can be learnt.

The aim is to see clear progress between

perceptions of the business and the place

where you want to be.

View more insights at



n ‘Earned’

our brand’s reputation could be one of them.

a Aperio explain how

True business impact

What’s crucial in making this process

effective is that the monitoring measures

the correct metrics, not simply the number

of “likes” or “fans” but the impact that

acquiring these and the social media

conversation has on the business.

The aim is to move thinking from volume to

value, how can we turn 10,000 “likes” into a

valuable asset for the business, be it in terms of

loyalty, sales and propensity to purchase again.

But in a medium where so many are both

encouraged and keen to share their opinions,

understanding social media cannot just be

about numbers – it also has to be about

understanding attitudes, perceptions and

context. Only truly understanding these

views can you really get the insight needed

to learn from social media and feedback to

the rest of the business.

Social media is the perfect place to measure

the impact of any company activity, be it an

interview with the CEO in the FT, a new

advertising campaign or a stocking problem

with a hot item.

Everything the company does – or doesn’t

do – will register on social media and

consumers will be quick to tell you whether

they approve. As marketers you need to ask

not what you can do on social media but

what social media can do for you.

How reputation monitoring


Imagine a company with clear goals about

how it wants to be seen by consumers and

other stakeholders.

Among its core business measures is

the need to be perceived as a leader in

environmental sustainability. The company

believes that being seen in this way is critical

to its success.

Consumer research, however, discovers that

the importance given to this measure by

the company is not matched by the level of

approval among the public.

A serious effort is embarked upon to

showcase all the work that the business has

undertaken in this area: information is put

on the corporate website, PR pushes two key

projects and the company’s Facebook page is

given a “green” tab to encourage discussion

of its activity in this field.

Six months later a repeat of the research finds a

significantly smaller gap between the company’s

priorities and the consumer perception.

The impact of multiple messages across a

wide variety of different media sources has

been demonstrated on the company’s core

reputation measures.

Ben Lloyd is Senior Director at

Echo Research

Federica Aperio is Global Practice

Leader for Digital at Ebiquity

View more insights at



Should you be

centralising power?

More and more advertisers are managing their media centrally. Are they

right to do so? Dietmar Kruse weighs up the pros and cons.

In the last decade an increasing number of brands have

opted for central media management.

Rather than appoint a media agency in each market,

they’ve named a single partner for an entire region or

made multi-market appointments.

They have enforced a single set of rules on how media

should be planned and bought across the whole company

and devised central strategies that have been rolled out

across the region.

There are two clear reasons for this: Firstly, as clients have got

bigger and developed regional marketing departments the

central team has sought to exert more control over the markets.

Secondly, the agency groups have also got bigger and

clients felt like they were losing negotiating power. Pulling

all their media spend into one pot has given them back

the ability to put their agency on the spot and demand

better performance. Advertisers have benefited from

improvements in media prices of up to 15% thanks to the

added negotiation power a centralisation strategy brings.

A regional client across 20 countries is also much more

important to an agency group than a single market client.

Hence such advertisers also get more attention at a senior

level from their agencies.

Central management also makes it easier and more

efficient to share best practice from market to market.

This could include issues such as defining media strategy,

target audiences, media mix and budget distribution.

It allows brands to invest in media knowledge in specialist

areas, tools and expertise that could never be justified on

a market-by-market basis.

Managing media centrally additionally enables companies

to do deals with media owners such as OOH and digital

media players at a regional level.

View more insights at


The problems of centralisation

It’s not all good news for clients that have taken

the central path. Selecting a media agency at a

regional level means that clients will get weaker

service in certain markets.

Agencies that are strong in northern Europe

are not always the ones that have a powerful

presence in Southern Europe and brands are

already restricted as to which agency they can

select by competitive issues.

In the automobile sector, for example: VW

uses MediaCom, Ford uses Mindshare, Opel/

Vauxhall uses Aegis, Renault uses OMD and

Daimler uses MEC to cite a selection of current

relationships. Were a new brand to come to the

market, they would have a very limited choice

of media agencies at a regional level and

might get better service and work by picking

the best available shop in each market.

Taking the central route can also mean strategic

compromise as central strategies that work in

one market may not have the same resonance

in others.

Effective media weights, for example, are

very different in Southern Europe compared to

the Nordics. A campaign might launch with

150-300 GRPs a week in Spain but in Sweden

a similar campaign would use this weight of

activity on a monthly basis.

Likewise, demographic groups and what they

deliver can also be very different in each market.

Localisation on the other hand gets round

some of these issues. You can chose the best

available media agency for the job in each

market and you can ensure that the strategy

and insight that you use is based on your

understanding of the local market, not a region

of 500m people.

Best of both worlds

We believe that it is possible to construct a

combination of these two extremes that retains

the very best of the central model while also

identifying and responding to local needs.

Where the ideal position between central and

local lies depends on each advertiser. For those

in the car industry selling the same products

across the continent, it will be more centralised.

For those operating a more local portfolio, for

example FMCG brands such as Nestlé and

Ferrero, the central team should have less control.

Other factors that will also determine where the

correct balance lies include the local and central

skill base and the options for agency alignment.

The key variable in this mixed model is the role

of the regional media manager. In the more

local structure, the regional media manager is

more of an enabler and educator, acting as a

conduit of information on best practice, prices

and negotiation advice.

In the more central structure the media manager

provides more active guidance – even including

decisions about budget allocation – and directs

the way the company deals with its agency or


Companies that have got the balance right for

their businesses include P&G, Unilever and

Johnson & Johnson in the FMCG sector and

Ford and Opel/Vauxhall in the automotive


That doesn’t mean to say that all is peace and

harmony in these clients. The mere presence

of a centralised management team is always

going to create friction with local teams.

What matters is that the central and local teams

work together in the right structure, distribution

of competencies and with the right processes to

come up with the best solution in the end.

Dietmar Kruse is Chief Executive

of Ebiquity in Germany


Five questions that determine if you

should be central or local






Product Range

Best Practice


Media deals

Decision makers

“The mere presence

of a centralised

management team

is always going to

create friction with

local teams.”






View more insights at



Getting the mea

Using the wrong metric to asses

Zeman Bhunnoo explains how to mak

“The grand strategic

visions of most

modern businesses

often do not

incorporate the time

to look at the detail.”

It’s easy to become over familiar, to take

something for granted and not to think

properly about what something we use

everyday actually means.

The rush, rush, rush of modern business life

means that the foundation stones of our

everyday work are rarely examined and tested.

That’s particularly the case for KPIs or, to

give them their full title, Key Performance

Indicators. Key Performance Indicators are

measures of business success, or at least that’s

what they should be.

Unfortunately, we often deal with

organisations that are tracking outdated,

irrelevant, or worse still, misleading measures

of business success.

Generally speaking, KPIs fall into two

groups: outcome indicators and leading

indicators. Outcome indicators are measures

that track tangible business results such

as sales or retention, for example. Leading

indicators are those measures that move

in anticipation of an outcome indicator.

For instance, enquiries and quotes for a car

insurance provider should indicate sales

will rise, while rising complaints indicate

retention is likely to fall.

It all sounds straight-forward and difficult

to get wrong. The trouble is that the grand

strategic visions of most modern businesses

often do not incorporate the time to look at

the detail.

It is this detail that can affect the choice of

the right measure of business success.

Measurement mismatch

A good example can be seen in the use of

common outcome measures such as volume

and market share. The two are usually closely

linked – sell more and your market share

should also go up. The question that should

be asked, but often isn’t, is: is this always


Take an FMCG manufacturer, for

example, where volume is heavily driven by

promotions. Volume – and hence market

share – can easily be bought for a price,

usually a price promotion.

However, such promotional volume may

be unprofitable once trade funding, brand

cannibalisation and displaced purchase are

taken into account. So less can sometimes

mean more: a smaller volume and market

share can lead to bigger profits.

In such cases, profit can be a more accurate,

but harder to quantify, measure of business

success. However, volume is often used as the

standard planning metric, simply because it is

easier to measure.

Marketers also frequently use metrics such

as awareness and consideration as leading

indicators but the relevance of these measures

changes over time.

For a new product or brand, awareness is a

key leading indicator, but over time awareness

will saturate. When this happens, its

usefulness as a leading indicator for business

success becomes limited.

Consideration can also be a leading indicator

of future sales but it isn’t always relevant.

The causal link between consideration and

purchase is the strongest for high-value,

heavily researched purchases. For relatively

low-interest, habitual or impulse purchases,

the link between consideration and purchase

may not be evident.

The reason why this metric falls down in

these cases is simple: decisions associated

with habitual or impulse purchases are not

processed at a conscious level but rather by

the brain’s subconscious. Asking someone

if they are considering something that they

haven’t consciously thought about is going to

produce noisy results. In some circumstances

consideration would be better interpreted as a

measure of loyalty, driven by usage.

View more insights at



sure of success

s performance can be a disaster.

e sure you only measure what matters

Digital metrics

The internet also offers rich possibilities for

measurement of leading indicators. Website

visits, enquiries, downloads are all common

leading indicators. Google can also provide

a simple – and cheap – assessment of levels

of search interest in a brand or product over

time. This can be very useful in showing the

interaction between events in the offline

world and driving online search volume.

It can also be used to determine the lag

between online search and sales.

Once again, the challenge with digital

metrics is selecting the right ones. Digital

tracking will tell you where the last click

came from but that often means no credit is

given to touchpoints further up the journey.

Digital tracking can also be very selfserving.

Because it starts and ends online,

the impact of offline media as a driver of

online behaviour is ignored, as is the power

of online media to drive offline response.

The key requirement for leading indicators

is that we track them not for the sake of

it but because there is a demonstrable link

with future outcome indicators such as

sales. Best practice is to test and validate

the purchase funnel as this will help to

establish the appropriate leading indicators

of performance.

The key requirement for outcome indicators

is that, once all the detail is taken into

account, these metrics truly are a measure of

business success.

Creating clear KPIs will always require

an element of compromise – limited data

and the resource required to generate the

numbers to name just two – but by using

a series of different measures, brands can

reconcile the impact of any assumptions

with the true performance of the business.

If all this sounds too nitty-gritty for words,

then it’s worth thinking about the massive

inefficiencies that can result from planning

against inappropriate metrics.

We recently worked with a client that

was using volume as its main KPI.

Unfortunately, the company’s heavy use

of promotional deals – designed to boost

volume – was hitting profits. Our work

showed that this was the wrong measure as

reducing their reliance on promotions might

halve their market share but it would also

quadruple their profits.

Proper use and management of appropriate

KPIs will be seen on the bottom line: the

ultimate performance measure.

Zeman Bhunnoo is Head

of European Effectiveness

at Ebiquity

View more insights at



Got the Code?

Long a success in Japan, QR codes are finally becoming mainstream

in Europe and the US. Matthew Carlton highlights five lessons

that brands need to take on board.

View more insights at


Browse through any newspaper or magazine

today and you’re likely to see an ad featuring a

strategically placed QR code.

For the unfamiliar, they are the black and white squares

that look a bit like a tiny crossword and they are

increasingly being used by brands in Western markets.

QR codes allow brands to connect with consumers

on that most personal and intimate media device,

their mobile phone. It could be the start of a

relationship with target audiences that allows them

to promote products and services but only if they

implement QR codes properly.

Our analysis of current campaigns in Europe and

beyond has allowed us to develop five key lessons that

all advertisers and agencies should take on board.

1. Educate consumers - While digitally savvy

consumers will be well aware of how to access

the unique content carried by a QR code, more

mainstream consumers still need help. In the UK,

press ads from pay-TV broadcaster Sky have been

adorned with QR codes, notably for the launch

campaign for new drama channel Sky Atlantic.

Initially, the copy alongside the code simply provided

a summary line explaining how to access content, but

interestingly more recent creative featuring QR codes

have taken a more detailed approach.

A “three-step guide” has been added, informing

consumers that as well as a smartphone, an app

needs to be downloaded and a 3G or WiFi signal is

required, before any content can be accessed.

2. Think beyond press ads - The majority

of creative featuring QR codes are press ads but

brands don’t have to rely on this media when

using the technology. In Japan, where QR code

use is ubiquitous, Audi created the world’s largest

man-made QR code, appearing at the end of a TV

commercial. Consumers who scanned the code were

taken to exclusive video content celebrating 100

Years of Audi.

In Russia, the beverage brand Red Energy, staged a

treasure hunt through Moscow that led participants

from one clue to another via QR codes on posters.

By scanning the code, participants were sent to

a specific street or station, where another mobile

tagged billboard was located. And QR codes are

starting to appear on packaging too, with some

food brands using them as a means for consumers

to access recipes or discover information about the

“source to plate” process.

3. Push people to engaging content - The

content derived from QR codes has the potential to

engage and excite consumers but some brands are

simply using the technology just for the sake of it.

Sometimes users are merely directed to a brand’s

website (and often this is not even optimised for


But by offering unique and original video content,

Pepsi Max used codes on-pack and in press ads

to generate word of mouth and social media buzz

among its core target of 18-24 year-old males. The

codes took consumers to an engaging and humorous

viral featuring actress Kelly Brook as well as offering

branded screengrab downloads.

In the US, 1st Bank provided air travelers with

something to do on flights via QR codes that linked

to free e-books, crosswords or suduko. Placed at

Denver Airport, the backlit posters inside the airport

headlined “Free Books,” “Free Crosswords,” and

“Free Sudoku” featured large codes and instructions

that guided consumers through the download process.

4. Track your effectiveness - Measuring the

effectiveness of QR codes is quite straight-forward,

particularly as the mobile sites that consumers are

directed to are specifically developed for such


Some smart brands are now setting up multiple

but identical microsites so they can track which

publications are proving to be the most valuable.

For example, a brand can place the same ad in

three different publications but alter the “destination”

in each ad, helping to indicate which publication

is being consumed by a more technologically

comfortable reader.

When used outdoor, QR codes offer brands and

agencies a way to track billboard engagement,

something that has been notoriously difficult to achieve.

In 2010 Calvin Klein poster ads in New York and LA

featured bright red QR codes alongside the headline

“Get It Uncensored”. Those scanning the code

accessed a racy 40-second viral featuring supermodel

Lara Stone. After the video ended, viewers could share

the code with their Facebook and Twitter networks

(making additional impact easy to track).

5. Be careful with placement - QR code

content is only accessible via the internet or 3G, so

placement needs to be considered. A few brands

have been guilty of running QR campaigns in

areas where the chance of getting a signal, let

alone being on a 3G network is impossible – such

as at Underground and Metro stations, in in-flight

magazines, or around sports stadiums, where a lack

of bandwidth frequently causes signal problems.

Such a lack of foresight can create negative

consumer perceptions for brands that want to be

perceived as contemporary and forward-thinking.

Matthew Carlton is Head of Insight in

Ebiquity’s Ad Intelligence Practice.


“Some smart

brands are now

setting up

multiple but


microsites so they

can track which

publications are

proving to be the

most valuable.”

View more insights at

View more insights at

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