The next 12 months

February 27th, 2015 by Simon Bollon

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At this time of year there’s an abundance of content about the last 12 months, the year ahead, what to expect and what will change. Having consumed several of these reports from agencies, clients, media owners and ‘thinkers’ I’ve pulled together some key points on what we at Boutique have identified as key considerations for our business, clients and partners in the year (or so) ahead…

Collaboration rules

We work with 21 different creative agencies across our client base and we cherish every relationship. It makes us better, makes the other agencies better and critically drives better results for clients through one, holistic, integrated approach to communications. When agencies work together, better results are achieved. We intend to further enhance those relationships and look to build more rewarding relationships with brilliant agencies.

Be close to creative

As above, collaboration matters and, in practise, that means us being as close to the creative as possible. Ensuring we understand the thought process and how to leverage creative in the media is vital to response. We’re not a creative agency, not by a long shot, but our granular level of how media works can, and is, important in assisting the creative thinking, so we continue to ensure we work closely with creative and often take part in the creative workshops. More holistic communication will make for better results.

Content… But not for content’s sake

Have you heard about content? It’s kind of a big deal right now. It’s important. Important for developing brand understanding, engagement creation, interaction and scaling equity as well as, when used correctly, being a powerful tool for organic search. But here’s the thing, don’t just do content for content’s sake. It must engage and reward whether that’s through entertainment, providing knowledge or being useful. Make sure it ticks those boxes and if it doesn’t, don’t bother. We’ve seen enough cats falling off window sills.

Strategy first

Obvious really, but you’d be surprised. A recent account win for us came from a strategy of ‘audience, proposition, media’, thinking about who we were talking to, how to talk to them, what we had to say and then finding the best media and how to use it. That was a diversification from their previous ‘buy media cheaply and build cover’ method. Price matters and buying power counts but, if you don’t have a compelling strategy, media is so fragmented – it just won’t work. If you see your agency as commoditising media, you’ve misunderstood the value of the modern, strategically focused media agency.

Data for the many?

The big and powerful have invested significantly in data so guess what? They need to monetize it. Talking about ‘big data’, how to understand it, use, plan and buy media accordingly off the back of data analytics is a key challenge for agencies… But it needs to be only a part of the process. Big Data from a broad set of clients is extremely useful and a powerful tool that can refine the planning and buying process. Knowledge, experience, creative thinking and a personal touch is still vital. A reliance on data will create thoughtless campaigns lacking in creativity, so a combination to include systems approaches is important.

Programmatic won’t change your world

Programmatic has a place… But people and brains are still critical to effective marketing. There are clients and campaigns where the value of programmatic buying in broadcast media may be relevant but to maximise campaign efficiency, personal input is critical. I can’t see that changing in the short term.

People change

The growth in age of the UK population, the change in buying patterns, the diversification of demographics and ethnicity; society has changed dramatically, and don’t expect those changes to slow down. Understanding customers, who they are, where they are, how they buy, interact and engage is critical. That takes me back to strategy first. Understand, then plan.

Don’t follow the big boys

The big brands have deep pockets. They also tend to have very high engagement levels, brand equity, social reach and influence. Too many times smaller brands see what the big boys are doing and want a piece of the action. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it isn’t. Be mindful of your position in the consumer’s mind. Sure, look to change it if that’s right, but don’t be Rola Cola and expect engagement achieved by Coca Cola. Create your own strategies based around your brand, don’t copy.

We believe in right agency, better results. Clients who work with agencies that match their thinking, beliefs, culture and processes will deliver heady results, so ensure you have the right agency that understands you.


Commercial Radio should be grateful for the BBC

January 31st, 2011 by Simon Bollon

Scott Taunton, MD of UTV (owners of TalkSport), recently questioned the funding of Radio 5 Live stating a review was necessary. This comes off the back of John Myers appointment to conduct an ‘efficiency review’ of Radio 1 and Radio 2, 1Xtra and 6 Music.

I don’t think Taunton was saying anything tongue in cheek when he suggested a shift away from live sport content for Radio 5 on the basis that ‘it is well served by the commercial sector’. In essence, he is asking for an uncompetitive playing field….something he pretty much owns in commercial radio!

Only Absolute, Classic FM and Talk Sport offer national commercial reach and despite the never ending desire for people to go digital it just isn’t quite happening (more on that another time!) meaning Talksport continues to grow and latest rajar’s show ever increasing reach….of men at least!

My opinion is that Scott Taunton may be missing a trick. I have always believed that the BBC is actually commercial radios biggest marketing tool. What better way to argue that the listener engages with and accepts advertising than to point to the BBC. The fact that commercial Radio succeeds and continually pushes BBC for total radio share is a clear indication of how people accept the revenue structure of radio – advertising and sponsorship.

If people wish to avoid the advertising they would…but commercial radio reach clearly demonstrates that they don’t.

TalkSport has a clear competitor for content in Radio 5. The huge investment that Radio 5 Live utilises each year (double that of both Radio 1 and Radio 2) is a wonderful marketing tool for TalkSport. Granted, 5 Live reaches double the number of TalkSport but that’s no bad thing. Five Live is a national heritage (maybe!?) brand, with backing from us the tax payer and rights to coverage, information, news and content simply not available to commercial radio.

I would agree that a funding review is due on 5 live but Talksport should really be singing form the rooftops, shouting about their market share and being proud of its constant rajar growth. Without 5 Live and any real like for like competition they might not be able to boast in quite the same way

ABC figures make bad reading…but they’re not the future of news consumption

January 18th, 2011 by Simon Bollon

On face value the latest ABC figures make disturbing reading particularly for the Sun and Daily Mail.

Both titles recorded 10-year circulation lows but these were made worse by the weather experienced in December.

Traditionally, December is a poor moth for newspaper circulation as holiday’s effect buying patterns, but last month’s weather only exacerbated the problems due to failed distributions and purchasers unwilling or unable to leave the home.

The popular market suffered a yr on yr loss of 4.75% for the 6 month period July – December. The sun dropped by 3.56% in the 6 month period to a 10 yr low of 2,717,013. The mirror suffered greater losses of 7.18% yr on yr to hit a low of 1,133,440. However the Star saw the biggest losses at 5.69% to 713,602, this coming just after they increased the cover price in 2010.

In the Mid Market the Daily Mail teetered on the edge of 2m coming in with losses of 3.3% to reach a figure of 2,030,000 though this was tied with them realising the biggest market share on record of the mid market titles. The Express was down 2.5% to just over 623,000.

The quality market saw the biggest drops of 15.15% and 15.46% yr on yr for the Times and Telegraph respectively. The Times now circulates 448,463 and the Telegraph is at 631,280 whilst the FT kept ground a little better losing only (comparatively) 3.26% at 390,121.

The Guardian saw losses akin to the Times and Telegraph at 12.66% to just 264,000

The i has delayed the release of its ABC figure until February but they will be pleased to note that the release of the i paper hasn’t cannibalised sales of the Independent. The independent had a circulation of 175,000, down 3.49%

In more positive news, the Sun released an ipad version of the paper for the first time on Christmas Day and whilst the figures might not have been great it was another mark of how News International are hoping to lead the way

These falls are unlikely to stop and the industry appreciates that. New revenue streams are coming into play with the Times creating a paywall (see previous blog) and all groups looking at how to best maximise revenue from their web offering.

The Times new app, if you haven’t seen it, is a thing of beauty. A well structured, clear and precise version of the title you can understand why Murdoch thinks that the future is via tablets and downloadable versions of ‘press’ titles.

The challenge is to become true providers of news content through the various formats available, a race News International are winning and I support the claim that in time a larger proportion of the Times, Sunday Times and indeed all ‘newspaper’ consumption will be via tablets and similar devices.

Hello world!

October 21st, 2010 by admin

This day the good ship Boutique began her journey across the internets choppy waters.