Brands urged to tap data to fight ‘Blue Xmas’ forecast

disciplines2The UK advertising industry may be facing a “Blue, Blue Christmas” – with a new study showing revenues will dive 10.5% year on year to £6.2bn in the three months to December – but there is still time to get back on track by embracing a data-driven marketing strategy, one business chief claims.

According to the latest Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report, UK adspend will decline even more than its July forecast, which predicted Q4 would be down 6.7%. This was based on ambitious hopes that the coronavirus pandemic would have eased by the Christmas “golden quarter”.

The report has also downgraded its 2021 forecast, predicting the sector will now see an uptick of 14.4%, rather than the 16.6% it anticipated in July, meaning the market is now not expected to recover fully until 2022.

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “Events of recent weeks have shown this will be no straightforward recovery as different parts of our country enter or leave local conditions at varying speeds.

“We must boost growth and support jobs through an advertising tax credit and a skills programme to aid colleagues facing unemployment. It is essential that our workforce, business, and government work together on the recovery plan for our industry and our country.”

However, BlueVenn vice-president of marketing Anthony Botibol insists that if the right steps are taken, stable recovery and even growth may still be achievable in 2021.

He added: “As furlough schemes come to an end and budgets for the new year are considered, organisations have the difficult task of balancing their books between ad spend costs and other resource requirements.

“For this reason, businesses need to be more thoughtful and look inside their existing customer base to see which loyal groups they can engage and serve better. Part of this will mean collecting and collating data across multiple owned channels.”

Botibol points to BlueVenn’s recent Maturity Index Report, which found the number of companies that are unifying their data in a sophisticated way has grown by 16% in the past year alone; and those businesses that do unify data are more than twice as likely to achieve their business goals and see a return on their investment compared to peers that do not.

He added: “[Companies can] start to identify how each customer moves from offline to online and back again, and target them accordingly with the most relevant offers. Without ​this ​ability, many brands are flying blind.

“An organisation’s customer base and the data it holds is unique, so finding new ways to up-sell and cross-sell among existing customers will be crucial in helping marketers to mitigate the lost revenue from a reduced pool of new customers.”

Last week’s, IPA Bellwether Report showed that while Covid-19 was still wreaking havoc with companies’ marketing plans, direct marketing has fared better than most and there is a new sense that increased investment in digital, data and customer experience is just around the corner.

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