Celebrating excellence in digital marketing

David Murphy looks back at the winners in our recent Effective Digital Marketing Awards Ceremony. 

Things are certainly different this year. Think Awards Ceremonies and you think of gala dinners, champagne, smart suits and party frocks. In fact the Awards Ceremony for the Effective Digital Marketing Awards has always been a little different, as we have taken time to interview the winners on stage about their winning campaign, giving everyone in attendance a feel for why it won. This year, there was no way we could replicate the usual event, so we turned, of course, to Zoom and a Virtual Awards Ceremony, attended by over 130? brands and agencies. If I’m honest, it went better than anyone could have expected, we maintained the interview approach and had some great feedback from those who were there. If you’d like to take a look, there’s a recording of the Ceremony here.

So let’s run down the winning campaigns…

Grand Prix
Médecins Sans Frontières and Crafted – Supporting the Frontline of Humanitarian Care
This campaign for Médecins Sans Frontières, which provides medical aid in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics, set itself some ambitious targets. These included beating 2018’s total online donations of £987,000; achieving a 5 per cent year-on-year increase in new Direct Debit sign ups; and a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in donations from new users, as well as raising awareness of MSF and the work they do.

Running between November 2019 and January 2020, it had to compete against a UK news agenda dominated by the General Election and Brexit. It ran across multiple channels, including YouTube, Google Ads, Bing Ads, Display, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and Deezer, as well as TV, Sky Ad Smart, radio, podcasts, press, and direct mail, but with the same message pushed across all channels.
The YouTube element centred on a 4-part mini-series breaking MSF’s story into thematic chapters told over time. The series (shown sequentially) explains the work of the MSF E (Emergency)-desk over three core videos followed by a 6-second bumper. Users who clicked through from the video but didn’t donate were shown a video containing Frontline Doctor Chris Hook asking for support

The display creative echoed the video. Anyone who saw the videos would also be targeted with the display and vice-versa. Visitors from any channel landed on the campaign page. This explained what the E-desk does over a 72-hour period of a crisis happening in the world. Crafted replicated the content by using a sequenced remarketing strategy that spanned over a real 72-hour period.

Five sets of creative told the story from 0 to 72 hours. The user would stay in this stage for seven days with higher bids on initial days to ensure Crafted could capture donation intent in the earlier (and more effective) period.

On Facebook, the campaign interacted with users at every stage of the funnel, from telling the E-desk story using sequenced video, to appealing to donation funnel dropouts using abandoned basket tactics.

All of this, combined with the many other elements of the campaign, enabled MSF to smash those KPIs. Total online donations for 2019 far surpassed those for 2018 at £1.2m, enough to buy 12,000 folding stretchers. A direct donation target from the campaign was raised more than three times over. There was a 10 per cent increase in new Direct Debit sign ups, and a 74 per cent increase in donations from new users. And while digital normally generates 10 per cent of overall Christmas donations for MSF, in Christmas, 2019, it contributed 22 per cent all donations, showcasing the power of search, display and social advertising.

A worthy winner of the Grand Prix Award, this campaign also took the awards for the Most Effective Performance Marketing Campaign and the Most Effective Integrated Campaign

Most Effective Influencer Marketing Campaign
Wavin UK Hep 20 and Tangerine Communications – Engaging Industry Influencers with Hep20
This campaign focused on plastic push-fit plumbing accessories, not the most glamorous product sector, and one where brand loyalty is typically low. One also, where you might not think an influencer campaign would be appropriate or even possible. But research conducted by Tangerine, the agency behind the campaign, has found that there is a burgeoning influencer scene in many B2B sectors, with a particular concentration in sectors where there is a sense of tradition, craft and comradery, but in which professionals in the sector typically work in relative isolation. Like  plumbing.

The campaign objectives were to increase brand relevance and affinity with professional installers, and to increase market share in the plastic piping sector, with a target audience of plumbers and heating engineers aged 16-55.

The campaign was multi-faceted. The brand engaged with influencer plumbers on a weekly basis, offering them a ‘no expectations’ opportunity to experience and test Hep2O products for themselves.

Tangerine also created a Facebook Closed Group and invited influencers to join, which resulted in a continuous stream of user generated content across social platforms, and helped the build its  community of advocates.

Hep20 held an influencer visitor day at its factory in Doncaster, where the influencers took part in a range of activities from bowling and beers to an tour of the factory where they learned about product development, manufacturing and quality testing processes. All this activity was filmed and shared socially, with influencers sharing UGC throughout too. Wider audiences were invited to join in the activity online through live social posts; a Facebook Live Q&A (hosted by @Plumberparts); and ongoing influencer UGC.

Hep20 also launched a State of the Nation survey, which started out as a filmed roundtable in a Shoreditch pub, looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the sector. These insights were worked up into a survey to get the wider plumbing audiences’ thoughts.

The campaign delivered excellent results, with the factory visit content gaining 27,000 views and 1,370 engagements on Facebook, while the State of the Nation content reached over 150,000 people and generated 2,740 engagements. An Installer Live event video received over 34,000 views.

Additionally, Google searches for ‘Hep2O’ increased by 105 per cent between April and May 2019, while visits to the Hep2O landing page have doubled since beginning the campaign.

A great, well thought-out campaign, and one that proves that the influencer market is not all about fashion, food and drink.

Most Effective DTC eCommerce Campaign
Bulldog Skincare and Gravytrain – Understanding Men Leads To 107 per cent More Revenue
This campaign focused on sales of Bulldog Skincare’s online exclusive bundles, only available from the Bulldog website. Gravytrain was tasked with growing DTC sales and revenue for the October-December 2019 quarter.

The agency added Facebook and Instagram adds to its usual Google Search and Shopping Ads mix. The channels worked in tandem. If a user was already aware of Bulldog Skincare and had visited the website via a Google or Microsoft search (or any other channel), Gravytrain wanted to serve ads to them as they used Facebook and Instagram. If a user was unaware of Bulldog, it wanted to serve ads to them on Facebook and Instagram (multiple times if they had not purchased) and ensure they got a consistent message (and strong call to action) when they used Google or Microsoft to research further.

Eight advert sets, utilised over 51 image and carousel adverts ads within the ads strands to advertise products. The agency also set up a direct-sales focused campaign for users that had been to the website, and then visited Facebook or Instagram. This used dynamic catalogue sale ads, showing the user products they had previously looked at. There were two strands: users who had viewed the product on the website with no add to cart or purchase; and users who had added to cart but not made the purchase on the website, with budget allocations upweighted towards the latter.

For the Google and Microsoft Search and Shopping campaigns, always-on branded and product-focused activity had the ad messaging changed to the promotional message (Black Friday or Christmas), and all ads landed on a seasonal promotion landing page. Ad copy carried the same messaging/calls to action as the Facebook and Instagram activity for consistency – and promotional ad extensions were introduced.

The actual results were shared with the judges in confidence but we can share percentages. Conversions were 113 per cent up year-on-year, revenues 107 per cent up, and the cost per conversion 15 per cent down. Return on ad spend saw a 14 per cent increase, and there were 38 per cent more transactions compared to the same quarter in 2018. The average order value saw a 10 per cent increase. Impressive figures, and a worthy winner.

Most Effective Video Campaign
Audi and PHD Taiwan – Audi e-tron Has Landed Campaign
The challenge for Audi and PHD Taiwan here was to bolster brand awareness of Audis first pure electric car, the Audi e-tron in Taiwan in 2019, despite the fact that the actual vehicles will not be available to test-drive in Taiwan until the end of 2020.

Via a partnership with Yahoo’s AR Horizon TV programme, the challenge was overcome by using augmented reality to showcase the car’s design and features. The AR tech enabled Audi to vividly reveal every part of the vehicle, including its interior, battery structure, dashboard, central unit, driver seat, and passenger seats. Even the Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen got involved, as she was invited on to the programme to see the AR version of the car. Viewers watched the car transform as she selected a red finish for the exterior, and grey seats inside.

To extend the program’s reach, two content videos were also released on Yahoo TV and other  relevant sites, including Yahoo Autos, Yahoo Kimo News, and Yahoo Kimo Cars and Motorcycles. AR technology was used successfully to highlight key elements of the vehicle, including multi-colour variability, battery disassembly, and active and passive safety devices.

The campaign delivered excellent results, including almost 800,000 impressions on the “AR Horizon” program launch day.

Most Effective Mobile Campaign
SEAT and S4M – SEAT Drive-to-store Campaign
For this campaign, S4M identified those customers who, with the right prompting, could be driven to visit a dealership. But instead of targeting all consumers looking to buy a new car, S4M identified distinct audiences who matched the profile of the brand’s best-selling car models using lifestyle and demographic data. By only interacting with those particular car buyers, S4M would improve the return on ad spend for SEAT by reducing the number of irrelevant ads displayed to shoppers.

S4M used video as a to forge stronger, long-term ties with customers. The company’s in-house creative team designed 20 different rich media ad formats to drive consumers to SEAT’s showrooms. These includes video and animated interstitials; video and animated mid-page units; and animated banners. To help buyers find their way to dealerships, each ad unit incorporated a map displaying the nearest SEAT showroom. With just one tap, shoppers could access driving or walking directions to the dealership.

Throughout the campaign, S4M used its Dynamic Catchment Area geolocation technology to target areas with a high saturation of potential car buyers within an optimal travel time to dealerships. S4M overlaid this with its GeoAccuracy tool – a filter that isolates and excludes suspicious geolocation data from campaigns, ensuring the campaign targets real consumers around true location points. S4M also leveraged third party visitation data from trusted partners Kairos and Adsquare to independently measure visits to dealerships.

The campaign delivered outstanding results, most notably, a 16 per cent increase in new dealership visits attributable directly to the campaign and a mouth-watering €1.83m of incremental revenue for the brand. Impressive, by anyone’s standards.

Most Effective Data & Analytics Campaign
BookMyShow and CleverTap – Avengers Endgame Tickets Campaign
BookMyShow is the leader in India’s online entertainment ticketing space with over 50 million app downloads. Pre-COVID, it was selling over 10m tickets a month for movies, sports, events, plays, and concerts, many via mobile. Its aim here was to drive ticket sales for the release of Avengers: Endgame, the latest instalment of the Avengers film series. It needed a technology solution that was capable of processing billions of events in milliseconds and able to respond to user behaviour in real-time, regardless of audience size.

BookMyShow leveraged CleverTap’s data analytics platform to gain insights into user behaviour and deliver personal user experiences. CleverTap’s visual campaign builder feature, Journeys, was used to build and deliver omnichannel campaigns based on user behaviour, location, and lifecycle change; automate engagement across all channels; and monitor success at all stages.

Journeys enabled BookMyShow to target Avengers and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans and users who had shown a preference for English content, or genres such as action, adventure, and fantasy in the past. It then delivered relevant, contextual, and personalised messages directly to users’ mobile devices, keeping them engaged and driving loyalty.

The campaign delivered great results. BookMyShow broke its own record, selling more than 1m tickets in just one day – almost a week before the official release date – and more than 5m tickets in a week. Additionally, the film received the highest-grossing opening weekend in India for a Hollywood film, with movie screenings that spanned 24 hours to meet the demand.

Most Effective Search Campaign
Refinitiv Digital Performance – Refinitiv: A Billion Dollar Brand Reborn
In 2019, Refinitiv was presented with a tough SEO challenge of migrating from a highly authoritative domain that generated three straight years of strong growth in organic traffic – Thomson Reuters Financial & Risk – to a brand new domain – Refinitiv – while continuing to improve SEO performance at a global scale.

The company’s new investors, Blackstone Private Equity, were looking for quick returns as Refinitiv was expected to compete with Bloomberg and sites that have been around for over 20 years, especially after the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) announced they had agreed with Blackstone to acquire Refinitiv for $27bn dollars. A large-scale website migration would not be an acceptable excuse for a dip in performance, despite the fact that Refinitiv’s new domain was completely unknown to search engines.

Refinitiv’s strategy centred on leveraging historically powerful brands such as World Check and Eikon; focusing on generics with a more customer-focused experience that was optimized for generic terms; and creating a united digital ecosystem, rather than the dozens of legacy websites as Thomson Reuters – F&R. As Refinitiv, it needed to consolidate these sites into one, united digital ecosystem.

It also leveraged its data to create new types of linkable content such as videos, podcasts and special reports, all hosted on refinitiv.com. And while it operates in over 190 countries, Refinitiv decided to focus its local efforts on targeting four core high-performing languages.

In addition to quick returns, there were also ambitious targets, including increasing organic page 1 rankings by 40 per cent; driving a 30 per cent growth in organic clicks; and generating 20 per cent growth in organic-driven revenue.

There was a tremendous amount of work undertaken, here are just a few of the highlights. All Refinitiv-owned legacy websites and domains were audited and a list made of mentions and links of Refinitiv brands. A rule was created in Refinitiv’s site auditing tool to highlight any Thomson Reuters mentions or Reuters links that needed to be updated. Refinitiv also conducted a gap analysis to see where it lost key generic terms and where it was losing to its competitors. It also analysed the performance of legacy country websites to determine priorities for translation and page creation, and created new page templates and components to enable the new, more engaging types of content. These included a video series: The Big Conversation. A podcast series: Sustainability Perspectives. Special data insight reports. And data visualizations on trending topics such as Corona Correction.

Refinitiv successfully transformed its new domain into an authoritative website, generating over 20m links within one year. Its local-language sites generated over 15, 500 leads, resulting in almost $1m of annualized revenues.

It also smashed those ambitious targets, delivering a 5x growth in page 1 rankings from January 2019 to December 2019; a 109 per cent increase in organic SERP clicks from Q1 to Q4 2019; and a 20 per cent increase in revenue from digital channels in 2019 compared to 2018.

Most significantly, the London Stock Exchange announced on August 1, 2019, its intention to acquire Refinitiv for $27bn, $7bn more than Blackstone paid for Refinitiv in 2018 – a 35 per cent increase in company valuation.

Most Effective Paid Social Campaign
Pizza Hut Restaurants and Tangerine Communications – Taste Freedom Campaign
The casual dining market in the UK has been tough for the last few years, and with its marketing spend cut, Pizza Hut Restaurants (PHR) looked to social to drive sales. It started with a social listening project to track what people were saying about the brand and to gain insights that it could use in the campaign. The brand’s aim was to driving 30,000 visits to its website.

The strategy combined ‘always on’ ads round around key ‘icons’ such as Pizza Hut’s Sunday Buffet, and7-day Buffet; targeted campaigns at niche tribes (Vegans, Young Professionals) and traffic-driving campaigns to assist conversion around things like discounts and gift cards.

There were three strands of advertising activity. These were Upweighted – the primary business focus for PHR. Always On – two supplementary ad themes that address secondary and tertiary business focuses. And Ad Hoc – additional ad support to drive short-term sales-driving focuses such as gift card promotions and discounts.

Tangerine’s in-house studio produced the ad creative in-line with the brief, testing different variables such as copy, creative, placements and audiences to determine which piece of content will generate the best results.

The campaign delivered 33,000 users to site, and while all ads were geared towards driving awareness, the Sunday Buffet campaign delivered 1,300 engagements alone and an average cost per click of £0.43 across both Facebook Feeds and Instagram Stories.

Pizza Hut and Tangerine also achieved the secondary objective of driving desire to visit the Hut, with short-burst direct campaigns driving users to site via the ‘Book-A-Table’ and ‘41% Off’ ads, which encourage our audiences to do just that, book tables and download vouchers. In fact, 2019 saw PHR record 263,000 table bookings (up 34 per cent from 196,000 in 2018).

There were 510,000 views of vegan content, up 46 per cent from 2018, and 2.8m views to buffet content, up 6 per cent from 2018). There were also increased of more than 10 per cent in searches for terms including ‘Sunday Buffet’; ‘Kids Meal Deal’; ‘Kids Buffet’; and ‘Book A Table’.

Most Effective Retail or FMCG Campaign
The Very Group, Vizeum and Picnic – Very.co.uk Black Friday AMP Takeover
As for many retailers, Black Friday is of huge importance to The Very Group and its Very.co.uk brand, but it’s also an incredibly competitive time to attempt to cut through the noise. To do so, it turned to mobile, with a campaign that targeted people looking for Black Friday deals with ads within editorial content, rather than via search. The strategy was based on a generally-overlooked consumer habit that it had uncovered – that customers googling “Black Friday Deals” on their mobiles are more inclined to browse editorial content about good deals than to click on PPC ads.

Picnic, a mobile-only media owner, proposed a takeover of AMP [Accelerated Mobile Pages] articles related to Black Friday, delivering Very’s Black Friday offers via its Sponsored Stories format. Google AMP pages are fast-loading, user-friendly, mobile-only articles used by publishers from MailOnline to Time Inc. Because the Black Friday-relevant articles were very recently published and accessed via Google on a smartphone, they were almost entirely published on AMP.

Very’s offers were served mid-article on contextually-relevant content from a specially selected range of publishers. This “AMP takeover” had never been attempted before, and required Picnic to assemble a contextually relevant list of AMP-only articles about Black Friday deals from its whitelist of domains, which included Metro.co.uk, TechRadar and Trusted Reviews.

For the creative, Very used Picnic’s Sponsored Story format and its “Shoppable” feature. This is an Instagram-style shoppable hotspot with real-time pricing and a product-specific click-out.

The Shoppable feature allowed Very to drive interested consumers to the relevant product page whilst, again, maintaining an intuitive and user-friendly user experience. The end result was a ‘takeover’ of this unique, hugely contextually relevant inventory with an innovative, built-for-mobile, high-impact format. It ticked every box in the brief’s request to give Very a commanding share of voice on Black Friday.

The campaign smashed all expectations, delivering engagements of 0.41 per cent – around 25 per cent higher than Picnic benchmarks, whilst also being very efficient, with a cost per unique reached user of £0.02. More impressively, it drove an impressive ROI of over 6x.

Most Effective Tech Platform
Yext Search Experience Cloud – Yext Answers
Yext Answers is designed to help businesses overcome the issue of misinformation – when people search for information about the company or one of its brands and in return, are served inaccurate or out-of-date information from unvalidated sources.

The Yext Search Experience Cloud enables businesses to create a custom knowledge graph, a database of facts structured for search and optimised for answering consumer questions. Drawing from a business’s knowledge graph, search engines are able to understand a business’s information, extract meaning, and more confidently surface it to people searching on more than 150 services, including Google and Amazon Alexa, or on the company’s own website.

Today, Yext argues, the complex questions consumers ask on Google, Alexa, a business’s website, and other platforms offer a window into exactly what consumers want, at the moment they want it — and that, with up to 70 per cent of all search traffic stemming from longer, more specific questions, it is more important than ever to address complex questions in search.

Yext Answers enables businesses to craft specific, structured content to be useful in the exact moment that consumers express intent with terms like “buy,” “visit,” and “driving directions,” without having to know any demographic details about them. Answers, for example, identifies what the most common searches are and how businesses can improve their knowledge graphs with entities that will answer those questions better, the next time a consumer asks them.

Yext Answers in not long in market, but is already gaining traction with organisations including Three Mobile in the UK, Marriott Hotels, and the State of New Jersey in the US, which is using the platform to deliver accurate pandemic-related information to citizens.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said: “I want to thank Yext for stepping up at this crucial moment and donating services and assistance that are further enabling us to provide our residents with vital information from numerous sources seamlessly and in a centralised location”.

Three Mobile, meanwhile, saw a 42 per cent reduction in customers who used site search and then proceeded to escalate to a ‘Contact Us’ submission in the first two weeks after going live on Yext Answers.

Digital Expert of the Year Awards
The Digital Experts of the Year Awards are determined by over 5,000 brand marketers that have attended Masterclassing events in person and virtually around the world during the last year. At each event, attendees complete a feedback form and comment on the most effective presentations and the most compelling roundtable discussions. The results have been tabulated to determine the Digital Experts of the Year, the companies that consistently get the best feedback when they take part in our events.

There are two awards up for grabs, one for the UK, EMEA and APAC, and one for North America…

Digital Expert of the Year – North America
The award for the Digital Expert of the Year – North America, goes to a company that describes themselves as an organisation that thrives on data, testing, iteration, and making smart bets on big ideas. Attendees had this to say about the winner: “They offered great insights and useful advice which was communicated clearly and simply. Their handouts and specific questions made discussions helpful and created a richer experience for the group. They were innovative and came into the roundtable with a gameplan and strategy to maximize the time for everyone.”

Digital Expert of the Year – UK, EMEA and APAC
The winner of the Digital Expert of the Year Award for the UK, EMEA and APAC is a company that is passionate about creativity, insight and effective marketing. Attendee comments about Datasine include: “Really thought-provoking, and insightful with excellent examples to show the impact of their work. Excellent presentation and conversations, this will be something I will carry with me.”

Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to all our winners. There’s more information on Masterclassing’s global program of digital marketing events here.