Thought Leadership

'Better challenge and better measure for better results’

Learnings from IPA EffWorks Global 2023

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


“With effectiveness, we can better challenge, better measure and garner better results.”

Speaking at the IPA EffWorks Global, Karen Martin, CEO at BBH and Effectiveness Leadership Group Chair set the tone for the day by stressing the importance of effectiveness. 

Particularly in the midst of a cost of living crisis, marketers are eager to know that budget is well spent. As Tesco Chief Executive, Ken Murphy recently explained: “I don’t see marketing as a cost. I see it as an investment.” 

At a time when brands are facing turbulent socio-economic times, marketing spend is under heightened scrutiny. In the face of these economic headwinds effectiveness, econometrics and measurement can work to prove the power of marketing investment and better marry up effectiveness and creative. 

A keynote from Journalist, Amol Rajan outlined the rocky state of play with both hardships and opportunity for businesses and individuals alike. While WPP CEO Mark Reed explained: “There is lots to worry about in the world so we must look at what we can control and the positive role we can play.”

With that in mind, here are 5 key takeaways from the IPA EffWorks Global 2023 conference.

1. A shift is afoot

Amol Rajan’s keynote speech stressed the idea that humanity is at an epoch. Similar to the advent of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press in 1440, the media landscape is undergoing significant change. The speed-up of technology and proliferation of content means that we are entering an era in which not just human intelligence is pushing society forward, but technology and artificial intelligence are paving the way. As society experiences a shift, Rajan urges us as both marketers and as people to hold on to humanity.

In a market in flux Dr Grace Kite, Economic and Founder at Magic Numbers, shared that the way that consumers shop is changing. Consumers are responding to price rises by taking more care over purchases, shopping around and researching more. A trend which is reflected by an increase in Google searches for the word ‘compare’. At this moment of comparison brands have a real opportunity to capture attention as new purchase decisions are made. Yet, with 62% of people spending less on non-essentials, brands are at the mercy of their category sectors. In a time of inflation, businesses that spend more on advertising are more likely to survive price increases. When consumers have a close connection to a brand and perceive it to be valuable they are more likely to weather a price rise. 

2. Platform is important but creativity captures attention

Both platform and creativity are at the heart of an effective approach. Tom Roach, Vice President of Brand Strategy at Jellyfish, explored the idea of digital as a brand-building platform. He stressed the importance of understanding platform dynamics for the best creative execution. Looking to video as an example, different formats garner different attention levels and therefore require different creative strategies. Social media may call for creator made content produced by those closest to their audience. In-feed ads need more bespoke story structures with multiple peaks to spike the interest of audiences. 

‘The show’ needs to be more interesting, arresting and entertaining than the content that surrounds you.

Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer, System1 Group

This sentiment was echoed by System1’s Orlando Wood who spoke about the importance of ‘the show’. “It’s not where is the stage but what is the show,” says Wood. “‘The show’ needs to be more interesting, arresting and entertaining than the content that surrounds you.”

Hannah Gillet, Senior Communications Strategist at Our Lego Agency explained how this works in practice, using both platform and content to maximise effectiveness. By focusing on owned channels such as in-store and using the creative potential of Lego as a product, the brand is able to create communications that embody its ethos to create a safe, creative environment for children. “Bad process can kill a creative idea” says Gillet. Therefore looking at softer measures of success like context indicators and channel benchmarks means the brand is able to maximise creativity.

3. The long and short of it still stands

A session with ‘Godfathers of effectiveness’ Les Binet, Group Head of Effectiveness at Adam&EveDDB and Peter Field, Consultant, Peter Field Consulting revisited the pair’s iconic paper: ‘The Long and the Short of it: Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies’ 10 years on. 

The crux of their discussion was that the long and short of it is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Binet and Field maintain the importance of balance and stress that businesses cannot ignore the short as big players now better understand the importance of brand-building. 

Post-pandemic, the pair are optimistic that the shift is balancing and that emotional effectiveness works as a tool aside from direct response. With trust growing in importance for the industry as a whole, Biney and Field’s next venture may lean toward exploring measurement and building further upon the foundations of their research. 

4. Effectiveness is a culture

The IPA effectiveness accreditation is an endorsement from the IPA which shows an agency culture is dedicated to business effectiveness. It can be used to show clients that effectiveness is at the heart of an agency's culture and shows a deep understanding of the client's business goals; a proofpoint that effectiveness is the heart of everything. Beyond thinking of effectiveness as something that sits with strategy, the accreditation urges agencies to think of effectiveness as a culture across the whole agency brought to life by results.

By thinking of effectiveness as a way of working, marketers are able to prove the worth of the craft and show a deeper understanding of businesses. Ross Farquhar, Marketing Director at Little Moons and David Grainger, Media Strategist at Grave Danger Limited considered how marketers can embrace an econometrics model to reframe marketers as people who understand the drive for demand. An econometrics model helps budgets go further and proves the contribution of factors to inform decisions. A more robust model has led to an increase in analysts viewing advertising as an investment (37%), rather than a cost (24%).

5. AI has the power to be an asset

AI is the topic of the year and remains divisive as its potential is largely unknown. Unlike the metaverse, AI has robust practical uses as well alongside its creative potential. On the one hand the technology has the power to be a ‘springboard for a creative leap’, pushing the boundaries of human excellence and advancing upon current technology. The other much darker side raises concerns around regulation and trust. AI has been used for the exploitation of female bodies and used to appropriate culture. Agencies and brands alike have a responsibility to use it for good.

Looking at AI through the lens of effectiveness, Farquhar suggests that ‘AI’s greatest contribution to marketing could be in providing foresight’. “AI is the enabler to experiment with econometrics models”, he explains. Considering how technology can help us streamline processes and open up doors to effectiveness may be far more productive than looking at AI as a creative flourish.

By thinking with effectiveness in mind brands will be better able to maximise creativity, capture the potential of technology and better understand the audiences they aim to reach.