Brand activation spend is on the rise

Brand activation revenues should reach $357bn this year, according to a forecast from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the industry body, and research firm PQ Media.

The two organisations reported that total marketing operator revenues from brand activation rose by 6.7% on an annual basis to $337.2bn in 2016, with further growth expected in 2017. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: Brand activation increases importance in digital age.)

Content marketing – which includes single-channel and hybrid content marketing for digital and print, as well as product placement and graphic packaging – logged the fastest pace of growth.

More specifically, marketing operator revenues in this area, the ANA and PQ Media revealed, climbed by 11.3% last year – the highest annual growth rate across the six brand activation categories in their analysis.

Influencer marketing registered the second-highest growth rate, with an annual lift of 8.7% to $49.1bn. And while this strategy is often connected to working with YouTube content creators, the PQ Media/ANA report served as a valuable reminder that it extends from social media and word-of-mouth marketing to PR, customer service and even telesales.

Revenues from experiential marketing – consisting of event marketing, sponsorship, business-to-business live events, trade-show promotions, cause-related initiatives and grassroots marketing – jumped by 6.7% to $50.6bn.

Elsewhere, relationship marketing – a category that includes direct mail, catalogs, list management and database-led initiatives, plus email, search, loyalty programs, and lead generation – enjoyed a 6.6% increase.

This lift was particularly impressive given that operator revenue came in at $140.6bn, by far the largest net figure in the brand activation universe.

Promotional marketing – extending across sampling, rebates, coupons, contents, sweepstakes and more – recorded growth of 1.7%, taking it to $52.1bn.

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A.N.A. Asks Digital Players for Advertising Safeguards

The Association of National Advertisers called on Google’s YouTube and other digital platforms to create stronger safeguards to protect brands from having their advertising run with questionable content.

The move comes as an increasing number of advertisers have pulled ad dollars from YouTube after revelations that ads for some major brands are running adjacent to content from hate groups online.

“We join the ecosystem in calling upon all digital advertising platforms to take the necessary steps to guarantee the safety and reputations of our brands. Brands choose those platforms to work hard for them to achieve all of their business and brand building objectives. But the most important of those priorities is ‘to do no harm,’” said Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA.

“We view brand safety issues as an unfortunate example of the many challenges that exist throughout the digital media supply chain. The current crisis is representative of the issues that ANA—and others—have raised with respect to fraud and risk, reduced transparency, suboptimum measurement and nebulous productivity,” Liodice said.

Digital advertising has also been bedeviled by measurement issues that have eroded advertiser trust in the audiences they’re getting when the buy ads online.

It was unclear how much this situation would help TV advertising. Analyst Michael Nathanson said that TV networks could get a modest boost from advertisers fleeing digital for the relative safety of national TV.

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