The Value beyond clicks & The rise of the ROPOs

Should you always believe everything you report on? Is there more value beyond clicks and data that we don’t always see? Just what is a ROPO? Our Head of Biddable Media, Ben Lipscombe has got the info you need and he’s got evidence (plus a table of stats) to prove it!


Not everything that has value is trackable

You can’t improve what you can’t measure, right? I’m generally in agreement with the old adage, and whilst Attribution – that is an understanding of the value of all customer interactions across a journey with our brands – is incredibly important for us as digital marketers, I’m also of the opinion that we do need to appreciate that not everything that has value for us is trackable.

“How can that be?” I hear you howl from behind your CRM systems and Google analytics account.

Well let’s talk about a trend in customer behaviour we’re seeing more and more of with our clients who have both an online presence and physical stores. It’s customers who Research Online, Buy Offline – the ROPOs.

Have a think about the following ROPO scenario, which we’ve probably all been in ourselves.

You’re in a shop looking at “something” but you’re not quite sure it’s the “something” for you, so you whip out your phone and have a quick check of said “something” online, making sure it’s got decent reviews, or the spec is as you want it. Having done that you’re happy so you pop your phone back in your pocket and pay for your “something” in store.

All seems straight forward and normal, but you’ve given some other digital marketer somewhere a head ache. They’ve spent time and budget building landing pages, crafting content and standing up campaigns which you’ve just used specifically NOT to make an online purchase. No conversion, no revenue, no good for digital marketing efforts.

But you still made the purchase with the help of the digital marketing activity, right?  It was just in a way that can’t be quantified as it would have been digitally. So what’s the issue?


Thinking BEYOND digital marketing

When we’re thinking about digital marketing and the value it adds we also need to think BEYOND digital marketing. Customers exist in a world that isn’t just made of clicks and metrics so whilst these are important things there’s also a need for us to take a step back and “read between the lines” of data to look at digital marketing in a more holistic way.

As an example, working with one of our clients Crabtree & Evelyn we’ve been able to look at search activity in the geographic areas around their high street store locations. The closer to a shop someone was, the lower the online conversion rate. This is no coincidence, as we can see a clear pattern when looking at the gradually increasing distances from a store. Like this…

Research Online Purchase Offline - The value in looking beyond data


Look how perfectly this increases the further you go. That’s because the further out the radius, the fewer people with offline intentions make up the total. This also shows how much it changes with distance too, from 2.76% within a mile up to 4.75% when a user is miles away. This just shows that a big proportion of people will ROPO when they have the opportunity to do so.

So, there is a need for us to appreciate the offline value of what we’re doing as well as the online. If we were to just look at online revenue data in the scenario above we’d only attribute part of the total value. But by using things like Clickthrough Rates by location we can pick up on trends that may not be obvious at first and use them to estimate the additional value that exists beyond our online attributed sales.


Spoiled by data?

What doesn’t help with this shift in mindset is the amount of data we have available to us. In some ways we’re spoiled by data – we can often feel like if it can’t be proved with numbers on a screen then it doesn’t have value. But that’s not the case and it’s perhaps an unrealistic expectation that we’re able to prove EVERYTHING.

Although you can prove a lot with data and metrics you can’t prove or show the thinking behind a search, a click or a conversion.

With digital channels we’re always trying to get the most detailed and high definition picture of what’s happening, but it can often be that what we actually end up with is just an 8-bit version or a vastly simplified version of reality. One that doesn’t necessarily cater for all the other things that aren’t trackable. Like those ROPOers.

We obviously still have to (and absolutely should) use the data available to prove what we can, but we do also need to step back from data sometimes and appreciate the value digital campaigns and digital spend can add elsewhere – that online spend has offline value too.


Ben Lipscombe

Head of Biddable Media

To dive deeper into the role ROPO could be playing for you or to discuss why Tesco shouldn’t have changed the recipe of their Madeira chicken, just drop Ben an email.

Get inspired with these creative campaigns from February

Now that January is out of the way, take a look at all the creative content brands have been bringing out for February. We’ve been celebrating 100 years of votes for women, filling up on chocolate for Valentine’s Day, and glued to Winter Olympics Curling.

Campaigns from Intel, Channel 4, and more have helped to drive awareness around the key events of the month, and we’ve brought them together into one marketing campaign round-up, just for you.

CALM – Best man project 

The 1st of Feb was national Time to Talk Day, raising awareness for Mental Health. One campaign that has caught our eye is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, or CALM, with their #BestManProject. CALM is dedicated to preventing male suicide and is highlighting the importance of friendship through good times and bad.

People are encouraged to get involved with the #BestManProject by signing up to the newsletter, offering tips and advice on how to be a great friend. The heartwarming video campaign pairs best friends together and asks things like “Who takes the longest to get ready?”, before encouraging each friend to talk about what their friendship means to them.

River Island  Labels are for clothes 

River Island kicked off their Spring/Summer campaign this month. Describing it as a ‘people positive campaign’, River Island’s Labels are for Clothes brings together a cast of diverse people to celebrate what makes them unique.  

It’s a fully-integrated campaign that includes a competition, TV ad, Snapchat lens, and hashtag. The landing page includes River Island’s mission statement, a link to the clothing range and short profiles on each of the faces of the campaign.  

February content blog River Island

Channel 4 – #Vote100  

It’s been 100 years since some women were given the right to vote, and to celebrate this fact, Channel 4 ran a series of empowering films and female-centric programmes. Their social media accounts were also taken-over with the hashtag #Vote100 for the day.

Channel 4 enlisted the help of three centenaries, Millie, Beattie and Margaret, to be continuity announcers and mark the day’s celebrations. The women introduced programmes and discussed how life has changed over the last hundred years.

Black Mirror – Coach dating 

One of the most popular episodes from the recent series of Black Mirror was ‘Hang the DJ’. The story follows people in a walled-off society where they’re matched-up via a digital dating device – Coach. The device dictates how long each couple has together before they breakup to be paired with someone else.

For Valentine’s Day, Black Mirror fans were able to try Coach out for themselves. The Coach dating website lets you share a link with your partner, and then prompts you both to click its interface at the same time. It’ll then tell you how much longer you have left in your current relationship. This clever campaign helps to keep the flame alive for lovers of ‘Hang the DJ’.

February content blog Black Mirror

Intel – Team in Flight  

The Winter Olympics kicked off in PyeongChang on the 9th February. Intel put on a show with Team in Flight – a light show made up of more than 1,200 drones – as millions of people around the world watched the opening ceremony.

The show lit up the sky above the Olympic stadium, coming together to create images of snowboarders and the Olympic rings. Intel even broke the world record for the most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the air at the same time. An amazing opportunity for Intel to kick-off the Olympics and showcase how they’re innovating with drone technology.

We hope you’re feeling inspired to create your very own seasonal campaigns. Tune back in at the end of March for more of our favourite content…

A Rapid Review – Google Site Speed Changes

With customer attention spans and patience levels at an all-time low and competition at an all-time high, site speed now plays an extremely significant role in how well (or not) your brand performs online – particularly on mobile devices.

To help us all out, those kind people at Google have released a number of changes and updates so you can make sure your site is the fastest it can be.

We’ve taken a look at these changes and updates to give you a quick overview of what they are and show how you can use them to get your site in tip-top, gold-medal-winning condition.


Page speed will be a major ranking factor for mobile.

After being a desktop ranking factor for 8 years, the move to a mobile first index has led Google to announce the “Speed Update” which will prune the slowest pages from mobile search results too.

This update, to be launched in July, will focus on weeding out the sites which offer a frustratingly slow performance to users due to fixable issues such as weighty images and inefficient code.

Site speed has been mentioned specifically and persistently by Google for a good few years now, and with the rise of Accelerated Mobile Pages and PageSpeed Insights, the weighting of load times as a ranking factor will only increase.

How can I speed up my website?

To prepare for July we recommend looking at the key things that are liable to slow sites down; image dimensions and file sizes, video and audio auto-playing, hosting provider throttling, and site code containing unnecessary scripts – which is particularly worthwhile looking at if your site uses a theme on a platform such as WordPress, Magento or Shopify.

Google has also stressed that content relevance still takes precedence, so creating relevant and useful on site copy and rich media can help overcome any shortcomings in your site speed.


Google PageSpeed Insights. Now using real data

Google Speed Updates Pagespeed Insights

What’s the PageSpeed update all about?

Google’s push towards rapid search results has seen an evolution of their PageSpeed Insights tool.

Having previously relied on best practice suggestions the tool now uses metrics from 2 billion real world Chrome browser users. This means that rather than having just a single instance of your speed results from PageSpeed Insights you now see data on how long it took real life users to load your page and an average across the industry.

How does Google use PageSpeed to categorise my site?

Google has two ways of looking at page speed – how long it takes to load the first useful bit of the page, and how long it takes for the page’s source code to load.

Having access to real world data from Chrome users has also resulted in a rework of how Google classifies your page as Fast, Average or Slow. For more on how this is calculated here is an explanation from Google themselves.

What does the Optimisation Score mean in PageSpeed Insights?

The optimisation score uses the same kind of comparison as PageSpeed to judge a page as Good, Medium or Low based on how many best practices this page is following compared to others in the same category.

These best practices are taken from PageSpeed Insights Rules regarding page redirects, the size of image and script resources, the order in which the page loads, how many requests have to be made to the server and whether all resources are properly optimised. If a page is not following a particular practice these suggestions will be visible in a summary.

What does the Page Stats section of PageSpeed Insights mean?

The Page Stats section describes how much back and forth is required between the server a site is on and the device a user is browsing with to load the crucial resources a page requires to function (such as the page layout and content) before the additional extras (such as scripts and styles) can start being fetched.

It also assesses how many megabytes of data are needed to load the page and compares this to an industry average. The fewer round trips required and the smaller the page footprint, the faster it will load.

How can I make my PageSpeed Insights scores Fast or Good?

As well as following our top tips in the “How can I speed up my website?” section above there are handy suggestions in each section of the PageSpeed Insights tool itself. You can also give yourself a pat on the back by checking out the “Optimisations already present” section to see what you’re winning at already.


Google Chrome Performance Audits

Google Speed Updates Lighthouse Chrome Audit

 How can I use Google Chrome to look at page speed data for my own site?

The first update of Google Chrome this year includes several features built in to the browser to audit and benchmark your page performance.

With each Chrome update there are new abilities for both DevTools and Lighthouse. With these tools you can learn more about how your pages are built and rendered and how search engines access and read your pages.

This is a great way to get instant feedback on what is affecting your site performance and what could be improved at a detailed level. As an added bonus you can also run a basic SEO audit within Lighthouse to take a look at how your website compares to fundamental Organic Search best practices.

Where can I find out more about Google Chrome DevTools?

Check out Google’s official documentation on how to access the DevTools on your browser, gain insights into your code and see real life web page loading in action.

An overview of Chrome DevTools:

New Updates in DevTools for 2018:

The new SEO audit category in Lighthouse:

What are some good examples of fast websites?

You can use PageSpeed Insights and Chrome developer tools on these sites to uncover the techniques and optimisations each uses to deliver a quick experience. Just put them through PageSpeed Insights and speed related DevTools to view their scores – The download site for the not-for-profit web browser Mozilla Firefox uses graphics rather than large images and has light, clean code.  – The UK Government website portal even claims to be “simpler, clearer, faster” and loads images last after all of the crucial code has been loaded. – The Product question site has minified code, prioritises visible content and is hosted on a fast responding server. – The Job Search site is free from large images and focuses on functionality. – The question answering service speeds up its answers by compressing everything and minifying code. – A great example of a fast eCommerce site, loading in under 2 seconds with a fast server and lightweight code.


Not sure where to start with optimising your site speed and organic visibility? Have a chat with our Organic Search experts.

Our 5 Favourite Marketing Campaigns This January

Marketers are steaming ahead with their January campaigns to kick-off the new year.

Lonely Planet, Samaritans and Cadbury are just some of brands serving up creative campaigns to help take our minds off the post-Christmas slump.

Lonely Planet – Best in Travel 2018

Every year, Lonely Planet get a panel of their biggest travel geeks, experts and editors together to rank the must-visit places around the world. They pick 10 of the best countries, regions, cities and best-value locations, and wrap them all up in an annual best-selling book to inspire tourists. Their website drives awareness for their print publications and also offers a comprehensive guide to the panel’s top picks. From beautifully-shot videos, to written guides, explore hours of content dedicated to Lonely Planet’s top destinations for 2018.

Cochlear – Does Love Last Forever?

Cochlear is a company that designs and makes implants, devices and prosthetics to help with hearing loss. In their short film ‘Does Love Last Forever?’, they’ve come up with a creative way to test for hearing loss.

The film follows a couple as they grow older. Towards the end, the characters’ body language suggests they have fallen out of love, and ambient noise is used to mask loving conversations.

Depending on your hearing, you might interpret the film as love lasting or love being lost – in which case you might want to book a hearing test for peace of mind…


Samaritans – Brew Monday

Blue Monday, usually the third Monday of the month, was named the most depressing day of the year by a travel company in 2005 as part of a marketing campaign. This year, though, mental health campaigners and charities were keen to shake-up the message and remind people that depression is not something that only happens on one day. Samaritans renamed the day ‘Brew Monday’ – encouraging people to talk about their mental health over a cup of tea, and raise money for their life-saving service.

The charity got celebrities to chat about their perfect brew, drummed up support on social with their #BrewMonday hashtag, and sent out fundraising packs to help raise money with offline activity.

Papier – Starting with a Blank Page

Papier partners with illustrators, designers and studios to create beautiful stationery, including cards, invitations and notebooks.

They produce some great content on their blog, The Fold, and this month, they gave 5 creatives a personalised sketchbook to see how they would fill it.

The blog includes images of the creatives’ work, and short descriptions from them about what they created. The stationery is showcased and there’s an option to purchase the products featured.


Google – Arts & Culture

Google’s Arts & Culture app hosts artifacts and artwork from museums around the world in a digital form. You can explore art movements, world heritage sites, fashion and more in the app. The latest addition to the app is a feature which lets you take a selfie before matching it with your doppelganger from artworks sitting in over 1,500 museums around the world.

It’s a ridiculously fun way to discover art, and Google has seen over 30-million people using the feature.

Sadly, the feature isn’t available in the UK yet. But we can still enjoy the selfies people have been posting online in the meantime.

Bonus: Cadbury – White Crème Egg

This campaign isn’t strictly digital, but it’s been brightening up our January so much that we just couldn’t leave it out.

Cadbury are running a Charlie and the Chocolate factory style competition, with white chocolate crème eggs hidden on retailers’ shelves. Winners get a cash prize and a taste of the rare white crème egg.

If the number of crème eggs in the Red Hot Penny office is anything to go by, Cadbury have found a clever way to make the Easter treat more sought-after than ever.

We hope these digital campaigns have made your January a little easier. Watch out for February’s edition of our content round-up, landing in your inbox next month…

Attribution: The key for unlocking eCommerce growth

Attribution is a buzz word that’s been around for some time – but we believe 2018 will be the year that marketers take it seriously. As customer behaviours become more complex and interactions occur across multiple devices and channels, the need to understand your customers has never been so important.

It’s a topic that we’re discussing with brands and etailers every day – and one that’s often misunderstood or seen as too complicated to explore. This article takes a high-level look at the key to a successful attribution marketing approach.


The first step in adopting an attribution model is to understand that your customers can and will interact with your brand in many ways. We call these touchpoints – and the theory goes that the more POSITIVE touchpoints a customer has with a brand/product, the more likely they are to purchase/convert. The logic is 100% true, but we can’t forget that sometimes purchases will occur from a single touchpoint – whether that be a first visit to your website or first-time trip to your store on the high street.

Customer journey touchpoints

It’s vital to understand your customer touchpoints, as they will be the building blocks to growing an attribution approach to your marketing. An example of the questions to ask, and one that challenges marketing folk everywhere, is – would I have got that sale/conversion if I didn’t have X campaign or Y marketing channel running? Having an attribution approach backed with good data (more about this later) is a huge step towards answering this question.

Start plotting your different user journeys and touchpoints. Many tools can help you do this, and you should order them by commonality as you will want to focus on the top ones initially.

Growth vs Efficiency

Growth and efficiency are two ends of a balancing scale. And although every marketer wants to drive both, you need to appreciate that they can conflict with each other once performance reaches a certain point. The diagram below shows the common attribution types from First Click to Last Click, and where they sit on the Growth vs Efficiency scale.

Attribution techniques

Having a single approach at either end of these attribution models will hinder your results in terms of growth potential or efficiency achieved.

What works best is usually a hybrid model of many of these attribution models (relevant to campaigns and channel mix) that will, overall, sit somewhere in the middle of growth vs efficiency.

Last Click has its place

We need to turn our attention to understanding how your customer touchpoints and your sales funnel overlap. For a typical brand / eTailer the first click / touchpoint is at the stage of driving ATTENTION to a user – making them aware of your brand for the first time. As that user interacts through other touchpoints you are driving INTEREST in your product/service. This crucial second stage could span anything from 1 to 10+ touchpoints across different channels (online and offline). And those that understand this and invest in the right areas will deliver more of these into a DECISION where they are ready to make a purchase / take action. The final step is then to ensure nothing stands in the way of ACTION/PURCHASE.

Last click and the customer journey

If efficiency is the goal, then you want to invest more of your marketing budget into the channels around the Decision and Action stages. But this will limit your growth as you will not be fuelling top of the funnel activity and driving attention of your brand to new audiences. Those looking for growth should focus budgets at both ends of the funnel – especially the activity driving brand awareness and building interest in your product / service. This will then naturally increase the pool of customers in the Decision and Action stages.

Full Funnel Marketing

Investing your marketing efforts in the right areas will deliver a full funnel marketing approach. So often, marketers will only invest in the channels that they can measure last click ROI, putting much of their budget in Brand Search and Remarketing. And these are the brands that struggle to sustain growth and end up needing to broaden investment further up the funnel. The diagram below shows at a high level how the right marketing activity at each stage can drive the user through the funnel..

Full funnel marketing

Attribution & ROI – Need for Good Data

None of this is possible without good data. When you have confidence in your data you can start to test your attribution models and measure the ROI for each touchpoint. This can then help you allocate your future marketing budget in the right areas to meet your growth goals. Accepting that last click measurement is just one method will unlock the opportunity for scalable and profitable growth.

This checklist is a great place to start ensuring you’re getting useful data .


If you’re consistently delivering positive touchpoints at the interest stage, customers will become more loyal to your brand and drive longer tail brand searches / direct traffic that is a lot cheaper to convert. This will bring down your lower funnel marketing CPA, freeing up budget to invest in your higher funnel activity. What we want to measure is the net CPA/ROI of all the activity and ensure that it (as a whole) delivers profitable growth.

This article may have made it all sound very simple but it all comes down to data. And having the expertise to define, measure and refine the models. This does take time but is worth it! Other factors such as resellers and channel conflict will also impact the outcome, but should not stop you adopting a full funnel attribution approach to your digital marketing.

To find out more about how attribution can work for you, or to apply for a free analytics health check then drop us an email at

Access the Free Google Analytics Checklist here or contact our insights team for more in depth checking.

New Year, New Design Trends

We’ve already given up on our New Year’s resolutions and we’re struggling to commit to dry January, but one thing we are dedicated to is predicting the biggest digital design trends for 2018.

Incorporating strong visual content will be essential for your new year marketing campaigns to reach your audience and create impact.

Make sure you’re adopting best-practice design with our round-up of the 2017 design tricks that are sticking around for 2018, and the newest trends you’ll want to be adding to your design skillset…

Gradients/ Colour Transitions

Gradients (or the new ‘fancier’ term Colour Transitions) have come a long way since their PowerPoint slide appearance. Designers have side-lined them in the past few years in favour of flat design. But as they become more versatile, with their reappearance in iOS, and industry leaders now adopting them for branding, buttons and backgrounds, we’re starting to see them work better as backdrops to our content.

Instagram’s new logo for 2016 got a makeover, with gradients becoming smoother and flatter, paving the way for a new style of background designs and overlays.

Spotify’s rebranding successfully uses Colour Transitions with its duotone approach. Cleverly overlaid with varying type and shapes, it works well for the brand and their millennial target audience. Emphasis on the rich and lively music culture it fronted was key for the brand, transforming from a tech service to an entertainment brand.

2018 Design Trends 01 Gradients

Split Page Design

With advancements in UX and web design, designers and developers have been able to work closely together and grow the split page design. As an evolution of the hero image, split page creates a contrasting effect to promote specific content, offering users an unconventional experience.

It gives brands more freedom to feature multiple touchpoints, and helps the user find what they’re looking for faster – with fewer clicks.

Bose cleverly uses a 5-way split page design to promote select products. The bright use of colour contrasts with the products, and emphasises the brand’s personality. This is coupled with dynamic animations – crucial for delivering a great user experience.

2018 Design Trends 02 Split Page

Responsive Logos

As minimalism increases and more smartphones are released, mobile first design continues to reign on, and designers now lead by the mantra of ‘less is more’. And that means brands are having to revamp their logos to become universal and embrace technology advancements.

Brand giants such as Coke, Chanel and Nike have mastered the responsive logo, and start-ups will need to follow in their footsteps to compete within the digital landscape.


“Video First” is a term coined by Facebook to encapsulate the growing phenomenon. We’re seeing more and more moving graphics online, and GIFs and animations will still be trending in 2018.

Animations allow the user to engage more in their online experience, making it more seamless and enjoyable. And more brands are responding, animating everything from icons, to logos to get in touch CTAs.

Google’s brand motion animation is clever and memorable, and is just one of the ways the search giant is adopting motion branding.


A slow adopter – but a trend to look out for in 2018 is Cinemagraphs. When used correctly, a Cinemagraph tells a story, and adds excitement to a still image.

Cinemagraphs are essentially short clips, with the same opening and ending shot to help create an endless video loop. One element of the image displays as a moving video, showcasing one single component to move, while the rest of the shot remains still.

These living photos work particularly well for travel brands looking to showcase beautiful oceans and rippling lakes, or to create a wind effect for product shots, as seen in the fashion campaign  below. We’re naming them the more elegant version of a GIF.

Cropped Type

The perfect balance between creativity and professionalism = cropped type. Erase parts of the letters, or cut up the words (but keep them readable) to create the effect.

This technique allows the typography to have more substance, and lets the eye read the subject in an unusual way. You’ll get a minimalist type with a modern twist.

2018 Design Trends 04 Cropped Type

Creative Type

Different to cropped, Creative Type cleverly works into the design to communicate a message in an abstract way. This trend of playing with type has heavily-influenced designers in 2017 – and it’s here to stay for 2018.

Graphic designers get more creative freedom and see just how far typography can take them – As shown by Fiat below.

2018 Design Trends 05 Creative Type

If we can sum up the digital design trends for 2018 in three words, they would be – Pretty, Damn, Awesome. The next year will undoubtedly drive new innovations and creative ideas we haven’t touched upon, but the excitement to see what it brings is one we’ll look forward to.

The goal for every designer is to be unique, and create something memorable and appealing. But to do this, you need to make sure you’re keeping your design fundamentals in mind. Constantly stay up to date with the latest innovations in design and branding, and sign-up to our newsletter to receive digital marketing industry news. We discuss how the newest design tools and trends impact your digital marketing strategy.

The Slam Down II: Dude, where’s my Agency?

With the new year upon us, you’ll no doubt be thinking about what you need to do and deliver in 2018 and that means you might be looking at the marketing agencies you’re working with to help you get the results you need over the next 12 months. Picking the right agency for you and your brand is a crucial decision, and a key thing you’ll need to consider is location.

Do you opt for convenience and work with a local agency, or do you venture further afield to find the best expertise?

We had our Head of Marketing, Russ “The Rhino” Powell, and our Sales Director, Dave “Double Dragon” Schulhof, go head-to-head on this very topic in the second of our “Slam Down” series to see what they thought.

Strap yourselves in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride:

“Being closer means you can get under their skin and REALLY understand who you’re partnering with” – Russ Powell

For all the amazing advancements in video conferencing, instant messaging, and other snazzy communication tech, there are still some fundamentals of working with an agency (and building and maintaining any sort of relationship for that matter) that are so much easier to do – and get right – face-to-face.

You’re trusting an agency to deliver results, and there are four things you need to build trust properly: similarity, reciprocity, familiarity, and proximity. Similarity you can judge from a distance, and reciprocity can be achieved without ever clapping eyes on someone. But you just can’t build real familiarity digitally (at best you end up with fake-miliarity (a dreadful new hybrid-word I just invented)), and as for proximity, you can’t really be close to someone else without being…well, CLOSE to them. If you can’t nail all four trust-building components, then you’ll struggle to build a proper relationship.

And just because you’ve got loads of tech available doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to use. Speaking to someone in person avoids the barriers that electronic communications throw up. You can judge tone properly, you can pick up body language and HOW someone is saying something (not just what they’re saying), and you can ask questions easily and unavoidably.

Things can get missed, remain unsaid or buried digitally so being able to quickly “pop” in” and see a marketing agency helps to resolve problems, ask questions, and get to the bottom of issues quickly. Plus, a face-to-face never suffers from poor connectivity or a software failure.

Being able to meet up with a search agency face-to-face regularly also helps you see who they REALLY are. That “friendly, family feel” agency you thought were quirky and wholesome may just be two blokes in a garden shed who don’t really know what they’re doing. That multi-national agency with the “scale and resources to deliver results” may be so big and so multifaceted that if you’re not at the top of their client list, you get forgotten about. Being closer and more able to meet face-to-face means you can get under the agency’s skin, get past any BS, and really understand who you’re partnering with.

Keeping things local can also give you an altruistic boost. You could be creating jobs in your local area and helping to build a highly-skilled creative community. With partners local to you, there’s always the possibility of linking-up to look at local charity or CSR initiatives together. And at the very least, it’s quick and easy for them to take you out for lunch or to the pub for some after-work drinks!

 “The biggest risk is missing out on your perfect agency partner” – Dave Schulhof

If you choose the right agency for your brand they’ll get the job done, whether they’re round the corner or on the other side of the country. While face-to-face meetings are great for building personal relationships and for collaborative thinking – they’re not necessary every day.

There are lots of tools that make communication quick and simple like video and conference calls, email and more. And these technologies are so effective in fact, that it makes global relationships not just possible, but a good option. Regular phone calls, combined with face-to-face meetings a couple of times a month, is more than enough to keep you on the same page as your agency.

So, if you’re only meeting once or twice a month and penning a suitable date in your diary, is there really such a difference between, say, a 30-minute tube journey or a 3-hour drive? Is the extra couple of hours or so worth losing a great agency? Especially given that agencies are often more than willing to do most of the travelling.

For larger brands and retailers who’ve got multiple offices across the country, they’re already travelling between sites or dialling into meetings anyway. Working with a remote agency is just like an extension of the business – and it won’t dramatically change how you already work.

The biggest risk with limiting yourself based on location is missing out on your perfect agency partner. When choosing who to work with, surely the most important question is: does your brand personality fit with their agency personality?

  • Does the agency truly understand your brand and do you trust them to represent you?
  • Do you share the same work ethic and drive to make each campaign a success?
  • Do they have a proven track record for delivering measurable results?
  • Are they experts in your area of business and do they have the necessary knowledge and experience of your sector?

Where in the country they’re based should surely be a minor consideration when it comes to finding a working relationship that actually works.

Widening your agency search gives you the pick of any agency in the UK. And it ultimately means you’re choosing an agency for the right reasons. And not just settling for convenience.

What do you think? Is location the most important factor when it comes to picking an agency, or should expertise trump everything? Can you really get to know someone from a distance? Or does distance not really exist anymore thanks to advances in communication tech? Weigh in, and let us know which side of the fence you’re on…

Top 5 Christmas Digital Marketing Campaigns this December

We’re counting down to Christmas here at Red Hot Penny with a round-up of the best Christmas ads from across the web.

From Lego, to Cards against Humanity, and of course, John Lewis, these digital offerings are sure to get you in the festive mood…


Bookseller Waterstones is gearing up for the gift-giving season with a beautifully illustrated Gift Guide. A Winter Wonderland scene features categories like ‘Stocking Fillers’ and ‘Festive Reads’ to help you pick a gift for every friend and family member.

It’s not your typical gift guide – we think it’s a creative change from the ‘gifts for her/him’ standard. Plus, it’s already given us some great Secret Santa ideas.

December Digital Marketing Guide - Waterstones

John Lewis

We need to talk about Moz. The fluffy monster that’s taken over our TV screens for the past month also has a pretty strong online presence. John Lewis have set up a Monster Maker microsite, where children can create their own Moz and even take a selfie with him.

It’s hard to beat John Lewis when it comes to Christmas, and we definitely think the retailer has created another heartstring-pulling classic for their Christmas 2017 ad.

Click here to see Moz in action


Shopping can prove a stressful task for parents at this time of year, so Lego offers a helping hand with its Facebook chatbot, Ralph.

Users answer a series of questions about their budget and who the gift is intended for before Ralph suggests a few Lego products. As an added surprise, the chatbot gives users a free shipping code! All in the spirit of Christmas.

December Digital Marketing Guide - Lego Chatbot

Cards Against Humanity

American card game manufacturer, Cards Against Humanity, kicked off their holiday promotion in early November. In an extravagant marketing stunt, CAH vowed to save America and asked people to help by paying $15 in return for 6 surprises to arrive throughout December.

The first surprise – the company purchased a plot of land on the USA/Mexico border and distributed ownership, to prevent Donald Trump from building a dividing wall. Watch the video below to learn more:

Ashmolean Museum

The University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum released their digital advent calendar this month. It’s an artistic take on the traditional chocolate calendar, where each door reveals a piece of art on display in the museum plus a description of its history.

If you like the piece, then there’s the option to buy a print or Christmas card version. Check in on the calendar to see today’s featured piece.


We hope you enjoyed these Christmas creative campaigns as much as we have, and we already can’t wait to share the newest and biggest January campaigns with you to kick-off the new year!

The Why, What, and How of AdWords for Channel Tool

Recently we combined forces with Google, TIE Kinetix and Michelin at an exclusive event that gave the lucky attendees the inside track on running awesome AdWords campaigns with their channel partner/re-seller networks.

If you weren’t one of the fortunate few who were there fear not, because we’ve distilled the key points from the event’s presentations into the easily digestible 21 minute video below.

Why commit 21 minutes of your life to watching a video about AdWords for the channel?

Because you’ll get:

  • Exclusive trends insights from Google on the need for brands to focus on “local”
  • An overview of how the TIE Kinetix AdWords for the Channel tool WILL help you and your partner network maximise MDF spend
  • Proof that it does work from Michelin, who delivered 9 times more leads for their re-sellers
  • Guidance from Red Hot Penny on getting the most value  from centralised AdWords campaigns

Enjoy the video and If you have any questions on any of the content, or want to explore the TIE Kinetix tool drop our Head of Marketing Russ an email at

Green Bikes and Cookies: Is Apple killing remarketing?

What’s the deal?

No doubt you will have seen Apple release the latest version of Safari when they dropped the new Mac OS and iOS a few weeks ago. But did you notice they’ve bundled into Safari a new thing called ITP or Intelligent Tracking Prevention? ITP looks to be Apple’s attempt to kill remarketing.

Here’s what they had to say about it:

Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Keep your browsing to yourself.

Remember when you looked at that green mountain bike online? And then saw annoying green mountain bike ads everywhere you browsed? Safari now uses machine learning to identify advertisers and others who track your online behaviour, and removes the cross‑site tracking data they leave behind. So your browsing stays your business.”

No matter your opinion on re-marketing or re-targeting, and how useful you may find it as a marketer and a consumer, Apple seem to have got the bit between their teeth and think it’s an invasion of privacy.

What’s ITP going to do, and why should I be worried?

ITP is going to target sites which load cookies from other domains and prevent them from using those cookies for tracking after 24 hours. After 30 days with no subsequent interaction the cookie will be purged completely.

In practice this means that retargeting which relies on a tracking cookie will be unavailable after 24 hours and cookies used for measurement will only survive for 30 days. Safari has been doing this for a while with 3rd party cookies but now they’re doing it for 1st party cookies too.

All this means that re-marketing is going to get very hard.

There is also a school of thought that this could extend to affiliate cookies and other types of online advertising in the future.

What can we do about it?

Google has offered some help and said they’ll use the google analytics cookie to identify people, so remarketing can still happen through google display network – but only if you’re using the latest version of Google analytics tracking. If you’re still on legacy GA there will be some configuration needed to make this happen and make sure you’re set up for remarketing through GA cookie. Other smaller networks are coming up with their own solutions including banner insertions and non-cookie based tracking servers which may need additional configuration and specific handling in your analytics package.

The best advice is, if you’re doing any sort of remarketing do an impact assessment. This should focus on 3 key things to see just how much of a pain in the arse this is going to be for you:

  • Get an understanding of just how much of your traffic is currently coming from those using Safari on Mac OS or iOS. This will determine how big an impact you’ll likely feel.
  • Assess how much of your marketing mix is reliant on remarketing and retargeting. The bigger the chunk the more you should be worried.
  • Review which services you’re currently using for remarketing/retargeting and how they’ve responded to ITP. If you’re seeing a drop off in traffic, it might be time to look to move to another supplier who’s better able to cope.

When Apple first announced ITP there were a lot of blog posts written and a lot of assumptions made but having worked through the issue with a number of clients it really is a mixed bag as to how badly you will be affected.

It is something we should all be concerned about but it’s not necessarily for every business to fret over. Carry out your impact assessment, get informed and then you can make the right choice for you and your brand.