NMPi Wins at The Drum Agency Business Awards

We are delighted to announce the latest addition to our trophy cabinet: Best Business Expansion at the Drum Agency Business Awards. Many of our accolades over the last year have come from our innovation and performance on a particular campaign – East Midlands Trains, Harvey Nichols – but these awards focus on agencies as a whole. This win reflects a huge effort from across the business to expand our service proposition to provide great experiences for consumers.

The past 12 months have been amazing for NMPi. We finished an ambitious programme of international expansion with the launch of our LA and New York offices, we furthered our expertise in Paid Social through the acquisition of boutique paid social specialists MediaPact, and we diversified our offering with the acquisition of creative specialists Joystick. We reacted quickly to the launch of Google’s Comparison Shopping Services, and became the first advertising agency to be named a Premium Google Comparison Shopping Partner.

This award is incredibly special to us as it recognises the hard work and determination of our team. Our expansion has been a collective effort and we will continue our growth to take 2019 by storm.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Diet Coke

I am not exaggerating when I say: the NMPi office is fueled by Diet Coke. In fact, the Marketing team alone is probably responsible for a quarter of all Diet Coke consumption in the company.

We know Diet Coke. We love Diet Coke.

So, imagine our disappointment at the latest ad campaign, “Because I Can”, from Coca-Cola. It got me to thinking: what’s happened to Coke’s advertising strategy? Off the top of my head, their ads have always been effective: instantly recognisable and fairly entertaining. Was I wrong?

It seemed like the perfect opportunity for another in our G|B|U series; so settle in, grab your favourite beverage, and get ready for a history lesson.

The Good

There is little in this world that I love more than a good Christmas ad and, being roughly 120 years old, Coca-Cola has had a lot of time to get it right. It’s no surprise, then, that one of Coke’s best adverts is their Christmassy iteration of 1995, an ad that is as old as I am.

For many, the mere sound of this advert marks the start of Christmas; it’s an ad that is synonymous with both Coke and the holiday season. This is a masterclass in brand awareness: you know instinctively from the first note that this is the Coke advert. It even uses a painting of a Santa that has been around since the 1930s. Talk about brand continuity.

Another great campaign that I should mention is the “Share a Coke” campaign. While I never found a bottle with my name on it (but if you want to send me one, I’d happily accept), this was perhaps their strongest commercial effort. “Share a Coke” was originally launched in Australia in 2012 before being rolled out across the world until 2014 and featured over one thousand names gracing Coke bottles. The campaign became a viral phenomenon: 235,000 tweets on the #ShareACoke hashtag, proposals and 25 million new Facebook followers all demonstrating it’s remarkable success. Plus, it was a sweet message: share a coke with your friends.

There are many others that I had remembered fondly, and watching them back I still think they’re great. The Happiness Factory, Heist, the Polar Bears, all ads that I can still remember even though they haven’t been on the air in about 10 years.

Once upon a time, Coke’s advertising had heart.

The Bad

Speaking of Christmas, it is a well-established fact that brands jump on holidays and days of celebration. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Royal Weddings: if they spot a chance to make more money, you can bet they’ll be making an ad about it. And, for the most part, that’s okay. The consumer understands. They might roll their eyes a little, but they’ll accept it.

There are some things, however, that should be left well enough alone. Perhaps the landmark ruling allowing Saudi Arabian women to drive?

Eyes certainly rolled when Coke released a new ad in Saudi Arabia in 2018 which featured a man teaching his daughter to drive. She’s shaky at first, but that’s all fixed by a sip of Coke and they drive off into the desert. It’s a tricky one: some applaud Coca-Cola for their inclusivity, but many find the ad tasteless and I have to agree. This was a clear attempt at capitalisation, and an unnecessary one at that.


It’s not the only time that Coca-Cola has been called out for being culturally insensitive. In 2015, a Christmas ad for the Mexican market showed young, attractive, white people appearing in a Mexican town with Coke and a Christmas tree to the awe of the town’s residents. This perpetuated a stereotype of the “white saviour”, with indigenous people appearing subordinate. The tone-deaf ad was quickly pulled after substantial backlash.

The Ugly

Unfortunately, sales have been down year on year, with the Sugar Tax posing an even bigger threat to regular Coke. One of the reasons for the slump is the recent bad press Diet Coke’s artificial sweeteners have been receiving.

According to Susan E. Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences and a behavioural neuroscientist, “Findings from a variety of studies show that routine consumption of diet sodas, even one per day, can be connected to higher likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, in addition to contributing to weight gain.” 

And with younger generations becoming much more health-conscious, you can bet Diet Coke is taking a hit.

In order to beat its bad rep, Coca-Cola needed a new campaign focused on the younger generations to get them drinking Diet Coke again. The outcome, “Because I Can”, goes so far towards the vanilla that it is bland, boring, and works to offend an entire generation.

There are a number of different iterations of this ad: the SuperBowl spot featuring Gillian Jacobs, the British version with the same script but an English actress, individual ones for different flavours, and a Spanish one that appears on their Puerto Rico YouTube channel. None of them are good. (Well, the Spanish one might be but my language skills are lacking).


Each one is a snapshot into this stereotyped idea of a millennial. Everyone uses the word super. Buzzwords like “athleisure” and “yurt” are dropped left and right. The only way I could be more annoyed is if they told me it was better than avocado toast. We don’t all love avocado toast.

On top of this, the message of “Life is Short, Have a Diet Coke” is incredibly patronising. In essence, Coke is encouraging its consumers to not care about their health, so long as it makes them happy. An ad full of generalisations and yet they gloss over the one that is most likely to cost them sales.

The sheer amount of negative comments on these videos, the op-eds in marketing publications, and even the frustration I felt that led me to do a special edition of G|B|U are enough to show that this was a really bad move.

If Coca-Cola can teach us one thing it’s that you aren’t immune to bad marketing choices, no matter how well ingrained your brand is in the public consciousness. It may have been easier in the days before political correctness, and the youth may well be a bunch of easily offended snowflakes, but they’re who’s buying your products now.

Is your Google Analytics GDPR-compliant?

It’s now been 6 months since GDPR came into effect, and the initial panic appears to have settled. However, it’s not over yet! It turns out GDPR isn’t a problem you can solve overnight, and then tick it off your to-do list.

In the past few months, we’ve seen some businesses struggle with Personally Identifiable Information (PII) being captured within their Google Analytics. And so, here’s a short how-to guide, for ensuring you aren’t picking up that pesky personal data along with all your valuable customer insights.

How can GDPR be breached in Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics, there are some obvious ways GDPR can be breached, for instance:

  • Collecting customer information via form fills, for instance postcode or address
  • Having an on-site privacy policy that doesn’t match your data retention settings in GA
  • Loading data in via Data Import which includes customer PII
  • Capturing PII-related custom dimensions that aren’t using hashed or salted encryption.

Most of these areas will have been assessed by any pre-GDPR audits that took place across data-collecting platforms, as a breach of GDPR through these means are pretty obvious (if you haven’t had a GDPR audit, get in touch with us here). Despite that, there are still a few ways that Google Analytics can mistakenly collect PII data if you’re not careful. The are two ways we see PII breaches in GA:

  1. Page URL’s. The basic Universal Analytics tag collects the URL of every page viewed, and passes this unfiltered through to Google Analytics. Occasionally PII can make it’s way into a URL, particularly during redirects from an email service provider.
  2. Search Terms. Users seem to love accidentally searching for their own email addresses, and of course, this ends up straight in your Search Terms report.

To identify whether you are collecting PII data through either of the above, navigate to the relevant report (For Page URL: Site Content > All Pages, for Search Terms: Site Search > Search Terms) and search the @ character in the in-report search function. This will show up all instances of email collection in the time period you have selected.

I’ve found some PII in my GA reports – how do I fix this?

If that’s the case, do not fear. There are a few ways the issue can be eliminated.

There is PII data showing in my All Pages report

Issue: URL captured contains ‘customer_email’ as the query parameter which is included for reporting

Report: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages

How to Find: Search the @ character in the in-report search function

Solution:

> If you use GTM

This is the preferred solution, as it ensures no PII data is passed from the URL from the outset.

You need to create a Custom JavaScript variable in GTM, which will perform a PII check in each URL collected. If the URL contains an email address, you can replace the email address with a word or phrase such as null, or undefined.

In the example code below, we have chosen to replace the email address with the word ‘redacted’. The variable, in bold, can be replaced with whichever URL variable you have set up.

function () {
  var pagePath = {{Page Path}};
  var query = location.search.substr(1);
  var em = /^(([^<>()[\]\\.,;:\[email protected]\"]+(\.[^<>()[\]\\.,;:\[email protected]\"]+)*)|(\".+\"))@((\[[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}\])|(([a-zA-Z\-0-9]+\.)+[a-zA-Z]{2,}))$/;
  var r = '';
  var result = [];

  if (query) {
    query.split("&").forEach(function(part) {
      var item = part.split("=");
      var qStr = item[0];
      var dCo = decodeURIComponent(item[1]);
      var ma = em.test(dCo);
      var s;
      if (ma) {
        s = qStr +"=REDACTED ";
      } else {
        s = qStr + "=" + dCo;
      }
      result.push(s);
    });

    var r = pagePath + '?' + query.replace(query,result.join('&'));
  } else {
    var r = pagePath;
  }
  return r;
}

Then you need to update your Universal Analytics tag to include the Custom JavaScript variable in the ‘Page’ field, as shown in the below screenshot:  

> If you want to make the change in Google Analytics itself

If you don’t use GTM, the PII issue can be solved via the GA View Settings in the Admin section. Within the View Settings, include the relevant query parameter in the ‘Exclude URL Query Parameters’ box for instance customer_email, or whichever the term is which precedes the PII data in your URL.

> If your Universal Analytics tag is hard-coded on-site

If your tagging is hard-coded on-site, you can add the below line of code to your Universal Analytics script to amend the URL’s before sending data to GA for reporting. The ‘new page value’ is where an altered page path is sent to GA, which will be coded by your site developers. The new line of code should be fired on all pages on the site along with your hard-coded GA script.

ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’, ‘new page value’);

Your updated hard-coded script on the site should look something like the following:

<!-- Google Analytics -->
<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,'script','https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');

ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Y', 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’, ‘new page value’);
</script>
<!-- End Google Analytics -->

There is PII data showing in my Search Terms report

Issue: Users perform a search on site using their email address (it happens more than you think!)

Report: Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms

How to Find: Search the @ character in the in-report search function

Solution:

The solution to this is much like the approach identified in section 1 (‘there is PII data showing in my All Pages report’) however, the change CAN’T be made within Google Analytics itself, using the option of excluding URL query parameters, as this will remove all on-site search tracking.

The same GTM solution can be used, as detailed already, with the same results. The hard-coded option can be used, however your on-site developers will need to ensure that the ‘new page value’ which is passed to Google Analytics only excludes search queries where an email address is present, otherwise all on-site search tracking will be excluded from reporting.

Summary

PII data can be found in Google Analytics, typically passed from URL’s, Page Titles and Search Terms. However, these instances can be prevented easily enough using the above tips! The best option is implementing fixes in GTM, as it means PII is excluded from the very start of the data collection journey, but there are also options in GA or through hardcoding that are available. 

If you need any help with the above, or are concerned about GDPR compliance in your Google Analytics, give us a shout.

Best Practice: Product Launches

The launch of a  major product can often be a make or break moment for any company. Whether it’s the launch of an updated version of an existing product, or a brand new product or service altogether, launches can significantly alter a business’ competitive landscape.

Over the years, we have supported a number of brands with product launches, from new over-the-counter medicine, tickets to major new shows and releases of the latest high-end trainers and technology. In order to help you get the most out of your next launch, we have compiled our top tips for creating a successful paid search strategy.

Plan Ahead

Before your product is even on the shelves, you can hit the ground running with a “pre-order” campaign designed to raise awareness and help build up your audience lists. Send this early traffic to a dedicated pre-order landing page to find out more information.

For your launch campaign, keyword planning will be crucial in determining your success. Remember that users might not be searching for the exact product if it’s brand new, so you’ll want to think about other search terms that would be relevant. Generally, focus on brand match keywords for your initial launch to pick up new search terms.

In terms of audiences, be sure to leverage traffic from your pre-launch and early ads in order to engage them at a later date with more personalised messaging. Other audiences that are worth targeting are users who have visited pages related to similar products or those who have purchased a previous version in the past. Past purchasers are more likely to be brand loyal and will already be interested in the latest product.

Be mindful of any other above-the-line activity from the manufacturer or brand, as you can often sync this up with your digital advertising to great effect. For example, if a TV ad is running then you can set up scripts to sync your search activity with the TV times.

Understand the Competition

Competitors can be a great resource when planning your product launch. Review their ad copy and landing pages to see how you stack up. For example, if all of your competitors are offering the product at a particular price point, then where possible you should match this price.

As many will know, your work doesn’t stop once you’ve set your campaigns live. Competitor monitoring tools such as Google’s Auction Insights for search can be used to assess how the market has changed and who the largest players are in the market.

Be Reactive

If you’ve forecasted a large uplift in search volume before the launch, monitor your bids throughout the day to ensure that your ads remain in competitive positions. Search Ads 360 allows you to set up a bid strategy to maintain high positions for new keywords. Given that the majority of searches now take place on mobile and the screen size is a lot smaller, resulting in fewer ad placements, it’s even more important to ensure your bid multipliers will keep you in the top positions.

In the following weeks, you will need to continually monitor and optimise keyword bids and bid multipliers to ensure continued efficiency and stabilised performance. If you notice significant trends between devices or locations, it may be worth splitting out campaigns to have a greater control over your bids.

Find out how we ran a product launch that saw 49% of sales come from new customers in our Fitbit Blaze case study.