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Christmas: time for marketers to remove their blindfolds?

It may still be weeks until Christmas, but brands are already bombarding us with Christmas ads to make sure we spend our hard-earned cash with them this festive season.

Ambarish Mitra: founder and chief executive of Blippar

Ambarish Mitra: founder and chief executive of Blippar

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With intense competition to secure sales, are brands doing all they can to engage their audience or are they missing a trick?

Advertising budgets, particularly at Christmas time, can be huge and are still predominantly poured into the medium of TV. With attention devoted by both the trade press and the nationals to analyse the effectiveness of TV ad campaigns, it can be easy to forget that there are other channels through which brands can effectively engage consumers – but there are!  

For me, the very word "advertising" feels old-fashioned. Engagement is all about meaningful content and creating a two-way interaction with consumers. Consumers are now much more savvy and inclined to skim and, even ignore, traditional advertising. They are looking for rich media content and a way to engage with a product in a compelling way.  

At Blippar, we’re all about bridging the gap between the physical and digital, adding an extra dimension to the way users engage with a product.  

With new technology platforms, brands can use existing marketing and sales collateral to create a deeper, more engaging consumer experience. One example is our work with Argos, which has transformed its traditional catalogue into a fun, interactive Christmas Gift Guide with 58 pages, which now feature a range of exclusive content.  

Those reading the catalogue can now use their smartphones to play a 3D game on the front cover, place a 3D Christmas tree in their living room, find hidden reindeers in the gift guide to win prizes or virtually try-on watches, rings and necklaces. 

This is a completely new way of advertising, removing the need to visit a YouTube channel or visit another media platform. It puts content in the hands of end users and creates a strong level of engagement.  

The campaign has just been live for a few weeks and we already have had more than 800,000 interactions on it and an average dwell time of 90 seconds, which is proof that consumers are responding positively to this and are finding value in this new content platform. 

Even more significantly however, it provides information to marketers about which content is most effective at driving sales and how consumers interact with the content provided.  

For the last four decades, brands have spent over 90 per cent of their marketing budget on above-the-line activity. In many cases, this is still done, with limited ways in which consumer reaction can be assessed and effectiveness can be measured.  

Above-the-line media is now able to deliver content to consumers that will engage and inspire them, while assessing in real time how effective a campaign is, how many consumers are engaging with content and for how long.

Technology is now ensuring that brands do not have to kick off an advertising campaign without the full range of insights and data that can enable them to engage, disrupt and adapt during the lifecycle of the campaign. 

Time will tell, of course, but I think next year, Christmas campaigns will see greater numbers of brands start to harness technology to ensure better outcomes, higher sales volumes and a more engaged audience.  It’s time to do things differently – with our eyes open and our blindfolds off!  

Ambarish Mitra is founder and chief executive of Blippar  

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