Brands That Know What Works & How: Key Insights from Jury Observer Kantar at Smarties India 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, brands are constantly striving to stay ahead, leveraging innovation, technology, and AI to create impactful campaigns. The Smarties Unplugged debut edition, an insightful prelude to the Gala, celebrated the achievements of brands that have successfully harnessed the power of modern marketing trends. In a session by Kantar, our jury observer for the Smarties Awards since innumerable years now, several key insights were shared, shedding light on the strategies employed by brands and agencies that won big at the Smarties.

Let me take you through 11 key learnings, findings, results, and takeaways from Kantar’s observations highlighting the noteworthy trends and practices that are driving success in the current marketing industry.

  1. Brands want to break from the trending influencer clutter: In 2023, brands aim to create more of an emotional connection with their audience through influencer content executions. Comparatively, in 2021, 77% of ads were better than the average in delivering new information, credibility, and relevance. However, only 39% of ads were better than the average in terms of enjoyment. Further, as per Kantar’s Media Reactions India 2023 report, Ad Exposure for Influencer content is in the bottom three of online advertising formats. This suggests that while influencer content is working well functionally, there is room for improvement in creating emotional connections.
  2. Measurement is a crucial aspect of winning campaigns: Among the winning campaigns, the right measurement was a common thread. In 2018, only 45% of winning campaigns measured their campaigns right. However, by 2023, this percentage increased to 88%. This highlights the importance of measuring campaigns accurately for success.
  3. It is important to have a balanced media spend: To ensure cost-effectiveness, no single media should command more than 50% of the spend. TV is actually more likely than digital to be cost-effective at a lower share. According to Kantar CrossMedia database 2019, up to 30% of spend on TV campaigns resulted in cost-effective results, while for digital campaigns, this percentage was 43%.
  4. Creative quality is a major driver of salience in digital campaigns: Platforms are important, but it all starts with the creative. According to an analysis of Kantar global CrossMedia database, 50% of salience in digital campaigns is driven by creative quality. Customising creative as per platform also makes a massive difference to viewing and impact.
  5. Native ad formats have been successful in winning campaigns: 80% of winning campaigns have used native ad formats in 2018, 63% in 2020, and 81% in 2023. However, it is worth noting that going native may not always be the best choice.
  6. Mobile usage is significant, with users spending 5 hours a day online, and 45% of online time being spent on mobile or tablet devices: Brands too are adapting to mobile-first executions. The majority of winning entries have adopted a mobile-first approach, with 70% of winning entries in 2023 having a mobile-first execution.
  7. Digital ad spends are projected to grow and continue to have the largest share compared to other media channels such as TV, print, OOH, radio, and cinema.
  8. Post-pandemic, brands have been able to garner newer audiences on digital platforms. In the case of CPG brands, there has been a 4X increase in incremental reach compared to television.
  9. There is a need for more presence in multimedia channels to enhance campaign reach and effectiveness.
  10. Emotion plays a strong role in digital advertising.
  11. Campaigns with a personal touch work wonders for winning. More than half of our winning campaigns were targeted locally and spoke the consumer’s language.

The first edition of Smarties Unplugged provided valuable insights into the strategies employed by brands that have achieved success in the modern marketing space. The key findings and trends highlighted in Kantar’s presentation emphasize the importance of personalization, connecting to the consumer, conscious ad spends, and prioritizing multimedia touchpoints and influencer marketing to drive impactful campaigns. By adopting these strategies, brands can stay ahead of the curve and create memorable experiences that resonate with their target audience. As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, it is essential for brands to embrace innovation and leverage the latest technologies to achieve marketing excellence. Let’s look ahead to more fruitful insights that culminate through our efforts to evangelize and revolutionize the marketing industry.

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