Unpacking the IPA’s Making Sense Report

We’re so excited to present our long-awaited podcast, Unmuddled!

As the world of media, marketing and advertising becomes increasingly complex, marketers are under more pressure than ever to make smart decisions and fast. Unmuddled is here lend a helping hand by unpicking the key headlines, simplifying the growing complexities in the industry, and highlighting the trends and insights to fuel your marketing decisions.

In this pilot episode, Rik Moore, Niki Grant and Christian Taylor sit down to unpack the IPA’s aptly-named Making Sense report and what this means for marketers in today’s climate.


Hello and welcome to Unmudded the Marketing podcast. My name is Rik Moore. I’m managing partner strategy at the kite factory. In this podcast, we’re going to be unpicking a topic that’s relevant in today’s marketing world to take out the key findings that will help you do your job better as a marketer or a planner. Today, we’re going to be looking at a new report from our trade body, the IPA. The report is called IPA Making Sense Four, and it really interested me because the Making Sense series of papers is fantastic. The IPA use their Touch points tool, which is based around the media time diary, looking at media consumption of different age groups. Sixteen, thirty four, S, thirty five, fifty four and fifty five plus to look at similarities, differences and why I’m really interested about this report. It’s the first report we’ve seen as we come out the lockdown phase of the pandemic into sort of life afterwards. And I think it’s the first opportunity we’ve had to see how people are consuming media, what has maintained, what’s changed. So I’m really interested in having a look at this. I’m going to be joined by two of my colleagues in a second, our head of search, Nikki Grant and our head of Planning, Christian Taylor. So Making Sense For has five key findings. The first looks at the fact that whilst there’s been divergence reported in prior reports, there is some convergence between the 1634 and 55 plus audiences. But the report notes that whilst the convergence is there, there’s still nuanced difference between the groups and something the planners need to think about. The second point it makes is the increased fragmentation of media means it’s harder and harder to plan for a broad audience, high reach campaign. With the exception of home, no single curated media channel reaches 90% plus of all adults per week. So again, we need to factor in the third point online video. As we’ve all heard, the headlines are growing now. There’s hard numbers behind it. And what’s interesting is it now commands a greater share of media time than live or recorded TV. For 1634s, this is interesting because finding number four is that we spend far more time with digital channels than non digital. If you look at 2015, the all adult split was 58 42 towards non digital. In 2021, it’s 46 54 in favour of digital for 1634, that increases to 78% for the 2021 figures. So, again, we really need to factor that in. But that gets us to finding number five, which is about the fact that it’s not about extremes, it’s not about deaths of channels or rapid growth of channels. It’s more about how channels work together. And it’s called for balance and moderation. So across all five findings, lots for marketeers and planners to consider. And to discuss that in greater detail, I’m joined now by Nikki and Christian. Thanks, Rik. Yeah, it is really a fascinating report I think there are some stuff which probably won’t surprise us, but as you understanding how to reach audiences, one part of the puzzle, and I think what we really need to unpick today, is how the nuances help us create better media plans and actually improve the effectiveness of our advertising. So one of the things you pulled out which I thought was really interesting, was the 1634 and their sort of prevalence within digital media. 78% of all commercial media is a huge amount of time spent with digital media channels. What I think the report reflects quite nicely is this digital native audience who are sort of reaching what we might even say peak digital, to coin the term, but essentially they are as consuming about as much digital media as they can. What we’re starting to see is this headroom potentially in the older audiences, especially the 55 plus, who are beginning to spend more time with digital, and we know that’s going to start to increase over the years to come. So actually unpacking that, yes, we can reach them both in similar channels now, but what we need to understand is actually how are they behaving in those channels? And I think that’s the next level for media planning and it’s going to understand how the different audiences are interacting with the same channel, whether that be Facebook, for example, and the time that they take to scroll through a newsfeed. What does that mean for the formats we’re utilizing? How should we be curating the news feeds for these different audiences and thinking about actually taking your channel planning to the next level for each of these individuals? That was one of the real keys that sort of started to leap out for me. Yeah. And I think that’s really interesting point of view of how we think about the journey, it’s how those channels work together. Like you say, they might be on Facebook, but one of the channels that just prompted them and what might they go on to do? I mean, Nikki, that introduces you very well. Again with your specialism in search. I guess you get to see those hand raising behaviours, you get to see those having had those nudges where people start to go as they start to take that sort of more harder commercial performance journey to go and do something what let out to you from some of those headlines we just had. I think for me, one of the interesting things is the fact that these are probably things that we’ve assumed are happening at some point. And we’ve all probably had lots of conversations saying since Covet and this is happening, and this is happening, but it’s all kind of been a bit of a guess. So I think firstly, it’s very reassuring to see some of this research and to go, oh good, we were making sense when we have those conversations. I think pulling out the combining the nondigital brand building as well as digital. I think that’s always a tactic or always an initiative that’s kind of undervalued generally because of the way the teams are structured. Whether it’s agencies or brands, things do tend to get a little bit siloed. And I think now more than ever, given the behavioural changes that we’ve seen over the last few years, we need to be looking at that journey as how the user is experiencing it, not how we’re planning it and going, oh, let’s spend this amount of money on linear TV. But actually as that user is navigating those channels, how are they interacting with them and how are they using them, because I’m sure there is a tendency potentially for some brands to say, oh, that’s helpful, everyone’s acting the same. Now that makes life a lot easier because now we can just do one plan to reach them all. But it’s absolutely not to Christian’s point about that nuance and how they’re using those channels. Yeah, I agree. And I think there’s probably another level down which the report doesn’t quite reach, and that is it sort of groups digital into a single platform. And we all know the diversity that’s becoming in digital itself and actually taking this report and actually going a little bit further to understand how consumers are behaving within the digital space, across platforms. We know that there’s greater penetration with all of the new social media. There’s no sort of one dominant platform. Facebook obviously remains dominant within the market, but they’re increasing growth within other platforms as well. So, like TikTok, of course, has seen a huge boom within the pandemic and actually it’s understanding, okay, digital, but what’s my diverse digital plan and how does that sort of evolve over time as well? Yeah, that’s a really good point to bring up. It’s that nuance and detail of how people spending and where they’re spending and what they’re doing with their time. Are they in a more information gathering mindset? Are they more entertainment mindset? I guess we don’t want our advertising to be unhelpfully disruptive. We talk about disruption, but I always think it has two sides. There’s the unhelpfully disruptive, which is just going to annoy you, and I want to get to what I’m getting to, you’re getting in my way. I don’t like that advertising, but if you can be complementary to the environment you’re in, if you can be entertaining, or if you can add something to the experience, I think people are more likely to welcome you in. If we go from that start point of people just don’t care about advertising, which I know is involved, but it’s a good place to start from, that seems to resonate. Right. I think this is an advertising is and always will be and always has been a value exchange. That to get those eyeballs, to get people looking at whatever it is that you’re trying to get them to look at, you kind of have to make it worth their while. They’re not going to do it just to go, oh good, then that brand will sell more. So I guess I meant to look at it. So you have to understand that behavioural nuance in order to be able to identify a value exchange that’s actually, as you say, going to resonate with our audience or something. That’s helpful because between the different audiences that we’re discussing from the 16 to 34 and the 55 pluses, there’s going to be very different value exchanges that are going to resonate with them as well. So we need to figure out what that is to make the media efficient and to make it actually effective. Yeah, definitely. I think you start to consider the strengths of each of the channels and actually the mindset, the consumer that they’re in there as well. Nikki, we were talking earlier about this digital native audience that not known a world without an iPhone. You might even be able to change the perception of a brand by mirroring your sort of media behaviors with different audiences. We know that the use of ad blockers in younger audiences is hugely greater than the older audiences and that might be a reflection of actually how they perceive media in the digital space versus old audiences who haven’t yet got to that space. And actually they may see that brands that are in those spaces are more innovative and sort of changing the way that they’re doing, using their media to reflect their brand. I also think that ad blocker point is a really interesting one because ad blockers are generally for use on browsers, whereas we’ve got such an uptake in app usage, especially within the younger audiences. For example, Facebook, the majority of which, the vast majority of which usage is within apps. And those ad blockers don’t apply now as well. So there’s still these changes in behaviour as to how we’re consuming media and how we’re using media, which kind of negate some of the things that we’ve had to do in the past. Things were thinking about that. The report looks age brackets of 16, 343-5545, five plus. It’s the nature of the research, the IPA we got to work with. But even within that there’s huge convergence. We think about 55 plus. That’s a huge difference, period. I also read some really interesting research about the concept that we treat older generations as we did our grandparents generations. There’s a projection of aging, but isn’t there so much anymore? If you think about it, somebody who’s 70 today was born in 1952, which means they turned 15. And we think about 15 as being that formative age of things. You’re exposed to 1967, you’re at the height of the Beatles, Sergeant Peppers, the Start, Summer of Love, all those sorts of things. People are 60 now, were born in 62. They would have been 15 around 1977. Star wars, disco punk music. We talk about older generations. I think that’s very unhelpful in writing those generations off, particularly now with what the channels are giving people and the interests we can now pursue because of that nuanced channel we see. I find it interesting with the younger audience as well, this assumption of how many times have we all heard we need to reach 18 year olds? We’ve had to use TikTok. And you think this over generalization is not helpful, but I think it happens in our media mix as well, which is to loop back to the point of you can optimize at a certain level or you can analyse or review things at a certain level, but you will always need to dig down into it to figure out how you can improve the different elements of that. And it may mean that you’re showing a different ad to seven different demographics because you know that you need to change the tone of it. So I think it’s really a bit of a balancing act between getting enough information about your audience and being able to respond accordingly and actually using the performance of that to then improve it in the future, as you say, instead of saying, well, if you’re 55 plus, I guess you’re not using Snapchat then. But that in itself playing back a lot. What we’re talking about here, you’re putting the audience first, you’re understanding their needs, their goals. Why are they on that platform, what are they looking for? Which is when we think about our clients, why are they in a given category, what are their goals and how can we help serve that with the product? If you’re doing that, it’s not about what you do. We talk about TikTok. I’ve seen fantastic TikTok videos, but it’s just good content. TikTok just happens to be the platform that we’re putting it in front of people on. Yes. Not all teenagers dancing, which I think is a bit of a misnomer. Yeah, but if we take the audience first and then take about the right content media, for me, it’s content in context. It’s a classic story, but it’s media in terms of how we showing behaviours and how we turn up, how we’re discovered, how we’re seen by the audience that enhances the story that’s being told in the creative that amplifies it and get it out there. I think that for us as a media agency and how we can best help our clients, that makes the most sense to me. Yeah, I really agree on that point on context, and there is a journey for us to go on as an industry. We are all well advanced and immersed in the world of Facebook and Instagram advertising now, but actually we’ve got a lot to learn about these new environments. And one of the things that I completely agree with the report is the idea of diversity, but it’s also understanding the strengths of the channels. And actually the industry is starting to talk a lot more about attention and sort of how that’s held within channels and one of the things we’ve been discussing is sort of lean back versus lean forward media in those environments where actually you’re sort of leaning back and have time, whether it’s scrolling through a newsfeed or watching daytime TV. That is why they work very very well for response and actually thinking about the context for the objective is also really important. So whilst we might see greater diversity in our brand planning we anticipate that actually there are still going to be channels that are stronger for response than others but there’s also an emphasis on us to try and understand better how we can make other channels more responsive as well. It’s a really interesting point because there’s some anecdotal evidence to support what you just mentioned. I think it’s probably around three or four years ago now. I was working with a finance brand and we were running activity on Instagram and it was never going to work at the time to get people to click outside of the platform. So if you’re running link, click activity on Instagram because you can’t have links in the captions. Usually that user is used to moving their finger up their phone screen and just keeping doing that and it was so hard to try to get people to click out of Instagram because it was one of those lean back medias. It wasn’t something that they were there ready to take an action on something. Instagram obviously changed some of the formats now which I think highlights better that there are links out of the platform throughout formats but it is just that behaviour that someone’s expecting to be able to exhibit on a platform. They don’t want to be interrupted. I think that makes a very good point. I think as we start to bring it to a close, I think it feeds into as we’re trying to model this, what are the three lessons we would take out for a client? Playing back everything I’ve heard in the chat here, I think there are three words that leap out to me and they are reach, nuance and balance. So from a reach point of view it’s understanding how to reach consumers and not be only one part of the puzzle. It’s only the first step and everything this report tells us in those assumptions and challenges, how is that there for a springboard forward and where we might go? Secondly, this idea of nuance it’s the things you are both speaking to there in the last few minutes which is about the idea of yes you can reach the consumer, what’s the nuance within demographic? What are the behaviours, what are those little differences that happen there? They can form what we do. And that for me unlocks number three which is balance, which is the idea we’ve heard so much hyperbole like it was the death of TV, the end of TV and you’ll see that with the high numbers for digital consumption there. But it’s not about that, because it’s still 22% of the 1634 is using nonlinear media. And just to hone in on that, 22% of their time is still being spent on this. Just for 16 to 34, that is still a significant amount that you can’t just go, well, it’s all digital now. Absolutely. So that’s where this idea of balance comes through. It’s about how the channels work together, how we take them on that journey, understanding the audience, their needs, how the brand serves that, and then how we use channels to either amplify or progress into the journey. I think that’s how we’re going to go from driving awareness, driving consideration, but then leading people through the funnel to the point where hopefully they take an action. I think that’s what performance for me stands for these days. It’s pulling people all the way through the funnel to take an action. So to summarize, then, it’s all about reach, nuance and balance. Nikki, Christian, I’d love to thank you for your time today. I really enjoyed the chat. We’ve been discussing the IPA. Making sense four paper. This has been the unmuddled podcast from the Kite Factory. And I’m Rik Moore. Thank you for listening and join us for the next episode. Thank you.