Universal recipe of a winning marketing campaign revealed by Warc

Warc, the online intelligence service for marketing professionals, has published a report that analyzes creative approaches, budget and duration, media channels and measurement strategies of the best marketing campaigns featured in the Warc 100 rankings over the two past years (75 in 2014 and 89 in 2015 years).

The team has compared these data with the respective attributes of other case studies published on Warc.com— 660 in 2014 and 839 in 2015—to reveal a universal ‘recipe’ of a winning marketing campaign.

Warc 100 is an annual ranking of the best marketing campaigns based on their performance in 87 effectiveness and strategy competitions. These campaigns are rated by how they drive a client’s business or change consumer culture. The only global well-known campaign in the top 10 in Warc 100 was Real Beauty Sketches for Dove, Unilever, led by Ogilvy & Mather Sao Paulo and PHD.

Here are the 5 major highlights from the research.

1. The most successful marketing campaigns tend to have bigger budgets and last longer, at least three months. There are campaigns even with a zero budget, however, they rely on the earned media only, and their share is fairly small.

2. The higher rated Warc 100 campaigns use a variety of media channels: 7.4 on average versus 6.5 for all the rest campaigns. The most used channel in the mix is social media for both types of campaigns: 76% for Warc 100 and 71% for all the rest. The bigger ‘over-performers’ are online video, earned media and OOH (out-of-home advertising).

Pic.: the media mix
Pic.: the media mix

3. The most popular creative approaches for both the Warc 100 campaigns and ‘all the rest’ case studies are crowdsourcing/user-generated content (27% in 2015, 23% in 2014), partnerships, and emotional engagement. The number of the campaigns that use storytelling, educational approach, and humor in 2015 is slightly higher than in 2014—that is true for both “best” and “all the rest” cases. Personalization, which has often been cited as the “next big thing in marketing” is the least popular creative approach for all types of campaigns though.

Pic. Creative approaches
Pic. Creative approaches

4. The volume of sales is the most-used ‘hard’ metrics for all types of campaigns. The best performers use it 8% more often than average campaigns. Of 8 most common hard metrics, such as revenue, behavioral change, market penetration, market share, and other, Warc 100 leaders use 1.5, while all the rest—1.1.

Pic.: 'hard' metrics
Pic.: ‘hard’ metrics

5. The most popular ‘soft’ metric among all types of campaigns is the social media buzz. The best case studies use this metric 8% more often than the average ones (63% vs 55%). In total, the Warc 100 campaigns use 2.4 metrics to measure effectiveness versus 2.2 for the average ones.

Pic.: 'soft' metrics
Pic.: ‘soft’ metrics

The full report with more findings and lessons for marketers are available here (to Warc subscribers only).