Facebook mid-roll ads: What it means for you!
Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:36:00 UTC

You may have heard about Facebook currently beta testing mid-roll ads in videos and Live videos in the US, but what will this mean for brands and video publishers?

What are mid-roll ads?

Mid-roll ads are ads that will show in the middle of videos and Live videos. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always been opposed to pre-roll ads (Recode, 2017), which are fairly standard across the industry with the likes of YouTube and hopes that mid-roll ads will be less disruptive for viewers.

In-stream video ads

Inevitably, mid-roll ads will change the way videos are produced. 

Brands and producers will have to consider how to build suspense in order to sustain interest in their content throughout the ad breaks to keep viewers watching and maintain engagement levels. Publishers of standard videos might use the first twenty seconds to tease the remainder of the video.

The videos eligible for in-stream ads will be a minimum of 90 seconds long, which will incentivise publishers to lengthen videos that they post to this platform. In-stream ads can begin after a video has run for 20 seconds or longer, and if multiple ads are shown they need to be at least two minutes apart.

Live video ad-breaks

Ad-breaks will be an option for creators of Live videos, which are what the name suggests - short breaks for ads during their Live videos. When a broadcaster chooses to take an ad break, people watching the video will see an in-stream ad of up to 15 seconds in length.

The criteria for Live ads are as follows:

- The broadcaster or brand will need to have at least 2,000 followers

- Videos need to be Live for at least 4 minutes before they can take an ad-break

- The stream must have at least 300 concurrent viewers

- Additional ad-breaks can be taken after a minimum of five minutes between each break

The broadcaster of a Live video will earn a share of the resulting ad revenue. They will keep 55% of the revenue and Facebook will retain 45% (The Drum, 2017).

Mid-roll thoughts

Video has become a battleground for the key social media platforms, from Facebook to YouTube to Snapchat, on the chase for more professional content. Video is a key revenue maker for these channels, so Facebook introducing mid-roll ads comes as no surprise.

These ads will open up new prospects for advertisers, but will pose a challenge for video creations. They will need to produce native ads that don’t affect and interfere with the user’s experience and ultimately disengage the audience entirely.

Advertisers and broadcasters will need to be more creative with their video content in order to compete with their rivals, and get a claim of the video content revenue. Along with this, content will need to be distributed at regular intervals in order to keep viewers engaged and attain results.

Knowing how to truly succeed with Facebook’s new ad format and Live-ads requires an understanding of the past and insight into the future. Currently, there is no set date as to when mid-roll ads and ad-breaks will go live in the UK.

To learn more about getting started with Live video ad-breaks, click here. 

YouTube V Facebook
Fri, 17 Mar 2017 12:49:00 UTC

The rise of online video content is showing no signs of slowing down, with video expected to represent 80% of all consumer-based traffic by 2019 (Moz, 2016).  YouTube may be the initial go-to platform for online distribution of your brand’s content, but this may not always be the best place to upload your new masterpiece. Facebook has been making noteworthy strides in order to create its own network of video channels and features.

Depending on your advertising goals and budgets, Facebook could be a better platform to host your brand’s content. The introduction of Autoplay and Facebook Live has given YouTube its first real competitive threat, but the question still remains - will YouTube survive?

YouTube’s strengths

Known as the largest online video platform, YouTube can deliver promising benefits to brands, as the platform has over one billion users (YouTube, 2016) and can help with favourable rankings and improving SEO. How often do videos from sources other than YouTube show up in your search results - not very often.

YouTube has also made it easy for brands to upload content, which may not be as simple and quick on other platforms. One advantage of using this platform for advertisers is the opportunity to aggregate the video on other sites, such as a blog, website and other social networking sites.

Facebook: the (relatively) new kid on the block

Back in 2015, Facebook began venturing into video marketing - and they’ve certainly gained traction. There are many benefits associated with Facebook; as a social network and personalised experience, users frequently check their newsfeed rather than seeking out specific content, highlighting the potential discoverability of content. In the last few years, Facebook has updated their video offering including the introduction of Autoplay and Live Videos. This has made the platform stand out and provided new opportunities for brands to connect with their audiences through videos.

Discovery or Search

While users primarily find video content on Facebook through their newsfeed, the user journey is very different for Youtube. So your content distribution strategy should reflect the differences in the platform. Videos that work well for search (How-to, instructional films, educational content, etc) will perform well on Youtube, while short evocative brand pieces will be better suited to grab a user's’ attention as they scroll.

Video advertising

When it comes to creating video ads, Facebook is the preferable platform  due to its powerful targeting options like custom and lookalike audiences. This allows brands to accurately define audiences and improve chances of engaging the right people. YouTube videos may be served to wider audience as people do not have to be logged in to view content, demonstrating the unknown parameter with targeting ads on this platform. Facebook furthermore allows advertisers to instantly utilise the data collected from ads, which can be used in sequential advertising and developing audiences from further engagement.

In addition, the videos are less disruptive to the user experience. On YouTube, users may be forced to watch a full ad to get to the content they want to view, but on Facebook users are able to scroll past a video if it’s not what they want to see.

So who comes out on top?

Deciding on what social channels are right for your brand when distributing video content doesn’t have to be difficult. YouTube and Facebook both have benefits that advertisers should take advantage of. The key to successfully distributing video content is to implement a  channel strategy that aligns with your brand objectives and to utilise each channel to their strengths.

In our eyes, Facebook is the ideal channel for advertisers who want to leverage video ads in order to generate acquisition. Brands shouldn’t dismiss other channels in video distribution, but ensure native Facebook video is a key part of their video strategy. Even with the ever-increasing popularity of Facebook and its video offerings, YouTube is a household name that continues to drive large amounts of traffic - so consider YouTube in it for the long run.

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Video for Facebook: Getting the Basics Right
Thu, 09 Mar 2017 15:23:00 UTC

Digital video consumption is rapidly growing, with studies suggesting that the majority of mobile traffic in 2020 will come from online videos. Our social news feeds are already filled with them and brands are increasingly utilising videos to engage their target audiences. For those new to the world of videos on Facebook, check these 5 best practice tips to make sure you’re getting most out of your video posts.

1. What’s the point?

Don’t make a video just for the sake of it. Make sure your video has a clear purpose, and make sure that the video is on strategy. While individual users can upload a video of a cat playing the piano, (most) brands can’t. Like all good social content, Facebook videos should add value and find the balance between what your audience wants to see and what the brand wants to show them.

2. Don’t over-do the branding.

The best way to ensure a user watches less than 10 seconds of your video is by adding 10 seconds worth of branding to beginning of the clip. Unless your core message is ‘Hey, we’ve made a video!’ you’re going to struggle to get your point across. When you post the video it will sit alongside your brand logo (profile picture) and name, so there’s little chance of a user not knowing who created the content. Also, branding can always be included at the end of a video once the core content has been delivered.

3. Quality over quantity.

Just because a video is made for social and is less than a minute in length doesn’t mean you can cut corners with production. While users can post mobile captured content edited on their phones, this (usually) isn’t the best idea for a brand. Rather than producing 12 cheap videos, it’s always better to invest in 1 piece of quality content.

4. The magic time limit is...

There is no magic time limit. While it’s often the case that the best performing social videos are the shortest, if you get the story and the pacing right, your audience will keep watching. That being said, Facebook is best suited for quickfire content.

5. Sound? What sound?

The recent introduction of autoplay with sound gives you an opportunity to bring videos to life. Sound will fade in and out as your audience scrolls through videos in their News Feed. It's worth keeping in mind that not everyone will have their sound on. Captions are certainly worth thinking about too, but they shouldn’t feel like a bolt-on.

Content marketing and ecommerce
Wed, 22 Feb 2017 15:05:00 UTC

The role of content in ecommerce requires considerable thought. For online retailers, the challenge is finding the right balance between encouraging shoppers to consume content and/or selling.  

In this article we’ll take a look at how online retail brands use content along the customer journey to assist with conversion rates with the goal of increasing revenue. The examples we use highlight how retailers have found a way for content and commerce to work hand-in-hand.  

But before we jump head first into looking at some of the great content, we first need to mention that the success of retailers’ content efforts are by design.  The majority have considered a formal content strategy. This strategy comprises of a content proposition, buyer personas, buyer journeys, content plans, distribution and optimisation. You can learn more about our approach to developing a successful content strategy here.

Once a formal content strategy is in place, developing content for commerce can be used to increase traffic, establish authority, boost conversions and build deeper relationships with shoppers. The stages of the buyer journey coupled with delivering a good content experience can be broken down into three simple content stages: transitional, transactional and relationship.

1.Transitional content -

This is content that moves customers along the sales funnel; more specifically from the consideration to interest stage.  

  • Sales focused editorial content

An example of this type of content is product page copy or more sales focused editorial content that provides the right information along the journey, creating desire along the way.  

One retailer that uses product copy considerably well is Apple. The brand’s use of copy is highly creative, builds rapport instantly with the shopper, and reinforces the brand’s values and positioning.

RESIZED Apple Image.png

  • Video content based on customer insights

Retailers can look to mine customer insights in the form of enquiries about certain products, and then produce video content that will assist in nudging the shopper along their journey.

Online retailer Appliances Online uses video content that expertly demonstrates products on their site. To measure the impact that video content has on sales, the retailer simply split tests the page to include or not include the video.

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  • Evergreen content  

This is detailed, comprehensive content that answers frequently asked questions and is relevant for a long period of time eg, a suit or belts.  
For example guides on the most important basic items for a man’s wardrobe that does not change from year-to-year, or how to select the right jeans based on your body shape.

When revisiting evergreen content periodically you can introduce new tactics such as interactive content in the form of quizzes. This is what Bonobos did for their Chinos fit guide. The quiz was a subtle way of providing some entertainment with the ability to introduce a sales message, at the same time providing an opportunity to recycle a piece of utility content, getting more return from the original investment.

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2. Transactional content -

This is content that persuades and/or helps shoppers to complete a transaction.

  • Sign up forms

One example that is in widespread use by retailers is sign up forms. They simply capture important customer data by prompting shoppers to sign up to newsletter and get 10% off their first order.

Levis is one brand that uses sign up forms. If you are a new customer that hasn’t visited the site before, Levis.com simply sees that your IP address is new with no previous pixels or cookies.  You are then served a pop up data capture form and a discount message to encourage sign up, with the sole aim to achieve a sale from that shopper as soon as possible.

RESIZED Levis Image.png

  • Email

Once a retailer has your email they can then follow up with other discounts and offers as part of an email marketing strategy. This content can be personalised to each shopper if the retailer uses personalised email software.  
In addition to product information, personalised emails can serve up other related content based on the interests of that shopper, on characteristics exhibited by other shoppers with similar site journeys, or simply based on their site browsing history.

Clothing retailer Huckberry offers an example of great email marketing from welcome emails, to cart abandonment, nurturing, welcome back, purchase receipts and re-engagement emails.

RESIZED Huckberry Email Image.png

  • Product recommendations

When arriving at the all important basket page, this is where featuring complimentary or similar products purchased can be displayed to help increase basket size.  

The most obvious example of this type of tactic is from online retailer Amazon who  practically created the recommendation engine for ecommerce. However many other brands are providing a similar experience, notably JD sports and Blacks.

RESIZED Blacks Image.png

  • Social proof

Integrating user generated content alongside product pages provides an opportunity not only to promote the products purchased, but, also offers social proof that enables potential customers to see delighted customers. This demonstrates to them how the product is used or paired with other items.

Watch brand Daniel Wellington integrates Instagram content alongside their product pages to show customers who have used their products.

RESIZED Danielle Wellington Instagram Image.png

3. Relationship building content -

This is content that helps builds trust and loyalty between shopper and brand.

  • Editorial content

Regular editorial content can be used to discuss the brand values and audience interests, as opposed to just focusing on the brand’s products. Successful retailer Net-a-Porter have an editorial content strategy where there is investment into high quality regular content that is focussed on the target audiences behaviours and interests linked to the retail brand’s business objectives.  

Patagonia also has blogs that cover interests of its customers such as climbing, skiing and surfing. There articles do not adopt the approach of a hard sell, but instead use products in context of the articles.

RESIZED Patagonia Image.png

  • Storytelling content

We have discussed storytelling content used by retail brands at great lengths over the past few years here on this site. We’ve even carried out some formal research on the subject too. You can check out our most popular article on the subject for retail here: http://www.headstream.com/blog/how-retail-brands-are-using-brand-storytelling

But if you want the skinny; storytelling content can take many forms (text, video and audio).  In short it provides retail brands an opportunity to build closer relationships with buyers simply by telling stories of real people and their experiences. Masters of storytelling within the online retail space are Patagonia and Nasty Gal.

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  • Influencers

Getting a product directly in the hands of influencers is a key strategy for many online retail brands, this allows them to tap into the influencers’ large ‘ready-made’ audiences. Not only can influencers review your product they can also be featured on your site to add credibility and create a halo effect for the brand amongst potential customers.

One retailer that uses influencers to great effect is Very. Here they use the celebrity influence of Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby to promote its products and services and they even have their own range of products too.
Another use of lesser known influencers is by ASDA where they commissioned a bevvy of YouTube’s rising stars via talent agency Gleam as part of its YouTube channel strategy ‘Mum’s Eye View.’

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The importance of SEO for all content

One key consideration for all content described above is SEO. Organic search for most retailers is the channel with the highest conversion rate, revenue and average order value. Therefore paying particular attention to owned media content performance is key, as simple tweaks to content can increase sales performance and reduce an over-reliance on paid media.

In conclusion

Many leading online retailers have now moved toward a more content focussed approach without taking their eye off the all important product sell. This is because content provides retailers with the opportunity to create a compelling consumer experience that distinguishes itself from competitors.  

If you’d like to learn more about how a content can work for your retail brand don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Custom v Lookalike: Knowing your Audiences
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:30:00 UTC

Advertising on Facebook isn’t as simple as it used to be. With new ad products and functionalities being introduced on an almost monthly basis, the days of simply boosting a post are long gone. Instead of promoting posts straight from the brand’s timeline, most social marketers are using Facebook’s audience tools to enhance their messaging, gain cut through and make sure that the right content is being seen by the right people at the right time.

But Facebook targeting can be a bit confusing, so in this article, we’ll be shedding a bit of light on the differences between Custom and Lookalike Audiences.

Custom Audiences

These audiences are generated using a brand’s own list of customers/subscribers or Facebook users that have already engaged with branded content on the platform. Depending on how owned data has been segmented, marketers can even create custom audiences for consumers based on recent purchases, birthdays, etc.

Lookalike Audiences

These audiences are created from  a cross-reference of owned data and Facebook’s user data.  Facebook examines demographics like age, gender and employment status, as well as particular interests of a brand’s Custom Audience. Then, within Facebook’s algorithm,  these demographic details are matched up with existing Facebook users, to create a highly relevant audience of users who aren’t already engaging with your brand.  

When to use Custom Audiences

The primary reason for using a custom audience is simply to target users who already have a relationship with your brand.  This could include:

  • Upselling to existing customers
  • Re-targeting users with abandoned shopping carts
  • Promoted exclusive offers to active subscribers
  • Getting feedback on recent purchases

But custom audiences aren’t just about sales. In fact, using custom audiences to drive engagement is a great way to transform customers into advocates.

Custom audiences can also be used to exclude certain groups from your paid social activity. For example, if an ad is designed to gain new subscribers for a brand email list, it’s typically a good idea to exclude a custom audience of existing subscribers. 

When to use Lookalike Audiences

While the main use for custom audiences is targeting users who already have an established relationship with your brand, lookalike audiences are designed to help you reach new, highly relevant users.  In theory, lookalike audiences are identical to your custom audiences aside from the brand connection. This means that lookalike audiences are great for:

  • New customer acquisition
  • Driving brand awareness
  • Generating site registrations / signups

As more brands are utilising paid social on Facebook it’s vital that you’re using audience tools strategically to maximise efficiency and, as a result, ROI.

Looking at the future opportunity for voice and content
Fri, 03 Feb 2017 09:14:00 UTC

We’ve all done it, asked Siri or the voice assistant on our smartphone what the weather is like today, we’ve tested its knowledge and probably got an ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand that question’ making us feel superior, or laughed at a preprogrammed ridiculous quip.

Beyond these basic commands the reality is voice assistants for the majority are limited to barking common orders at our devices to ‘call now’ or ‘play Ed Sheeran on Spotify’.

When we think about where we engage with devices via voice they are primarily used in private.  This makes total sense as people are more comfortable talking to voice assistants on their own, away from the ears and judgement of others. A detailed study by Creative Strategies in 2016 supports this behaviour as 39 per cent of consumers surveyed use their voice assistant in their home and 51 per cent in the car.

Products centered on voice such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have penetrated our lives further, capitalising not only on their proprietary technology, but on our becoming more comfortable of using such devices within private spaces.

The fact that they are effective and efficient means that they are being frequently used, thus becoming woven into the very fabric of our daily lives.

As history has frequently shown, where there are changes in consumer behaviour related to technology, opportunities will present themselves; and for voice these opportunities are only going to increase.  If we reflect, it wasn’t that long ago that we used to complain of people using their mobile phones in public.  With the ubiquity of smartphones in the UK, how many of us today take any notice of people having personal conversations in public as we once did? The fact is we don’t because we also have those public conversations. Both our behaviours and expectations from technology have changed.

I’d like to take a moment to look at a few broad trends that highlight the new ways in which we are becoming more comfortable in speaking at our device. It is these changes in behaviour that will result more opportunities for marketers to create content that requires voice as the primary input.

The first behaviour worth commenting on is the high user adoption of features such as Instagram Stories or Snapchat Stories. The use of these requires people to take mini video clips and allow for voice storytelling commentary over the top. So, in a sense, more people are vlogging their lives and sharing these publically amongst their networks using voice as a key component of content production.

The second trend and closely aligned to the first, is live video.  Many experts predict that 2017 is the year that Facebook Live will explode in popularity. Again with live streaming you can provide voice commentary by speaking at your device to an audience that you cannot see. Therefore the more frequently we use, interact and are exposed to others using tools such as Facebook Live, the more comfortable we will be in accepting that we can talk at our devices.

Thirdly, and this is more of a personal observation, I’ve noticed that I have started to FaceTime (video call) more of my contacts in public and do not feel embarrassed by holding a device in front of me and talking at it. I’m also starting to see more people do the same as I walk to and from work, but this could be the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.
My recent adoption of this functionality is because of better wireless connectivity and cheaper data. But a couple of years ago I probably would have felt too self conscious to FaceTime along the high street in public.

Fourth, developments in AI and its increased adoption such as the daily use of personal assistants e.g. Alexa and Google Voice already discussed, means that we as humans are coming to rely more on voice as a way to successfully search for, send and receive information.

Related to AI are bots which incorporate machine learning linked to popular networks such as Facebook Messenger and indeed Alexa. These bots actively encourage voice interface.

One market where voice has been adopted into the mainstream is China, and more specifically on the dominant messenger platform WeChat.  Here users have substituted the trusty qwerty keypad to that of using just the voice for messaging, simply because it’s quicker and easier to do so. It is this convenience just as that which is found with using voice search via in-home devices that will fuel the adoption of voice not just as a driver for search but also our interactions with content.

Therefore, the opportunity in the long term for marketers when considering voice is in providing utility, and this can start with bots. Brands should look to exploit bot technology by turning current voice assistants into true digital agents able to have natural exchanges. In an era of customer centricity, customer service agents that are intelligent and provide real value based on personal interactions will truly provide relevance.

In the short term, content that we currently produce should take into account voice search for discoverability. Because more and more people are frequently using voice assistants to discover and learn - myself included. In 2016 Google made changes to its search engine algorithm to give preference to those sites and content that give equal consideration to mobile as well as desktop, in time their algorithms will no doubt rank content that favours the voice.

How financial services brands are using content hubs in 2017
Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:00:00 UTC

Did you know...

78% of financial marketers use content marketing, spending an average of 18% of annual budgets on content marketing activity. (Content Marketing Institute, 2015)

But simply investing in content creation is only the first step towards executing exemplary content marketing. Once you have created your content, in line with your brand’s predefined strategy and proposition, the next step is to work out where exactly it should live. Ideally, this should be somewhere that can be easily managed and provides a great experience for users.

As new channels and content types emerge, financial marketers need to be reactive; searching for new platforms and methods to underpin content marketing activity in the most effective way.

Fast-forward to 2017 and we are seeing more and more examples of financial service businesses adopting the use of onsite ‘content hubs’ to better-leverage their content marketing efforts.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive review of current content hubs used within the financial service sector, to date.

But first...

What exactly is a content hub?

A content hub acts as your website’s digital content library. It serves as a centralised space used to host and showcase all of your content in a way that’s clearly navigable for your website visitors.

What makes a good content hub?

The foundations of a good content hub are the same no matter the industry you operate in but generally speaking, an effective content hub:

  • Cleverly draws content from all of the channels in your digital ecosystem, creating a rich, digital, mixed-media experience for your website users.

  • Regularly publishes, hosts and curates content that visitors find actionable and interesting.

  • Follows a sleek, clear design and layout that makes it easy for users to navigate content that is suited to them.

How are content hubs currently used across financial services?

Content hubs, adopted by many financial services companies, are most commonly used to collate and distribute articles. However, as investment in wider content activity increases, we are beginning to see changes in the types of content utilised within financial services.

Today, content hubs within financial services are generally comprised of the following features.


For a lot of brands, the newsroom is typically the standout theme used to populate the content hub. The newsroom provides audiences with reactive, timely commentary and updates on market/societal changes which affect businesses and their customers. Examples of these changes might include events such as Brexit or the US presidential election.

Resource centres

A resource centre is an area within your content hub that houses your brand’s evergreen content.

Evergreen content is content that has real longevity, content that your users will continuously revert back to. Gone are the days when blog posts, infographics, presentations, eBooks, white papers, videos, webinar recordings and interactive tools are lost within the ever expanding sea of new content creation.

Thought Leadership content

The Thought Leadership section on your content hub showcases commentary, written by influential figures throughout your business or industry. These articles are different from your average blog or newsroom piece as they provide hard-hitting, expert analysis and innovative thinking around key touch points within the industry. Again, similar to the newsroom, examples include events such as Brexit, the annual Budget announcement or the governmental elections.

Social media content curation

A Social Media section is an area within the content hub, generally, on the main landing page. This section aims to provide a real time feed of activity on your brand’s activity on owned social media channels, coupled with a feed that curates useful posts from 3rd parties and partners that you have selected.

Content curation

This is a space within your hub that directly draws content from reputable, external sources that audiences may find useful. An example of this might be to aggregate and post Financial Times articles on a daily basis and share these with your visitors. Hargreaves Lansdowne follows a similar approach with its newsroom, curating content from the likes of Reuters, Financial Times, Bloomberg and more.

Event support content

This is a destination within your content hub that pulls together content to support promotion and coverage of events within your business or key events taking place within the industry. An example of this might be to host an event takeover of your content hub and have your marketing team publish articles, event resources and social posts from the event throughout the day, providing content to your non-attendees.

Partner marketing content

This is an area contained within the content hub that hosts paid/non-paid 3rd party partner content that you want to share with your users. This is a good way to monetise your content hub and offer value to partnering brands. This is becoming more and more prevalent within the investments sector, for example - platform providers are now working with fund managers to develop and publish content for both public and professional audiences.

Examples of current content hubs within financial services

Whilst it is not uncommon for financial services brands to use every feature detailed above, there are best-practice examples throughout the industry that demonstrate how brands are engaging with content hubs to surface their wealth of content.

Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters

Sainsbury’s Bank has developed a consumer focused blog within their website, featuring content that provides tips across a range of consumer-finance topics across everyday family finance.


The hub mainly features videos and articles at this time, but aggregates content well across its core topics in a way that is visually appealing and easy to navigate for users.


Standard life

Standard Life’s Money Plus blog now presents itself as a content hub, aggregating evergreen/standout content in it’s hot topics section, reactive content in it’s news & insights section, generic content split by product, social media curation and thought leadership content.



What are the benefits of using a content hub on your website?

A content hub poses many benefits for financial brands and enables marketers to:

Maximise the visibility, discoverability and longevity of content

Content can be drawn from all corners of the digital ecosystem and brought to the forefront of the content hub to drive awareness and engagement. Content hubs are also useful for driving awareness and engagement with pre-existing content that serves a long-term purpose.

Provide user support

Resourceful, useful content can be organised and clearly presented to support users at any stage of the purchase funnel.

Support lead generation

The content experience can be tailored to take audiences on a logical journey to discover, consider and purchase products and services for any organisation.

Control the experience

As the site owner, you own the experience. You are able to test, learn and adapt the experience for the best possible results.

Obtain detailed marketing insights

As a content hub is often contained within an owned website, brands are able to gather a wealth of data and insights into audience engagements, preferences which in turn drives better content marketing and better experiences for audiences.

The battle for audience attention is rife; driving the best experiences with and the most value from your content is more important than ever. As investment in content marketing increases, competition becomes more fierce and content becomes more important to users, the use of content hubs will be an essential tool in the financial marketer’s toolkit for years to come.




2016: Our favourite moments
Thu, 05 Jan 2017 14:46:00 UTC

It comes as no surprise that 76% of people feel that marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the previous 50 (Adobe, 2016). The last year has been explosive for content marketing, from the widespread adoption of always on content, increasing popularity of video and interactive content, to the take-up of brands utilising user-generated content.  Research shows that the growth in content marketing has no plans of slowing down, with spend in the UK set to rise 179.2% to £349m in 2020, from 2014 (Campaign Live, 2016).

In the last year, we have worked with brands all across the world, to help them reach their goals through strategy and planning, content creation, distribution and paid promotion tactics. As we start the new year, we wanted to take a look back over the last twelve months and share some of our favourite projects that we have been involved in.

MaxiNutrition’s Ibiza Challenge

Social Content Strategy & Paid Social Strategy

MaxiNutrition, a  leading UK sports nutrition brand, launched the Ibiza Challenge in summer 2016 with the aim of raising brand awareness and championing loyal customers. Having worked with MaxiNutrition for four years, our role in this campaign was to drive entries into this 30-day body transformation challenge. Kicking the work off, we developed a social content strategy, ensuring the brand’s key messages would be delivered consistently across all active channels, along with a paid social strategy. This resulted in the development of e-commerce ads, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts, along with the use of a voting mechanic. Additionally, to support this, we created content publishing schedules to help maximise the content’s impact through its distribution.

These activities were hugely important in the end results of the campaign. Out of all the sign-ups, 83.6% was attributed to social channels, and the brand achieved a 158% ROI in sales during the campaign.  Over 300 pieces of coverage based on ‘The Challenge’ were achieved through the micro-influencer outreach strategy we additionally undertook, with over 29,000 engagements on social channels and 12,000 visits achieved directly from these channels.



Content Strategy

FatFace is a much-loved British retailer, rich with heritage and a captivating story but whose communications have recently focused heavily on product messaging. Wanting to bring storytelling back into their customer communications, FatFace asked us to define a content strategy which focuses on marrying core brand values with the target audience's needs and desires. Focusing on their website, social channels and email communications, it was important to develop an overarching strategy that could still be tailored to each channel as well as being relevant to both new and existing customers.

In order to get involvement from the marketing and multichannel retail teams, we ran a series of workshops based on which we determined meaningful KPIs, created a new target persona, defined a content proposition and identified opportunities and rules for content on each channel. FatFace have just recently launched their website (http://www.fatface.com/) and will early this year start rolling out their new content plans.

DLA Piper

Content Strategy, Creation & Distribution

We worked with global law firm DLA Piper on their European Technology Summit, an event focused on key issues affecting the technology industry, including Internet of Things, FinTech and cybersecurity. To help raise awareness and drive registrations to this industry-leading event, we developed and implemented a content strategy and paid social strategy. As part of this, we created an array of content including infographics, articles, videos and speaker announcements, which were distributed across LinkedIn and Twitter.

The work leading up to the Summit generated a lot of interest, resulting in DLA Piper receiving over 650 registrations for the event - 300% more than the original target! The event was filled with some of the industry’s key professionals and has so far led to over 15 new business opportunities for the firm.

Fred. Olsen

Social Playbook & Ongoing Support

Last year we also worked with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, whose primary aim was to improve the quality and performance of their social content. To gain insight into their performance and market, we undertook an audit of direct competitors and the brand itself, in order to ascertain platform best practice that aligns with brand goals and objectives. A social content strategy and social playbook were delivered and presented to the wider marketing team. Ongoing support has been provided via fortnightly calls whereby we analyse and edit the brands’ content calendars.  We additionally examine post performance and identify opportunities based on the findings.

Before implementing the strategy and playbook, Fred. Olsen’s posts were achieving between 1.5k - 2.5k organic reach on Facebook. After implementation, organic reach increased to over 6k on average with some posts achieving an organic reach of over 30k. Engagement has also significantly increased, with the average reactions, comments and shares increasing from 50 - 100 per post to 200 - 400 per posts, with engagement exceeding 1,500 reactions, comments and shares on certain posts..

The year ahead

Content marketing continues to grow, but producing high quality and truly valuable content needs to be complemented with a good distribution network. In the coming year, we will see a continued focus on customer centric content, ensuring that it is specific, relevant and sparks an interest in the target demographic. Growth within influencer marketing is already evident, but predictions are that brands will not only partner with Instagrammers and YouTubers, but work with them to co-create new and original content (AdWeek, 2016). Brands will continue to utilise video and Syndacast have projected that 74% of all traffic in 2017 will be in this format (Convince and Convert, 2016). Brands that have not already done so, will need to consider content distribution, due to the decline in organic reach on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Ultimately, this drop in reach will influence social media spending, which is forecasted to grow 26.3% in 2017 versus the previous year (Hootsuite, 2016).

Well, what a great year it’s been! We look forward to continuing to work with many of these brands and teams, along with new projects and challenges in the year ahead. Last but not least, we’d like to thank all our clients and colleagues for a wonderful year!


Adobe, 2016.  http://headstre.am/2iM4ITG

AdWeek, 2016.  http://headstre.am/2iMd4dP

Campaign Live, 2016. http://headstre.am/2j89OpN

Content Marketing Institute, 2016. http://headstre.am/2iM4PhP

Convince and Convert, 2016. http://headstre.am/2jenS53

Hootsuite, 2016. http://headstre.am/2jefzGj

Why we said goodbye to Twitter
Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 UTC

When it comes to social activity, we’re all about results and doing what’s right for our clients in order to help them meet their business objectives. We’re results driven, and sometimes that means missing out on the social flavour of the month simply because it’s not suitable for the task at hand. We take this approach in everything we do, including the platforms we choose to recommend and use ourselves. While our social strategy is unique and bespoke for each individual client, we also have to practice what we preach. And for us, that means saying goodbye to Twitter. Here are a few of the reasons why we’re doing this.

1. We’re not convinced about Twitter’s organic potential..

According to Global Web Index, 54% of UK internet users have a Twitter account compared to 81% who have a Facebook profile. If we look at users who classify themselves as engagers / contributors that falls to just 26% for Twitter compared to 48% for Facebook. While comparing the two platforms is like comparing apples to oranges in many ways, these figures are pretty rough for Twitter and most of the blame falls on the platform itself. Twitter’s “real-time” nature, means that organic tweets often get lost in the deluge of content that fills a user’s feed. We know the platform introduced an algorithm in to help users see content from profiles they engage with the most, but it seems like too little, too late. Twitter is firmly wedded to a real-time feed. It’s the platform’s biggest (and arguably only) USP. It’s also the biggest reason why we won’t be using the platform as an agency.

2.  ...and its paid platform isn’t delivering.

We’re big believers in paid social. Some might see it as necessary evil, but it’s actually an incredible asset when it comes to getting the right message to the right people at the right time. Facebook (and Instagram) offer some highly sophisticated targeting options along with an ever-expanding arsenal of ad types. We’ve seen some incredible results for all of our clients on Facebook owned networks, but with Twitter it’s a different story. Cost per click, cost per view and cost per engagement have always been higher and the quality of click/view/engagement has typically been lower. Because the results we’ve seen for clients  have been consistently more expensive on Twitter (and we’re all about results), and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to seed our brand messages, we feel that posting on Twitter might not be the best use of Headstream time and effort.

3. It drains resource. 

Twitter is a conversational platform. It brilliantly allows brands the freedom to have direct conversations with consumers in a way that just isn’t possible on Facebook. The only problem is conversations take time, and as much as we’d like to chat, we’re really busy working on client campaigns. But it’s not just conversations that take up resource, it’s content planning. Creating a content calendar for Facebook requires quality content over a high volume of posts, but with Twitter, even paid social campaigns are recommended to contain multiple tweets. So, it’s not just crafting one or two perfectly formed tweets, it’s about crafting 10 tweets that say roughly the same thing to try and help generate enough cut through to reach your audience. It takes time, a lot of time.

4.  It’s just not right for us. 

When we looked back over 2016 and analysed the amount of time and money we were spending on Twitter,  and compared it to our investment on other platforms, it became obvious that while there are definitely reasons to use Twitter,  we were getting better, more efficient results elsewhere. We’re not saying Twitter isn’t right for your brand, and if you want to work with us, we might find that Twitter is the best option for you. We’re just saying that Twitter isn’t right for us.  If you’re not convinced, give us a call. We’re more than happy to chat about it.

How to make your Christmas campaign a success
Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:38:00 UTC

Christmas is now right round the corner. “But only last week it was summer!” I hear you say! - well it’s time to get a move on with your Christmas campaigns….

But when is the right time to start? It’s certainly not a Christmas Eve job. Here, I will walk you through the when’s and why’s of creating a successful Christmas campaign just at the right time.

The key to seasonal marketing is to reach people before they make decisions about purchases, not when they’re about to start buying. For example, starting at around early November time rather than Christmas Eve.

If you haven't yet made a start, don’t fret, you’re not too late. According to the National Retail Federation, by 15th December 2015, 44.8% of people surveyed said they were still undecided between gifts. Additionally, 28.8% said they wait until mid-to-late December because their friends and family had not given them enough gift ideas; and 22% wait for "the best deals" on products. Meanwhile, one in five consumers admitted simply, they were just procrastinating.

One major factor to consider is the fact that it’s not just about Christmas gifts anymore. The festive season includes a range of events such as Black Friday and New Year’s Eve. Think about your activity and the best timing for it. Black Friday has grown in popularity over recent years. It falls on Friday 25th November this year, that’s a date to keep in mind!

Black Friday is definitely something that you should take notice of, as more than £3 billion was spent over the Black Friday weekend last year. At least 15 retailers’ websites couldn’t even cope, according to The Guardian, big names such as Tesco, Argos and John Lewis experienced “some form of loss of service during the weekend”.

In order to make your campaign standout throughout this festive season you must plan accordingly. Here we have put together a six step process to help make your Christmas campaign a success.

  • Everything begins with audience. Once you have clarified who you’re speaking to, you can establish what you want to say, how you’re going to say it, as well as, where you want it to be said based on the channels your target audience touch upon. Understand your audience likes and dislikes - don’t just focus on demographics, make sure you’re aware of their psychographics.

  • Figuring out your objective is the next step; this will dictate the type of content you use in order to reach your target audience. The objective will also help establish how you are going to measure success of the content. For example, for driving sales it could be CTR to your e-commerce site to then purchase; attribution modelling is key. If it’s for brand awareness, it could be how many views of your Christmas video you achieved and what the reach of this was.

  • Develop a campaign strategy and confirm/establish your content proposition. Take into consideration the other crucial dates throughout the seasonal period, eg Black Friday, New Year’s Day; and what else might be going on in your target audience’s lives. Relevant and valuable content is key in grabbing attention in a busy Christmas marketplace.

  • Once you’re clear on your content strategy and the content you will be creating, this will help you determine the platform you choose to display it on. This may be your own website, social channels, digital ads, influencer channels, apps or printed material.

  • Once you have established your platform, this will help to lead the way the content is published, and then supported with paid media. Once you know your objectives, are clear on the call-to-action, and where it will be published, think about how you are going to reach your audience; probably through some paid media activity.

  • After your Christmas content  has been published it should be rigorously measured and optimized to ensure the content provides maximum value. This is where you can compile learnings and feed them back into the campaign or take note for future activity.

So don’t miss a trick when planning your Christmas activity, stay organised, start early and remember that Christmas is hectic for everyone, so your content needs to be extra smart and work extra hard. Have in mind how you’re going to give your customers some festive joy this year!