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Anti-waste in a digital recession

1. Introduction 2. The pandemic effect 3. Passivity is a losing game 4. This is where Trickle comes in 5. Case - Skidstahus x Pinterest 6. Case - Sandvik

By: Elsa Sjögren

Published: Jul 09, 2020

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Trickle take pride in being distribution scientists. By that definition, at our very core, is pushing the marketing business envelope. It's one thing to say, but another thing to actually do. Our reports are our way to walk the walk. In this report, we aim to tackle digital waste and how to successfully circumvent both apparent and non-apparent pitfalls in digital media – especially in a time of crisis. We hope you'll enjoy it.

Investments in digital media have long been needing some tender, love and care, yet many seem to act somewhat carelessly with their marketing budgets and let money go down the drain. Most of the time without even realizing it. Let’s try to get to the bottom of how to prevent digital waste.

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And what do we mean by digital waste?

Let’s look at an example. You boost posts or create campaigns on Facebook targeting the entire population. All ages, all interests, all placements 200 € – let’s go! The target audience is either everyone or no one, and thereby… well, waste.


Ask yourselves some questions: what is the long term perspective? What is the bottom line objective – the lowest CPM possible? Is that really vital to your business? And is this distribution of your content that has the users’ behavior and best interest in mind?


Far too many companies and agencies are unconsciously wasteful with their investments in digital media. We believe that this not only is a poor strategy for content distribution, it’s also the beginning of a downward spiral that waters down the algorithms.

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Building frequent visibility that pushes the brand forward and keeps you top of mind in your target audience is an old school idea, which the media planners of the past knew and practiced very well, but one that has been neglected in the age of self service platforms. Investments made in digital media, simply put, aren’t treated with the same care. Connecting to this way of thinking: using intense, short-term efforts to build long-term effect is something that Les Binet and Peter Field talk about in “The Long and the Short of it. Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies”. We know, it’s a publication that many love to talk about. But bare with us.


Instead of working from a perspective of brand building versus sales generating, aim for a greater focus on target audience and end users. We believe that user-centered thinking is always the most crucial element when working with digital media, because of the constant stream of feedback and data. It’s an opportunity, something to cherish, not something to fear.


Quick conversions and booming weekly report stats sure are nice, but content and distribution in tandem for both short term and long term growth is always better. It will get you where you need to go. Instead of playing the guessing game and panicking with every failing KPI, capitalize on failures by systematically learning from them.

- David Larsson, Creative & Distribution Director Trickle

A Nielsen article states that “Exposure to digital advertising 5-9 times is the optimal range to improve the overall brand lift of the campaign – increasing the resonance by 51 % on average”. Deciding whether to reach as many as possible or to build frequency and resonance in a valuable target audience, is an example of how we at Trickle try to challenge our clients and partners ways of thinking anti-’digital waste’.


Exposure to digital advertising 5-9 times is the optimal range to improve the overall brand lift of the campaign – increasing the resonance by 51 % on average.

Good content will get you far – but thinking that it will always get you all the way is naive.

Digital waste is also frequent when it comes to content. It’s either an advanced and expensive film production that, at best, has an organic reach of tens of thousands of users, or it’s quick and easy content that gets three likes. Seldom anything in-between. In both cases, no one is taking responsibility for the effect. Good content will get you far – but thinking that it will always get you all the way is naive. Expecting virality without a tactic or strategy to back it up often time tend to work magically on ”younger platforms” (younger, as in recently launched, not audience skewing albeit there’s often times an apparent overlap). TikTok is a prime example of this. Viral posts live and thrive on TikTok at the moment, but ask yourself – when was the last time you came across a truly viral, organic post on YouTube or Facebook? It’s all brands and publicists with clear and painfully obvious objectives.


Simply put: frequency in your key target groups a long with a critical approach on how you can get the most bang for your buck and treat your budget with the care it deserves are key steps in the first tightening of the waste belt (pun intended) in your digital marketing.

The pandemic effect

Alas, something happened. The world we knew in January 2020 is not the same as the one we live in today. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our health, our daily lives, our work and the world economy. Many companies and entire industries are struggling for survival, others are searching for new strategies in a world where face-to-face interaction is no longer possible and the phrase “digital first” takes on a whole new meaning.


This however doesn’t contradict the previously stated. Precision, testing out your theories and preventing digital waste is now more important than ever.

Right now, there is an opportunity for companies to grab hold of a greater share of voice. By accelerating in an uphill slope, you’ll give yourself a head start for when the road is once again level. Because even though the world is upside down, audiences still consume content.


When we analyzed data from 20 of our B2B clients we found that the pandemic has had no negative effect on audiences’ tendency to engage in corporate content. The opposite, in fact. We actually found that engagement had increased. In 32 of 34 European countries, there’s been a significant improvement in CTR in March (at the height of COVID-19 coverage) compared to the average for the past 12 months. In many countries the rate has increased by over 60 percent. For the Swedish market, CTR has increased by over 100 percent.


CTR has increased over 100% for the Swedish market for B2B clients in COVID-19 times.

At the same time, prices and demand for advertising space have fallen sharply over the past few weeks, as described in this article in The Wall Street Journal.

We have found that the cost of 1000 impressions (CPM) has generally fallen by 12 percent. The CPC – cost per click – has fallen by over 40 percent in the majority of European countries. 


The CPC has fallen by over 40 percent in the majority of European countries.

Why? Most likely, a combination of two factors.


Partly due to the obvious: cost savings measures. With companies struggling financially, marketing budgets are often the first to be put on hold. If you can’t run the core business, it’s hard to rationalize marketing.


Secondly, we see that the industry at large, as well as marketing departments, are struggling on how to communicate during the crisis, opting to put content distribution on pause and remain quiet. This creates an opportunity for companies that can find the right tone of voice, stay relevant to what is happening without being too on-the-nose or ignorant about the situation. The opportunity to get ahead; to capitalize on recovery.

Passivity is a losing game

So, who will emerge victorious in this changed marketplace? The worst thing to do right now is to not act at all. To remain passive, paralyzed and unable to make any decisions is dangerous.

We don’t blindly trust our gut when making decisions, we trust the data.

We believe that those who dare to take a chance on a wild idea, make decisions and quickly evaluate, are those who will come out stronger. Therein lies the beauty of digital marketing and distribution: we have the ability to see clearly when something is or isn’t working. We don’t blindly trust our gut when making decisions, we trust the data.

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In a recent LinkedIn post Aron Levin, founder of Relatable, shared an example of the dangers of assuming that you know your customer. He writes about how he rolled out an email sequence sharing six different pieces of content appealing to different segments and audiences:


”I also had a very clear idea of how they’d perform because I know my audience and what they like (reality check: I don’t).”


Aron goes on to write that he predicted how the six pieces of content would rank in regards to popularity. Two weeks later the results were in. He got one out of six right. His top bet turned out to be ranked lowest and the piece of content that he predicted would perform the worst came in at second place. ”Lesson learned”, he concludes in this post.

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As crowd restrictions have been enforced all over the world, those whose business revolves around events have been forced to adapt to new rules and regulations, and find other ways to reach out and connect with audiences. This has greatly impacted cultural institutions such as museums, theatres and opera houses. Instead of shutting down, they’ve moved their business online.


The Royal Dramatic Theatre, Kulturhuset Stadsteatern and The Royal Swedish Opera are a few of those who, in a short period of time, have made their performances available through online streaming services. And according to SVT, the Swedish national public television broadcaster, the numbers are looking good.


Food rescue app Karma quickly adjusted to our new reality and found new solutions that were beneficial for both users and restaurants. They launched subscriptions for Karma-boxes containing fruit and vegetables, introduced food delivery and the option to sell food at full price. Elsa Bernadotte, COO and Co-founder of Karma, tells Breakit:


”Change can come swiftly, and embracing it is in our DNA. We probably wouldn’t have developed these solutions if we hadn’t believed that every day is crucial for our customers, but if people appreciate them we might consider keeping them.”

This is where Trickle comes in

In a time of worry and uncertainty, many are cautious of making investments in media and marketing. For us content distributors, that means a greater pressure to deliver solid evidence of exactly where and how media and marketing money is spent. At Trickle, our strength lies in our ability to guide our clients through our process and method. From investment to result.


This way, we have been able to keep busy.

Every euro, dollar or pound spent should be accounted for, with surgical precision, in either effect or other values.

We are convinced that the challenges facing us today are best met by working with target audiences from a micro perspective.  Having an anti-’digital waste’ perspective is even more important when marketing budgets get smaller. Every euro, dollar or pound spent should be accounted for, with surgical precision, in either effect or other values. This strategy of anti-waste merges seamlessly with Trickle’s philosophy of using story planning and moments to create the perfect mix of message, channels, precision and timing.


We believe that those who dare to experiment and really implement this mindset fully, those who see the struggles as a challenge, are the ones who will succeed. And judging by recent campaigns and many of our clients, it works.


Now, on to showcasing we have actually have our money where our mouths are.


Skidstahus x Pinterest

A prime example of working with an anti-waste strategy in this changed marketplace is our work with Pinterest and Skidstahus. The goal was to build brand awareness on Pinterest, a channel where many seek inspiration, and work long-term with the customer journey. Throughout April, we ran traffic ads with an “order the catalogue” type of message. The results have exceeded our expectations – and at a relatively low cost. 

”Because the Corona virus has contributed to a boost in popularity for the word ‘hemester’ (i.e. ‘home vacation’), we’ve seen an increased interest in holiday homes. Therefore, our advertising for Skidstahus becomes even more relevant and we can get both more exposure and more conversions”, says Karolina Pagaduan, Content Distributor at Trickle.

The numbers went boom


We increased the number of exposures by 427 000


We increased the number of clicks by 2000


The cost per thousand impressions was 9.6 SEK

With a budget of less than 5 000 SEK, we increased the number of exposures by 427 000 and the number of link clicks by 2 000. This brings the CPM, cost per thousand impressions, to 9.6 SEK.


”By working with more channels, among them Pinterest, in combination with identified behaviors in the customer journey, we build a digital cycle that successfully engages customers who have been previously exposed. In that way, we minimize digital waste. It’s a larger effect for less money = win win win”, says Maria Damgren, Content Distributor and SEM Specialist at Trickle.


“We didn’t realize the full potential of social media”

How fast can we bake a pizza? Trickle’s latest campaign for Sandvik Group and Kanthal was an experiment using world leading heating technology. We had a chat with Tiina Heiniö at Sandvik about the company’s long lasting collaboration with Trickle.

Wanting to connect with customers, partners, employees, students, experts, potential employees and other stakeholders on social media platforms, Sandvik acquired Trickle’s help. With roughly 4 billion people using social networks around the globe engaging with various brands, the possible audience is huge. 


There is no sense of control in many cases. The only way to regain a sense of control is to, paradoxically, let go of control and let other people help you. And who would be better than Trickle – they are experts and professionals in this field, says Tiina Heiniö, Head of Corporate Communications at Sandvik Group.

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A hot pizza challenge

In an effort to market Kanthal’s sustainable heating technology, Trickle launched the campaign “A hot pizza challenge”. Kanthal is a part of Sandvik Group, and using their world leading heating technology we set out to explore how fast a pizza can be baked – and still be delicious. 


The purpose of the campaign for Sandvik Group was to support Kanthal well as generate awareness and engagement in Sandvik’s existing target audiences. These target audiences were based on three segments: society, employer branding and opinion. The segments in turn consists of different target audiences, identified through a mix of data analysis, research and qualitative interviews. For the hot pizza challenge, we focused on employer branding and society – containing target groups such as tech talents, engineers and social media followers.

Looking at the data from Sandvik Group, the campaign gained almost 9x more impressions than estimated and delivered 14x more video completions compared to the estimate. The video reached 2,8M video views with a +72% higher view rate than estimated, and +315% more link clicks compared to the goals. By dividing the campaign into four different phases Trickle gained insights into what the key target groups should be for the upcoming hero video: engineers and students. 

Big goals – and bigger results


Video views


Higher view rate


More link clicks compared to the goals

The hero video had more of a pop culture vibe to it and was great at catching people’s attention. This was followed by a more technical, in-depth video, a strategy we found to be successful. The pop culture aspect to the hero video was important to reach recipients somewhat outside of Kanthal’s core audience, such as foodies and people interested in tech media. 


In order to avoid digital waste, the focus was on continuous qualitative retargeting and lookalikes based on quality video viewers, in this case people that had watched 10 seconds or more of the hero video. This way, it could be ensured that the person being exposed to the video were highly relevant and/or had already shown interest. 


The campaign included both paid and organic elements, making sure that the organic posting on social media were aligned with the paid distribution. Since Sandvik’s followers were an important target group for the campaign, it was crucial that the campaign was also visible in the regular social media feeds. For example, the campaign included an Instagram take-over made by Patrik Johansson from Kanthal’s marketing communications team which amassed over 57,000 organic impressions and had an engagement rate of 4%.

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Letting go of control

For Sandvik, social media is all about starting conversations, building and fostering meaningful relationships and providing tools for brand engagement and customer connections. Tiina explains that one of the risks in hiring an external agency comes back to letting go of control. The company’s social media channels feel personal to them and they have a sense of ownership. Following the external communication policy is crucial and only approved spokespeople can speak on behalf of Sandvik.


– I think it comes back to control – can we actually work with an external agency successfully on social media platforms if they don’t know our company values, strategy and code like we do? But none of these worries have been materializing. Trickle knows our values, code of conduct and KPIs. We have simple follow-up systems and we rely on Trickle. We have delegated or deferred items where we have accountability for results, but we have good systems for follow up and are resting assured that the work gets done, Tiina says.

Before "Trickle time", we were not that professional and didn't realize the full potential of social media.

What benefits have you seen?

– If we would not take advantage of social media, we would miss out on a fast, inexpensive and effective way to reach almost half the world’s population. There are many benefits of social media for brand building, and Trickle has been supporting us all the way with professional social media strategies, planning and execution. We’ve been also increasing website traffic tremendously, since social media posts and ads are key ways to drive traffic to our website. Before “Trickle time”, we were not that professional and didn’t really realize the full potential of social media. Monitoring, social media listening and follow up have improved as well. We have reached new levels of success, increased performance, developing our capabilities while building greater accountability.

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On a more personal level, what has been your experience working with Trickle?

– The people of Trickle are always proficient and pragmatic professionals, yet easy going and extremely helpful in achieving our social media goals. They have proven to have a deep understanding of social media. My experience with Trickle is that they are knowledgeable professionals and not afraid to tackle challenges and difficult issues.