In the second of two end-of-year specials, experts from across the media and advertising sectors reveal their blueprints for a prosperous future. Read part one here.
Climb out of the cesspit
Ben Walmsley, commercial director of publishing, News UK
Intangible assets account for 84% of market capitalisation of the S&P500 compared to 17% in 1975, according to Ocean Tomo’s seminal study. The importance of having a strong brand is no longer the niche focus of the marketing department. As this shift in corporate value proves, it should be a primary concern for the CEO, CFO and a company’s investors.
Compounding this fact, brands are being bypassed in a world dominated by big tech aggregators and middlemen. The need to build a brand that consumers actively seek out is more important than at any time in the history of business.
A marketing executive told me this year her performance KPI was earnings per share. Not click-through rate, as it happens. So often the world of marketing is disconnected from this new reality. Trawl the internet’s clickbait-laden underbelly for a moment and you will find brand adverts from the world’s most recognisable brands.
It is these intangible assets worth billions of pounds that are carelessly strewn across this content cesspit. The blunt instruments of brand suitability can filter out the wheat and allow the chaff to pass. And yet the metrics by which many marketers measure success translate this gross negligence as a runaway success.
Brands are built through emotional connections. They make people feel something. They matter to people whether they recognise it or not.
Of course it’s not easy to measure the intangible. That said, the closest proxies happen to be the tangible. That’s why the earnings per share (EPS) measure is a reason for hope. I’m not suggesting that marketers shouldn’t spend money to make their products easy to find and buy by those that have already made the decision to do so. Applying the same success measures from those channels to building long term value gives a false reading.
I think marketers are waking up to this. Brands with stature and authority need environments to match. We are seeing a gradual return to mindfulness in the positioning of brands. Rightly so; it is this intellectual capital that is the most important factor in a company’s success.
More responsible, more valued
Stephen Woodford, CEO, Ad Association
We are doing everything we can do to rebuild public trust in advertising – this is mission critical, as we believe it should be for everyone in our industry who cares about the future of advertising. Alongside this, we will maintain the best, most constructive relationship with UK government and policy decision-makers across many different departments.
Whether that’s DCMS in support of the Creative Industries deal; Public Health as we tackle issues such as childhood obesity; BEIS in its drive for the UK to be the clean growth centre of the world; DIT in the support of global trade and exports; and the Home Office in its efforts to ensure the internet is safe place for all.
Each of these is about making the UK advertising industry the most responsible, valued industry we can possibly be. All of which serves to make our industry a better place for all – for advertising professionals, for the millions of businesses we support across the UK and, most importantly, for the public.
Silver screen = gold dust
Kathryn Jacob, CEO, Pearl & Dean
Though cinema has always been a popular channel, the silver screen is currently experiencing a phenomenal resurgence. Admissions continue to rise, and according to Zenith, cinema is expected to be the fastest growing advertising channel globally next year. This is a monumental achievement – cinema is the first advertising channel to surpass internet advertising which has dominated the advertising space for the past two decades.
Yet, like all media channels, cinema advertising must continue to evolve with changing demands and habits of consumers. With more consumers favouring experiences over purchases, we expect to see further growth in pop-up cinema experiences like The Luna Cinema, which this year partnered with ITV to bring ‘Love Island The Experience’ to its fans. This demand for experience will also drive a rise in independent and premium cinema experiences – ideal environments for brand partnership activations that are bespoke to specific audiences or local communities.
The streaming wars will also continue to be a huge theme rolling into 2020, as competition heats up for the attention of consumers across all screens. However, this abundance of choice risks deterring consumers, who will need to trawl through multiple subscription sites before making a decision on a film. As such, the viewing experience for films on the big screen will be a much more special and simple option, and advertisers should take note.
There is a lot to be excited about in cinema as we enter the new decade. 2020 is expected to bring an array of films with a diverse cast that will mean more audiences than ever before will feel represented on the big screen. The highly anticipated return of Bond will also be a golden opportunity for advertisers, and a particular way to target those infrequent cinemagoers drawn back to the cinema to watch Daniel Craig’s final stint at playing 007.
For people and planet
Robert McFaul, client director and co-lead Mindshare Purpose
There’s a UK-wide sense of disenchantment – people have lost faith in politics and big business, are concerned about climate change, and distrust what they read in the news. As a result, it’s important for brands to walk the talk, backing up the values they communicate with genuine positive action.
It’s no longer enough for businesses to have a good recycling policy and say they are ‘doing their bit’. Recent Mindshare research shows 73% of UK consumers expect brands to play a role in protecting the planet, 66% say they want brands to promote health and wellbeing, and 64% want brands to play a role in promoting equality.
These values must underpin all that businesses do – brands are reaching a pivotal moment in their relationship with consumers, where proving their positive social impact is essential to customers purchasing products or services.
Marketers need to devise media strategies that effectively showcase their social credentials, while being mindful of overstating their commitment to good causes – 70% of consumers say brands can’t get away with saying one thing and doing another.
The most successful companies in coming years will be those that put their audience first and show themselves to not only be actively responding to consumer concerns, but also leading the dialogue on the role business needs to play for people and planet.
Henry Daglish, founder, Bountiful Cow
2020 will present another year of massive opportunity to the independent sector. The real growth in the UK economy is almost entirely driven by independent businesses in ‘scale mode’ and the disruptors at scale will keep on coming. Success for us will be dependent on:
1. Continuing to take unconditional care with our clients’ precious investment and balance short performance with long term sustainable growth.
2. Acting as genuine business partners, an agency that’s in it for the long haul with these types of businesses. Through both the ups and the downs.
3. Proving best in class strategic advice at the sweet spot; when clients lose their way amidst short-termism and the walled gardens of Google and Facebook – the point at which genuine brand building is the best opportunity for exponential growth.
4. Embracing the independent creative agency revolution, working with more like minded partners to provide mutually beneficial solutions to our clients.
5. Empowering our people with the continued support to help them all work to their strengths, work flexibly and recognise that your job is not your life.
2020: the year the other shoe drops
Richard Marks, founder, Research the Media
From my perspective at least, 2019 in UK media research seemed to echo the political situation that intertwined with it in my Twitter feed. A year of imminent change but also of waiting for the other shoe to drop: waiting to find out who would buy Kantar and how Nielsen would reshape its business, waiting to find out what would happen with the new BARB and UKOM contracts.
Waiting to hear the result of the much-vaunted Dutch ‘Total media’ measurement contract and whether that initiative provides a blueprint for the UK or not. All of that played out against persistent rumours of an advertiser cross-platform video initiative, nicknamed ‘Project Voldemort’ by those most worried about it.
Well wait no longer, as 2020 is set to be a year of answers, outcomes that will have profound strategic implications for media research companies, media owners, currencies and agencies alike.
We will know what Kantar will look like under BAIN Capital ownership and the implications of Nielsen separating its media measurement and consumer businesses (back) into separate entities.
In January 2020 we should (officially) know the shape of the next UKOM contract. Yes, I know, you probably know, but at least we will be able to talk about it soon!
Will the data flow freely or will industry politics prove insurmountable?”
By the end of Q1 we should know what the BARB panel will look like for the next decade in terms of measurement technology and sample size. The Dutch TMAM contract should also pull into enough focus for us to evaluate whether it is a canary in a coalmine for cross-media measurement, a red herring or a mixed metaphor.
One initiative that is certain to dominate discussion in public forums and darkened board rooms and that is that ISBA ‘Origin’ initiative, finally unveiled at the asi Conference last month. Not the feared ‘Voldemort’ but positioned as a desire for collaboration. It’s a UK pilot for the implementation of the WFA guidelines for cross-media measurement, an advertiser initiative with Google and Facebook on board.
The objective is to build what is referred to as the ‘pipework’ for a cross-media solution in the UK. Will it be a true cross-media solution involving audio, print media and outdoor or will it perhaps inevitably focus initially on cross-platform video? The strategic implications are many. How involved will the JIC currencies want to be from the start? What will their answer be when the pipework is built and Origin wants to attach its pipe to the BARB, RAJAR, PAMCo and other data nozzles? Will the data flow freely or will industry politics prove insurmountable?
Finally where will Origin leave the measurement companies? If Google and Facebook are building the pipework is there a role for a Nielsen, Kantar, GfK or Ipsos? If so what? Could the new UKOM currency provide a piece of the research solution?
If 2019 was a year of waiting patiently, 2020 should certainly keep Mediatel’s news and comment pages busy, as all aspects of the media research business in the UK look for answers to inform their strategy.
James Patterson, VP client services, EMEA & Global Operations at The Trade Desk
With lots of new entrants to the market, the streaming wars are heating up and, inevitably, more and more of these will become reliant on ad-funding to survive. It might seem like I’m jumping on the bandwagon when I say that my top strategy for any advertiser to have a successful 2020 is to incorporate Connected TV as part of a cross channel strategy.
But, at The Trade Desk, we’ve been evangelising the potential of Connected TV for the past five years – and it’s really exciting to see the industry begin to reach its potential. And advertisers should be excited too – because the channel will go a long way towards addressing the perennial problem of finding and reaching new customers.
There’s a common misconception that eyeballs are simply shifting from linear TV to Connected TV, when in fact these new streaming services enable access to brand new audiences – some that have never watched traditional TV, and others who switched to streaming a long time ago. Often young and on the brink of developing a disposable income, engaging with these audiences is a sure fire way of futureproofing brands’ businesses.
Connected TV combines transformative programmatic technology with the tried-and-tested power of TV ads, so advertisers can’t go wrong by making this channel a priority in the new year.
Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK
As we prepare to head into 2020, adaptability is a powerful quality to have. From political upheaval on the national stage to new opportunities within the world of advertising (digital in particular), nothing is set to stay still for long and businesses that are prepared for that will benefit.
My advice for building a successful strategy in this constantly evolving landscape is to harness the opportunities that come your way, seek out new technology and embrace disruption. It’s only by being open to the new that we can stay relevant and produce the work our industry is – at its best – renowned for, while continuing to improve practices within the ecosystem.
However, success lies in maintaining the balance between change and continuity. Welcome innovation while at the same preserving the ethics that sit at the heart of any responsible business. When it comes to digital advertising, employing the right measurement strategies, valuing quality context and tapping into great creativity are core principles all too easily forgotten – yet they are crucial to rebuilding consumers’ trust. With a new decade on the horizon, it’s this that should sit at the top of all our agendas.
Exercise caution in your media placements
Mattias Spetz, MD EMEA, Channel Factory
Marketers are going to need to have a robust brand suitability in place in 2020 to cope both with the volatile political situations across many countries and the pressures to ensure reach, whilst still protecting your brands’ reputation. For example, if you are buying against Comedy Central, you’ve written off the entire inventory of it if you’re sensitive to x and y or you can carve out the type of inventory you are happy with.
Sexually suggestive and mild profanity should not be dismissed. The simple fact is that brand suitability reflects the environment of the country where brands are buying media and they must be attuned to what is occurring and what will bristle people in that country.
As recently reported by Ebiquity, 65% of Britain’s top 100 advertisers ran in potentially brand unsafe environments in the first quarter of 2019 alone.
The costs of brand unsafe and unsuitable adjacencies include a range of factors, including significant ad spend wastage and missed media investment opportunity, the perception that brands aren’t exercising care throughout their supply chain, the implicit endorsement caused by monetising publishers creating inappropriate content, and most of all the ultimate risk of losing consumers altogether.
As reported by TAG/BSI, an overwhelming percentage of consumers would limit or stop their spending on brands who fail to exercise caution in their media placements.
So it is going to be an essential strategy for 2020 to deliver a thorough and nuanced approach to brand safety and suitability that takes into account both geo-political sensitivities and brand reputation risks from content. Once you have established your baseline for tolerance, you should then align your brand with appropriate content.
The Year Ahead is Mediatel’s hugely popular invite-only networking event for senior professionals from across the media industry, which sees panellists give their views on key media issues from the year, and their predictions for the year ahead.
This year’s panel brings together Mediatel’s Editor-at-Large, Dominic Mills, alongside Caroline Foster Kenny (CEO, IPG Mediabrands), Jan Gooding (Chair, PAMCo and Chair Of The Board Of Trustees, Stonewall) and Karen Stacey (CEO, Digital Cinema Media).