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Media and advertising 2020: strategies for success // Part 1

18 Dec 2019 
Media and advertising 2020: strategies for success // Part 1

Experts from across the media and advertising sectors reveal their blueprints for a prosperous year ahead. Read part two here.

Check the facts and act on them

Lindsey Clay, CEO, Thinkbox

We have just emerged, wincing, from the most disheartening and cynical election campaign since the last one.

The winners were found to have lied in 88% of their Facebook ads, according to The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising. If that doesn’t make your skin curdle – both at the fact that it was deliberate and that it is allowed by Facebook – then, well...

But, as in life, so in our industry. We suffer with our own fake news issues, with nonsense waved through and regurgitated. And we often suffer from cynicism about actual, verifiable facts. So my advice for next year is to supercharge our healthy, informed scepticism, to rightly scrutinise the veracity of every claim, and to banish scepticism’s lazy cousin, cynicism.

That way we won’t have to endure debates on Twitter such as the one between Mark Ritson and the chap who claimed that IPA research – some of the finest we have – cannot be trusted because the IPA receives sponsorship for its research (from companies including Google and Thinkbox).

It is obviously not in the IPA’s interest to allow sponsors to fiddle with results. But Ritson’s determined interlocutor was having none of it. Default cynicism because of the association. This taints.

So, please let’s dissect but not dismiss out of hand. Check the facts and act on them. And hold those to account who are playing fast and loose. It’s the best strategy for improving our industry and its results.


Danny Donovan, UK CEO at MullenLowe Mediahub

It might seem obvious but growing a tree isn’t the same thing as picking apples, and unless you do both you won’t have any apples next year.

Growing and cultivating a tree takes time and more skill than just digging a hole and planting it. Picking apples must be perfectly timed and involves more skill than just shaking a tree and catching what falls out.

Apple growers everywhere seem to have figured this out, but remarkably in marketing we generally haven’t. Google “brand strategy”, and once you get beyond the ads for companies you’ve never heard of (ironic), you’ll largely see the words “long-term”, reflecting many brand strategists' obsession with ignoring the need to also actually change behaviour now.

End to end thinking and a healthy obsession with the business outcome required still seems to be a rarity. Yet there are rich pickings for those brands who embrace integration. Siloed marketing organisations and agency structures are usually blamed, but they are just a symptom of the siloed thinking which also pervades marketing. Every brand owner needs more integration from their marketing services suppliers.

So 2020 will be the year of integrated thinking and integrated agencies. But I would say that wouldn’t I.

How do you like them apples!?

Content without borders

Dan Dawson, chief creative officer, Grand Visual

Digital OOH is no longer a medium to itself, or a bolt on at the end of the chain. It has converged with other media spaces and is becoming an intrinsic part of a media plan, and an important conduit for driving content to other channels, and helping to tell a brand's story across the wider media sphere.

As well as playing its part in holistic, omnichannel, digital-first campaigns, evolving ad tech is also enabling DOOH to be booked, managed, and delivered seamlessly, at a global scale. Entertainment clients in particular have long been at the helm of multi-territory DOOH campaigns, and this year we broke our own personal best producing and delivering DOOH copy for a theatrical release that went out across 70 global markets.

So our vision for a smart 2020 is to continue this consolidated creative focus for the entire international OOH market. Making the best use of OOH media by offering the right creative solutions for the right client, audience, format, mindset - across territories.

We’ll continue to embed Digital OOH as an intrinsic digital layer in campaigns, a central part of the conversation, driving fan engagements, as well as delivering engagement across UGC, social, and mobile.

The future is about producing content without borders, for campaigns that are reactive, intelligent and smarter as standard, that deliver brand stories at scale, or to quote a line from Good Omens: “To the World. To the Woooorld.” quote Beethoven

Lucy Barrett, client director, Radiocentre

There is much talk the rise of voice in advertising and the promise it holds for brands. But to make it meaningful, more advertisers need to focus on what their brand sounds like.

The good news is that is it’s really not that hard. The bad news is there is not a lot of straightforward guidance out there on how to do it. Radiocentre is going to change that.

Given how often we tell advertisers think about brand sound, we felt it was high time Radiocentre went through a process to create our own so we were properly informed to help those who seek guidance.

Working with creative audio production company Bounce – one half of which is Dan McGrath who wrote the Strictly music (surely nothing is more memorable?) – we set to work creating our own brand sound. From brief to final output, the process was straightforward. Music is so personal so there was debate, but somehow we got there without us all falling out.

To quote Beethoven, “Music is a higher revelation” which is perhaps why the process was so joyful. When we launch next year, it will be alongside a toolkit for brands with tips on how to write the brief and how to tell the story of the music.

The strategic use of sound plays an important role in positively differentiating a product or service, enhancing recall, creating preference, building trust, and even increasing sales and in 2020 we are going to make it easier for all advertisers to create their own brand sound.

Stamping out sexual harassment

Diana Tickell, timeTo steering committee member and CEO of NABS

The timeTo campaign to stamp out sexual harassment in the advertising industry goes from strength to strength. Since our 2018 launch, more than 250 endorsing companies have signed up to our Code of Conduct. Some of these companies are doing great work to educate their staff, clarifying that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Yet there’s still much to do, so we’ve refreshed our campaign for the Christmas office party season. We want people to have fun, but we know that sadly the boozy, late-night party season can create high-risk situations for sexual harassment.

Our latest ad campaign shows the next step in our strategy: empowering bystanders of sexual harassment. According to our research, one in 10 people had witnessed sexual harassment happening to others but only 20% of those witnesses officially reported what they had seen to management. We want to enable bystanders to speak up without fear, because calling out sexual harassment will help to eradicate it.

We’ve also launched our timeTo endorser toolkit including resources for leadership, HR, and employees. We’re asking endorsers to actively use the toolkit within three months of receiving it, and we’ll be monitoring progress to make sure that together as an industry we’re taking action to end sexual harassment.

Audio gets personal

Liz Duff, head of media and investment at Total Media

Audio in 2020 will see a heavy focus on personalisation, both in terms of advertising copy and message placement.

We choose brands which fit our personality, and studies have shown that advertising can work better if it is tailored to the personality of consumers. Matching the content of messaging to peoples’ psychological characteristics significantly alters their behaviour, so the benefits of tailored strategies based on individuals’ personalities are clear.

Podcasting offers a great opportunity for personalised targeting and with Spotify now having over 500,000 podcast titles available, this environment allows us to deliver scale, in addition to relevance. Spotify have recently introduced more granular targeting to podcast advertising, which offers greater scope to advertisers to tailor the environments, moods and mind-sets they are reaching audiences in, so we will be focusing on this opportunity next year.

But it’s not just podcasting that offers opportunities for personalisation. We expect to see programmatic audio reach a tipping point in 2020 in terms of adoption, and this will bring with it an increased usage of dynamic creative based on deeper audience understanding.

Audio is in an exciting place, and in 2020 we will use it to drive deeper engagement with audiences through personalised strategies.

When life gives you lemons...

Paul Bainsfair, director general, IPA

This year we, the IPA, wondered if the golden age of technology that we are living through has been far from a golden age of creativity. So we gave you lemons - well our new publication Lemon, to be more exact.

Not designed to leave a bitter taste in your mouth, but to provide a vital reality check that unless we correct the left-brain-leaning approach to our work, the crisis in creativity will continue.

So in 2020, I’m hoping that the industry will use the lessons within it as the ingredients to make some sweet lemonade. If we are to thrive, our strategy for success must be to entertain for commercial gain.

We must engage people and sustain their enjoyment, not shock or divide them; we must deploy creative right-brained thinking to each part of the process – from research to execution; we must embrace happy accidents along the way; and we must remember that characters, music, metaphors and human scenarios lead to effectiveness.

It is this combination of elements that creates long-term, brand-building engagement and business transformation.

Defining social strategies

Ollie Richardson, social content & influencer marketing lead, PHD Global Business

VUCA is an acronym used by the American Military. It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Although applicable to most of our daily experiences within the marketing and advertising world, it is somewhat more keenly felt by social practitioners - it’s our situation normal.

Let’s use the year just ending as a barometer of what’s possibly to come. We’re likely to see the continuing volatility of social algorithms becoming a more prominent challenge for social experts. Practitioners will need to demonstrate their agility when tackling almost daily changes by each of the platforms.

We will need to overcome the uncertainty of learning and crafting for rapidly emerging social platforms (TikTok), the likes of which we knew relatively little about at the beginning of 2019. Or how to navigate stakeholders through the increasingly complex topic of measurement, bidding adieu to simple (vanity) metrics such as Instagram ‘Likes’, and now integrating a multitude of trackable actions within any activation.

Regardless of anything outside of control, one thing as experts we cannot allow is for our clients' or brands’ social strategies to be ambiguous - now or at any point in the future.

Although routes to connect, tactics activated, or measurement practices may evolve, a defined social strategy of who we’re connecting with should be our brands’ North Star for 2020 and beyond.


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).

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