Media and advertising in 2021: strategies for success // Part 2
In the second of two end-of-year specials, experts from across the media and advertising sectors reveal their hopes and plans for a prosperous 2021. Read part 1 here.
Responsible advertising and climate action
Stephen Woodford, chief executive, Advertising Association
In 2020 the AA launched its new mission that put responsible advertising at the heart of our work on behalf of the industry. We saw responsible advertising in action across the responses to the Covid pandemic, with the amplification of public health messages by brands and media owners and through umbrella campaigns like ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’. In 2021, we’ll continue this mission through the AA’s work.
We will build on the launch of Ad Net Zero, with the roll-out of the 5-step action plan to reduce advertising’s carbon footprint towards net zero in 2030. One of the most important steps is the AdGreen programme, where the tools to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of advertising production will become widely available and adopted.
There will also be more industry progress on diversity and inclusion, with an unprecedented initiative from the IPA, ISBA and the AA. Addressing the challenges of climate change and the need for a step change in the diversity and inclusiveness of our industry are two big opportunities we know people in advertising want to see to build a better industry.
Through 2020 we had a close and constructive working relationship with Government, both on addressing the challenges of the pandemic and on recovery. Where the relationship is less positive is on the proposals for further restrictions on HFSS advertising. These are very poorly evidenced and the potential costs far outweigh the negligible estimated impact on child obesity.
That significant dark cloud aside, and assuming that sanity prevails and a Brexit deal is done, there is much to be positive about as the economy recovers. We can hopefully then enjoy summer 2021 with business back to near normal, and with Covid safely behind us.
Get up close and personal
Craig Tuck, chief revenue officer, The Ozone Project
Given the year we’ve just had, to "get up close and personal" might seem like a somewhat strange and risky strategy, but in essence it captures two areas that we deem critical to 2021 success.
Firstly, we will continue to forge deeper relationships with advertiser and agency partners, integrating our businesses - through Ozone Marketplace for example - in a way that delivers better outcomes for all. In 2020 the ISBA & PwC study into transparency in the programmatic supply chain shone a light on the distance between brands and premium publishers in digital advertising.
2021 therefore presents the perfect time to put the report’s recommendations into practice and ensure quality, trusted, brand-safe and known environments are central to creating a better way of doing digital.
Secondly, the accelerated decline of the third-party cookie means the huge depth of first-party audience data held by premium publishers and content providers will become ever-more valuable to advertisers; providing extremely insightful, contextually-relevant and fully compliant ways of understanding the customer.
Through closer alignment and integration with even more brands than we do today, we will ensure the advertiser and the publisher - as the sole controllers of the relationships with consumers - remain the primary parties in the digital advertising exchange.
Brave hearts, open minds and a touch of Homer
Emil Bielski, UK managing director, Croud
Thanks to a lockdown-inspired purchase of a Disney+ subscription, I rewatched some of my favourite ‘The Simpson’s’ episodes – which not only made me laugh, but also provided me with some surprising business insight.
In the episode "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, Homer’s millionaire half-brother comes to town and tasks Homer with creating the perfect car. Homer attacks the project with gusto, adding every feature he could possibly dream of. Whilst none of them are bad individually, when all added together the result is not only a hideous creation, but it is crazily expensive - and his half-brother promptly goes out of business.
Many of us in the industry are probably guilty of something similar: to please everyone, strategy becomes a tick-box exercise – a bit of column A, a bit of column B, and some of C. Yet, the best strategies, those that transform our client's businesses, invariably have a singular purpose of vision. Not to write Homer off completely, we can draw inspiration from his creative thinking and courage, but sometimes you need to say no to a good idea.
Next year agencies will need to be brave, but can only achieve this if the individuals who make up agencies are brave themselves. As leaders we need to encourage courage, listen to feedback and build a culture of openness, don’t just talk about it.
Richard Dunn, EMEA chief strategy officer, Wunderman Thompson
We’ll continue to focus on working as a growth partner to our clients. Our strategy for doing this is to help them inspire their audiences everywhere along the customer journey. We’ve built our capabilities to help make this happen, pulling in creativity, technology, data and operational skills to ensure a brand’s end-to-end experience is inspiring and superior to their competition.
We’ve also recently launched our Inspiring Growth study. This shows that brands that are able to inspire their customers are much more likely to succeed when it comes to driving brand growth. This will help clients make the case for investing in extraordinary content and experiences. It also uncovered an ‘inspiration gap’ - a gap between customers wanting brands to be inspirational and those experiencing it. In other words, it means that people appreciate the role brands can play in their life in inspiring them and helping them achieve goals.
With this in mind, we want to assist brands to grasp the opportunity. Our research allows us to diagnose how individual brands can be more inspirational and helps us advise them on experiences and content that will deliver this.
With anxieties continuing to run high after a year like no other, as we move into 2021 I expect more brands will be keen to radically rethink their approach. We hope they’ll take the opportunity to be bold, and to find new ways to meet customer needs and help customers raise their ambitions and expectations.
Agility, effective sales and the power of digital
Duncan Chater, head of sales, Europe, Bloomberg Media
As we move into 2021, agility will continue to be crucial. Over the last year, we found this to be a key ingredient to a successful strategy that ensures we’re a strong and helpful partner for clients. In order to maintain this next year, we will continue to anticipate market shifts and focus on our core strengths: a consultative approach, unrivalled access to data and insights, a full range of customisable solutions and trusted platforms.
Effective sales is evolving more and more towards a consultative approach; we need to understand our customers and offer real value to them. There is a growing desire from clients to understand how audiences behave, and more importantly when these behaviours change, so that we can develop plans around real time trends. We recently expanded our Bloomberg Brand Health System to Europe to give brands fresh data on their strengths and weaknesses. As we look towards 2021, we will continue to put audience insight at the forefront of all of our campaigns.
Perhaps more than any other, this year has shown us the true power of digital. In fact, our third quarter digital revenues have increased by 87% year on year. As new platforms emerge, we expect to see digital spend continue to grow within the industry. This will provide new opportunities for Bloomberg Media, brands, and advertisers.