The year of the brand

29 Jan 2018  |  Spencer Berwin 
The year of the brand

Digital out-of-home came of age in December 2017, writes Spencer Berwin - and that means big things for the year ahead

When Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of P&G said in 2017, “we're at the starting line of the next wave of brand building”, it set off a debate about trust and transparency and underlined the importance of brand-safe media. So why is WPP still forecasting digital online spend will grow by c10%, to take 60% of all media spend? I firmly believe that the tide is turning and 2018 will be ‘the year of the brand’, with a return to balance between activation and branding media.

It’s customary for media agencies to run predictions in January, after the end-of-year reflections. Within these predictions, there’s a consistent theme: that digital will continue its growth, that it’s an inevitability.

I want to question this assumption, because the brand-first media of out-of-home, TV, radio and cinema already deliver the brand fame, brand trust and brand safety that clients are calling for. As Mark Ritson summed up at JCDecaux’s IAB Upfronts, digital out-of-home can provide the best of both worlds, offering a backdrop of brand safety and accountability, but now with new digital capabilities enhancing creativity and effectiveness.

What brand marketers may not realise is that digital out-of-home came of age in December 2017. Its weekly reach is now over 50% of the UK population and closer to 55% for key audiences (young and upmarket) that TV finds harder to deliver. Amongst AB Adults its over 60%. That’s higher than ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5.

Couple that with the finding that reach is a key driver of campaign effectiveness, and that the most successful strategies combine brand building and activation in a 60:40 golden ratio (Les Binet and Peter Fields’ IPA report (Marketing Effectiveness in the digital era), and the case for brand-first media’s resurgence only grows.

So it’s clear we need to change mind-sets in 2018. The industry - from creative, to media, to our own sector - has been trading poster frames for years, it’s ingrained as a concept. But we are now moving from talking about frames to trading impressions, with the added ability to contextualise by geo-location and time.

We’ve seen it deliver for brands through our Tesco sales channel, where digital Out-of-Home combines brand safety, mass reach and the ability to drive personalisation and activation at scale. Channel Tesco uses dunnhumby till data to optimise schedules based on consumer purchasing habits, doubling the sales returns from personalising the playouts. We’re taking the same approach to all other digital channels across rail, roadside and retail UK-wide.

So I’d like to make a few predictions of my own for 2018. In 2018 we will see the brand-first media of out-of-home, TV, radio and cinema doing far better than the current predictions. I predict that digital out-of-home will deliver weekly reach of two thirds of the UK population to deliver 2 billion eyeballs a week.

And finally I predict a return to brand-building and the fact that brands such as Google, Spotify, Netflix and Facebook are turning to digital out-of-home to drive brand relevance in the real world is a powerful vote of confidence in brand first media. So here’s to 2018 - ‘the year of the brand’.

Spencer Berwin is co-CEO at JCDecaux UK


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ChrisPelekanou, Commercial Director, Clear Channel on 30 Jan 2018
“Well said Mr Berwin, getting to lots of people and being remembered is the basics of marketing and we are the Medias' medium of choice.”


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