The year ahead: strategies for success - part one

13 Dec 2018 
The year ahead: strategies for success - part one

Experts from across the media and advertising sectors reveal their blueprints for a prosperous 2019

The brand view

Piers Newson-Smith, head of brand planning, Direct Line Group

The only inaccurate thing about the ancient Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times” is that it’s not actually ancient or Chinese. It is generally credited to a British politician from 1936.

I can’t think of any quote that more accurately describes the challenges facing brands in 2019. It’s a curse to live in fear of the unpredictable.

In 2018, consumer confidence is on the floor. We’re told daily that the economy is about to go back to the Stone Age. And that probably doesn’t matter anyway, because the planet is headed for environmental Armageddon.

Yet at the same time, technology is constantly advancing the possibilities of product and advertising, while giving people ever more brilliant experiences.

So when thinking about the focus for 2019, it’s tempting to jump on a new piece of technology, or think about new ways of using data.

But the reality is that the brands that succeed in 2019 will be the ones that work out what it means to live in these extraordinarily interesting times.

That’s why the focus for brand building next year needs to be taken back to basics. It’s foolhardy to bet on any particular new tech, or to throw all your eggs into a data warehouse shaped basket.

The brands that win will be those that double down on understanding today’s customers’ needs. Only then can they master the right technology to make their products do exactly what they should, and as easily as possible.

How can publishers change their fortunes?

Sabina Usher, communications strategist, MullenLowe Mediahub

For publishers to turnaround their fortunes they must more closely follow the trails behind where the advertising revenue is leaving their sector. Generally, this is in digital, though specifically media plan money is flooding into Facebook and Google (and their relevant properties), together with the long tail within programmatic.

In doing so, they would realise that on one side you have models that demonstrate performance through advertising formats such as in-read video, which perform better than MPUs and other formats often poorly placed on site, and they would also notice the ease at which agencies and brands themselves can execute large scale campaigns layered with audience insights.

Getting there requires a more collaborative and technology smart solution, to simplify and amplify the effects, not just locally, but globally.

They don’t need to innovate. Publishing has a core product that fundamentally is becoming increasingly scarce and therefore is increasingly valuable, however the challenge is the funding model has to change.

Innovation in publishing should look like great imitation of what we are already seeing from the likes of Facebook, Google and increasingly Amazon. It needs to be easy to use, easy to implement and easy to rationalise.

It needs to be easier to buy at scale, both locally and globally, and more audience insight and data targeting that is simple to execute.

Out-of-home goes full motion

Stuart Taylor, CEO, Kinetic

2019 brings huge opportunity for out-of-home and we expect that there will be an increasing focus on the digital capabilities of the medium. Indeed, digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) is set to focus on its full-motion capabilities, providing an opportunity to act as an extension of online video campaigns in the real world.

DOOH will also be instrumental in creating a better understanding of consumers’ behaviour thanks to mobile. Through consumers’ use of the handset device, as well as network data, mobile will continue to be an essential tool in the planning and measurement of campaigns.

Mobile will also take an active role in the creative execution of campaigns - by using scan-able codes such as QR or Spotify for example - consumers can interact with OOH posters with their devices.

Nevertheless, the creative potential of traditional OOH will continue to add value for brands throughout 2019, as marketers look to ensure their media mix caters to both long-term brand building and short-term activation.

By leveraging the unique strengths of classic billboard inventory alongside the tech-enabled capabilities of DOOH, marketers can be sure their OOH strategy works to do both.

Progressive advertisers

Phil Smith, director general, ISBA

For some time we have been looking at how advertisers and media agencies can build more sustainable relationships. This will require better working practices and also stronger alignment of interests. Progressive advertisers should think differently about how they remunerate their agencies in return for better media value through transparent trading arrangements.

Trust is a big issue for all institutions, corporate and the media, and research shows trust in advertising in particular needs improving. Individual brands need to think about the impact of their communications on their customers’ trust and at an industry level we need to work on ways to address consumers’ sense of bombardment. Under the AA’s aegis ISBA and the IPA are leading a cross industry project to tackle the issue.

We believe the full impact of GDPR is still to be felt as data protection authorities across Europe establish what the regulation means in practice. Advertisers will need to become more reliant on first party data and contextual targeting.

Stamping out sexual harassment

Kerry Glazer, chair, timeTo Steering Committee and CEO, AAR

There’s one thing that will make 2019 a better year for everyone in our industry – all advertising businesses signing up to our timeTo initiative to help us eradicate sexual harassment. By ensuring more businesses are promoting the ideals in our Code of Conduct and sharing these with colleagues, we can make advertising a safer place to work for everyone.

We have had fabulous support for our ‘Where do you draw the line?’ advertising campaign by the wonderful Lucky Generals. The ads have been designed to be thought-provoking rather than judgemental and ask the viewer to consider and question what might cross the line for them in terms of behaviour. It’s only through recognising situations and encouraging people to reflect on their experiences or others’ behaviour, that we can often distinguish where sexual harassment might occur.

In 2019, we plan to run more ‘Where Do You Draw The Line?’ advertising campaigns and we welcome all support that your business can offer to help us with that. This might be free advertising inventory, social media support, spreading the word at industry events or through internal communications. The timeTo initiative is something we want everyone in the industry to be aware of and we need your support to do it.

Please help us to create an atmosphere where those who have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment feel supported, where those who may have stepped over the line recognise that fact, or those who have been falsely accused have a source of guidance.

We are determined that we can, with support, make our industry a safe and secure environment for all and, in the process, be a force for good in wider society by leading the way for other industries to follow.

Media research

Richard Marks, MD, Research the Media

The world’s two leading media-focused research agencies are ‘in play’. Like Brexit, this uncertainty will persist well into 2019. Even when ownership is resolved, corporate restructuring will inevitably occur. Through this period of research industry uncertainty and choppy economic seas it will be vital for all research agencies, in play or not, to keep their strategic focus on clients, developing new products and retaining staff.

The large agencies should remember that clients are nowhere near as interested in your corporate structures as you are. The danger is that agencies emerge from months of inward-focused corporate politics with shiny new client-focused structures, only to find that whilst they were distracted clients have buggered off somewhere else in the meantime.

Developing exciting new research and data products is certainly vital but, even in this new world of big data and algorithms, I would strongly argue that media research remains essentially a people- and relationships-based industry. Clients will go with the experts they trust, that they can look in the eye and know will deliver. Talent retention and continuity are key. The agencies that will best weather the storm will be those that promote and retain the best talent, not those with the shiniest logos and most dotted lines on their organisation charts.

Meanwhile, early 2019 may see either a General Election or Referendum in the UK and consequently further humiliation for the pollsters. It will be important for media researchers to understand, articulate and have strategies to differentiate the challenges that political polling faces. The new fault lines in politics cut across party lines and shred conventional polling approaches. Those challenges unique to polling need to be clearly ring-fenced, less they undermine faith in media research and the industry currencies. They face equally challenging, but very different issues.

Growing TV's share of adspend

Greg Turtle, head of broadcast & OTT, Nielsen

As viewers continue to spread across more devices and platforms, agencies and advertisers need more guidance from broadcasters on how to deploy their AV budgets effectively. TV audience planning tools that accurately account for modern TV viewing habits are much needed as the industry lags distantly behind the planning tools available from the digital technology companies.

For TV to gain a bigger share of adspend in 2019, broadcasters must empower their clients with the information and tools needed to deliver more effective campaigns. A big part of that is addressability and with Sky’s recent launch of their self-serve Sky AdSmart planning tool for 2019, this demonstrates the way industry is innovating.

The TV industry must also get better at demonstrating to advertisers the ability to deliver against their business objectives. Increased connected viewing makes it possible to measure consumer behaviour across devices to develop more accurate attribution models. To date however, the broadcasters have been slow to scale their advanced measurement strategies.

In 2018 we saw the broadcasters collaborate to demonstrate the effectiveness of TV as a whole, which was welcomed. However, in 2019 the broadcaster that offers clients a simple, campaign-level solution that demonstrates the direct effect of TV advertising exposure on purchasing and/or brand metrics could see significant revenue upside.

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Illustrations by Natasha Searston



The Year Ahead is Mediatel's very popular afternoon 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.

Torin Douglas and Ray Snoddy are back and will be joined by Tracy De Groose, Executive Chair, Newsworks and Kathryn Jacob OBE, CEO, Pearl & Dean this year. They'll share their thoughts on 2018 and a few predictions for 2019, in answer to questions posed by you.

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