The year ahead: strategies for success - part two

18 Dec 2018 
The year ahead: strategies for success - part two

In the second of two specials, experts from across the media and advertising sectors reveal their blueprints for a prosperous 2019

Read part one here | Illustrations by Natasha Searston



An opposite approach

Verra Budimlija, chief strategy officer, Wavemaker

Next year, let’s go back into the wild, let’s cast the net into the real world and take the time to understand the whole person, not the data point.

FTSE 100 companies spend 2-2.5 per cent of their turnover on research, but 70 per cent of that goes on quantitative surveys, while the other 30 per cent goes on qualitative research that observes people out of context, out of their natural environment.

Effective communication demands the opposite approach, it means being creatively curious and using data to solve problems. To do that you have to get to know the people you want to reach and understand their social, cultural, economic, physical, mental and spiritual place in the world.

In 2019 I’ll be looking to the world of design, which leads the way in building empathy with consumers, understanding how they make decisions, and creating solutions that seamlessly integrate into our lives. Our best cities, systems and services are designed around our needs, so that we rarely notice perfect design because it’s so flawlessly fit for purpose.

By working together and using empathy as a starting point, marketing and technology can build similarly frictionless interactions between consumers and brands.

Machines can do the heavy lifting and relieve consumers of the cumbersome decisions that hinder the brand experience. But the tech is only going to work if we we’ve been out into the wild first, and taken the time to get a true picture of the people we want to communicate with.

Ditch 'digital vs traditional'

Jon Mew, CEO, IAB

The strategy I would like to see employed in 2019 is one that ceases to pit different channels against one another, in the mistaken belief that there is a de facto ‘best’.

The influential ‘The Long and the Short of It’ is right: it’s about the optimal blend of brand and direct response campaigns, regardless of channel. The “either/or” narrative of digital vs traditional is now completely irrelevant. Just ask Monzo, Eve and Mahabis or the wealth of other direct to consumer brands, who have built successful, multi-billion-dollar businesses, using both brand and DR, but almost entirely via digital channels.

The strategy should be how the combination of all relevant channels for your audience delivers against the long- and short-term growth goals and key brand metrics, such as brand impact, brand equity, NPS, and so on.

We should ban the term ‘traditional advertising’, because with the internet over 25 years old and mobile well-over a decade old, what should be classed as traditional anymore, when to many these channels are all they’ve ever known?

Agency culture

Sue Frogley, chief executive officer, Publicis Media UK

The world of business is transforming at a pace never seen before. And, that pace is only set to increase. Technology, business models and new ways of thinking have provided consumers with a multitude of new ways to engage with brands and businesses.

No sector is untouched. And, this is just the beginning of what is widely termed as the fourth industrial revolution – the full capabilities of AI, automation and data are yet to be fully realised. It’s an exhilarating (and yes, at times daunting) time to be in business. In the world of advertising we are by default the pioneers of cultural and societal shifts and change.

In order to stay ahead of this pace we need to radically overhaul the way we go about our business. We need to transform cultural norms and pull down the age-old structures that just don’t fit with today’s world. We ourselves as an industry have to practice what we preach. The rigid 9am-5pm working day just doesn’t suit the cadence of business anymore.

Presenteeism must be put to bed along with the clock-in, clock-out culture of yesteryear. Instead, we should engender a culture focused on outputs, results and ultimately the work we produce for clients and customers.

Business is transforming. So the way we all go about our business must radically transform too. Don’t risk becoming an anachronism, make the shift and give your business and your people the flexibility and agility to thrive in tomorrow’s world.

Network agencies face a tough task

Brian Jacobs, founder, BJ&A

It’s usual in these future looking pieces to exaggerate both the problems and the opportunities. But it really is no exaggeration to say that 2019 will be a critical year for media agencies – and, in particular for the network agencies.

The fall-out from Jon Mandel’s original 2015 speech, the 2016 ANA report that followed it, the subsequent decline in trust in the large agencies, and the continuing FBI enquiry into media buying practices point to the need for a sea-change.

If a large chunk of your revenue comes from someone other than the client, and if a significant proportion of that is at best under risk and at worst has simply disappeared then you have a problem.

For far too long agencies have spoken in public about their strategic skills, planning expertise and original, insightful research whilst at the same time making their money elsewhere.

They’ve failed, or sometimes not tried to come up with the evidence why the thinking bit is worth paying for.

In 2019 agencies have to improve what we can short-hand as their planning capabilities. More importantly they need to demonstrate how these skills can genuinely add business benefits to their clients, and charge accordingly.

That won’t be easy – it’s never easy to charge for something you’ve been giving away for free.

The key is to demonstrably do something different / better / worthwhile. Expect more agency acquisitions as they add specialists, and much talk of integration and data excellence.

The power of audio

Liz Duff, head of media and investment, Total Media

Radio is in a prime position to capture more ad spend in 2019 if it can effectively communicate its benefits to media buyers and brands and change their perceptions of audio. Although Radiocentre’s research earlier this year into the perceptions of the impact of different media versus the reality is a great start, there is more work to be done, especially with digitally focused planners and clients.

Radio needs to capitalise more on the emotional connection it has with listeners, and the benefits this can transfer to brands looking to build relationships with consumers. Building on this, it should also leverage the steadfast consumer trust in traditional media when compared with digital’s declining reputation in certain areas.

The power of audio lies in its ability to influence listeners’ moods and emotions, thereby driving behaviour. From a behavioural planning perspective, I’d like increased opportunities for data-driven and context-based dynamic creative to enable ‘personality type’ targeting. Through better understanding of the listeners of different radio stations and shows, media teams would be empowered to tailor creative to better reflect the mood and character of specific personalities.

Radio should also increase its capability for cross-platform integration across OOH, audio and mobile – something Global Radio in particular has a good chance to develop given its major OOH acquisitions. Combining audio and OOH with geo-location data alongside access to increased levels of audience understanding would provide an extra incentive to media buyers.

Finally, more and improved self-serve options would help to drive increased usage of audio by programmatic teams.

Trust us

Stephen Woodford, chief executive, Advertising Association

We have one simple goal for this coming year – deliver on our plan to address the decline of public trust in advertising and, by doing so, help ensure the UK remains the leading global hub for advertising. Our industry is a vital component of the UK economy and an unrivalled national creative asset.

We were delighted to be named as one industry showing bumper growth in the recent DCMS announcement celebrating Britain’s creative industries breaking through the £100 billion barrier.

All this, yet public trust in advertising is at historic lows which is hugely concerning. As our new AA President, Keith Weed, said at our recent AA Council meeting, advertising is, to a great extent, the promotion and selling of a brand and, without trust, a brand becomes simply a product and advertising just noise. There is industry-wide recognition of this problem and we are determined to do something about it.

As such, we have created the Trust Working Group at the Advertising Association – alongside members from across the UK’s biggest advertisers, agencies, media owners, trade associations and tech platforms – under the direction of ISBA Director General, Phil Smith and IPA director general, Paul Bainsfair.

The Trust Working Group has commissioned research by Credos, advertising’s think tank, into public trust in advertising, the reasons for its overall decline and identified areas where can improve it.

We will be announcing this research and our measures to address these concerns at LEAD, our annual industry summit, on January 30. We welcome everyone in our industry to join us and make 2019 the year we stem the decline in trust in advertising and start to rebuild our relationship with the public.

Entertain us

Kathryn Jacob, CEO, Pearl & Dean

The entertainment industry is going through a fabulous period at the moment. Amazing quality content is still the driver of audiences and interest and the 2019 film slate is set to deliver some of the biggest audiences known. 2018 has been good too, with projections for the end of the year cinema admissions in the region of 176 million, the highest they have been since the 1970s.

TV is enjoying a wonderful time too, with successes like The Bodyguard (bets are now on for Richard Madden as a future Bond), Killing Eve and I’m A Celebrity delivering compelling content, wherever and whenever you want to access it.

The claim that the tech giants are operating in a different way is wrong, as the existence of Amazon Studios has shown – they follow the usual release pattern of film, knowing that the long tail of content is ignited by the cinema experience. This is evidenced by the success of The Luna Cinema, Rooftop and Backyard Cinema, bringing people together in iconic settings to enjoy the films they want to share.

The cross-over appeal of film soundtracks has been shown in the music industry with The Greatest Showman, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born reinvigorating the sector. Will Shallow, the stand out track from A Star is Born, win a Grammy? It just proves that the media strategies that develop a multi-faceted approach are the most likely to engage and deliver audiences.

Yes, the economy is challenging but there is a lot to be positive about. Big brand building campaigns showing with thought-provoking, sing along, hilarious, and engaging storytelling on AV is still value for money, when you then add the activation platforms that work so well with the brand saliency that is key to great communications.

The year ahead in OOH

Gavin Lee, chief technology officer, Posterscope

Throughout 2018 we’ve seen the fusion of data-led planning, dynamic and agile activation in digital OOH drive the medium forward.

As we head into 2019, this convergence will continue. The user experience, whether more free wi-fi or full motion content, will get better and better and drive greater effectiveness for advertisers.

Those that move away from the concept of a ‘campaign’ and focus on OOH communications that are always-ready, dynamically triggered and personally relevant, will see impressive improvements in business effects, both in terms of deeper engagement, and increases in ROMI.

Global’s acquisition of three media owners demonstrates the enduring strength and potential of the medium and will mean more investment in inventory and infrastructure, which will subsequently drive yet more innovation. We expect digital out-of-home (DOOH) to grow to reach c.65% of the adult population, while its share of revenue will accelerate towards similar levels.

The ability to leverage these benefits, at real scale for advertisers, will be ever more reliant on the considerable investment that we continue to make on our buy side platforms and for this to be mirrored on the sell side. Ultimately, this will underpin the evolution of the OOH medium and offer marketers a medium that combines its traditional brand building virtues with a performance edge.

A re-evaluation

Sophie Harding, trends and insights director, Mindshare

The latest research from Mindshare’s 5th annual Mindshare Trends Report has revealed that over half (54%) of people are making more conscious, deliberate media choices these days. This is extending into a number of areas such as TV viewing, news consumption and device, internet and social media use. With a growing concern for wellbeing and an increasing sense of uncertainty in all areas of our lives, from politics through to the economy, it’s clear that people want to be put back in the driving seat and feel empowered to make these kinds of impactful life decisions, however small.

In addition, attitudes towards media are changing, as the impact of GDPR and the increased publicity about media company practices kicks in. People are now feeling savvier, more informed and confident in this space.

We are already seeing tech companies offering tools and designing products to fit this new mind-set, such as Facebook and Instagram’s monitoring dashboards and Apple’s screen-time app. Whether people choose to do something about the information provided is another point entirely, but it’s clear that people want to be given the information to make that informed choice.

Brands and marketers should also be thinking in a similar way about how to best help people in this space and use media mindfully. It will become increasingly important to be sensitive to context and know when to adapt to various moods and situations. Switch off moments must be respected, and less interruptive platforms are more likely to be welcomed.

How brands should appear in the social space is an area for real consideration. Interestingly, our report also showed that over half (51%) of people say they would be happy if social media had never been invented, although we do need to take this with a pinch of salt, as our relationship with social media becomes increasingly complex. People aren’t leaving social platforms entirely just yet, but they are certainly changing how they use them. It is therefore advisable to think about how to cultivate a healthy and real presence.

So as 2019 begins, brands should take into account that people are starting to re-evaluate the ways in which they interact with media – such as being more selective about the TV they watch, assessing how they use social media, paying closer attention to the sources they use for news, and monitoring their internet habits.



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Coming up next year...

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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