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Targeting obsessed marketers told to refocus on creativity

31 Jan 2019  |  Michaela Jefferson 
Targeting obsessed marketers told to refocus on creativity

Senior marketers will need to refocus on brand messaging rather than data and technology if advertising is to rebuild consumer trust, industry bosses have argued.

In a paper published today during the Ad Association's annual LEAD conference, it was revealed that public favourability towards advertising hit a low of 25% in December last year.

Furthermore, in 2017 the ASA received almost 30,000 complaints about advertising in the UK, a rise of 47% on 2016.

Some of the blame for increasing public hostility towards advertising can be attributed to the vast volume of 'repetitive' and often intrusive ads consumers are 'bombarded' with online, with many branding the use of personal data to micro-target people across digital platforms 'creepy'.

During a panel at the conference, Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer at The Guardian, argued that the prioritisation of data and targeting by senior marketing executives has come at the expense of creativity and quality, further compromising public trust.

"I would love for CMOs to be able to spend a lot more time thinking about the message, the creative output, and where the messaging goes, as opposed to basically taking on the role of the CTO by trying to figure out technology and data," he said.

Brands need to focus on both elements of advertising in equal measure, Nicklin added, but at present the industry has "massively over-steered" towards data and targeting.

Ronan Harris, VP and MD of Google, UK & Ireland, agreed with Nicklin, claiming that he still talks to C-suit customers "every day" who are "grappling" with data and technology.

However, as standards around data become more clear and senior executives become more familiar with GDPR, available technologies and measuring outputs, "the job of the CMO will begin to move back from being a data and tech specialist to using those insights to place bets based on their understanding of the customer and the creative resources they have at their disposal," he said.

Nicklin and Harris further agreed that the industry needs to come together to create ethics and morals around how it collects, uses and shares data in order to rebuild trust.

"The invasion of privacy purely so we can target better ads seems a disproportionate balance in the value exchange. That feels wrong and there will be a backlash from consumers," Nicklin said.

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