Covid-19 has given us all a collective purpose and has turned a spotlight on the social resolve of every business. The 1990s term ‘purpose before profits’ is back in vogue as the pandemic tests our humanity and values. And, according to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2020, 33% of chief marketing officers cite brand strategy as their most vital competency, up from the near bottom of the list in 2019.
As brands try to build trust without handshakes, it’s the character and values of their core brand that are now being looked at in new terms. Empathy, compassion and understanding are in. So are listening, empowerment and kindness. Neglecting vulnerable people, exploiting the situation and forgetting loyalty are out. After all, this crisis is about really supporting people in a difficult time, not constantly gratifying shareholders.
So, if these brands really want people to start trusting, what part of their brand strategy do they need to reset?
Reset 1: business resilience and safety
People want to feel safe and if they don’t, your business has a problem. This can range from banking customers knowing their money is secure through to physical retailers ensuring safety in stores with hand sanitisers and wayfinding. This often means companies need to show that they can change fast in response to their customers’ needs, pivot assets when markets become unstable, prioritise vulnerable customers and innovate at pace. Communications have to be thoughtful, simple to understand and relevant to people’s daily lives, so they do not feel like they are being disrupted even more.
Reset 2: employee wellbeing
Protecting employees in frontline roles is a given for any brand, but that doesn’t just mean focusing on tangible fixes (eg masks, signs, extra cleaning). Chief executive officers need to prove they have a people-first strategy by reaching out and really listening to their staff. They should be using video to humanise communications, share stories, learnings and advice to their workforce. They also need to act in real-time to employee needs, so the business is seen to be pulling together in the crises.
Customers still want person-to-person interaction, even if it is from a distance. It’s therefore crucial that companies spell out what measures they are taking to keep their staff and customers safe and address new problems quickly to show that your company truly cares.
Reset 3: help not sell
The pandemic has changed the way we shop, with a surge in online shopping during the first lockdown. Companies must not rest on their laurels, despite 65% of UK customers having tried new shopping behaviours since the pandemic and with a huge 80% (McKinsey, Oct 2020) intending to continue with these changes. Value, convenience and availability are most often cited as top drivers of consumers’ decisions about where to shop – however, quality and purpose are the more important considerations when choosing new brands.
Brands need to understand the changes in their customers’ behaviour and find ways to create loyalty with them, and that starts with building trust. Customers want empathy, not just discounting or cross-selling. Looking after and appreciating your customers has never been more paramount – brands need to show they are serving communities, anticipate doubts, empowering customers, caring about what they care about to build trust.
Reset 4: supply chain standards
The need to have a secure, well-diversified and ethical supply chain has taken on new relevance in the pandemic.
The Covid-19 crisis has made people more conscious of sustainability and the environment. They have become choosier and want to see big businesses supporting mutually beneficial, local supplier relationships. They expect ethical sourcing of paper and mindful production of printed materials. Consequently, brands are looking closely at supply chain efficacy and have started localising their supplier network to save time and improve brand salience.
Suppliers in turn must be properly ISO and Mailmark accredited and PCI DSS certified. From a brand perspective, having a flexible and resilient supply chain builds competitive advantage, accelerates growth, improves customer satisfaction, increases savings and cash flows and ultimately reduces risk. And companies that pull out the stops for critical suppliers and small businesses will be looked on favourably as the economy restarts.
Reset 5: environmental societal governance (ESG) factors
Some companies have been accused of ‘greenwashing’ for the last decade and certain sectors have been slower to show how they contribute to societal, economic and environmental progress. However, the pandemic is forcing all sectors to help the world explore alternative ways to recover from the crisis in the long-term. Brands that are winning are calmly promoting clean and green economic stimulus packages and are also using their capital to finance the transition to a low-carbon economy. By doing this, they can demonstrate the purpose behind what their organisation does – the reason it exists, and why it matters today and in the future.
In the long term, this big reset will be a good thing for businesses across all sectors as it forces them to re-assess and align their brands. The reset is making sectors reevaluate how businesses can treat customers fairly, acting in their best interests giving clear information and providing products and services that meet new expectations. Brands need to be conscious of the responsibility they hold to be part of a new future.
James Lawton-Hill is marketing director at APS Group.
Independent media agency Space & Time has been appointed as Funko’s media agency of record across Europe. The agency was awarded the business following a competitive pitch process, which was conducted virtually.
American company Funko creates and sells unique pop culture collectables, accessories and figures, providing consumers with a tangible way to take their fandom offline. The appointment coincides with the launch of Funko’s first direct-to-consumer (D2C) site in this market, funkoeurope.com, which is now live.
Space & Time will lead Funko’s D2C media activity, including search marketing, D2C-focused paid social advertising and programmatic advertising as the brand looks to expand its presence in Europe.
Eva Verhaak, head of strategic marketing and sales at Funko (EMEA), said, “We are thrilled to be working with Space & Time as we begin to expand our business. It has been a harmonious working experience from the onset, with a supportive, motivated and highly engaged team that I know will become an extension of our in-house team.
"We’re excited to utilise Space & Time’s experience and knowledge to bring Funko fans the next level of fandom!”
Andy Griffiths, associate director at Space & Time, added: “It’s a real privilege to partner Funko at such a pivotal moment in the brand’s growth journey. As D2C platforms continue to be in the spotlight due to the pandemic, we could not be more delighted to support Funko as it launches its first European online store.”
For Iris CEO Ian Milner, life in lockdown has felt very like a bit of a stopgap — not least because he has moved into temporary accomodation while his family home undergoes work. Here, he talks about his makeshift setup, keeping the kids (and adventurous dogs entertained) and what he thinks ad land should take away from a year out of the office.
Everything feels so temporary right now. And since we’re in the middle of rennovating our house, my family and I have moved lock, stock and barrel over from Seet Green to the neighbouring town of Amersham, just outside London.
In our temporary place, I have a makeshift study and I also have several bottles of very good single malt whisky. I am approaching dangerously low levels though and may need an emergency delivery soon... not that I want to panic anyone, or anything.
Everything is fine here, apart from the wi-fi, which is medieval. That’s OK for me, but it’s harder on my kids who seem to be on a dozen devices each at any given time. They also moan constantly and when the moaning stops, the wrestling starts.
Then there’s the dogs, which seem to come and go as they please. I don’t know how they keep escaping, but they always seem quite happy to come back home once they have been out for an adventure. Quite often the dogs (actually it’s only ever our youngest one) are brought back to the house by proper dog owners intent on make sure that I learn my lesson and graduate to proper dog ownership too.
Another challenge is the stream of interruptions from surprisingly friendly and efficient delivery drivers. The day seems to go in a flash, and bleeds late into the night.
The flexibility that comes with working from home can create a kind of comfortable inefficiency, where you spend the time you would have spent on the commute (in my case three hours a day) wasting time and ending up working late. Go figure.
In terms of how my day looks now, it’s a little different. I have to say I really enjoy getting the kids up and out and off to school. I start most days now with the school run, running epic battles to get there on time while dodging the white vans and BMW driving racers. I never used to do this, and I can’t believe how strangely rewarding it is.
Most of my life is now spent mainly in premium leisurewear. I get up with Lululemon, Adidas and North Face, then breakfast for the kids and a quick coffee.
I still plan exercise into the week. As a PE and movement scientist graduate, I’ve also known the power and significance of exercise. I can’t quite put my finger on what else I got from it.
I stay inspired by reading, walking and trying to go into the office as often as possible. Catching up with friends and colleagues of old really helps.
The main difference now in my working life is that there are no ‘hard edges’ to the day. No definite commute, fewer hard stops and no ‘compression time’ between the work and the life. The lack of definition in the day increasingly leads to a night shift from 9pm to midnight.
I’m a big champion of the role that office plays, both in improving motivation and productivity, and helping to attach significance and commitment to the work we do. You can literally get through a day in the ‘blink of a Zoom’.
Most people have enjoyed the extra permission around working from home, and I think that this should continue. But we, as an industry, have to be very careful not lose the defining benefits of our offices. If we do, we face losing the atmosphere of our business and the gravitational pull so necessary for the bold and the brave to create, sell and run the best ideas.
So while I’m in no rush to get back to ’normal’ office hours and firmly believe we should take our time doing so, there is no doubt that we’ll be much better off (mentally, physically, financially, culturally) when most of our working life is anchored in a more physically social setting.
I think that it has been easier than expected to slot into new routines and working methods. It feels like the technology has been there waiting for us all along, to catch up and wake up to its potential.
The ease of the adoption across our network and into the relationships with clients has been brilliant. We have always believed in the power of people and a high empowerment and relationships-orientated culture. I think when a big change happens like this happens this really helps you make the adjustments without so many negative impacts.
Trust, pride and camaraderie are still the vital ingredients in any successful agency business, whether you are working from home more or not. We should remind ourselves of this and not take these principles for granted once we get to the spring and there is more confidence in the air.
Work is too easily interrupted right now, and when we look back at the depressing blur that is 2020, I wonder what, other than just getting through it, we’ll have to show for the year. But maybe just getting through it is enough.
Work and life have never been separate, it’s an ongoing set of tensions and dynamics with one informing and motivating the other. To think of them as separate may well be missing the point of the meaning of life itself.
It’s fair to say 2020 has been a year like no other for the world and by default the marketing industry. But among all the challenges there have also been many things worth celebrating.
In an industry that is always evolving, the global pandemic has spurred us on to be more agile, more creative and more inventive than before, and there have been plenty of lessons learned along the way.
I think that the experience of lockdown has been an awakening. I don’t think I will ever go back to five days in the office with a four-hour Brighton to London daily commute. School drop off and pick-ups are now back as my domain rather than the au pair’s and I love the walk to school chatting to my son, talking to the neighbours, the shop owners – I’ve really learnt inspiration can come from anywhere. I’ve learnt sourdough making takes far too long for me to make on a weekly basis! But I’ve also discovered my degree was perfect for certain home-schooling lessons! And that chatting to colleagues in person can easily be replicated by doing so over Zoom/Teams calls and at a much more personal level as we all meet each other’s kids, puppies, babies etc, which goes a teeny way towards making up for not being able to talk to them in person. One day, one day…
Talking to my colleagues across The Mission Group (by Zoom!), everyone has something different to share about what the extraordinary events of 2020 have taught them about our industry and ourselves. Here are just a few:
Dr Simon Moore, chief executive officer, Innovationbubble: “Clients have admitted they are using video calls to gauge the more ‘human side‘ of their suppliers. So, the non-business chats, the peek into the supplier homes, the appearance of errant children and animals is reassuring them that ‘this is someone like me‘ – which is creating a more emotional engagement point beyond just ‘what you can do for them‘ – it’s also about seeing what you are going to be like to work with.”
Lu-Lyn Chang, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Bray Leino Splash, Singapore: “Embrace the change, try something new. While the pandemic brought on many challenges, it also presented us with the opportunity to get ourselves out of our comfort zones to try new ways of working and playing. It was therefore a total delight to see our people rally together to go on ‘virtual walks’ as well as learning quickly how to conduct our first livestream event in China. This has really brought home that adage, ‘tough times don’t last, but tough people do’.”
Vicki Saunders, deputy managing director, Krow London: “2020 has taught us all a valuable lesson; when it comes to producing powerful and engaging brand campaigns, anything is possible. In the last nine months, we’ve seen brands and agencies overcome the sorts of challenges that have, in the past, prevented great work from ever seeing the light of day. We’ve seen some extraordinary examples of agility, flexibility and responsiveness, and behind each of these is a client and agency that dug-deep and found a way to overcome huge barriers to get the work out there. What I hope we will carry into 2021 is our industry’s new-found energy and passion to conceive and deliver top-notch communications, no matter what.”
Dave Mullen, executive creative director, Story: “As they say, don’t turn up to an earthquake with a dustpan and brush. If the disaster that is 2020 has taught us anything in the creative department, it is ‘be prepared!‘ Be prepared for things to take longer. Be prepared to plan in minute detail. Be prepared for those plans to change, sometimes dramatically, at the 11th hour. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and wash your hands regularly. Be prepared not to wash your hands of things, when the going gets tough. 2021, prepare for change!”
Clare Cooper, director, Speed Communications: “Trust is the biggest thing I think many of us have learned in 2020. Trust your team that they’re OK and will ask for help if they need it. Trust that we can, and have, delivered award-winning work as a remote team. Trust your instincts that if a client goes quiet or changes the brief, something isn’t quite right. Trust that a bit of time away from the screen won’t end in disaster and may help you come up with a better plan.”
Claire Dobbs, chief executive, Solaris Health: “The way that our team has gelled and worked together in the face of this crisis has been quite eye-opening and incredibly satisfying – I’m quite proud of us all. Even though we haven’t seen one another in many months, I feel a tremendous sense of team solidarity.
”In terms of how the pandemic could impact our industry for the better – I think that positivity, kindness and empathy is likely to be top of mind for any campaign where it can be kept real – there isn’t room for anything exploitative, but campaigns will do well to tap into this approach authentically.”
David Dent, planning director, April Six: “It hasn’t been easy for everyone, not all our staff have large gardens to spend time in or are surrounded by a loving family. We had a team put in place to promote mental wellbeing last year and the support they have offered has been amazing. There’s also been a realisation that the brave front people put up in an office environment is often a veneer. The pandemic has really brought this home and helped the team to come together, which has made us feel that we will all exit this situation in a much better place.”
Dan Burman, chief executive officer, Chapter: “When challenges hit, that’s the real measure of the people around you. From the client that phones to see how they can help you, to the person who creates a platform to give voice to other creatives that aren’t fortunate enough to have jobs. From the person who rings every member of the team just to check they’re OK, to producing work that has an authentic and distinctive voice when everything starts to sound the same. Maybe we’ve all learnt a little more humanity while being apart.”
Chris O Donoghue, chief executive officer, Mongoose: “2020 has been the year of listening, self-awareness and intuition. Data, insights and traditional behaviour modelling are all still relevant but the waves of feelings, reasons, protests, negativity and positivity have come thicker and faster than ever this year. So we, as marketeers, have had to call on our more innate skills. To read the room (and the stats). To listen clearly, not to work in silos, remove personal bias, and trust our gut. The risk is high, but so is the reward.”
Stephen Roycroft, managing director, Krow Ireland: “When the matrix is reset and the traditional ways of working reworked, we’ve found whole new ways of solving clients’ problems. One of our ways of addressing any creative or strategic block is to stop walking our own well-worn neural paths and hit a reset. Do something hardwired a novel way – try lacing your shoes a completely different way, a new approach; pull your socks up and get back to the problem you’ve been kicking along the path.”
Kate Cox, chief executive officer, Bray Leino: “2020 has been a reminder of how important a brand is and why ongoing investment is important. The brands that did well this year (and were not looked upon cynically) were the ones that had always had a brand presence or point of view, while the ones that just turned it on this year are the ones that people felt were trying to make a profit from the pandemic. More brands are now thinking about what people want to hear rather than just banging their own drum – perhaps being more considerate or having more empathy with the situation and how people are feeling.”
Mark Leigh, director, Think BDW: “Working in property marketing has been particularly interesting during the pandemic as people’s relationships with their home environment have changed significantly due to national lockdowns and the shift to working from home. Restrictions around physical house viewings and traditional forms of marketing such as printed brochures have meant we’ve had to come up with creative and innovative digital solutions that still provide an emotional connection between the consumer and the product. It has been exciting to see how possible it is to create this connection without needing to step inside the new home”.
Harman Randhawa, associate director, Krow Central
“Nobody has got a clue. This really is a completely new, crazy and ever-changing environment and literally no one has any precedence on what’s the best course of action to take. People are emotional and the situation is changing on a weekly basis dependent on people’s moods and wants. Marketeers should always be at the forefront, understanding what’s driving people and motivating them. And so, at a time when people are looking for guidance, marketeers have an opportunity to lead businesses in this New World.
”From trusting our instincts better to rethinking old problems from a new perspective and remembering that being human is often as important as being right, even the most experienced in our industry have found some positive lessons to take from this challenging, never normal year.
In today’s digital world we’re armed with an ever-expanding list of tactical marketing weapons – programmatic display, personalisation, automation, voice and visual search, expanding social media platforms, AI, python, AR to name but a few.
There’s no doubt we should be keeping up with the latest technological developments that our brands could use to better reach their customers, but it’s perhaps more important than ever to remind ourselves that not all tactics will work in every situation and that we must always use strategic objectives to decide on the right tools for every campaign – which brings us to the fabled concept of media neutrality.
There is no one optimum tool when it comes to marketing communications – each channel (eg paid search, social media) does some things well and others not so well.
The trick with effective, integrated marketing is to understand you should literally put the tools down and firstly consider the objectives you’re trying to achieve. Don’t start with communication channels, begin with strategy.
Before you even consider briefing an external agency on any advertising, you should be able to answer the following questions and be in a position to include the detail as part of your brief:
Customer: who are you trying to reach with any marketing comms, and who aren’t you targeting? This includes detailed demographics, behaviours, interests of each customer type broken down into heterogeneous customer segments.
Positioning: how do you differentiate your brand in the mind of your customer? What is your value proposition?
Objectives: what are you trying to achieve through targeting each customer segment? This won’t always be sales driven and could include increased brand awareness as a goal, for example.
More often than not, objectives end up being too vague, overly focused on tactics and lacking measurability. Compare the two objectives below – one is fluff while the other is easy to plan, budget and measure against.
Remember, every objective set must be SMART, and these should be used as the north star of all media planning decisions.
Most specialist agencies have channel-specific functions that are unconsciously biased, meaning many will always consider the tool before the objective – this goes against the concept of media neutrality.
This is where the role of a media planner comes in, whose role it is to act as a media-neutral representative for brands and select the combination of channels that reach the target audience with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. However, in today’s digital world there’s often a need for real-time decision making, plans are regularly adjusted on the fly and it’s becoming increasingly tough to separate planning from execution.
Everything is now connected and digital, which means planners need to understand the deep relationships between channel, customer and brand more than ever before. The best planners don’t just select the right combination of digital channels for the job, they must also be able to coordinate coherent, consistent messages across multiple channels as part of an integrated campaign.
My personal belief is that we need to kill the concept of digital v traditional marketing – we are marketing in a digital world. If people are watching a video, we can reach them on their TV, digital OOH, mobile, tablet, desktop – the fact we still separate these media decisions between ’traditional’ and ’digital’ marketing and still use historic terminology such as ‘above and below the line' (an outdated accounting term developed by P&G in the 50s originally used to differentiate salespeople from advertising commission) goes against the principles of integrated marketing and will reduce overall effectiveness.
The channels used to get your message across may be the most technologically exciting, but no tool or channel will make your campaign a success in isolation. To simplify the whole planning process, think instead about the people that you’re trying to reach, their behaviours and interests.
Combining channels together will give you a much better return than investing everything in a single channel. This is about taking advantage of the interdependence of different marketing channels.
Numerous studies (such as this one from the IPA) tell us that TV and paid search work fantastically well together, but in isolation neither is as effective – this is a perfect example of the synergy in integrated marketing channels.
A great example of strong integrated communications, albeit a few years old now, is Nike’s award-winning ‘She Runs’ campaign. In this campaign, every channel was aimed at promoting an invitation to the ’She Runs’ club across print, display, online and in-store to great effect. The story here is not focused on any one channel, but how each channel was used in tandem to deliver a coherent, consistent message that generated the desired outcome.
It’s important to note that you must have no favourites when it comes to media planning, and should always consider the customer, positioning and objectives of each campaign before considering the tactics needed to deliver it.
It’s still hugely important to stay abreast of technological change to avoid missing opportunities for growth, but it’s not enough to have three or four different tools working in isolation – each tool should all work together as part of an integrated campaign. That’s why we call it a campaign – it’s a military exercise where different weapons are used together to win the overall war!
Ben Wood, strategy director at Hallam.
Marketplaces and D2C are transforming the sales landscape. Here Bertrand Maugain examines the new models and how the synergies between them and existing eCommerce channels need to be negotiated carefully
The digital imperative
All too often, the Business to Business (B2B) sector has been inclined to think that ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, but it’s surely no exaggeration to say that Covid broke its traditional sales model forever. Digitalization is now “imperative”, Gartner argues, and B2B has taken this message on board.
The crisis is an opportunity for change and growth. Digitalization transforms the way you do business but also paves the way for new business models. Here I look at D2C
(direct to consumer), and by extension “Direct to Customer”, for manufacturers of business products willing to sell directly to their business customers, bypassing the traditional distribution chain.
D2C or how to talk to your real customers
The D2C model is a response to the growing customer demand for sustainability and provenance. Intermediaries are wasteful. Millennials, in particular, care deeply about proximity to a product or a supplier because it simplifies fulfillment (for them anyway) and gives them more authentic insight into the product.
The advantages for a business selling directly to its end market are obvious: by cutting out the middlemen (and sometimes there are many), it can offer a cheaper product, increase margins — or both.
A strategic, longer-term benefit is that you are finally talking to the users of your products, and not merely to the businesses that transport them, warehouse them, or retail them. This is huge.
The traditional B2B business model denies manufacturers direct insight into the customer experience of its products, making them slow to react to changes in the market. It doesn’t have to be that way. The loungewear startup MeUndies has a “Build a Pack” functionality that allows customers to select unique underwear prints, styles, and matching sets as part of its D2C subscription model. No more asking the shop assistant, just tell the factory directly!
Of course, D2C does not happen overnight; there are challenges. However, those that do make the shift can reap rewards.
A good example is in the UK where, since the pandemic broke out, we’ve seen some breweries and food wholesalers such as Samuel Smiths Brewery, AllGreens and Neals Yard Dairies who have expanded their sales model with D2C offerings. As their B2B route to market was closed (restaurants, hotels and pubs), they regrouped to build (or adapt) an eCommerce presence to reach end-customers directly.
What is interesting is that these businesses intend to keep going with D2C once the lockdowns ease. They are confident that by building their brand, D2C is growing the market for it, and that this will more than offset any loss in revenue from B2B sales to distributors.
Cannibalization is the grisly turn of phrase for one sales channel taking trade from another, and this is certainly a consideration before you commit to D2C. You do not want to alienate your distributors. But while D2C may eat into B2B sales there is also more pie to go round if you plan your foray into D2C carefully, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Why you should start small
So where do you start? Logistics are crucial. A typical B2B eCommerce platform is often not connected to direct sales channels; implementations are built around the dispatch of bulk deliveries, and not set up for the fulfillment of individual orders. Inventory will change rapidly and erratically, so suppliers need real-time insight into the stock position. With the right Digital Experience Platform (DXP), integrations to your ERP system for up-to-date product information, prices, and inventory could transfer over from your B2B platform.
You won’t be making your entire offering available for D2C. Start small. Put out a product that you know is very likely to succeed in a D2C context and rely on that promise of quality and consistency to win over customers before taking it to the next level. A lot of D2C pioneers built their business in this way. When it launched, Casper offered just one mattress, Bonobos sold just one style of pants, and Harry’s shipped only one type of razor.
This piecemeal approach echoes the minimum viable product concept, where you test the ground, adjust your product or your D2C product offering without wasting money on an inventory of sub-optimal products.
Is D2C for you?
As we saw, the great benefit of D2C is that it frees you to communicate your story very directly to your end-user. However, many B2B businesses are not set up for this, because their online platforms take the narrow view of being all about the sale and not the brand. In B2B, your customers make rational, long-term decisions; in B2C — and therefore D2C — emotion and impulse have the upper hand. To do both you need a platform that can create radically different customer experiences and transactional journeys from the same source: your great products.
To learn more about the D2C why not download our most recent eBook: The Three Pillars of Successful B2B Digital Transformation, where we reveal we reveal how B2Bs can successfully respond to change and invent the disruption of tomorrow.
In this episode, Steve Werley of Maximum Effort Agency is going to show you how to create your 2021 marketing plan.
The post Episode 129: Creating Your 2021 Marketing Plan with Steve Werley of Maximum Effort Agency appeared first on DigitalMarketer.
Competitive analysis is one of the most important tasks a business owner can undertake. That's why it's important to do it as well as you possibly can. Learn some best practices that can take your competitive analysis to the next level.
This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you’d like it your inbox once a week.
The media trends reports are coming in thick and fast, particularly thick. So my last few weeks of this hell-year are committed to digging in and working out just what happened.
We all hope to start 2021 making up lost growth, vaccine in hand (or arm) with crystal clear objectives.
Havas Media boss reflects
Having ridden out his first few months as Havas Media Group UK/Ireland chief executive, Patrick Affleck is enthused by the hardiness of his media agency in the face of chaos - but there are more challenges ahead he warned.
He's aware of the systemic crises facing society (and naturally marketers) and shared how HMG is evolving to meet these issues. It was a chunky chat, and I'll admit, quite unusual to hear a chief exec talk so frankly about real-world issues and feasibly connect them to media strategy. But isn't that the point?
What struck me is that he said many clients haven't firmed up marketing budgets yet.
There's too many variables ahead; Brexit, vaccine roll-out, recession, being some. If we don't nail this vaccine roll-out, Q1 could be another lost quarter.
GroupM and our friends at Media Voices were out the gate with media trends reports this week.
I deep-dived the GroupM report and pulled out some snackable bullet points. If you want a feel for 2021 budget predictions check this. Growth will return, caveats apply.
Meanwhile, Esther Kezia Thorpe of Media Voices condensed its new report, which was more about lessons about how publishers rode out the storm.
A stat about the media's representation of race struck me as the most interesting. "By October, magazine covers in 2020 had featured Black subjects three times more than the previous 90 years." Let's hope this is the start of more people seeing themselves reflected in the media they consume.
Huge change at Snapchat. It remains a closed-off messaging app for friend-to-friend comms (unlike TikTok that broadcasts to the world) but it is moving closer to its rival with the release of Spotlight.
Looking like TikTok's For You feed, the stream is adding a competitive element to its user-generated content with the allure of a $1m a day fund for the best clips. Of the 4bn Snaps sent a day, the elite will feature. There's undoubtedly a huge amount of creativity in this walled garden, this is Snap's way of opening up and chasing some of that out-of-app rep that TikTok's enjoyed.
Natalie Carder, head of paid social at Zenith, talked us through it.
BuzzFeed's been no stranger to collaboration and acquisition, however, the HuffPost-acquisition took me by surprise, knowing how tough a year the title had (although things are looking up for the streamlined business).
Nat Poulter, chief operating officer at Jungle Creations, donated some words to us weighing up publisher value vs what they can actually create.
"The digital dream prophesied by many never happened," she wrote. "Any publisher totally reliant on display advertising is going to have a hard time staying afloat. It simply doesn’t pay."
BuzzFeed, as a late entrant to programmatic display, should be protected from these issues, with sponsorships, branded content, subscription, programming, affiliates and commerce playing their part. But now, it also has the opportunity to make better use of the Verizon Media ad network from whom Buzz salvaged the troubled news title
4 things you need to know about Channel 4’s digital-first strategy [All4 audiences jumped 27% through 2020]
Reach ‘exceeds market expectations’ but print decline reverses digital gains [group revenues slumped 13.9% in the five months to 22 November]
Virtual need for speed: why Porsche has invested in esports during a pandemic [“Esports played a major role in driving our growth this year" - new audience]
Now TV recreates Love Actually doorstep scene to push festive ‘Greetings Gram’ [book a doorstepping from Martine McCutcheon]
Every community manager ran the same monolith tweet [what's the point?]
Take down anti-vaccine conspiracy posts or face consequences, ministers tell social media giants [trouble ahead, mark my words]
Spotify says it’s dominating the podcasting market because of a million-plus tiny podcasts [it's micro-influencers all over again]
Well, that’s this week’s round-up. If you missed the last one, I have summarised it here.
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Replacing the cookie
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that marketers need to find a new way to target and measure audiences as, today, third-party cookies are not effective on either Apple devices or the Chrome browser, with Google following suit sometime before 2022. Though to be effective, any solution needs to be privacy compliant and to work seamlessly in a broad range of environments. This will enable advertisers to run more effective media and ultimately lead to publishers being better able to monetise their valuable audiences. Of the solutions proposed so far, Experian Match is the first solution to fit these criteria and so could be the solution that allows display to flourish. It does this with a focus on ensuring privacy compliance and a customer-centric way of working.
How it works
Experian Match utilises its great history of customer insights and audience activation. By utilising InfoSum’s privacy-first technology and ecosystem, Experian can allow publishers and advertisers to onboard data at a household level. Code deployed on both publishers’ and advertisers’ sites works with IP and first-party IDs to identify groupings and households and allows for that information to be syndicated through the InfoSum ecosystem. Campaigns are then run via private marketplace deals and data processing will be carried out by Experian technology (to aid targeting and measurement). The benefit of this approach is that it allows audience targeting and retargeting to be carried out seamlessly on quality inventory. Crucially, it will work in multiple environments from banner ads to rich media including video and connected TV. This system is completely browser and environment agnostic, so can work across browsers and devices.
For advertisers, this means that they get a complete data-driven media solution that allows them to operate on all browsers across quality media. Ultimately, driving ROI and real-world brand outcomes.
For publishers, this creates an opportunity to monetise media that cookie audiences cannot reach; today that is iOS, Safari and some TV/Video environments. In future, this will be the case in all online media environments.
Privacy by design at its heart
Any replacement for third-party cookies needs to be focussed on consumer privacy and compliance with regulation. As such, Experian Match first of all ties into the IAB’s (Internet Advertising Bureau’s) TCF 2.0 (The Transparency and Compliance Framework). Furthermore, Experian Match data is accessed and used via the differential privacy infrastructure of InfoSum’s decentralised data platform. Experian facilitates the targeting and measurement of media to occur without any customer data being passed between different companies in the media buying process and data will only be used when consent is granted. Additionally, as the data is controlled by leading brands that consumers have heard of, they have a relationship which is a big step forward to the situation in open programmatic today, where the data is being read by multiple adtech companies, often without the consumer’s awareness. Lastly, as Experian Match leverages private marketplaces rather than open buying structures, individuals’ data is never broadcast to other non-participating companies (as is the case for normal open market media buying).
One of the major challenges for advertisers and publishers has been the dominance of first-party data and the questionable quality of third-party data. Quality data does exist in the marketplace; and particularly the data that comes from premium publishers and trusted data providers. The challenge for advertisers is recognising this good quality data, compared with the high volume of relatively poor data that sadly is also prevalent in the market.
Experian Match is built on the foundations of datasets that are built from the ground up on Mosaic, Experian’s segmentation product, to provide a view of the UK population. This means that advertisers and publishers are able to model their customers against a world-leading service, prior to buying for planning. Advertisers already have access to good data on users that have already visited their website, this set up further gives them the data on customers that have yet to engage with them. As such, this is ideal for prospecting and brand campaigns.
Focussed on excellent cross-channel media execution
Experian Match is not only a viable replacement for cookie methodology but also an end-to-end media ecosystem. Only approved advertisers and publishers that work with Experian will be able to participate in the opportunity which helps to guarantee quality media environments and advertisements. Indeed, Experian Match not only helps solve for identity in a privacy-first world but also helps advertisers control supply-side issues highlighted by numerous reports (including the PWC/IAB report in summer of 2020), over discrepancies in the supply chain. Because Experian Match leverages private market placed deals (PMPs) extensively (though other options are available), participating advertisers will get direct access to marketplaces with many of the industry’s top publishers. A display ecosystem built on Match is much more transparent and higher in quality and performance than is open RTB display.
As you can see from the above, Experian has gone a long way to creating a data-driven ecosystem that’s fit for the future (beyond cookies). In my view, it is an exciting opportunity for advertisers and publishers alike. It is equally important for consumers to be able to enjoy an ad-supported ecosystem with confidence that their data is respected. I really hope marketers engage with this opportunity quickly, to build a better world for our industry and for consumers.