Future of Advertising

 

‘We’re no longer advertising agencies. We’re brand guardians.’ M&C Saatchi Group CEO Lisa Thomas and Ogilvy CEO Cheryl Giovannoni took the stand at Future of Advertising as The Guardian grilled these two experts on grand plans for big data and content creation…

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So, ‘big data’… What’s the fuss all about?

Cheryl: Increasingly when it comes to data, consumers are thinking about the value exchange. We need to be careful; targeted advertising can be a pain. It’s infuriating when you’re spammed by a brand online. But people are keen to share information if they’re going to benefit from doing so.

Lisa: Agreed. I’ve got Christmas presents still haunting me every time I sign in to Facebook… I think adtech is where big data actually gets interesting. We can use it to get creatively clever online, combining geo-targeting and consumer preference to serve comsumers useful, entertaining advertising they actually want to see.

How is new technology affecting the creative process?

Cheryl: It’s a step into the unknown – look at Facebook, they’ve just invested in Oculus Rift without concrete plans as to how they’re going to develop it within the business. Brands are now opting for online advertising that makes use of fledgling technology, and this doesn’t always come with an accurately mapped out ROI. It’s not as simple as producing great creative for a prime time TV spot anymore. No one knows where the big bets are going to pay off.

Lisa: It’s an interesting time for creatives – partnership deals and prototyping means we’re working with technology that’s not always perfect from launch. Creative directors are no longer the führers they once were; they’re now being asked to delve into the unknown and fail fast to succeed long term…

With the rise in native advertising, how do you see content-driven campaigns affecting roles within your agencies?

Lisa: Historically, advertising agencies have sometimes been guilty of coming up with an advertising idea, rather than a big brand story that has longevity. Now, the big creative idea can no longer be the sole domain of the creative department. We’re no longer advertising agencies, we’re brand guardians, and account teams, creatives, digital heads and content specialists all need to work together from the moment a brief comes in to develop a whole brand world for the client. This means there’s also likely to be more collaboration between advertising and media agencies than there has been for a long time.

Cheryl:  It’s the young professionals coming into the industry now, who are part of a generation of digital natives that are really going to affect how we deliver great content to our clients. They don’t compartmentalise each media platform, they see it all as one blank canvas to work with. It’s the agencies who allow their young talent to have a voice within the company, and give them space to experiment with digital content in particular, that will make the most headway with brands.

Do some brands lend themselves more easily to producing engaging content?

Lisa: Obviously humour is one of the best ways to engage a consumer, and not every brand lends itself to funny content, but some kind of emotional connection is what you’re after, and usually it’s possible to evoke feeling through high quality work, whether that’s humour, warmth, sadness etc.  Editorial control is also an issue; as soon as consumers begin to engage you lose a little control over your output. That’s something that’s absolutely necessary, but a change both brands and agencies are still getting used to.

Cheryl: Yes, and some brands are more willing to relinquish editorial control than others. For content to have any real credibility, brands have to place a certain amount of trust in the ones they’re involving in the editorial process, be it bloggers, brand owners or content specialists.

And what of digital ad blockers?

Cheryl: That’s why thinking about our work in terms of a value exchange is key. If we’re less interruptive, more engaging, consumers won’t resent spending time watching/reading ads and engaging with that brand.

Lisa: It’s one of the many reasons we now, more than ever, have to think about every piece of online advertising as a form of entertainment. Does it inform, amuse, excite? If so, you’re on to a winner, because it’s a piece of content consumers want to talk about. We all have a natural hunger and curiosity for mass communication, and that’s something that’s not going anywhere.

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