We live in interesting times. Last week we saw Adidas drop TV advertising. By contrast, last month P&G pulled all digital media, putting its agencies on notice because of ad fraud.
When you can’t tell which way the wind is blowing, you know you’re in the eye of a storm. But personally, I don’t think either of these approaches is the right one.
Our view at Y+S is that these contrasting actions simply mean we’re at the mid-way point and there’s lots more change to come. From these stories arise two big questions that need resolving. Namely, what is TV’s role now and how do you deal with ad fraud? Let’s look at TV first.
Let me start by saying that companies need to build their brands. Those that only focus on short term incremental sales through programmatic or performance media may do well for a while, but over the medium term I don’t think this will be a winning approach. Customers need a strong emotional reason to buy as well as a rational one, so there will still be a place for crafted, brand storytelling. What I think will change is the types of videos we produce. Personally I believe that the 30 second spot will become less relevant. What we’ll see is a shift toward either longer or very short formats. This content will also live in more places.
Right now, TV still makes sense for certain audiences; it’s an effective way to get new messages in front of a lot of people. The challenge for the TV networks is to ensure they have the content that those important demographics want to watch. I also believe advertising and content will continue to be more integrated. I like the work that FCB have done with TVNZ and the Fire Service, Escape My House. It’s a great example of how this is being done well.
Now let’s move on to the other issue raised, ad fraud. Undoubtably, this is something the digital media industry needs to tidy up. One of the key things advertisers can do to address this, is to change some of the performance metrics they choose to judge their campaign success on. The old axiom of being careful of what you measure comes to mind.
Last week I was lucky enough to hear Konrad Feldman, the founder of Quantcast, speak about some of the measurement challenges the industry faces. And it was encouraging to hear that our approach at Y+S is on the right track. His advice? Stop judging success by impressions and clicks. This only encourages fraud because the campaign becomes optimised by the types of high fraud sources that you don’t want. Instead focus on conversion traffic – leads, sign ups and sales.
However it’s worth bearing in mind that this too can cause issues if the media becomes too focussed on re-marketing. Without a steady stream of new visitors to your site, your marketing campaigns will wither and die. To safeguard against this you can simply split your campaign targeting between new visitors and converting existing visitors. At Y+S, we often think about splitting the audience into three targets – new customers (building awareness), engagement (telling our stories), and conversion (reasons to buy now).
So here we are right in the middle of the storm. Regardless of which way you think the wind is blowing, it’s worth remembering that it’s not an either/or answer. But I do believe it pays, now more than ever, to start with a digital-first approach. Think about the brand experiences you want to create. Think about how you want to build awareness to bring people into your world. Then think about how best to encourage them to interact in the way that matters most to you.