Diving Into Ad Week Europe and Why Trust Will Take Centre Stage

Each year, leading minds from across the marketing and ad tech sphere gather in London at Advertising Week Europe (AWE) to discuss the issues that are shaping the future face of the advertising world: offering a frenzy of activity from breakfast networking sessions to late night parties across the capital.

We get to hear from innovators, forward thinkers and get to grips with how we navigate the ever-evolving industry we work in. This AWE, considering recent views from Procter & Gamble and Unilever around brand safety, control and ROI, you can bet that trust will be a theme that permeates through everything that will be discussed at the event.

So here are my thoughts on key trends to keep an eye out for next week.

Building real relationships in an era of fake news

While freedom of speech is to be championed, the rise of fake news and the impact it has on brands presents a real challenge.

Advertisers are stuck in a perpetual state of anxiety that an ad will run alongside something unsafe or irrelevant for their target audience. Consumers need a news source they can trust. Brands need a partner they can trust will be transparent and reach the audience they’re paying for in a safe way and react swiftly and surely when issues arise.

What’s the answer?

The industry is once again seeing the need for publishers that invest in real, quality journalism. Those that invest their marketing spend in connecting with consumers through those trusted brands are much more likely to build lasting, meaningful relationships with them and ultimately can trust they’ll get more bang for their buck.

Data in a post GDPR era

 GDPR has forced our community to assess how data is being used and be more responsible. This regulation is not a bad thing. Empowering consumers to have control over their data will also mean that more meaningful relationships between brands and consumers will be forged.

But the question is, how will marketers navigate this new era and transform the data they do have to meet consumer expectations?

The value exchange becomes even more relevant – consumers will exchange their data for content that is relevant and interesting to them, that’s no new concept. But brands must work with partners to track this active engagement and measure the effectiveness of their communications to truly deliver the value to the consumer, or they’ll quickly rescind that consent to connect with them. It’s only by doing this that brands can pave the way in this new data era.

Changing agency models

‘Murky’ ad tech and widespread fraud, coupled with opaque measurement has led to friction amongst the ad tech world. We’ve seen Unilever and Procter & Gamble demand more out of their digital ad spend with P&G aiming to eliminate 20 per cent of its ineffective marketing, putting pressure on platforms and agencies to ‘clean up their act’.

This new level of transparency that powerhouse brands are calling out for shines a light on marketers across the entire ecosystem taking back control, reducing waste and accelerating mass disruption.

Agencies and tech platforms that embrace this shift and the need for transparency, as well as iterate approaches to best meet marketers’ business objectives will win over brands. Those that stick to old models will fall.

Building brands people love

A closer lens on monetisation and new data regulation will mean brands scrutinise their budget to make sure their plan works harder and that both resonates and connects with their target audience.

The goal for most brands is to build a loyal following that has love for the brand’s values and product, service and/or content – it can create long term affinity and ultimately drive sales. But loyalty and love cannot be achieved without a foundation of trust. Trust is absolutely a human trait and the key to building brand love.

Trust needs to be viewed holistically. Brands need to communicate with their audiences in a way that is authentic, human and engaging. Advertisers need to use data responsibly and be transparent with consumers, paying close attention to the value exchange. This will move them closer to building a brand that people not only trust but love.

If the beginning of 2018 is anything to go by, this AWE is going to provoke a lot of conversation. There will be revelations and there will be even more questions. I’m looking forward to continuing to search for answers but rest assured trust will be central to those answers and to driving the media and advertising industry forward.

Stuart Flint

Head of EMEA at Oath

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