Today, tomorrow and the future. Digital is here to stay

Despite recent headlines, the IAB's CEO Jon Mew provides proof that the future of digital advertising is both bright and effective in driving sales and building a brand's reputation.

Jon Mew

Given all the furore in the media about digital advertising, you’d be forgiven for believing our industry isn’t in the best health. But from where we’re sitting, the future’s looking pretty rosy. Digital is growing, adapting and improving, just as it should, and here’s why. 

We doubt anyone in advertising escaped P&G’s Marc Pritchard urging the industry to clean up digital. After reducing spend, it’s now reported that cutting digital marketing spend by $100m has had no impact on the P&G business.

Now, you could read this one of many ways

1) that digital advertising is completely ineffective, but we’d counter that one - brands aren’t going to spend £10.3 billion [1] on something that doesn’t work,

2) that some of the digital spend was less effective and this is what was cut when the budget was reduced – otherwise known as efficiencies and seeing what works - which in our mind is a good thing,

3) that digital advertising is indeed effective, but the negative impact of reducing spend will almost certainly take longer than three months to play out. 

Either way our view remains that P&G’s stance was good for the industry. It’s making everyone focus on what’s working and moving us on from the cheapest price and a race to the bottom. We also believe Adidas’ position moving more budget to digital is good for the industry. There will always be brands doing things differently to win customers and build brands and we applaud both.

There’s another reason we think knocking digital is a dangerous place to play. It may not be so easily measured in straight sales, but no brand in their right mind would wish to be completely absent from a place where so many people spend so much time. We’d argue a brand’s reputation among young, savvy populations of the future would be diminished by a long term no-show.

Beyond what we believe, there’s some irrefutable evidence to show that digital is growing and helping to not only sell stuff but also to build brands, contrary to current commentary.

Firstly, brand building ad formats are being heavily invested in online. Video, known for its story-telling capabilities and therefore the perfect platform for brand building messages, is the fastest growing online ad format. It grew 56% last year and is now worth £1bn [2]. Digital adds that magic ingredient meaning brands can personalise their message, targeting the right person in the right place and saying the right thing.

Secondly, when brand formats and campaigns are used they deliver significant brand uplifts – we’ve seen 13% for spontaneous brand awareness and 6% for brand consideration in recent mobile research [3] which is not to be sniffed at.

Finally, advertisers are regularly choosing online for their brand campaigns. Ninety-three percent of online advertisers claim to use digital for brand building [4] rather than performance marketing objectives such as raising awareness, changing brand perceptions or educating audiences. 

So with all that in mind – we see a bright future for digital advertising. One that intuitively meets the need of the modern advertiser and proves itself to be effective in not only driving sales but building a brand’s reputation.


[1] IAB / PwC Digital Adspend Full Year 2016

[2] IAB / PwC Digital Adspend Full Year 2016 

[3] From 170 brand campaigns served on mobile, brand surveys demonstrated these results for those exposed to advertising versus control groups, OnDevice Research, August 2017

[4] IAB Advertiser Snapshot Survey, June 2016.

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