Why brands need to press CTRL+ALT+DEL in 2018

Posted on: Monday 22 January 2018 | Paul Lowrey

This year brands must reboot their approach to digital advertising to make the most of an industry in flux, says Time Inc's UK Digital Strategy Director Paul Lowrey.

Last year marked a watershed year for digital brand advertising with factors including trust, transparency, safety, measurement, user experience, consolidation, Facebook/Google dominance and the use of data all up for debate.    

Throw in a wobbly economy, Brexit (ahem), GDPR and the welcome, but as yet un-established changes brought by the Coalition for Better Advertising, and 2018 is set to further confuse the industry and its clients. 

The need to effectively press CTRL+ALT+DEL for the long-term benefit of all concerned is real and it is now, as the brands that succeed in the new digital landscape will be those that take a step back and carefully weigh up all the influences in play.  

One key directive to drive success will be the need for even greater collaboration between clients, agencies and media owner partners to deliver that eternal grail – the right message, to the right consumer, at the right time. As recognised by the Coalition for Better Ads and many others, consumer expectations of digital advertising are changing and they must be the heart of the solution.   

For example, recent IAB figures show that the 13.8% increase in digital advertising was driven not by in banners and traditional display, which stagnated, but by native and video – formats that meet consumer demand for more relevant, less disruptive advertising when placed in the right editorial context. This indicates that 2018 should be a strong one for publishers, as those with premium inventory are best placed to create and distribute appropriate content with full transparency.  

Quality vs quantity will need to be more considered and the way that campaigns are measured must finally be emphasised on a brand level versus trying to needlessly understand why a CTR has dropped 0.1% in a week.  

Consumers are also concerned about the data companies hold on them, so increased transparency on this side will build more trust in the marketplace. Plus there’s a major education issue. A recent survey by video advertising platform LoopMe, of 1,000 UK and US consumers, found that just 18% understood what data was being gathered for advertising purposes, while 60% wanted ads and online experiences to be more relevant to their needs.  

This “lack of understanding shows just how far the advertising industry needs to go in terms of consumer education”, concluded the report. It also shows the clear brand – and publisher – benefits of educating consumers about how their data is being handled and protected. 

What’s more, although they currently remain in a state of flux, committing to the upcoming GDPR user-consent changes will also improve trust in the digital marketplace – from both clients and consumers.   

Let’s be clear – 2018 will be challenging for our industry, but we have enough talent, insight and opportunities to make it a success. We might just need to press CTLR+ALT+DEL to make sure everyone is set up to do so. 

Written by

Paul Lowrey

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