Dear Commercial Acuman...

Dear Commercial Acuman...
What did the 2016 ISBA Annual Conference teach us about the future of advertising?

Beyond the speakers, content and networking opportunities, ISBA's annual conference is also a great way to see at first-hand what is on clients' minds.

Unsurprisingly for a full-day conference, the speakers and topics were varied, but join up the dots and a couple of key themes emerged: 

1. Marketing has not changed; effectiveness is still what matters.

Taking the theme of Dumb Ways for Marketing to Die, WFA President David Wheldon advised marketers to keep it simple:

  • Build and maintain a distinct brand
  • Understand the consumer

And, in a much tweeted aphorism, he warned against becoming the dog that barks at every passing car.

Grant Duncan echoed this idea, advising the audience not to forget the magic of Magic and Logic.

On the topic of both ad blocking and blocking the ad blockers, the message from Johnny Ryan was that the solution to ad blocking is a human one rather than technology, leading Peter Markey of the Post Office to observe that better, more acceptable, less intrusive ads are the real the answer to this challenge.

2. Here For Good, Good For Business

DCMS minister John Whittingdale reiterated his support for the Creative Industries as a key part of a free market and the economic benefits they bring, noting that advertising's self-regulation is a model for other industries to follow.

Lawyers Lewis Silkin explained how best to work, and contract with vloggers, two of whom, fresh-faced and blinking, demonstrated that within seconds of tweeting a Periscope link, they can have hundreds of followers online.

As both media owners and paid talent, vloggers have an online reach and following that brands can only dream of and, rightly, require that brands they work with support and not compromise their authenticity.


3. Talent

The talent panel aired, but did not fully explore, the theme of lifelong learning - not least to stay ahead of the bots and the coming AI revolution as referenced in an earlier presentation by Deloitte Digital's Olivier Binse.

Hugh Pile of L'Oreal advised the audience that talent cares about three things 1) earning 2) learning 3) having fun.

4. Commercial Value

There were plenty of comments in support of marketing as an investment to be maximised rather than a cost to be minimised:

  • Graham Brown noted the increasing importance of hard ROMI metrics in the boardroom.
  • David Wheldon observed that good Procurement understands that marketing is an output, not an input.
  • Microsoft CMO Paul Davies advised advertisers to forget price, think value and focus on talent.
  • Deloitte Digital's Olivier Binse advised that the eight great traits of a digital business include a focus on new ideas, people and value.

Taken together, these ideas give us a clear view of where advertising needs to go; and it is nothing more or less radical than continuous improvement in execution of some fairly long-term concepts:

  • Create value
  • Deliver value
  • Capture value

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