In a wide-ranging talk that covered innovation, the need for the industry to retain its inherent curiosity and how brands could be guided by their moral compasses, Verra Budimlija, MEC London’s chief strategy officer, chaired the ‘Knights of the Media Roundtable’ debate at Advertising Week Europe.
Budimlija pointed out that there had never been a more exciting time to be working in media, with innovation allowing agencies and media owners to do more than was ever possible before. “The ideas we have are no longer sitting in the minds of sci-fi writers,” she said.
Other panelists agreed, with Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality all singled out as ways in which brands can create stronger connections with their audiences. However, Simon Daglish, ITV’s deputy managing director of commercial counseled that technology is just a platform and that media professionals should never forget that they are dealing with real people.
Helen Weisinger, the chief client officer of Outdoor Plus, added that amid the progress in innovation, advertising remains a persuasion business – where practitioners were responsible for bringing fame and relevance to brands.
Technology is, of course, capable of achieving much better results, however the clients, agencies and media owners must remain aligned with trying to understand the consumer, pointed out Ella Dolphin, the chief executive officer of Shortlist Media. An obsession with the ‘new’ is not always the best strategy.
Jon O’Donnell, the managing director of ESi commercial, agreed and said that the right approach that clients and agencies should take is ask themselves two questions before using tech: is it going to make us do it better and smarter, or do something that we haven’t done before?
Budimlija asked the panel whether media professionals were sometimes biased and made judgments based on their own personal media consumption. The ‘London Bubble’ was identified as a real problem, which is why Budimlija said that MEC got itself out of this bubble and talked to real people.
According to O’Donnell this could also show how the penetration levels of technology also differed geographically, with Snapchat not as popular in the North East and South West as the London-bias might assume. An understanding of the audience – what unites them as well as their difference – was therefore also key.
Budimlija also pointed out that in this era of bewildering change, the moral compass of media owners could become a real issue and that clients could possibly only want to be associated with those media owners that share their same moral values.
Dolphin said that was increasingly becoming more of a conversation, while Daglish said that it was incumbent on brands to ensure that they remember that the cheapness of an impression does not guarantee any sort of editorial quality or appropriateness for that brand.
O’Donnell added that context for advertisers is really important and that there should be more of a regulatory level playing field between ‘traditional’ media owners and those newer ones that face fewer statutory burdens.
However all panelists agreed that we are now working in an age where new ways of collaboration was so great and Budimlija concluded: “Lets keep our glasses half full rather than half empty.”