Marketers tackle the big issues at Marketing Week Live

From addressing ad blocking to getting c-suite buy-in on insight, marketers at Marketing Week Live did not shirk away from discussing the challenges facing the industry and trying to come up with solutions

marketing week live

Helping consumers make a choice

Disney’s head of audience strategy Richard Ellwood used his talk to implore brands to make sure they are relevant to people’s lives and not overwhelming them with choice. “Marketers have to put their brand in context. People are not walking around thinking about [new Disney film] Captain America: Civil War or about brands the whole time,” he said.

Part of the problem, he said, is that consumers are now overwhelmed by choice and that too few brands see it as their job to declutter and make the process of shopping easier. He cited an experiment undertaken by psychologists in the US to understand choice which found that when offered a choice of 24 jams 3% people went on to buy but given a choice of six, 30% did.

“This is about choice guidance and how good we at Disney and across the industry are in terms of really delivering on that choice guidance.”

“Making sure that if people are looking for something quite specific, we are able to reduce clutter. We’re all very overwhelmed by choice.”

Richard Ellwood, head of audience strategy, Disney

To help with that, Disney looked at all its activity and then identified nine audience segments based not on age or sex but stages of development and then how it could make each of its franchises relevant.

“We start by working together as a business to work out what we know about each audience in terms of their emotional need states, media consumption and lifestyle. Then we work out how we bring something that is particularly relevant from our priority franchises for that particular audience. We start with the audience first to make sure we are clear on who they are, what they need and how we can deliver on it. And then summarise that and look to reflect it in our franchises,” he said.

Getting c-suite buy-in on insight

Bringing together diverse data to tell a compelling, actionable story is the key to getting the C-suite to buy into insight, according to a panel discussion at Marketing Week Live. Head of insight at JustGiving, Elizabeth Kessick, advised insight teams not to blind the boardroom with graphs, but to use data to tell a comprehensive story that makes them sit up and take notice.

“It’s about storytelling and bringing all diverse data points together. You need to be able to say the quantitative data says this, the qualitative data says that, this is the deep dive and this is what we need to do next to action upon the story. First you win over one person on the C-suite and then give them the chance to be part of the story too.”

While for Camelot head of insight Nick Bonney, relating insights to business KPIs is key to gaining traction with the C-Suite. Bonney, who two weeks ago started reporting into Camelot’s newly appointed chief data officer Mike Donoghue, believes insight teams should start to take direct accountability for revenue, profit and loss.

“In one sense [the C-suite] world is way more simple as they are focused on the critical KPIs that drive the business. If what we’re presenting doesn’t ladder up to one of the KPIs then why would they care? We need to be talking in pounds not percentages and keep it simple, focusing on what matters for the business.”

Effectively merging data and creativity

While marketers want to bring data and creativity closer together, most brands are not set up to ensure the most effective merging of the two. Marie Curie’s head of digital Claire Hazle argued that many brands face organisational barriers in making the most of their data to maximise the effectiveness of creative executions.

“A lot of companies are not structured to benefit from bringing data and creativity together,” she said.

She explained how at the charity her digital function acts as a “hub to bring teams together”, but added that this might not happen naturally at many companies. She said it requires both a concerted effort to get different functions to collaborate and an ability to “bring data to life” for creative professionals with emotional and behavioural insights.

Spotify’s senior director of international marketing Nikki Lambert said she has found that bringing staff from “random departments” into development sessions helps to join together different perspectives across the organisation. As a result, those working daily in analytics or product engineering can be alerted to ideas and features they might not consider based on data alone.

She had one word of warning, however.

“It starts to feel like data can do everything for you but one thing we increasingly realise is that you can’t replace the human touch.”

Nikki Lambert, senior director of international marketing, Spotify

Big brands must be brave in their creative

Stephen O’Kelly, marketing director for Guinness, argued that brands need to be more daring when producing video in order to stand out, although he admitted that can be difficult for established brands.

“There’s tonnes of content out there, some is exceptional, some pretty average. What makes content exciting and really stand out for me is creative bravery, particularly for big brands because people are used to big brands being quite safe,” he said.


Part of the reason many brands, and especially alcohol brands, hold back is down to the guidelines and codes they have to adhere to, he suggested. He cited Guinness’s rugby campaign last year as a good example of how the brand executes this bold approach.

“Traditional sports broadcast content and advertising is quite corporate [it shows people playing the sport and] the brand is tagged on to the end of it,” he says. “We actually weren’t a sponsor [of the Rugby World Cup] but Heineken was so we knew we had to approach it in a very different way.

“Instead of focusing on outer strength, we actually focused on inner strength. We turned it on its end and focused on the values.”

Taking ad blocking seriously

The latest stats from the Internet Advertising Bureau and YouGov found that 22% of British adults are using ad-blocking software, yet marketers are not doing enough to deal with the issue, according to Diageo’s head of media and futures Isabel Massey. She believes too many brands are leaving it to publishers to fix the issue when they should also be helping to tackle it.

ad blockeree

“We need to be thinking about what we should do be doing as marketers, [so it’s] not just publishers fixing the issue,” she explained.

Leading a call for change, she said Diageo is already looking to adapt its marketing to focus on a model where “consumers discover our content, making it more native and looking into partnerships where we can appear in ways where consumers want to interact with us. However she admitted the process has “not been easy”.

Yet Matt Stockbridge, growth analytics manager at Mondelez International, believes ad blocking “is not as big an issue as people think” and that if brands focus on strong storytelling and creative their message will get through.

Massey agreed with the sentiment but said it was a short-term view. “[Ad blocking] is fairly limited at the moment but it could grow. It’s a sign of a shift in what consumers are expecting from advertising.”

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