‘Digital is key to brand building’

Developing a coherent online strategy is key to brands building an ongoing relationship with consumers, as the average Briton interacts with a “connected device” over 34 times a day, according to speakers at an IAB conference. 


Speaking today (17 October) at the IAB’s annual Engage conference, representatives from companies including Unilever, Microsoft and Yahoo, talked about how they were using digital media to establish ongoing relationships in an ‘always on’ world.

Jay Altschuler, Unilever’s director of global media innovation, told attendees the FMCG giant aimed to be a people-centric company and that digital, and mobile in particular was at the core of its communications strategy.

Meanwhile, Ross Honey, Microsoft’s general manager for Xbox Advertising, said content-personalisation will be a key area of focus in the online services giant’s marketing of the Xbox One, which launches next month.     

Also speaking at the event was IAB chairman, Richard Eyre, who said companies need to focus on becoming people-centric brands, not revenue-driven ones.

He said: “For brand marketers, technology has made a 1:1 relationship with customers a reality. The most important value for brands to pursue is trust, because if you don’t have that, then customers won’t let you use their data.

“Marketing cannot be a brand’s clothing, it must be its skin.”

The trade body also used the event to launch a research study aimed at understanding the impact of online devices on people’s shopping behaviours. 

The study, based on insights from 1,350 participants who wore cameras that took a picture every five seconds, found that one-in-six smartphone owners use their online devices at some stage when purchasing goods. 

The survey found participants averaged a total of two hours 12 minutes per day using a connected device, while for 46 per cent of this time – one hour and one minute – they used at least two devices, sometimes three, simultaneously.

Tim Elkington, IAB head of research, explained the rationale behind using the fisheye cameras was to escape the inadequacies of using ‘consumer recall’, to establish what influences consumer behaviour.

He said: “If you try to remember how many times you use your laptop or mobile a day, it’s almost impossible. So we decided to change the nature of the question and that was to get people to wear cameras.”

The three day study also found over half (52 per cent) said they prefer to check their smartphone if they have any “downtime”. Among 18-30 year olds, the figure rises to over six in 10 (62 per cent).

Elkington added: “We’ve entered the new age of ‘omni-screening’ – where people are ‘always on’. One of the side-effects is that online is now a hobby. Four in ten people say they often shop online when they’re bored, among 18-30 year-olds this rises to almost six in 10.”

The findings also stressed the importance of ensuring out-of-home media placements that have an element of digital  

Elkington said: “Respondents said that if they see an outdoor ad, they are more than likely to respond to it [if at all] initially with their mobile phones.

“As an advertiser, you have to think about how easy is it for a consumer to respond to an ad.” 



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