An afternoon ‘on the audit’ at ABC Interaction 2017

An afternoon ‘on the audit’ at ABC Interaction 2017

Arriving at a lovely building on the Thames we were greeted, given the obligatory lanyard and sent to mingle, which no one does at the start of any seminar. A few awkward minutes of checking phones later, and we were – mercifully – all invited through to the auditorium.

I wasn’t sure what the event was all about, other than the obvious industry standard ABC audits. Fortunately, we were introduced to the afternoon by Derek Morris and Simon Redlich who set the theme…trust.

The gentlemen from the ABC talked about the issue of ‘fake news’ and made the first of many Trump references that afternoon, the now famous ‘alternative facts’. It seems the consumer is as interested in fictional stories nowadays as in actual news, which is damaging trust. They felt that the industry needed to come together from both the media owner side and that of the advertising agencies to champion the truth, create robust industry standards and to provide brand safety. Finishing again with the key word for the day…. trust.

We then had a couple of hours with some key industry figures from the Economist, Trinity Mirror, BARB and both data and media agencies. Rather than go into detail on each speech I thought I’d summarise what was a slightly complicated and in-depth afternoon.

Firstly, as it so often does, the subject of measurement came up, along with the question of how best to audit. Most of the speakers felt that there were too many types of measurement, a lack of agreed standards and therefore confusion from a client’s perspective, particularly regarding the digital marketplace. A lot of talk revolved around the industry coming together to agree these standards so that, you guessed it, trust can be built with consumers and the fight taken to ‘fake news’.

From a media owner perspective, this was clearly as much about trust as being able to monetise more effectively and combat the powerhouses of Facebook and Google.

One of the speakers made the following comment which I particularly liked. “We need to get faking, get regulated or get together”. Most agreed the latter was the preferred choice!

Perhaps unsurprisingly the common thread for the afternoon was digital, mobile especially. Against a backdrop of 60%+ of searches being carried out on mobile devices, the discussion led on how media owners could monetise mobile. The discussion closed with one speaker stating that perhaps we should all look at alternatives as ‘Facebook really is the only option now’! Whilst a lot of the debate was around brand advertising, I couldn’t help think that they were missing the point of mobile – the ability to geo target for local and tactical campaigns works very well for our clients!

The other key subject of data was discussed by the panel with a few common points. Real people are still very much needed in the planning and delivery of digital inventory but AI (artificial intelligence) is getting far more sophisticated. Hopefully not to the point of being ‘self-aware’ as I don’t much fancy a metallic Arnold Schwarzenegger ruining the atmosphere at my local!

The standout point is something we as an agency are all too aware of. The need for accurate CRM and personal data from clients to enable us to communicate with the right consumers. I couldn’t help agree with the views that ‘content’ is just a big word and to get over this problem we all need to be thinking about relevant content. An engaged reader of a sports site – for example – will consume relevant advertising almost as part of the published content.

Perhaps my favourite quote from the afternoon, and perhaps bringing everything back on message, was all about the hugely complicated measurement, reporting and attribution models employed today. Put simply, “we are in danger of becoming the NHS of marketing process”.

Time to simplify the process.

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