Flock Media 2020 Forum; what you should be focusing on in 2020


Our Flock Media 2020 Forum was held last Thursday at CNBC’s news studio, where we were delighted to host 30+ senior leaders in media, procurement and marketing from high profile, global brands. We launched the forum with highlights from the World Economic Forum presented by CNBC news anchor Joumanna Bercetche, senior correspondent Arjun Kharpal, producer of “Marketing. Media. Money.” James Wright and journalist Lucy Handley. A selection of WEF highlights can be viewed here.

Following this we shared our Flock Media 2020 perspectives with a recommendation for “FOCUS” for the year ahead. Coming from a decade of digital disruption, data and tech overload, on-going issues with transparency, data privacy, brand safety, ad fraud, cookies crumbling, the list goes on, there’s an imperative need to re-set and focus again on what truly matters. We highlighted 6 key areas for “2020 Focus” with the summary and recommendations as follows.


1- Consumer Moments that matter

With our industry’s obsession of data and technology, we’ve lost focus on creativity, the consumer experience and consumer journey. In short, if brands don’t emotionally connect with consumers and deliver a great experience, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated the data dashboards are or how advanced the tech stack is. Data and tech should be seen as the “enablers” to delivering enhanced targeting and more effective and efficient planning, enabling creative messaging to reach the right person, in the right place at the right time. With the fragmentation of the media landscape, we’ve also lost sight of the consumer journey, planning paid media channels, owned channels, PR, events, in-store and other consumer touch points “in-silo”, resulting in disconnected consumer experiences.

Ways to action:
• Focus on connection planning, delivering integrated briefings and appointing integration leads across agency partners and marketing disciplines to join-up creative and media, as well as all other consumer touch points. To achieve effective connection planning, requires on-going collaboration.
• Ensure the commercial model, across agency partners, supports channel agnostic planning, otherwise partners will understandably only promote their ideas vs supporting those best for the business. Great ideas can come from anywhere.

2- Consumers that matter

As brands aim to deliver mass personalisation, it’s imperative for brands, agencies and publishers to openly discuss how to achieve this effectively and responsibly, now more than ever in light of cookie ban. We would also encourage brands to invest in bespoke consumer research, or as part of their direct deals with publishers, to truly understand their existing and emerging audiences vs reliance on generic industry panels. As we are focused at Flock on driving marketing sustainability, we highlighted the need for greater diversity and inclusion in advertising. As example, we shared the Valuable 500 initiative launched at the 2019 WEF that focuses on the need for disability inclusion.

Ways to action:
• Hold regular meetings (client, agency, publisher together) to discuss the changing landscape and how to effectively and responsibly target and achieve personalisation.
• Brief publishers and agency partners to recommend bespoke audience research opportunities.
• Ensure briefs highlight the need for “inclusivity”. River Island 2018 campaign is a great example.

3- Media that matter

Focus on fewer things and do them well vs everything half baked. Not everything can be effectively supported via paid media and to achieve focus means saying “no”. Other consumer touch points from owned channels, PR, in-store, events, CRM activities, etc should be considered as part of the overall media mix. As we’ve become enamoured with the latest technologies such as AR, VR, AI, there’s also a need to re-set and deliver brilliant basics and executional excellence again…then bring on the shiny new stuff. Examples: delivering seamless digital and mobile experiences for consumers where content is created specifically for the platform, not a TV ad retro-fit, and where content can be easily accessed in 3 clicks or less, not a navigational obstacle course.

Ways to action:
• Develop briefs with collaborative input from marketing disciplines and agency partners, which prioritise objectives, products, audiences and markets. To achieve great plans, requires a focused brief.
• Create an annual planning framework that incorporates “topline” plans across all media channels to provide a holistic view vs only viewing paid media plans in-silo. This will help identify gaps, opportunities, maximise budgets and ensure comm’s activities are working in synergy.

4- KPIs & Reporting that matter

In the past few years, there’s been a surge in media reporting creating an on-going challenge to read, digest and action, before the next report arrives, also increasingly labour intensive for agencies to manage. There’s a need to focus on the metrics and KPIs that truly matter vs a laundry list that can trigger over-reporting. Also ensuring data reports consistently include benchmarks and context, as numbers are meaningless without them.

Ways to action:
• Review with internal stakeholders and agency partners what are the metrics and KPIs that truly matter to meet business objectives. Prioritize.
• Then determine reporting required, at what frequency and at what level of detail dependent on the audience (ie global, regional, local stakeholders).
• Hire a data insights expert (both agency & brand side), specifically talent skilled in providing meaningful insights from data analysis, that can inform business decisions.

5- Data & Tech that matter

The evolution of the martech/adtech landscape has become overwhelmingly complex as we know, with an overly saturated marketplace with too much choice. According to there were an estimated 150 martech solutions in 2011 with over 7,040 in 2019. On the data front, most marketers are drowning in data and are struggling to weed out what’s truly valuable from what’s not. Add to this the challenges in staying on top of the issues of brand safety, ad fraud, viewability, data privacy, cookie bans, etc it’s no surprise that marketers, as well as agencies, have lost focus having to manage it all. To help re-gain some clarity and focus a few considerations below.

Ways to action:
• Conduct a data audit with internal stakeholders and agency partners, to get a clear view on data available, data being used and what data is truly valuable in optimising marketing performance.
• Once data priorities are clear, reviewing tech-stacks should hopefully be less daunting, honing in on tech platforms and solutions that can deliver the “right data” in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
• As Tag Management is the most common pain point we hear from global advertisers (clunky, complicated, non-integrated), we strongly encourage having tag management experts (both agency & brand side) to ensure systems are properly set up. As unpopular as the topic may be, it’s a critical component to the digital eco-system, even more so with the latest cookie ban.

6- People & Relations that matter

2020 has been reported in the trade as a year of anticipated pitches. While we actively manage pitches at Flock, as they are costly, labour intensive and disruptive to business for all parties, we shared the alternatives to consider before calling a pitch.

Ways to action:
If agency/client relations are going off track consider:
• Changing agency team leads or team members to get new energy and fresh perspectives
• Host a “get fit” workshop with an independent consultant who can facilitate and provide un-biased opinion and recommendations
• Conduct a bi-annual 360 appraisal to gain clarity on pain points and strengthen overall relations. For reference, we offer an automated Agency Appraisal Tool that can help address this.

To conclude this section we asked the audience, of the 6 areas shared, if they could only focus on one, what would be the most important for them to address this year. Top 3 in ranking order: 1) Consumers 2) Consumer Moments 3) Media

To round up our forum, we held an interesting panel discussion with Ann Daly from Carlsberg, Jenny Bullis from Facebook and Jerry Daykin from GSK covering multiple media topics. Key highlights below:

The journey to accountability.
Panelists shared that by tying business objectives to key metrics, and then creating hypotheses, measuring & learning is the best way to drive accountability. Rather than measuring everything and trying to find an objective. All explained that a clear plan to steer the journey was required, as it is not easy!

Blending resources to suit your business.
It was agreed that agencies add huge value to clients, when used appropriately. In-house media teams have their role but must be specified carefully and maintained well to thrive. An interesting discussion ensued on whether the in-house teams are better used to govern and guide, versus execute. The panellists concluded that a blended and agile approach to in-house and agency resources should be used in most instances, depending on the business case. Moving media work in-house for transparency or cost alone was not seen as a great idea.

A war for talent.
Despite having amazing brands most panellists expressed concern that marketing was not getting the best talent. A push for diversity and inclusivity was not optional but a necessity. There is a key role for procurement to drive inclusivity through the media supply chain, via its contracts with agencies and others.

Value over cost.
While it was agreed it is easier to measure cost than value. All felt that modern media is about measuring value and setting new KPI’s that track effectiveness and join up creative and media again.

Back to Creative.
All agreed, including audience, that the last decade has been a lost decade mired in data and tech and ignoring the creativity and the impact it brings to business. If Creativity is the last true source of competitive advantage, then media and creative must come back together. This means creatives need the benefits of data, and structures and processes that encourage creativity are a must!

The Death of Cookies and Streaming are both good things!
While there was debate over panellists and audiences split allegiance over their professional and private lives, in general it was felt that the death of cookies and the advent of non-advertising carrying streaming would be a good thing, as it was in the best interest of consumers. The “value exchange” of what consumers receive in return for their data will be re-evaluated and advertisers will need to entertain or inform in far more creative ways. The advent of streaming may lead to amazing branded content formats and new ways to engage.

A big thank you again to our Media Forum presenters, panellists and attendees. For those who couldn’t join us, we hope this summary provides you with some food for thought and recommendations to help to focus on what truly matters for the year ahead.

If you would like to know more or would like to attend our next forum please get in touch.