Back To The Future – What Marketers Want

team member

Maarten Albarda

Last week, Flock spent two days at The Festival of Media Global in Rome. This event has been around for over a decade and has delivered great content and speakers, yet is somehow still somewhat “under the radar” when compared to say, the Cannes Tech… sorry, Cannes Ad Festival.

The ambitious agenda for Rome included meaty topics such as the future of TV; whether advertisers should take programmatic in house; AI and the future of ads; marketing workforce diversity and the metrics to trust when chasing integrity and transparency.

Flock participated in the event by running the Brand Learning Program, the start-up pitches as captured in the Emerge competition, and on the main stage in a panel on the benefits and draw-backs of taking programmatic in house.

There were further on-stage discussions with global leaders from P&G, VW, Burberry, and many others. It was an excellent event, and it gave me the opportunity to talk to almost a dozen senior marketing and media leaders. Here is what I heard:

  1. Fixing the basics

One common refrain in the conversations was that advertisers are trying to fix something that we, as an industry, have probably collectively broken. And that is the need to deliver impact to large audiences in a cost-efficient way. P&G has started this conversation a little while back when they admitted that they had most likely pursued too many “shiny new things” and splintered their budgets into too many touch points with little or no understanding of their reach, impact or ROI. And they have very publicly shamed themselves for it, and vowed to dial back some of these excesses.

Other advertisers have listened, and are also talking about not reaching enough people while spending too much time content creating and purpose marketing themselves while recording decreasing sales.

Mind you, these marketers are not saying that they want to revert to an “old fashioned” media mix. But we are hearing more talk about reaching an audience when you are a mass marketed, mass distributed product or service. How? That is where point 2 comes in.

  1. Zero Based Budgeting

Whether mandatory (because 3G bought your company), pre-emptively (because 3G is threatening to buy your company) or opportunistically (because you would like 3G to buy your company), more and more marketers are applying ZBB (Zero Based Budgeting) as a strategy to review and determine where the marketing budgets are being spend.

This means that budgets that have been approved in prior years without questioning their effectiveness are now at least debated. I recommend you ZBB the hell out of sports or entertainment sponsorship which is used to safeguard front row tickets or other, non-revenue driving sponsorship benefits; shopper marketing initiatives that do not drive shoppers, and are not marketing (with a few exceptions – before you start adding angry comments below); or costly one-off storytelling initiatives that may stroke the egos of some of the senior marketing and agency folk but suck away precious resources that could drive sales and brand health for a couple of months.

  1. Transparency and Trust is still a thing

And it’s not going away. In fact, what it is doing is driving data, DSP’s, DMP’s, analytics, marketing tech, etc. in-house because marketers demand better control, less ambiguity and – most importantly – more impact from their digital investment.

And as a result, contracts with the agency holding companies have been, or are being re-written. None of the advertisers I spoke with were particularly concerned about how that was working out for the agency holding companies. I would describe marketers as “indifferent” with a touch of malicious joy. I guess it’s good to be the king (of ZBB).

If you want to learn more about these topics, and how we have helped other clients with future proof solutions in these areas, feel free to connect. We would also be happy to share our two presentations we delivered at the Festival of Media:

  • “The How of Marketing” with a focus on managing the process of changing elements of client marketing operations (process, structure, agency eco-systems, etc.)
  • “Mind The Gap” which outlines some of the challenges facing marketers today and strategies to address them.

Both presentations contain very simple and specific starting-points and tips that can help you get started. And we are always happy to help, so don’t hesitate to connect.


[Maarten is a featured contributor to MediaPost, this article was originally published here]


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