Digital is not a media in itself: Mark Henning, Millward Brown

Since 2009, Millward Brown experts from around the globe have offered annual predictions forecasting the hottest digital and media trends and providing recommendations to help advertisers move confidently into the coming year. As we enter 2016, Millward Brown weighs in on emerging trends ranging from the complexities of consumer journey marketing and the rapidly evolving media mix to content marketing strategy, and challenges in programmatic buying, where there is a content versus context battle underway.

Increasing measurability, coupled with influx of devices, has played a catalyst to the greatest transformation of marketing in our generation. Today, multi-media spends are more scattered across avenues than ever before. However, safer havens still dictate campaign spends to be skewed towards high-reach media vehicles.

In an interaction with Adgully, Mark Henning, Head of Media & Digital, AMAP, Millward Brown, shares key emerging trends in Digital & Media for the year 2016, challenges in adopting a context-based marketing strategy, and more. Excerpts:

Adgully (AG): What are the key predictions in Digital & Media for 2016 that you feel will have long term implications for the marketing landscape?
Mark Henning (MH): All seven key predictions have potential long term implications for the marketing landscape – however, the most game changing in the immediate term is rise of mobile and video. This trend means that marketers in India will quickly need to rethink their strategies for connecting with consumers as we have seen across the rest of the world significant impacts on traditional media habits driven by the rise of mobile and video content.

AG: What are the challenges in adopting a context-based marketing strategy?
MH: People have always consumed media with different mindsets: TV is considered passive entertainment, Newspapers engaging and credible, Magazines more relaxed, enabling longer engagement with content. Advertisers are aware of these format and mindset differences and vary both their content and use of these media based on the job to be done. They have learnt to maximise the opportunity provided by that media and how it is consumed, using the media context itself as part of the message.

The digital world has evolved over the past 15 years with a diverse range of environments and consumption mindsets available though many touch points such as social media, search, online video, streaming music, gaming and also across multiple devices: PCs, connected TVs, tablets and phones. Yet, we often hear advertisers talking about digital as if it were one big bucket.

This has led to a generalised perception that digital is purely a ‘lean forward’, ‘task based’ medium where the measure of success is an immediate action. When in reality today’s consumers turn to digital environments as much for passive entertainment, engaging and credible content and relaxation.

So the real challenge for marketers is to recognise that digital is not a media in itself and start considering the consumption device, mindset of the user and the communication task at hand when using different digital contexts. Assign specific roles to each digital element, using measurement approaches that align to the role of the platform rather than the commonly available measures of clicks, visits, and interactions.

AG: What are the parameters for measuring effectiveness of digital campaigns?
MH: In a digital world with metrics for everything, our most common question from advertisers is still… “How do I measure the effectiveness of my digital campaigns?”

Ultimately the answer to this question lies in having clear objectives for your campaign and ensuring that the measurement you use provides a clear understanding of whether or not you have achieved your objective. For example, if you are trying to increase the awareness of your brand, then measuring clicks provides no meaningful measure of whether you have been successful or not.

Millward Brown has developed a framework for measuring digital campaigns we call the ABC’S of digital advertising. It is a simple framework outlining the key elements you may wish to consider when measuring the effectiveness of your digital campaigns. You do not necessarily need to measure all components for each campaign, but you should make sure that the measures you do use match your objectives. Millward Brown has developed best in class measurement solutions across each element of this framework by partnering our Brand Lift solution with ComScore and Kantar World Panel.

AG: What are the key trends that you expect to see in video content viewing in 2016?
MH: Globally, we expect that online video will continue to be the fastest growing ad format in 2016, driven by the increase in video consumption on mobile devices. In India, connectivity speeds and device penetration may temper some of this growth.

With this growth comes a multitude of platforms, for example, YouTube, Facebook, Vine; ad formats such as Skippable, Click to Play, Micro and Long Form; and buying models like Cost per impression, cost per view, increasing the complexity for marketers as simply re-airing their TV spots across digital platforms will not generate the best results. The best brands consider media formats and buying considerations into their creative development process then test their online readiness across formats to optimise both their exposure and impact across the digital environment.

AG: Consumer experience is seen as an important brand engagement factor this year. What are the do’s and don’ts for creating successful consumer experience?
MH: Millward Brown’s AdReaction study released earlier in 2016 showed that consumers have a clear preference in the digital space for control over their content experience. This means consumers prefer skippable, or user controlled, ad formats and display strong negativity towards non skippable formats. So our advice to marketers is to embrace control – this means work hard with specific creative assets that are designed to work within each context. Place a clear focus on grabbing attention early and engaging the consumer.

AG: How is programmatic media buying placed in India? How is it helping in bringing accountability?
MH: It is still early days for programmatic media buying in India. However, if we look at the trend across the rest of the world, programmatic media buying has increased dramatically over the last couple of years in digital environments, making highly targeted and/or low cost inventory available to many advertisers. Programmatic buying in itself does not bring accountability – it is still important to match your campaign objective to the measures you use. However, we have certainly seen programmatic advertising driving lower CPM’s for marketers helping to move budgets from mainstream media to the digital environment.

AG: What is header bidding? How will it impact the digital marketing landscape?
MH: Header bidding or pre-bid technology is the latest trend in programmatic buying. Header bidding primarily benefits the buy-side, allowing them to see the impression before the page loads so they can submit bids knowing the specific page on a site where the ads will appear, and the target audience who will visit the page. Publishers will also benefit because they’re in a position to regain some control and generate more revenue from their ad inventory based on the quality of the context they are providing.

AG: How has the dynamics of media mix changed today? Which media have witnessed significant increase in ad spends?
MH: Globally, we have seen digital media really starting to dominate the advertising landscape – in many markets now being the biggest media. Generally speaking, this has been at the expense of print media as general news content is freely available in a digital environment. However, with the rapid growth of video usage in online and mobile environments, as well as the fragmentation of TV audiences through digital TV technology, we are now starting to see TV advertising revenues declining across many countries.

India, at this stage, has not replicated this trend. Print and TV advertising spends remain strong and digital spending has not yet reached the levels of many global markets. Device penetration, connectivity issues and cost of access are all contributors to this difference.

AG: Please elaborate on the partnership with comScore. What strengths does this partnership bring to India?
MH: Millward Brown’s partnership with ComScore enables us to provide a best in class end-to-end measurement platform for digital campaigns in India – the ABC’S framework mentioned above.

Accurate Audiences: Greater digital ad spend gives rise to new issues such as fraud and viewability, making simply accounting for “clean” impressions a challenge. The use of varying single-point solutions to measure each dimension can make data reconciliation difficult and breed inaccuracies. comScore’s vCE solution covers all bases and provides industry-leading measurement of your campaign footprint.

Best-in-class Brands: Assessing the impact of digital ads requires multiple partnerships and cutting-edge technology for tracking and sampling, coupled with smart analytics and communications expertise. That’s why so many advertisers, agencies and publishers trust MB’s Brand Lift Insights and CrossMedia solutions.

Clever Combinations: Integrating audience and brand measurement from a single tag results in holistic solutions, which enable alignment of learning about ad delivery and effects, allowing overall gains even for brands that already enjoy great success from digital advertising.


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