The future of our media industry

AdWeek Europe is back for another week of inspiring sessions and thought leadership. So when a spare ticket came up to attend, I jumped at the chance. Pen and paper in hand, I dashed off to Piccadilly Circus yesterday morning to immerse myself in the world of advertising.

As an ex-IPAer, I headed straight for the IPA stage to hear from a stella line-up of panel experts on the future of our media industry. Not really a subject that can be covered in 45 minutes but they tried all the same.

Award-winning journalist Sathnam Sanghera chaired the session with speakers including Ed Vaizey MP and agency CEOs, Helen McRae from Mindshare and James Murphy from Adam & Eve/DDB, as well as Matt Braddy, ex-CMO of Just Eat.

In a world where the media landscape is changing at a rapid pace, the panel was clear on one thing: ad blocking.

A show of audience hands demonstrated that, despite working in advertising, one-quarter of us actually use ad blockers. But is it the end of the world?

As Helen McRae succinctly put, clients and agencies forget that at the end of every ad is a human being. Ultimately we need to get closer to understanding people – not target audiences but individuals. Ironically we have lost the paradigm of right message, right time and right place. If people don’t find an ad annoying and intrusive, they won’t block it. Simples.

James Murphy and Ed Vaizey were clear on the answer. While agencies, content providers and publishers are pumping out digital landfill that are cluttering up people’s lives online, we need to do much better work with publishers. The industry needs to go back to the drawing board.

Media habits are changing – should we worry about it?

While we often get hung up on these changing habits, as far as Helen is concerned, there is still an ecosystem in place, where people are consuming lots of different things. So yes, it is changing and evolving but it has been changing and evolving for decades. We just have to accept it.

James pointed out that it is time to forget about millennials. Now it’s all about Generation D – the purely digital generation. While millennials have an eight-second attention span, Gen D’s attention span lasts all of about three seconds! It’s just something we’re going to have to get used to.

In terms of creating campaigns, for James what matters is what has always mattered: simple memorability. In all this noise, brutal simplicity is what counts.

And for Matt, it comes down to the fact that bad ads are made when clients aren’t brave. You heard it here first. In the technology space, the apps that have been successful are about boiling down previous ideas to one button (for example vs Tinder) and it’s just the same for advertising: simplicity rules the day.


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