Opinion

We need to move away from 'either/or' mentality

We live in an industry that thrives on competition.

If one agency boss or industry channel body says one thing, another will argue the opposite. Being provocative is often prized more highly than balance.

In recent weeks, many commentators have proclaimed that technology has ruined advertising and made it inhuman. Conversely, many digital commentators claim the death of every medium that isn’t digital and back a move to a fully automated marketing ecosystem.

I’ve got news for you: every medium has already been disrupted, and is now underpinned, by technology. 

If you ask real people, they are positive about the benefits technology has brought to their lives. Technology provides richer insight into real human behaviour than any focus group ever could, informing both digital and traditional channel decisions. 

So I subscribe to a more balanced view. Unless these commentators have worked across traditional and technology, I would contest that their views are the result of unconscious bias and legacy. As David Wheldon said at this month’s ISBA conference: "It is not about either/or; it should be about and/and." 

It’s impossible to counter the fact that technology has enhanced the ability to deliver meaningful advertising. Equally, you cannot reasonably argue that print editorial or TV advertising does not provide unique value.

The nirvana is to calculate the right ingredients, in the right measures, to deliver the best outcome. Like a chef, the job of planners today is to select from the wide range of potential ingredients and optimise the chemistry. 

To illustrate my point, here are two contradictory statements, both of which I believe to be true: 

1. Too much money is spent on 30-second TV ads.

2. Too much money is spent on digital advertising. 

The argument for either will lack sufficient evidence around effectiveness. Often, we seem to judge success based on the amount of, or increase in, spend. That is not a measure of effectiveness. We must get better at proving the isolated benefit of each channel, its relative value as part of an integrated mix and the downside if removed from that mix. It is not just about paid channels. It is about where they intersect with brands’ owned channels and the growing earned media ecosystem.

The other challenge is unpicking the impact that tailored creative and messaging delivers. Today, we operate as one kitchen serving up the combination of ingredients and another cooking up the creative. There is often no connecting door between those kitchens.

Think what we can achieve when we cook together, using the best technology.

Paul Frampton is the UK and Ireland chief executive of Havas Media Group

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