A view from Gemma Charles

We need new thinking to battle the ad-blockers

The New Thinking Awards winners offer hope amid a scary time for marketers.

As I write this, the 2016 Marketing New Thinking Awards loom large in my mind. Not only have I spent the past week re-reading the best case studies for this week’s winners showcase but last-minute questions and issues about the night itself are still coming thick and fast.

At just two years old, the New Thinking Awards are relative newbies to the well-established marketing and advertising awards scene, but I truly believe they have brought something fresh to the table. Judging by the level of support we’ve had from the best and brightest brands and agencies, what is heartening is that it seems like the industry agrees too.

In 2014, Campaign UK editor Rachel Barnes – then editor of Marketing – and I looked at what was out there and found a gap in the market for awards built around championing innovation and those brands and agencies "doing different". This chimed with where the magazine’s focus was so, as a meaningful brand extension, it made perfect sense. After in-depth research, the New Thinking Awards were born.

As you all know, Marketing came together with Campaign in May to create a title for those up for the challenge of using creative firepower to fuel business success. As an aside, we are always looking for feedback on how well we are meeting that aim, so please do get in contact with any thoughts.

Those of you who want living, breathing examples of Campaign’s mission should take a browse through the award winners. There you will find example after example of marketers using all the tools they have at their disposal to adapt to new consumer trends in a fast-paced world.

One of the dominant themes uniting most of the winners’ work is that of engagement; in many cases, consumers welcomed these brands’ activity in their lives.

Yet we’re now at a point where the public are doing their best to disengage with marketers – according to eMarketer, usage of ad-blockers in the UK is running at 20.5% and is predicted to hit an eye-watering 27% by next year. Earlier this month, the industry responded with the Coalition for Better Ads – a collective of advertisers, media owners and relevant organisations aimed at improving users’ experience.

Clever companies are also taking their own action, hence the huge focus on branded content by Unilever in recognition that "more and more people are blocking and avoiding interruption-based advertising".

While these are indeed scary times for marketers, what I’ve seen from the New Thinking Awards leaves me feeling optimistic about the industry’s ability to find creative ways to reach consumers that work for both sides.