The "lovebomb" initiative that we launched earlier this month is about building better partnerships with media owners to fuel our clients' growth.
And this is why – not that long ago, advertising used to provide water cooler moments. These days it’s in danger of becoming wallpaper.
What’s going on? And what can we do about it?
Broadly speaking, advertisers are facing three big challenges:
Challenge number 1 is the big balancing act between reach and precision.
Some clients are sticking with Byron Sharp and the benefits of broad reach and others are looking at ultra-precision.
Many are confused and contradictory in their approach. The guys in one office favour reach, but the team down the hall are lobbying hard for ultra-precision.
Another way of looking at this is "algorithms vs context" and ultimately "algorithms vs brands".
Recently at the AA’s Lead conference, we were told that 2016 was the year algorithms took over from editorial context in deciding where ads were placed.
Whether you find this scary or exciting, this is an important tipping-point in the industry.
As brands become more digitally precise they may drive short-term sales very effectively, but you’re often preaching to the converted.
Clearly short-term sales are important but there has to be a balance.
Data is brilliant because it allows us to get up close and personal and to deliver relevant content, but it is still important to be able to act big, reach a broader audience and attract new customers.
And, if we’re not bringing new customers to our clients, why are we here?
Challenge number 2 is that it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish one brand from another.
Advertising used to be at the heart of our culture. People used to love ads and talk about them all the time. Not anymore. Due to media fragmentation, ads are much less a shared cultural phenomenon.
As a result we run the risk of making brands becoming culturally invisible.
The third big client challenge is that the British population is divided politically, socially and geographically. Truly understanding audiences has become more difficult.
At MediaCom, we have launched our new report, Britain Decoded, which examines identity and community across the UK, and provides insight into what drives choices and actions. It’s an excellent piece of work – but no one has all the answers.
Which leads me neatly to my second question. What can we do about all this? Increasingly, the answer is media partnerships.
MediaCom had an exceptional year at the Campaign Media Awards last year, winning 10 golds.
But while we, of course, enjoy basking in the glory of those wins, we are also keenly aware that the majority of the work that won was actually the result of collaboration with others. Truly collaborative partnerships with media owners are driving much of the best work we do for our clients.
To give just one example – working with Engine, Mumsnet, Channel 4 and Bauer helped Churchill’s "Lollipoppers" campaign to be truly successful – both for the communities that gained new lollipoppers to ensure their children’s safety, and for the client that saw improvements in some of the hardest-to-shift brand metrics.
But crucially, such partnerships aren’t only about improving brand metrics.
They are also extremely effective in driving sales. Our business science team have many examples where partnership-driven work outperforms advertising-only solutions not just in the brand-building, but in terms of cold, hard ROI.
Josh Krichefski is UK chief executive of MediaCom.