Linus Gregoriadis
Linus Gregoriadis 17 October 2019

Four Key Takeaways from the Festival of Marketing

Digital Doughnut were lucky enough to attend the 2019 Festival of Marketing conference held at Tobacco Dock in London last week, where more than 4,000 marketers gathered to hear around 250 speakers deliver more than 150 hours of content and debate. Read on for a summary of our key takeaways from the event.

Brands must embrace ‘the long and the short’

A compelling opening keynote presentation from marketing academic and commentator Mark Ritson focused on how marketers can achieve marketing effectiveness in 2020.

His recommendations were largely based on research which analysed thousands of Effie marketing effectiveness awards going back half a century to understand what kind of attributes have distinguished award-winning brands from their peers. The research has added credibility because Effie scores have been shown to correlate with growth and sales for brands, Ritson explained.

A key finding from the Marketing Week columnist’s analysis is that companies need a two-pronged marketing strategy which focuses on short-term commercial goals and targets, while also committing to long-term investment in brand marketing. When companies neglect the latter, sometimes because the benefits are not always immediately obvious or measurable, they will invariably pay the price. 

Among Ritson’s other recommendations was the importance of brand distinctiveness which he said should be an even higher priority than differentiation of products and services. Brand marketers should ensure their brand – and visual brand codes – are instantly recognisable even if it means sticking to an established formula. As an example of visual brand codes, he said the KFC Chickendales Mother’s Day campaign, with its entertaining modern take on the unmistakeable logo of the Colonel, was his favourite ad of the year.

Publishers take steps to shift ad budgets

The New Digital Dawn panel on the second day of the festival featured speakers from Reach Plc (formerly Trinity Mirror), The Telegraph and The Ozone Project, a digital marketplace set up by leading UK publishers in the face of competition from the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon. 

Panel host Michelle Goodall explained that a huge challenge for news publishers, and indeed all content publishers more generally, continues to be viable commercial models that sustain accurate, high-quality journalism. 

Goodall, a social media and digital transformation consultant, added: “UK news publishers do have an advantage created by regulation, data concerns and fake news. Firstly, the provenance and integrity of content is a question that is in many people’s minds today, when perhaps it wasn’t before. Secondly, there is a growing awareness of how personal data is being used for ad targeting in social media. Pre Cambridge Analytica, very few consumers considered this. Trust and context for ads has become increasingly important.”

Jo Bacon, CMO & Director of Invention at Reach Plc, talked about the positive shift in trust of news brands in the UK in contrast to social media content where information may not be as trustworthy. Journalists were touted as “the original influencers, way before bloggers or social media influencers”. She also stressed that news publishers must use the language of social platforms, change perceptions about effective targeting and play to their strengths.

The panel were bullish about their collective reach, the quality of the context for advertising that they provide on their platforms, the creativity of their editorial environment and how different the behaviours and mindset of a consumer are when comparing news media to social platforms.  

Chris Forrester, Chief Revenue Officer from the Telegraph, said The Ozone Project alliance was working hard to work much more closely with agencies and marketers to improve targeting and ad effectiveness at all stages of the customer journey.  

The big shift in advertising of the past few years has been that technology, rather than the consumer, publisher or marketer has become the primary stakeholder, pointed out Ozone Project CEO Damon Reeve. Regulation such as GDPR have been a timely reminder that the data doesn’t belong to publishers or advertisers, but the consumer. 

Humanity in marketing is crucial

Sara Spivey, CMO at customer engagement platform Braze, hosted a panel on Communication in Context: Humanity in Action, with panellists from Trainline and Deliveroo.

According to Braze’s Brand Humanity Index, carried out last year by Forrester Consulting and based on a survey of more than 3,000 consumers, only 60% of brand experiences result in ‘human-like’ connections, and 40% brand experiences aren't delivering on the human brand promise.

Too many companies are pumping out impersonal marketing communications which aren’t resonating with their audiences, a sorry state of affairs for many businesses, but a least an opportunity for those brands who can get this right.

More than half of consumers (57%) say that human communication would raise their likelihood of staying loyal to a brand, and that ‘communicating like a human’ increases campaign conversion rates by 900%.

You can register on Digital Doughnut to download Braze’s new ebook on this topic to help understand how your brand can communicate in a more human fashion.

How evolving job titles reflect the growing importance of the CMO

Another panel discussion explored the trend towards changing job titles for those in what would have traditionally been described as a chief marketing officer role.

Joining Marketing Week editor Russell Parsons for this session were Co-Op customer director Alison Jones and Transport for London customer and revenue director Chris Macleod, both distinguished marketers but without ‘marketing’ in their official job titles.

The variation of job titles for heads of marketing reflects the function’s growing ownership of the customer experience, and the desire among marketers to be seen as more than the ‘colouring-in department’ by more commercially-focused leaders within the business, for example the CFO or sales director.

Modern organisations can ill afford to have business functions operating in silos, with marketing leaders playing an important role in integrating different parts of the business for customer-focused initiatives underpinned by data and technology.

Both panellists acknowledged there was some ‘signalling’ involved with the variation in CMO job titles, but stressed that they also reflected the focus on the customer that was paramount for their organisations. According to Jones: “Our role isn’t just to sell stuff, it’s how we are thinking about the whole customer journey.” She added: “It is our responsibility to show that our roles aren’t just there to advertise what people are selling… if you just think about what the ad looks like, or the media channel you are going to get it to, you just concede to being the colouring-in department.”   

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