Advertising Week 2017 First Thoughts

This is New York Advertising Week, and it’s time for advertisers to begin thinking about their brands again. As Digiday points out,

Railing against how much of digital advertising is in a black box is in fashion, and it should be the big issue at Advertising Week this week as many major marketers gather in one place.

We’ve already heard major CMOs like Mark Pritchard (P&G) and Gary Friedman (Restoration Hardware) talk about how much of their advertising spend is misplaced, and how they have, or are going to, cut back.

And we agree that perhaps they should. Consumers are not turned on by ads that are based on data alone. Most of purchasing decisions are made on the basis of emotion, and for a brand to be both top of mind and beloved, it has to go back to the basics of brand strategy.

After all, what is a brand? Fundamentally, a brand is a promise a company makes to its customers about its product or service. A good clear brand will answer some questions in the customers’ minds that they may not even know they have.  They’d like to know why you went into business in the first place (your corporate story). More important, they want to know the benefits they can expect from interacting with your brand — what’s in it for them? Increasingly, customers also want to know your corporate values, because more and more shoppers are seeking to align with brands whose values they share or respect.

Most important, what’s their net positive value from interacting with your brand?

Every consumer, either consciously or subconsciously, performs an equation when they consider making a purchase or getting otherwise involved with a brand. They subtract what they expect to spend (in time, money and energy) from what they expect to receive (in benefits). If they end up with a net positive result, they will consider making the purchase. Save them time and possible miscalculation by highlighting, in simple terms, how their purchase investment will be a lucrative one.

If you really stop and think about these core tenets of building a brand, you’ll understand why the programmatic approach of buying broadly and blanketing people with ads they don’t want, and then re-targeting them endlessly after the most basic of interactions, such as a Google search, do not work. You can’t win people over simply by tracking them and annoying them.

Yes, it has taken us two decades to get over our fascination with data, because it was such a novelty to have data at all. But this Advertising Week, we know there will be many discussions about trust. There’s no such thing as a successful ad campaign for a brand you can’t trust. And trust either comes from every single interaction you have with another human being, or is destroyed by those same interactions.

We’ve been moving in the direction of brand advertising support for a while now. We feel that’s the side of the customer, and we want to be positioned solidly on that side for the perpetuation of our own brand. In other words, you can trust us to offer you brand ad formats that work, and to be transparent about how we sell them.