ISBA president and MoneySuperMarket CEO Peter Duffy says marketers must prepare to be under the corporate spotlight like never before this year, as companies look to make deeper evaluations of spend and return.

Talking this morning (28 January) during a panel discussion at Reset 2021, Duffy began by warning that measurement is going to be more crucial than ever, as the industry looks to ease itself away from the limitations and ordeals of operating during a global pandemic.

“Over the next six to 12 months, there will be a clamour from markets to begin to understand what the revenue picture looks like and you’ll begin to see revenue initiatives coming to the fore again in many organisations,” he said. That will then shift marketing back to the centre of an organisation, bringing renewed challenges for marketers.

“The spend that has gone out of the industry will inevitably come back in and it’s going to be analysed in a way that it’s never been analysed before,” Duffy, a former marketer, continued.

“We’re going to have to really demonstrate that incremental spend is going to drive return to shareholders and is actually going to do what shareholders want, which is to begin to significantly drive revenue and begin to excite customers to buy products that they haven’t been for a period of time.”

As advertisers, we need to evaluate media and to demonstrate that we’re improving the efficiency and effectiveness of it.

Peter Duffy, MoneySuperMarket

The importance of measurement was again stressed during a discussion about issues around transparency, a recurring theme within the industry in recent years. Duffy pinpointed three key areas where a lack of clarity and understanding was causing the most damage within client-media agency relationships, focusing on contracts, education and measurements.

Aligning a client and agency’s interests is crucial if trust is to be genuinely sustained throughout a relationship. “That begins with the contract,” Duffy explained. “How can the client understand exactly how the whole thing is set up? I think increasingly you’re going to see more and more clients who understand that their own business performances are actually the key drivers for the media agency’s success.

“They want to see that very direct linkage. That has to start with information and understanding. What are the choices that are available? Who’s buying what from whom? Who is marking what up?”

That then feeds into education as Duffy pointed out, many clients don’t actually understand how processes work. “Standardisation is urgently required across all contractual and technical areas.”

Returning to the theme of measurement, described by the ISBA boss as many CMOs’ number one priority. ISBA has been pushing Origin, its UK cross media measurement programme introduced in 2019, as the best solution to failings throughout the industry when it comes to assessing growth and engagement.

“As advertisers, we need to evaluate media and to demonstrate that we’re improving the efficiency and effectiveness of it,” Duffy said. “To be frank, it’s just medieval that as an industry we are not able to do that in a comparative way today.”

Duffy was joined on the panel by Advertising Association president and former Unilever CMO Keith Weed and IPA president Nigel Vaz, both of whom were fairly upbeat about the industry’s outlook over the coming year.

Weed in particular looked to the positive, flagging the fact the UK’s ad market is forecast to grow by 15% this year, higher growth than is expected in the US and the rest of Europe.

“The advertising industry is very much the canary in the mine,” Weed said. “We get hit first. When a business is in crisis, the first thing that they worry about is their people; the second thing they worry about is cutting budgets to make sure they survive. What the industry needs to focus on is the role of growth, and how advertising can stimulate growth.”

Vaz backed that argument, adding that the onus now is on companies to maintain a share of voice if they want consumers to stay with them. “Brands do have to really think about how they create these relationships and connections,” said the IPA president.

“Whether it’s direct-to-consumer relationships, moving more towards digital channels, or thinking about the role of experience in the context of the propositions that they’re putting out to customers, I think these kinds of shifting patterns and behaviours are going to be critical.”

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