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Brief Published: 22 Jun 2018

Mumbrella 360: Less Advertising May Be More

Mumbrella360 2018

Held in Sydney, media and marketing conference Mumbrella360 (June 12-14) brought together a range of industry experts from companies including Google and Volkswagen. During conversations on how to use content marketing and artificial intelligence (AI) alike to reach 2018's diversifying consumer psychographics, some pundits suggested that the best way to fix a troubled digital advertising landscape, is to have far less of it.

  • Reconsidering Digital Advertising: PwC Australia gave a presentation about its report Outlook for Australian Entertainment & Media 2018-2022. The firm's entertainment and media industry leader Megan Brownlow said: "If you think about the problems that we've been having over the last couple of years, they are all about trust. Internet advertising having low viewability, brand safety issues, fraud issues – that's really blackened the entire industry."

    Brownlow is the latest expert in the global advertising industry to call for a simple solution: only selling high-quality inventory to the best engagement campaigns (see our coverage from Advertising Week Europe 2018, SXSW 2018, Incite Media Summit 2017 and Social Media Week London 2017).

    "If you reduce the number of ads, you make loading easier, and you make the costs lower for consumers both in time and data," explained Jeremy Thorpe, PwC Australia's chief economist. "This means they are less likely to install ad blockers, which is ultimately the death spiral the industry wants to avoid."

    Regardless of how digital advertising might have to change to save its reputation, PwC predicts a sharp growth in the sector overall, from a 50.6% share of the advertising market in 2017, to 63% in 2022.
  • The Emotive Power of the Ordinary: Magnus Jakobsson, executive creative director at Åkestam Holst, held an opening keynote centred on the international agency's work for Ikea. To solidify the Swedish furniture giant's market position, Jakobsson said his agency concentrates on highlighting the impact of Ikea – whose products are so omnipresent as to be unremarkable – without glorifying it. "Our creative strategy was to take these unlikeables and make people like them, not by glamorising it or exaggerating it or being priceworthy or functional, but by attaching real emotional value to the product."

    Under the two-year-old Where Life Happens campaign, Åkestam Holst makes Ikea products an unobtrusive focal point of emotional moments in consumers' lives. For instance, a January 2018 print ad for one of the company's cribs doubled up as a pregnancy test.
  • Put Yourself First: Blending into the lives of consumers isn't about twisting your brand into unrecognisable shapes. Adam Ferrier, co-founder of Australian communications agency Thinkerbell, put brand ambitions for frictionless engagement into perspective against their need to be remembered. "Consumers don't need any of your brands. What they want is your category," he said. "The role of a brand is to be in your face at the time you need that product or service."

    To avoid turning into what he calls a 'Teflon brand' that is so frictionless that it doesn't stick in consumers' minds, Ferrier says brands have to avoid responding only to category-generic needs, and instead amplify their unique position in moments of engagement that create lasting impressions. Warning that there's a small amount of difference between a company's brand and its competitors, he added: "It's really important to understand that difference and magnify that, not regress towards the mean."

    As highlighted in our review of the 2018 D&AD Awards, having a strong position that goes beyond product functionality is especially important in a culture where brand hijacking is coming to the fore, and brands are building their own platforms outside of classic media channels. Successful marketers must create distinct brand experiences across media and experiential categories. 

For further thoughts on how to shore up your brand voice, check out SXSW 2018: Take Back Control of Your Brand and The Marketing Power of Events.