“Digital is unquestionably our future.” A statement some might regard as somewhat necessary, coming from a high-profile conference dedicated to the nitty-gritty of digital strategies.
The numbers back up the statement. 50.6 minutes per day were spent on average consuming media in 2010, but that has escalated over the years, and average daily consumption is now at 144.8 minutes.
Jim Freeman, the Commercial Director of Sales and Trading at the Telegraph Media Group, feels passionate about the damage the advertising industry has inflicted on itself, as he explained to the audience at the Digital Media Strategies 2017 conference:
“There’s huge negativity around digital advertising – ad blocking, fraud, and now fake news. But advertising doesn’t have to be the enemy – it can be memorable.”
“There is some good creativity in the advertising world, but it’s not at the heart of most digital campaigns. We tend to see things that don’t particularly stand out.”
Freeman believes that there’s one industry that publishing can learn a great deal from: the fashion and luxury industry.
“Back when digital was growing in the early days…the fashion and luxury sector stood back and avoided the digital arena for a couple of years. Rather than jumping straight in, they wanted to think about how their brands would work in digital. They realised they needed the same things as they did in print – beautiful imagery and a big space to show it off.”
He draws this back to the current stability luxury print magazines are enjoying. “Half a magazine now is advertising,” he points out. “A consumer doesn’t mind that – they know it’s part of the value exchange.”
Here are Freeman’s six initiatives needed to restore confidence in digital advertising.
1 – An impression should be measured from the time the ad has rendered on the page
Freeman argued that the industry has lost its sense of reason when it came to measurability. “We need to go back to basics,” he emphasised.
2 – A viewable impression should only be measured as viewable if 100% of the ad is in view
His second initiative was along the same lines, and that so much damage had been done with a lack of industry standards in measurement.
“No one would pay for me only printing half an advert. We need an industry consensus about how much of an advert counts as ‘seen’, and for me personally, I think that should be 100%”
3 – A viewable impression should be based on being seen for more than one second
Many ad traders will guarantee that an ad is seen for at least one second, but on many occasions, this cuts close to the bone. “One second is nothing. You wouldn’t even notice it had been there,” Freeman argued.
4 – Networks, Trading desks and Media Owners should be audited, measured and certified
Many of the above issues would be overcome if there was an industry standard. Freeman made the case that we should go back to the pre-digital era to learn from some of these
“Brands were built, things were sold, lessons were learned long before digital came along. These lessons still apply…now we have data and technology which can enhance what we know, but that doesn’t mean we throw out the rest of the lessons.”
5 – Guidelines and advice should be drawn up to help creatives
The constant need to upskill is a factor that the Telegraph Media Group are constantly aware of, so companies must invest in helping their creatives with the necessary tools to meet the changing digital world. As an example, he drew out the care and attention given to content, and urged the audience to put the same care into advertising.
“We need to think more about what we’re doing online. We think carefully what the content is and how it’s delivered to the consumers, but do we think as carefully about the advertising?”
6 – We need to humanise the tech
This last initiative draws on an issue we’re all very familiar with.
“We’ve all had experience of being followed around the web by things we’ve already bought. The tech is clever, but the tech can’t know whether we’ve bought it or that if we haven’t bought it within ten days, we probably won’t.”
Freeman called for a ‘human’ approach to technology, where we use the data to the best of our ability, but apply the ‘common sense’ needed to properly translate it into the best experience for readers.
“Advertisers, media agencies and publishers…just need to care more about the user experience.”