media update’s Adam Wakefield was at Kantar Millward Brown on Wednesday, 18 October, where Kantar Insights’ global CEO, media and digital practise, Gonzalo Fuentes, spoke about the relationship between brand building and digital advertising.

1. Spend does not equal results

Fuentes began his presentation by explaining how Kantar had asked South Africans whether there were more advertisements today than three years ago. The survey’s results were telling.

Of those surveyed, 76% said there are more adverts today than three years ago. Five out of 10 people said advertising is more intrusive and annoying than three years ago. A consequence of that is 33% of those between the ages of 16 and 19, which Fuentes said represented Gen Z, had installed ad blockers either on their laptops or their mobile phones.

“This is not generational behaviour. This is something that is here to stay,” he said.

Three out of 10 people South Africans surveyed said they had seen an advertisement online that was relevant at some point of the week. Four out of 10 remembered seeing online advertising that is not relevant to them.

Fuentes said in Australia, where the vast majority of the population are online, approximately 55 cents out of every dollar of advertising spend is put into online.

However, Kantar’s research showed that one out of 10 Australians surveyed saw an online advert that was relevant to them. Seven out of 10 Australians said the adverts they saw online were not relevant to them.

The point is that advertising spend does not mean success. Further, South Africa can learn lessons of what not to do from an online market more mature than itself. 

“It is important that the industry is disciplined in understanding which audience we have reached. Doing audience auditing is a healthy thing to integrate into the way you work with your campaigns,” he said.

2. Focus on the brand, and not the metric

An effect digital has had on the advertising industry, according to Fuentes, is that pressure to succeed has increased, to the extent that in the United Kingdom, the average chief marketing officer lifespan was 18 months.

“Growth is harder to come by. Multinational brands are losing market share to locals,” he said.

“I think digital has given us a sense that you can measure everything.”

As a result, many metrics have emerged to describe how customers are interacting with your brand. However, the truth is many of these metrics have nothing to do with how the brand is growing or not growing, and whether sales are being made.

“In digital, the metric has become the outcome,” Fuentes said.

Research on click through rates, for instance, showed that their impact on message association, brand favourability and purchase intent is next to zero. Therefore, in Fuentes view, “Click through rates mean nothing”.

What advertising should be focusing on is brand, because “we know that brand drives sales”.

Fuentes said brands that emphasised their own brand power showed higher sales compared to organisations that did not do the same. In a context where growth is difficult to come by, and there is pressure to deliver results, it is important to keep calm and know if you have the right brand strategy.

3. Creativity matters, especially on digital platforms

High quality creative work is known to positively boost sales. According to Fuentes, creativity is no less important on digital platforms than other mediums.

Digital advertising has led to the challenge, or opportunity, of having more ways to reach customers than ever before. “You will not be successful with most of your brands or with most your categories, if you tend to talk to consumers in just one channel,” he said.

What keeps Feuntes awake at night is the use of different pieces of creative, and even different agencies, for different touch points. This goes against what happened in the past. Brands “were made strong” if they did not try to be different things and aimed to be the same thing to different people. Consistency in branding and advertising, according to Feuntes, is key.

Kantar’s research showed that if you used a single integrated brand across all platforms, your return on investment will outperform a campaign which has different pieces of creative for different touch points.

“Copy and paste is better than doing two completely different things on TV and YouTube,” Feuntes said.

“The best you can do is integrate the campaigns on the different platforms. Maintain the same idea, but tailor it to the [different] screens.”

A consistent narrative running through a multi-channel campaign also increases frequency, reach, and brand synergy.

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