Revenge Living Drives Optimistic Advertising Outlook

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Revenge Living Drives Optimistic Advertising Outlook

What a difference a year makes. A year ago, marketers and their agencies were looking to reduce their ad spend, looking for maximum flexibility, and even pondering whether COVID-19 would end the entire concept of Upfronts; or at least dramatically change them. Most sellers, recognizing the pandemic reality, were accommodating, not wanting to damage long-term revenue and relationship. A year later, the Upfront is back, and with the exception of virtual presentations and no shrimp or 'pigs in blankets', it appears that we are back to pre-pandemic behavior. In fact, there is a sense that with the pent-up demand for travel, dining, and any experience that gets us out of the house, so called "Revenge Living", could bring about the next Roaring Twenties. But with the threat of inflation, global supply chain issues, uneven job improvement, and the threat of COVID variants, will we? That and many important industry discussions from audience targeting to brand safety to consumer post-pandemic behavior were part of the two-day CDX Accelerate Advertising & Media Summit.

Highlighting the conference was a discussion, "The Future of Advertising: Cookies, Cancel Culture, and the Age of Revenge Living," hosted by Drew Ianni and facilitated by Jack Myers (founder of MediaVillage) with Joshua Lowcock (Chief Digital Officer) UM Worldwide, and JiYoung Kim (Chief Digital Officer) at Carat (both pictured at top).

The overarching message that both Lowcock and Kim were sending around both data and the buyer / seller relationship is that much has been done, yet much is left to be done. When asked by Myers if the media in the past year has improved their customer experience, with the customer being buyers, Lowcock pointedly said that while "each of the individual companies believe they have improved to some extent" it hasn't improved enough as an industry. He took a particularly firm stance at the addressable TV world. "You are still seeing antiquated approaches. You've got great data, but I still cannot block content that clients don't want to be around," said Lowcock whose role includes that of Global Brand Safety Officer for UM Worldwide.

Kim took shared responsibility of under-delivering on the end-consumer experience saying, "If you think about what's happening now, the promise that we make consumers in exchange for their data, that we will personalize your digital experience, provide utility, and make your life better. Opt-out rates and general apathy among consumers about advertising is a pretty good indication of how we've done to date. We have not necessarily fulfilled our promise, but we have to now."

As the topic turned to the focus on data and the Upfront, both agency representatives caveated that they were "digital" people but agreed that with the deprecation of cookies and changes brought about by iOS 14, 1st party data and the integration of that data with TV and Cable data was important. Said Kim, "I don't know if the industry is taking this 1st party data trend as seriously as they should be taking it. While data collaboration has started, I don't know if it's creating real substantive change." Later on, when asked about the exodus of viewers from AVOD to SVOD services Kim continued to reiterate TV's reach building capability. "I have a great respect for the relationship that people have with TV and big experiential media moments. Think about the anticipation of a post-pandemic world and how much is wrapped around those big tent-pole moments. There's not really been a challenger to television's ability to quickly build reach, but we have to look on the other side as to what that reach really means and who you are reaching. You can't have a conversation about 1st party data and human understanding without the other side of the coin."

Another trend that the panel addressed was the growing importance of traditional retail players, Walmart, Target, Walgreens and more, that have doubled down on their advertising platforms over the past year. Lowcock and Kim both see the benefits, but also the challenge that it brings to holistic media strategy. Per Lowcock, "Retail is sitting on 1st Party transaction data and that's incredibly important." Kim is reminded of the early days of mobile. "This is a continuing trend. Retail brands are starting to look more and more like media owners. They certainly are content creators." However, Lowcock warns "All of the retailers want a slice of the media budget and that could easily consume 100% of the brand's budget, and that is not in the best interest of the brand."

We are entering the post-pandemic era; a time that looks to be economically prosperous, but also volatile when it comes to data, audience targeting and privacy. Add to the market focus on social responsibility. Lowcock summed up the near future by saying, "Media investment is a gift and every dollar matters. You should make sure that you invest it responsibly."

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