Mondelez’s head of content: Marketers have 'collectively insulted the audience’s attention'

Mondelez's head of content Laura Henderson at ad:tech New York

The proliferation of ad blockers is consumer payback because brands have "insulted the audience's attention" for too long.

That's the view of the Mondelez marketer attempting to redefine the snacks giant as a "content owner" and transform the organization's output from "interruptive advertising" which is viewed as a cost by the C-suite to programming that could actually make money in its own right.

Speaking at ad:tech New York, Mondelez's global head of content and media monetization, Laura Henderson, said: "It’s no surprise that people are [blocking ads] because I believe that as an industry we have collectively insulted the audience’s attention. We’ve shouted louder, more often and in more places and all they’ve done is put up their blockers to try and avoid us.

"It’s never been more difficult to be a marketer. We’re facing an intensely fragmented audience, which means it’s more difficult to reach people. All of this is wreaking havoc on the economics of our business. It’s costing me more money than ever before to reach these people. My cost per reach has grown exponentially, and my budget’s grown incrementally at best.

"Look at how we operate as a business. We’re still buying media on the basis of impressions, which is the potential to see an ad, when the potential to see an ad has done nothing but decrease."

Mondelez's reaction to this is its much talked about move to become a media producer – or as Henderson described it, its shift from a "transactional media buyer to content owner and investor".

"If you think about the traditional advertising value chain, you’ve got content producers at the top – they come up with the idea, develop it, produce it, distribute it. Advertisers show up at the very end of that equation, interrupt the program, make it worse, and we have that very transactional role.

"What we’re looking to do now is work our way up that value chain, so become content creators and owners which fundamentally change the game. It means foreseeably that marketing can change from just a cost center to actually a profit center. If we are creating content that is good enough to make money."

Since Henderson took up her role in June 2015, she has been developing a line of experimental content dubbed "the Mondelez slate", trialling a range of formats from feature films to music videos and live stunts to get a handle on what works for its brands and what doesn't.

"I would walk into new partners and people just saw a giant chequebook. A big brand, she must have brought her big chequebook, we’ll be able to sell her something," she said.

Mondelez's biggest content play so far has been Heaven Sent, a stunt that saw skydiver Luke Aikins jump 25,000 feet without a parachute and land in a net.

Branded as a Stride Gum production but televised on Fox and covered by media the world over, Henderson claimed it had earned over $15m dollars in earned media coverage thanks to over 1 billion impressions.

So what's her advice for how other brands can follow suit? "Convince the company behind it that you should throw someone out of a plane without a parachute."

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Cameron Clarke

Cameron Clarke is The Drum's Deputy Editor, and has covered the marketing industry for the title for a decade. Based in the UK, he is now primarily responsible for commissioning and editing The Drum's opinion coverage. He also writes features about brands with unorthodox approaches to media and marketing, such as Brewdog, Patagonia and De Correspondent.

All by Cameron