Transparency and Trust: how to boost returns on marketing investment in 2018 and beyond?

How to boost returns on marketing investment in 2018 and beyond?

With the continuing fall out of Brexit and how it impacts on consumer confidence, a knock-on effect will be how that influences brand budgets, and as a consequence, a push for real focus on ROI as a metric for customer success, according to Bing UK head of strategic sales, Aaron McGrath.

McGrath says there are two areas that should be questioned. How does the industry really drive ROI and efficiency? And how does it continue to build trust with consumers?

He expresses that ROI has always been a metric for success, but in 2018, what the industry will see is brands thinking about how much they are spending, how they are going to spend and how effectively they will do that.

Also, publishers, brands and agencies should be keeping an eye on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. How will these concepts be used as a crucial success to 2018?

We’re talking to machines a lot more than we used to, and machines, like Alexa and Cortana, are listening to us more than they used to. The same goes for image or video recognition, allowing machines to watch us a lot more than before. With the power of machine learning, machines are collecting all this data in a much more powerful way, explains McGrath.

The opportunity for brands, agencies and publishers then is how to turn that into an emotional connection/intelligence. Thinking about how they can be intentional about it and how to understand the emotion of the user/consumer in a way that seems natural to them, by overlaying AI with what is found to be the most intelligent and sending that message at the right time, to the right person.

However, there is always a danger when pushing out words like listening, talking, watching and collating, when it comes to machine. Consumers don’t want to be thinking that Big Brother is watching them at every moment. But the only way you can break down that resistance, according to Bing, is by being transparent about how the technology is being used.

As an industry, GDPR is an interesting reflecting point. McGrath asks whether everybody should follow the rules and regulations of governments and legislators or focus on how to really build trust as publishers, agencies and brands with the industry.

He believes this should push thoughts on how the industry can go beyond concepts like GDPR and how to talk in an open and transparent way. For instance, talking to consumers and users about how KPI's are connecting, how information is being used and how privacy is being respected within that environment.

The opportunities, explains McGrath, are unlimited, but as an industry, search needs to start with transparency otherwise the challenges faced in 2017 will continue beyond 2018

This discussion arose from The Drum Search Awards breakfast panel, in association with Bing on Monday December 3. The Search Awards are now open to entries for 2018, which will close Friday February 2, 2018. Click here for more information.

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Danielle Gibson

Danielle is a commercial writer at The Drum. She writes about various areas including; digital, search, content, B2B, events, creative, design, advertising and marketing for the Live Events team.

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