The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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April 27, 2022 | 6 min read

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To kick off our Digital Advertising Focus for the next two weeks, The Drum assembles a panel of marketing leaders from L’Oréal, Accenture, Croud and GumGum at The Drum Labs to debate how the industry can find a more human way forward for digital advertising.

gumgum contextual digital advertising

Marketing leaders from L’Oréal, Accenture, Croud and GumGum debate how ads can be more human

As humans, our online consumer habits can be broken down into micro-moments. In just five minutes we can look for an exercise class, find a restaurant for dinner, and buy a pair of shoes. No two days or moments look alike. Yet advertising today follows us around the internet leveraging these past behaviors instead of meeting us in our current mindset.

New research from GumGum shows that consumers are more than ready for advertisers to ditch tracking their behavior and place greater emphasis on ads that align with the digital environment and content they are looking at. However, unpicking deeply ingrained habits among digital marketers and advertisers isn’t easy. That’s why The Drum is hosting a two-week deep dive into the world of digital advertising.

Going under the banner of The Drum’s Digital Advertising Focus, to kick off we hosted a panel session in partnership with GumGum, a tech firm specializing in pushing the innovation boundaries of contextual advertising. Joining The Drum’s assistant editor and moderator, Jenni Baker, were:

  • Peter Wallace, senior vice-president of sales, EMEA, GumGum (sponsors of The Drum Awards for Online Media and The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising 2022)

  • Lex Bradshaw-Zanger, chief marketing and digital officer, L’Oréal UK & Ireland (co-chair of The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022)

  • Sophie Wooller, director of digital transformation at performance marketing agency, Croud (judge for The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising)

  • Matthew Corbin, global growth leader, Accenture Interactive

The panel, titled ‘Digital advertising – in the eye of the beholder’, saw our marketing experts’ step into the shoes of the beholder (the consumer) to explore the benefits of taking a more human-centric approach to digital advertising. In a discussion of strong, progressive thinking, they discussed why it is on all of us as marketers to embrace the combination of context, creative, and attention – and not personal data targeting – to find a better and more human way forward. 

“The privacy world has changed a hell of a lot in the last few years, and a lot of technologies have been trying to identify ways in which they can work around that privacy legislation, rather than work with it,” said GumGum’s Wallace, laying down a challenge for advertisers to embrace legislation and innovation within its framework rather than find ways around it.

“There should be a lot more pressure on advertisers, brands and technologies to make sure that we respect consumer privacy and respect the data points that we can get hold of in a way that isn't creepy. Over the last 12 months or so, a lot of businesses have been trying to work around the legislation rather than work with it, which for me, is something that needs to change within the industry significantly.”

It was an opinion that resonated with each of the other panelists. Accenture’s Corbin noted that the shifting digital environment should have a beneficial impact on the use of data by advertisers and publishers: “This is a real challenge for marketers. As we look at this new world without the cookie, relevancy becomes incredibly important. Brand safety is moving in the right direction in the industry, but the onus is on media and tech companies’ algorithms making sure that we’re providing relevant advertising backed by quality first-party data. This is the future of where we're headed.”

A smarter use of data was also put forward by Croud’s Wooller, who proposed that marketers seek to better integrate data and creativity to maximize the return-on-investment (ROI) of delivering more contextually relevant ads: “[Brands] can have the best possible targeting in the world, but if you are showing an ad that is unclear or unengaging no one’s going to look at it, and they’re not going to remember it. Fundamentally, what we’re trying to do with advertising is get the right message to the right person at a time that will resonate with them. From now on, we’re going to use data to identify trends from a creative standpoint and understand what people are reacting to.”

With the role and stewardship of data critical to the success of tomorrow’s advertising campaigns, L’Oréal’s Bradshaw-Zanger closed out the panel talk with crucial reminder for advertisers to not ignore soft consumer metrics if they want to make a real impact.

“We’ve got to think about what advertising does for the consumer – it’s got to be useful; it’s got to be seen as non-invasive, and it’s got to be integrated in the experience in which we’re trying to deliver value,” he says. “We need to look beyond metrics that are easy to measure and think about the relationship of creative, messaging, and encouraging an emotional connection. Going forward, [advertisers should focus] on the human element and the emotional element. That’s what creates the relevancy and connection with consumers.”

It’s clear that the way forward for digital advertisers requires a step change in thinking to become more audience-centric in their approach. To do so requires a better use of audience metrics, a re-imagining of the relationship between creative and data, and the ability to serve more relevant ads to consumers. All of this and more will be explored over the next two weeks during The Drum’s Digital Advertising Focus, sponsored by GumGum.

For more information, watch the full discussion above or visit the Digital Advertising Focus hub.

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