By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

June 28, 2022 | 6 min read

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Ad spend is bouncing back, but audiences are changing – and data continues to be a marketer’s guiding light. Agility, always-on prioritization, authenticity, accountability and trust will be essential for navigating this changing world and building strategies that are future-fit.

A re-balancing act: future-focused strategies to build brands and acquire customers

The panel discussion saw Katie Evans, Emma Delserieys and Jo Holdaway share advice

With regulatory changes afoot across the tech and media landscape, marketers shouldn’t just ‘wait and see’ what happens – they need to be proactive and activate with purpose. That’s according to marketing leaders from Burger King, Nielsen and The Independent, who joined The Drum to explore four key themes spotlighted in Nielsen’s Global Annual Marketing Report 2022.

The panel discussion, ‘A re-balancing act: future-focused strategies to build brands and acquire customers,’ saw Katie Evans, chief marketing officer, Burger King UK; Emma Delserieys, vice-president of customer success Europe at Nielsen; and Jo Holdaway, chief data and marketing officer for The Independent, share advice on what it takes to build balanced, agile marketing strategies to mitigate the biggest risks for marketers today.

Watch the full panel discussion above.

Holistic measurement

Delserieys sets the scene to address the tension between brand awareness and driving clear outcomes, before the speakers go on to tackle a range of themes including challenges with siloed cross-platform measurement, first-party data acquisition strategies and partner accountability, and how to connect with savvy consumers and audiences in purposeful, meaningful and tangible ways.

“Every advertiser wants the same thing – maximum brand awareness, quantifiable, immediate outcomes and all of that for the minimum budget they can spend,” says Delserieys. To find the right balance, she advises working with partners to identify solutions that measure both the long-term effect and short-term impact, and holding them accountable to delivering outcomes.

Evans weighs in to share Burger King’s journey from what was a “relatively traditional media strategy focused on short-term sales” with very little digital investment. Understanding the need to change its approach, she discusses how carrying out some quick testing to understand the impact of digital channels “gave us much more scope when it came to content and broadening our reach to younger audiences, which was one of the key goals for us.”

The conversation moves on to challenges around siloed cross measurement, with Nielsen’s report highlighting global marketers’ confidence in full-funnel ROI measurement at just 54%. Delserieys concludes that “a more holistic strategy is having the best data available at the granularity where it’s available, combined with the best expertise to make sense of those different datasets.”

Taking control

With the report finding that only 26% of global marketers are fully confident in their audience data, Holdaway discusses The Independent’s own first-party data acquisition drive – its “anonymous-to-known strategy” – in the context of third-party cookie deprecation, building on the unique relationship that publishers have with their readers.

“Publishers are going to be much more in control of where they spend their own marketing money, but also how they can help clients and marketers spend their money with the more privacy-safe compliant technologies sprouting up, like data clean rooms,” she says.

“It’s less of a reliance on the traditional third-party programmatic industry and more about declared deterministic data that publishers hold to enable clients to keep that targeting that they find so performance positive. Make sure or try as hard as you can to have really robust consumer data that’s accurate and actionable.”

Authentic communications

Consumers are savvier and more discerning than ever, and they want more than just a product or service from brands. Purpose-driven initiatives are proving their weight in ROI. Global marketers say they are emphasizing purpose, but 55% of consumers aren’t convinced that brands are fostering true progress. The speakers weigh in with their views, and point to the importance of authentic communication.

“Consumers are more understanding of what’s an authentic voice or not,” says Delserieys. “There’s a lot of new channels out there to drive meaningful engagements with audiences, if used right. We’ve measured the impact of campaigns with a purpose associated to it and we’ve seen that when done correctly, the results drive much stronger engagement from audiences.”

Evans discusses Burger King’s CSR strategy and how initiatives such as the BK Meltdown have been so successful because it’s not just relevant to the brand, but also to what consumers care about. She says: “The brands that cut through are those that are doing something that makes a lot of sense to consumers and is not overly complex.”

Future growth

Wrapping up the discussion, the speakers share a final word of advice for building future-focused marketing strategies.

“We’ve got pretty hard jobs as it is with the complexity of the landscape that we’re working in and trying to make those marketing pounds give us decent ROI back,” says Holdaway. “We have to understand our responsibility to our consumers; they want and expect more. The trust that they have in a brand is so easily broken, so respect that trust, recognize it and do more.”

“Agility has served us well in the past few years for the brands that have adapted and listened to their consumers,” says Evans. “Now, it’s about trying to retain that agility. We have lots of complex times up ahead and lots more change to face, so being ready for that and having agility in your plans and your strategy – to respond to changing consumers and channels – is hugely helpful.”

“At work as well as life, in times of trouble, having the right partners to handhold you through this is key,” says Delserieys. “The partners who are going to hold you accountable and that you can hold accountable to face challenges, and that you can trust to bring you what you don’t necessarily have in terms of expertise and knowledge, and give you the agility that is required.”

For more insights, tune in to watch the full discussion above and download Nielsen’s Global Annual Marketing Report here.

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