Jon Wilkins: art and science - the key to quality for brands


By Jon Wilkins, Chairman

May 3, 2018 | 4 min read

One of the debates in the industry at the moment is about context and the value of quality media environments for brands. When you bring publishers, creatives and technologists together, they’re obviously going to defend their respective patches.

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In one corner you have those in the old guard of advertising, who believe in the glory of the traditional TV ad and see digital as secondary - ‘the culture over collateral' debate - alongside premium publishers like Marie Claire arguing for the craft of building brands in beautiful environments. In the other are digital-first businesses like eBay, which have used other marketing channels successfully by delivering effectiveness and value.

Plenty in the industry see marketing as a funnel, with TV and premium content at the top and digital at the bottom. But I don’t believe in this apparent pyramid-shaped reality. At Karmarama, we prefer a karmic loop – because ultimately every decision a brand makes is connected. And it’s important to help marketers see that because their customers make a personal choice in how to engage with the brand – whether that’s on their mobile, in a store or between the glossy pages of a magazine.

We believe creativity should be a blend of art and science, where advertising is made in a human way, putting the customer first. When it comes to creativity, you can come up with persuasive ideas so long as they enable preference for the person experiencing it.

Content is critical but the only way for brands to survive is to get more digital in the way their products are developed, marketed and sold. The reality is, the audience is changing.

One of the biggest challenges that remains in advertising – especially in mobile formats – is that a lot of digital ads can piss people off. People talk about their mobiles as something personal to them. What’s crucial is to think differently in the digital ecosystem in terms of platforms. I saw a presentation from Cosmopolitan recently where the editor said loads of young people use their Snapchat service and some didn’t even realise it was a magazine.

It’s clear that the speed at which changing technology is affecting advertising is markedly different to where we live now versus previous technology innovations, like television. Today there is a smaller pool of industrial, global-sized competitors. With TV you had thousands of channel choices across the world that pioneered the relationships brands could have and established regulatory bodies. And as with television, that has come with a call for new regulation.

However, picking on these platforms and waiting for government regulatory bodies to define their guidelines isn’t the progressive, community-led approach this industry needs. Instead, content-driven platforms should come together. There are plenty of quality media owners in UK that could benefit from better unity and cross-platform collaboration.

Look at tomorrow’s generation. They’re the primary gateway to how we think about big ideas and persuasion – and rather than force our messages on them, we need to change our thinking. There’s a duty for all of us to remain creative and be content-rich, as long as it is relevant and driven by context.

Jon Wilkins is chairman of Karmarama, part of Accenture Interactive


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