Ahead of his speaking engagement at Festival of Media Global 2018, we catch up with John Dawson, Managing Director at ScanmarQED who offers his perspective on some of the key issues driving global media in 2018 and beyond.
What are the key trends and insights driving global media in 2018?
We still see transparency as an issue but beyond that, data availability and integration are also very important. Obviously the new GDPR legislation and Cambridge Analytical stories are out there right now and so we see that marketers are being a bit more cautious when it comes to how they use data they collect on consumers. This is a good thing I think as it forces us as an industry to confront the relationship between consumers and data we hold on them.
Oh and TV’s not dead. Still.
What is the toughest challenge the industry faces?
There are many challenges we face but the one that I spend most time looking at is the short-term biases that are being introducing as some people focusing effort on short-term metric optimisation at the expense of creating really valuable brands. There are still leading advertisers who run significant mass market campaigns with a target of generating engagement on Facebook. That’s for me is a “long tail” strategy which is taking up a disproportionate amount of time and effort vs. the day-to-day objectives we should be focusing on.
What does success look like for you in 2018?
For us at ScanmarQED, it’s all about continuing to integrate our offerings and delivering better marketing returns for our clients’. We’re at an interesting point where we’re delivering brand new integrated solutions whilst thinking carefully about the next big leap we want to make. That’s going to be a lot of fun.
What is the key to winning new business?
Undoubtedly, it’s about understanding the value equation for our clients to ensure that their investments with us pay back – not just financially but also from a business process perspective. Success is when our clients get to invest more time into creative-thinking and doing – and less time on number crunching. A good outcome for us is when our users get to go home at a reasonable time of day rather than spend their evenings in a range of spreadsheets doing copy/paste analysis. That’s just depressing all round.
What do you find clients want more than ever?
A transparent and honest approach is certainly top of the list and it’s sad that this can’t be taken for granted. I hope what we offer is a down-to-earth assessment of a practical way of integrating all sorts of sales and marketing data so that real everyday decisions can be made more effectively. I see a lot of fear in the eyes of clients on occasion when they want to analyse their data because they are worried it’s not a core competence and the cost of getting it wrong is very high. I hope what we offer is a safety net where we can say “look at this data – it’s pointing in this direction – we think taking advantage of this can give you a boost of €Xm. Is that worth the effort?”
The other thing we all want back is time – and we can certainly offer some significant time savings to our clients.
How does the industry develop measurement standards for digital that are universal?
The metrics themselves are easy and well understood because they relate to human factors. Did you see it? Did you act? What’s key is that the data is reliable and sadly, the methods for verification that it’s a human interacting in the first place aren’t keeping up with the ad fraud problem which is enormous. I would like to see publishers take more control of verification – it’s their content after all. I used to believe in the mantra “money talked” when it came to this stuff – the people paying the money would figure out the bad stuff and the good stuff but what we see today is a version of Akerlof’s Lemons – namely low cost bad quality inventory driving out the good stuff. Verification services are really the only solution but even they can’t detect all ad fraud. Sadly it requires proper auditing of data and people need to pay for this – one way or another.
How important is inclusivity to your business?
Very important – especially as working practices change. We have a great and diverse team across our offices but if I’m honest, we need to keep inclusivity in mind at all times. In terms of the broader picture, we are working closely with a charity called Rockids Foundation who work to empower women in Sri Lanka through education and work programmes. This is inspiring stuff and we’re supplying IT equipment and training to help them at the very least become more aware of the modern international business landscape. We’ve got staff visiting there also to participate in the charity programme (one of these being about micro-financing and empowering female entrepreneurs) and I hope we can continue this partnership which has proved an enormous success locally.
How do media owners and tech companies capitalize on the changing media landscape?
I think this is a question of transparency, trust and effectiveness. The advances in technology offer many opportunities but also some “false prophets”. Those that will prosper will be the organisations who pay attention to what is commercially important to them. Being a data owner is great but only if the data is unique and valuable.
I am forever curious about addressable TV and also Outdoor using technology like beacons and what they offer for media owners in particular. Although the privacy aspects to these services are important, there will be some quit-pro-quo between consumers and the providers at some point although I do suspect that some middle-man service will be established to somehow manage privacy concerns.
Catch John Dawson speaking at this years Festival of Media Global 2018 at 15:55 in the Control Zone on 14 May.