We quizzed UM chief strategy officer Sophie Price on how evolving ideas, purpose-led brands and balancing short-term effects with long-term fame are crucial for success in media today.

TCC: How have ideas evolved in the digital/experience economy?

SP: Consumers, once disempowered, have become empowered with unlimited choice but within a limited time – this has shifted their expectations of brands and their willingness to tolerate conventional advertising campaigns. We are seeing ad avoidance behaviours rapidly increase in prevalence as viewing behaviour moves to digital screens. Audiences are physically deleting advertising from their lives! In 2015, Australia’s use of adblocking sat at 15%, by 2019 we forecast that to have grown upwards of 40%.

In this context, the problem solving ideas that we need to be creating more of, are those that earn the right to play in the audience’s lives – we can no longer just expect to simply pay to reach them through conventional advertising campaigns. Studies have shown that most brand experiences are still very transactional – we need to shift this by creating ideas and experiences that consistently add new value to people’s lives – being relevant or useful or entertaining throughout the customer journey.

These ideas can also help to differentiate the brand at a time when it’s increasingly hard to compete on product features – everything can be replicated, and innovation happens quicker than adoption.

TCC: What is the power of purpose and why is it important for campaign planning?

SP: Millennials are now the heartbeat of consumer culture as they are influencing the attitudes, spending habits and brand preferences of everyone else. Millennials engage with brands much more personally and emotionally than previous generations and they believe that brands can and should bring a positive contribution to our society.

Purpose-led brands give this audience a reason to believe that the company doesn’t just exist to make money. Or as author and speaker Simon Sinek says, “people increasingly buy why you do it, not what you do”.

In an increasingly competitive and commoditised world, it is these authentic and meaningful interactions that matter most in the customer experiences of a brand.

The reason purpose works to differentiate marketing is because it’s not an idea created for a marketing campaign. It’s personal to the business, it comes from within and it influences all brand behaviours both internal and external. And it’s good for shareholders too: at Cannes Lions last year we saw around six marketers talk about how meaningful brands gain more share of wallet, deliver double their marketing KPI outcomes and outperform the stock market.

TCC: How difficult is it to balance short-term effects with long term fame? What are some tips on how to achieve this?

SP: With the rise in data-driven digital marketing, short-term marketing tactics are increasingly taking precedence over long-term brand building, which is affecting overall advertising effectiveness.

Most digital channels focus on short-term goals and are based on driving fast, efficient results.

While short-term sales are great for the quarterly balance sheet, long-term strategies have the potential to cultivate brand awareness, ongoing brand relationships, and increase existing customer conversions.

The issue of short-termism was raised by an IPA report in June that suggests the use of short-term metrics to measure campaign success is resulting in a sharp drop in creativity and diverting budgets away from longer-term brand building activity.

As effectiveness expert Peter Field put it: “If you measure success over the short term, as big data will push you to do, you will select marketing and communication strategies that deliver best results in the short term: unfortunately these will not deliver best long-term results and in many important ways will undermine long-term success. This suggests that campaigns based on big data emphasise the quick sell and ignore the benefits of building long-term relationships with consumers. Worse, implementing rational strategies that encourage instant gratification is also in danger of killing off creativity.”

The goal is to effectively develop and manage both short- and long-term strategies. Here’s how you can do it:

Clearly understand how short-term and long-term effects are different and importantly work together.
Beware of quarterly sales measures or shorter-term activation sales as a sole measure of success: balance short term sales responses with long-term metrics.
Develop both strategies concurrently and measure the impact of both with separate KPIs but also the effect that one has on the other.