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Kevin Chesters: Everything changes while everything remains the same

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The Drum kindly asked if I’d write a monthly column in 2019. This will be first of a few on a reoccurring theme.

2019 marks my 24th year in this business. That means I’ve been doing adverts and stuff for longer than Jake Paul & Tom Holland have been on the planet. My godson drove me home from the pub this Xmas, so I’m probably right to feel a bit old.

It’s also got me thinking about the recent changes in ‘adland’. 2018 saw a lot of change, not least of all at my old place, WPP. There was the usual ocean of ink expended on the ‘death of this’ or ‘future is that’ from the so-called experts (I’m with Michael Gove for once when it comes to most of the ‘gurus’ of our industry, especially the new media ones – I’ve had enough of them). A raft of 2019 industry predictions were predictably published predicting everything for this year that they pretty much predicted would happen and didn’t in 2018.

So, I asked myself – as a theme – has everything changed unrecognisably in the communication industry over the last few years or does what has always worked still work in the modern communications landscape just with a slightly different set of media platforms and metrics?

As usual, the answer isn’t binary. For example, on my first morning in advertising in 1995 I read an article titled “Advertising is Dead” and I’ve pretty much been reading a version of that article once a fortnight ever since. The death of advertising has been greatly exaggerated if the number of column inches (and media spend) surrounding the 2018 Xmas TV adverts was anything to go by.

Clearly, a lot has changed (and keeps changing). There is the rise of trends like ‘in-housing’ with many predicting the inevitable demise of the traditional agency/client model as a result. There were the series of mergers and disappearance of famous names like JWT and Y&R. There are clearly many new models of engagement (not before time). There was the continuing ominous growth of consultants challenging the more traditional agency names. But there has also been a rather exciting growth of independents like WhoWotWhy and the rise of collective models (from Fawnbrake to Harbour).

But the biggest changes – certainly from ten years ago (let alone 1995) – were clearly the changes in media platforms and ways to engage consumers. Hyper-personalisation and the continued shift of media money to digital/social platforms that didn’t effectively exist a decade ago continued to dominate the headlines. Despite the clear/proven growth (and unarguable/transparent effectiveness) of platforms like TV and cinema you still can’t move for articles from the Business-Jesus types about how everything is dead apart from Facebook ads and Instagram influencers.

A lot has changed, yes. And will continue to change. And this old bloke, for one, thinks that’s a great thing as our industry has always been at its most creative in times of change. There is nothing more boring than those people who just want it to stay the way it was (and vocally moan about it). The issue with most big agencies (or big agency folk) is that they are just too wedded to the old models and ways of working to ever change even if they wanted to (mostly because of the way they are remunerated by global clients). Most big famous agencies are in trouble (or dead) because they want to look like they are adapting to the modern world whilst secretly praying that it will all go back to being like the good old days.

So yes, data has proliferated. Yes, media platforms have changed. Yes, we can hyper-target and we can get much more efficient in spending. All this is brilliant for clients and planners alike. But… my – possibly unwelcome – opinion is that the majority of the really important things in our industry have remained exactly as they always were.

After all, we are all still just people. We’re still emotionally led. Creativity is still king (the latest Nielsen data I saw said ‘creative’ represented 47% of the sales contribution of advertising compared to 11% for context & targeting.) The best and most successful of the ‘older’ agencies (W+K, Mother, Adam&EveDDB, VCCP) and the best and most successful of the ‘newer’ agencies (Lucky Generals, WhoWotWhy) are the ones, unsurprisingly, doing the best creative work. And they still seem to dominate with film content, regardless of the platform they play it on (Nothing Beats a LDNR, Rang-tan, Alexa Loses her Voice, etc).

But I think the things that have changed the least have been the things that make for strong, provocative, successful client/agency relationships.

It’s still all about people. People buy people. It is about finding the right people who share your values both inside your own organisation and with your clients. The best clients do the best work regardless of where they work, and the best agencies do the best work when they work with the best client individuals (not brands or organisations).

It’s still all about trust. You can work with all kinds of personalities, but you can’t work with liars. The best creative come from risk-taking and you’ll never take a risk with someone you don’t trust. Trust comes in many forms, but it is mostly about being able to be honest with your clients and with your agency as a client. Unfortunately, there still isn’t enough of it about which is why, I suspect, there is still a lot of crap work out there.

And those two things – people and trust – come together in finding a way of working that works for each individual client rather than a one-size-fits-all model. I think this is why the independents and the collectives are starting to get stronger because they’ll always be more adaptable and flexible.

So, if I was forced to come down on one side of the fence, I’d say that in most things that are important and that lead to commercial success things have stayed the same. I’m looking forward to exploring this theme more in 2019.

Kevin Chesters is the incoming partner/CSO of The Harbour Collective

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10 questions with… Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Verizon Media's UK managing director Anna Watkins.

What was your first ever job?
It would have been washing my dad's car to earn my £1 pocket money each week. Smart man.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Relatable.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
@POTUS is truly mind-boggling.

what is the highlight of your career (so far?)
Working with such a creative, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people every step of the way.

What piece of tech can you not live without?
It's baffling that I was born in London yet still seem to use Citymapper every day.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Adam Ant and Count Dracula (aged 7). I'm not quite sure what that says about me.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?
We need a truly diverse workforce.

If you could change anything about a social media platform you use, which one and what would you choose to do?
It’s more a question of changing myself – I need to flex my creative muscles if I’m ever to make more than one friend on Tumblr…

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Scarface / Sign of the Times / War and Peace – delusions of grandeur, mine and theirs.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
The big awards bashes – it's like going to a series of weddings where you know half the guests.

The Drum's 10 Questions With… runs each week with previous entries available to view here.

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Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry?

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The collection and use of real-time mobile-location data has emerged as a critical piece of the larger data-privacy debate. A recent run of negative stories have conveyed the impression that location data usage by marketers is tantamount to spying on consumers.

We’re also starting to see lawsuits, like one recently filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney against the Weather Company, for allegedly misleading consumers about how their location data would be used. More suits will likely follow.

Carriers cut off data sharing. The negative coverage and exposure of some high-profile abuses have motivated major U.S. mobile carriers to cut off location data sharing with third party “location aggregators.” The latest to do so is AT&T, following a story by Motherboard that indicated carrier data was getting into the hands of unauthorized third parties — bounty hunters, in this case — and being used for legally dubious purposes.

As a practical matter, these moves are unlikely to significantly impact use of location data by advertisers on major platforms or in the programmatic ecosystem. AT&T owns AppNexus; Verizon owns Verizon Media Group (the rebranded Oath). Location data will probably still be available to advertisers on these platforms — they’re not “third parties.” (We’ve asked Verizon for clarification on this point and will update the story if they respond.)

Calls for more regulation or legislation. Location data are so valuable and widely available that abuses are inevitable. Some of these increasingly frequent reports are adding momentum to calls for federal data privacy legislation. The carriers’ decision to cut off location aggregators is at least partly an effort to preempt investigations and potentially forestall regulation.

Some location data companies embrace the proposition of clear regulatory or legislative guidelines, however.

For example, PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall recently told me in email: “I think that the California Consumer Privacy Act and hopefully a similar federal law (as a state-by-state patchwork of different laws would be good for no one) will not only give consumers protection and confidence, but will finally give the digital data and location data ecosystem a well-thought out set of rules and guidelines to adhere to. This will bring stability and predictability to the industry, and help weed out some of the “wild west” players that have had no interest in investing for the long term good of the ecosystem.”

Most location-data companies also say they adhere to ethical data-collection practices and are scrupulous about being “good actors” in the ecosystem. Some are vocal about the responsible and/or socially beneficial use of location technology. And some organizations (e.g., NAI) are seeking to enforce transparent and ethical data collection standards. Foursquare told me in email that their apps and partners seek opt-in consent for use of location data.

Why you should care. Location data is available from a wide range of sources in the market, including app developers and the programmatic bid stream. The loss of carrier location is not a significant blow to the ecosystem.

However it is reflective of a trend toward the tightening of access to location information more generally. While it remains to be seen whether federal privacy legislation passes in 2019 (multiple bills have been proposed), California’s Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect January 1, 2020. Other states may enact similar or more strict laws, which would lend further impetus to comprehensive federal legislation.

The post Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry? appeared first on Marketing Land.

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Catalina adds first attribution tracking service

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Best known as a provider of retail marketing intelligence based around loyalty cards and in-store printed coupons, Catalina this week released its first attribution service.

Called Catalina Multi-touch AttributR, it traces a path from digital advertising — in various channels on various devices — to a purchase made in a store with a loyalty card. The company is able to track purchases down to the UPC bar code level.

At the level of the Diet Coke flavor. Coca-Cola, for instance, can now track how a web site ad shown on a computer affects the purchase of a Diet Coke, as well as whether the flavor chosen is Twisted Mango versus Ginger Lime. Additionally, the attribution service can report if it’s the first time this consumer bought Twisted Mango.

Previously, Catalina measured how its printed in-store coupons affected buyer behavior, but it didn’t track the impact of ads. The new attribution solution is the company’s first effort to link digital ads to buyer behavior, and it plans to add addressable TV ads to the system.

Catalina tags the digital ad with its own attribution pixel, which is called when the ad is shown and provides data on the specific campaign deployments.

But the connection between the ads shown, the various devices used by a single individual, and the in-store purchases are actually made by consumer data firm Experian on Catalina’s behalf, through such persistent identifiers as phone numbers or email addresses.

“Not in the business of knowing who you are.” In the new attribution service, the retailer sends the loyalty card ID to Experian, which matches it with the digital cross-device profile of a given individual and with the ads shown to the user on those devices. Experiam then returns a report to Catalina that uses an anonymized ID.

Catalina CMO Marta Cyhan told me the company deals only with anonymized IDs because “we’re not in the business of knowing who you are,” although Experian does have PII.

The data is updated daily to a self-service dashboard for brands (see below) and, since Experian tracks profiles, the attribution can also include the effect of ads on repeat purchases, new buyers of a product category and other consumer behaviors.

Difference from NCS. Catalina, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, is also known as a partner in Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), which employs data from the in-store coupons and loyalty cards. But, Cyhan said, Catalina’s new attribution measures individuals across multiple channels deterministically, since the actual people are known through the Experian matching, while NCS is focused on measuring single channels through probabilistic modeled data.

Additionally, she said, Catalina’s new solution is updated daily, includes buyer behavior changes and provides granularity down to the UPC level, while NCS provides post-campaign reports on overall sales lifts.

Why you should care. Catalina’s shopper data is used widely by marketers, and this first attribution service will help brands determine the impact of their paid media spend.

Additionally, Catalina is providing a very fine level of granularity, down to the individual product bar code, with a very high level of certainty. This approach could provide the kind of accurate, return-on-spending results that major consumer brands have clamored for.

The post Catalina adds first attribution tracking service appeared first on Marketing Land.

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