From tangibly showing customers that your brand serves a positive purpose to clearly putting creativity at the heart of a media campaign, what are the latest trends driving digital marketing?
Coming hot on the heels of the Cannes Lions festival, the latest HubDay, focused on the future of creativity and digital advertising addressed many of the same themes and trends and attempted to answer the questions more and more brands are starting to ask themselves about their audience, their positioning and their messaging.
“There is a question of trust,” said Caroline Loisel, Senior Digital Consultant for the Hub Institute. “What is the role of brands in an environment of activism? Can a brand become a part of a movement and represent a value?”
This pressure from customers, which has been building for years, is now leading brands to take representing diversity in their marketing and taking women’s empowerment seriously. It’s also making them stop and think before blindly embracing the latest innovation.
“It’s gone from asking what can we do with tech to asking what should we do with tech,” Loisel continued.
In other words, brands are finding themselves in a transitional stage. And during this change they must, according to Mirela Orlovic, Global Digital Director for Urban Meisters, a digital platform for promoting a genuinely greener lifestyle, stop recycling old forms of messaging – especially when it comes to environmental claims.
“We are all responsible for accelerating the worst crisis in the Earth’s history. We all contribute to greenwashing,” warned Orlovic. “How do we detoxify our way of life and way of work? It’s not about changing color it’s about changing the model.”
In 2010, according to Harvard Business Review, 95% of products marketed in the U.S. were greenwashed. Today the trend continues but the messaging is much more subtle and potentially more dangerous for the brands in question.
Historically, consumers put faith in brands’ claims but that’s starting to change thanks to the growth of online communities and forums focused on sustainable living and on recommending environmentally friendly products.
“Every time we don’t verify the source of the information about environmental claims, we’re guilty of greenwashing,” continued Orlovic. “We’re guilty each time we don’t understand the impact a product we buy is going to have on the wider environment, on society and on our health.”
And this warning was aimed at businesses as much as individuals. A host of companies are taking concrete steps to minimize their impact on the planet or to at least offset it. However, that usually requires working with partners and if we don’t do our due diligence around these partnerships then we could still be found to be greenwashing, even if it’s unintentional.
“You have to have a long-term strategy and you have to make sure that any partner you work with aligns with your goals at each point along the value chain,” said Orlovic.
Multinational bank BNP Paribas asked itself all of these questions and more before it transitioned its business to a more sustainable, environmentally focused footing.
“It wasn’t a question of marketing or branding,” explained Director of Communications, Bertrand Cizeau. “It’s a question of a long-term business model.”
The financial institution also decided to take an active role in promoting and supporting new companies looking to do things differently for the sake of the planet and for society. Then by working with traditional newspapers aimed to legitimize as well as broadcast its message. “We asked ourselves: How do we accelerate comprehension and understanding and how do we bring our own employees up to speed,” said Cizeau of working with the press.
As for the results it’s down to the customer base to decide for themselves if BNP is being as good as its word. “Our customers will qualify us,” Cizeau said. “We are convinced of that.”
BNP’s story stood out for being the only example of creative marketing that leveraged traditional media channels. The overwhelming majority of the day’s keynotes and talks focused on digital and video, particularly short-form clips.
According to Youtube, the future of digital advertising is the 6-second video, what it calls the bumper ad.
“Video is the medium for creativity. It allows you to do everything from tell a story to trigger an emotion,” said Pauline Butor Director for YouTube in France. “The problem is, videos are not being exploited for creativity.”
No matter what the length of a video, creativity is key. But is it really possible to have a creative impact in 6 seconds? According to YouTube data, the answer is yes. Companies using bumper ads as part of a wider campaign ecosystem are seeing a 20% increase in ad recall and a 10% increase in reach.
However, any company tempted to go all in on video needs to keep in mind that when impact is measured, 47% of it is down to how creative the clip is.
“When we talk about changes in mobile advertising, we often talk about data, medium and strategy,” began Bertrand Cocallemen, Global Creative Director for digital media platform provider Teads. “But creativity is what we should be discussing, not data.”
If your video pops up in a consumer’s newsfeed, you’ve got just 1.7 seconds in which to engage them or that connection is lost.
“There are other challenges to getting people to watch video on mobile,” continued Cocallemen. “Most people are watching on the go so watching sound-off is normal. So you need captions.”
More importantly, you have to take content seriously and make it the first priority.
“There are three weights of content – light, medium and heavyweight,” said Cocallemen. “And people consume them the same way they go to a restaurant.”
Lightweight, the best approach for mobile is a hook. Medium weight content is for awareness and consideration and heavyweight is about engaging and immersing someone in your brand and its message. All three have their place in a video campaign. But brands also need to remember that this is still relatively new.
“We are not in an environment of certitude, the audience will tell you if it works,” explains Cocallemen. “That’s why you must take an iterative approach to video.”