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Stop predicting the death of anything: no media is a write-off, it's all opportunity

Marketers need to exploit the proliferation of channels - not fear it, says Campaign-Turner panel

"I don’t think the 30 second TV spot is going to die. But it would be nice if one thing died so you could put all your brand dollars towards the thing that is working."

Susan Canavari is the chief brand officer at JPMorgan Chase. She believes the burgeoning number of media channels are here to stay and will only increase in the next few years – not that that’s helping her planning.

Speaking at a ‘Life Beyond 30’ panel at Cannes Lions, Canavari said: "I’m almost certain there will be new platforms we will have to be on, and I’m also pretty certain that nothing our customers are on is going to die. Pinterest, Snapchat and Facebook will continue to evolve and we will continue to have customers there."

Canavari added: "We have to find what the right balance is to reach people and our creative has to be appropriate for the channel."

The sheer number of platforms at a marketer's fingertips is now overwhelming. Joint global CEO of Anomaly Jason DeLand was also on the panel and said that the ad industry has reached "peak media". Canavari, argued that the rapidity at which the media landscape is changing means "there is no playbook anymore".

She said: "All these platforms are changing on a weekly and monthly basis, and so brands are doing a tonne of testing. We are testing different things on Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, and we are constantly evolving.

"The way we look at it is: what is the business challenge we are trying to solve and what are the appropriate media platforms to reach those customers?"

Turner president of ad sales Donna Speciale conceded the traditional 30-second television spot "is not the only answer" and proposed that advertisers need to do more to push the envelope.

"The creative community has not come along with what we in media are trying to do," said Speciale. "This is why we [Turner] now have content studios that are tied to our networks and we are aligning all our creative so we can make the marriage that much better."

Innovation, innnovation, innovation

CNN’s brand studio Courageous is an example of how Turner is seeking to innovate in how it builds ad campaigns for clients. Courageous dug into the themes of Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided game and realised human augmentation was already happening today and legislation has not kept up with scientific progress. To address this a ‘Human by Design’ one-day summit was put on by Courageous featuring academics, ethicists and cyborgs discussing the future and ethics of human augmentation.

Chris Linn, president at Turner-owned TruTV, suggested the industry needs to "stop thinking about advertising and content as two separate things".

He added: "Young audiences are connoisseurs of talent – they have access to more content than any generation before that, so they know what is good and what isn’t, and they have the autonomy to only lean into the good stuff. The more the advertising enhances the environment, the more it is a win-win for everyone."

Susan Canavari (left) and Donna Speciale

Linn cited the advertising campaign for TruTV’s Impractical Jokers show as an example of how advertising can focus on the overall experience for consumers. Alongside traditional forms of advertising, there was also a cruise, live tour and a Comic-Con presence to promote the show.

DeLand said it is key for advertisers to understand the "context of human beings and consumers".

"The role of segmentation to get to scale in media has ignored a lot of the personal context and where people are," said DeLand. "The way we do things is largely predicated on rules and principles that were written 25 years ago.

"The consumer and media landscape has changed so significantly I don’t think anyone has truly grasped the enormity of that change. Scale can not be an excuse for lazy. There are a lot of media plans that look like last year’s even though media has shifted."

There are a lot of media plans that look like last year’s 

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have helped drive the elevation of premium content and in doing so have changed consumer attitudes towards advertising due to their advertising-free models. Turner has reacted to this by reducing the amount of commercials it runs on its channels.

Despite consumers’ shifting attitudes towards adverts on TV, the power of television advertising can not be ruled out.

JP Morgan has had to reassess its advertising strategy after it decided to go digital-only and pull television advertising for its card business. Canavari said: "We are rethinking that because we were not able to get the reach we needed to hit our business objectives."

Turner, Fox and Viacom are in the process of reinventing television advertising in the US through the OpenAP television ad-sales partnership, which allows advertisers to target specific customer segmentations through TV advertising.

Speciale predicts this will make broadcasting companies an "unstoppable" force, capable of taking on Google and Facebook at their own game.

"Clients have been so behind this because there needs to be more competition against what Google and Facebook are doing," said Speciale. "We’ve always had the content and Google and Facebook don’t, but they have the data.

"Now we are bringing in the data and are a force to be reckoned with. When we crack that code we will be unstoppable."

DeLand agreed that data is key in the media battle currently being waged. He said: "The only way to compete with Amazon, Google and Facebook is with advanced data and understanding that language and world."

The panel concluded that nothing in media has died – the landscape has just got a whole lot more crowded and it’s going to take a creative and savvy use of data to get heard.

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