UK's Media360 conference takes marketing's temperature

Lord Dobbs, author of “House of Cards,” addresses Media360.
Lord Dobbs, author of “House of Cards,” addresses Media360.

This week's event drew the creator of "House of Cards" along with YouTube stars, researchers and marketing mavens

This week’s annual Media360 event in Brighton, England, drew 180 marketing and media leaders to explore best practices and innovations. The gathering coincides with the 30th anniversary of Haymarket’s MediaWeek, which presents the show.

Among this year’s Media360 highlights:

Lord Michael Dobbs, the executive producer and author of "House Of Cards," credited Netflix's success to the company understanding the changing market. Delivering the keynote speech at Media360, Dobbs said he received the call from Hollywood at a time when the media world was transforming. He said TV broadcasters were under "tremendous pressure" and audiences were fragmenting.

However, the Hollywood producers said they had Kevin Spacey and David Fincher on board, and were looking to run the series on Netflix. Dobbs said: "I wasn’t too sure about that. At the time Netflix was a DVD and video rental operation with just 10 million subscribers. They said, ‘Netflix is changing, it’s looking for a new vision'.

"Netflix knew what was happening and it had the ambition to take those changes. They understood that the consumer and viewer was in charge."

Dan Germain, the head of brand and creative at UK smoothie brand Innocent, denied that it is harder to be "innocent" now it is majority-owned by Coca-Cola. When asked whether the opportunity to remain "innocent" had been compromised by being owned by Coca-Cola, Germain said: "Not in my eyes but it would be for people to decide for themselves."

He continued: "What you expect me to say is, ‘It’s really shit now. They’re evil.' No, they’re a really great investor, we’re growing at a rate of knots. They look at us and think, ‘How did you do that?’ " Coca-Cola took control of Innocent in 2013. It originally bought a minority stake in the company in 2009.

Claire Harrison-Church, vice president for marketing and own brand at Asda, said the US-owned, UK-based supermarket chain wasted money shouting at customers who weren't listening.  Harrison-Church said Asda now focuses on what the customer wants, instead of competing with the other major supermarkets.

She said: "We have spent a lot of money shouting at customers and they were becoming tired of it and not listening. Changing our customer offer is a big challenge in the grocery market."

Harrison-Church explained that Asda is now "championing" what is best for its customers, such as offering varifocal lenses at cost and making it easier for customers to pick up their groceries when it is convenient for them.

She also said Asda is making the most of mobile as it is a "big opportunity." The supermarket is targeting different content at people who are in or nearby a particular store.

Katherine Hipwell, Red Bee Media's head of content strategy, and Michael Reeves, its business development director, revealed their seven tips for compelling online video content.

Hipwell told the Brighton audience that video is becoming increasingly important. Last year, the number of videos on Facebook increased fourfold, with a 140 per cent rise in audience reach.

Reeves said: "Audiences are at the heart of everything we do. Consumers should be referred to as audiences, so you create something that audiences want, rather than what you want to tell them."

Claire Hilton, the marketing director for personal and corporate at Barclays, said the company splits different types of editorial opportunities based on the response of speed required: "This allows us to manage resource, priorities and gain the approvals that we need."

In terms of a fast response, Hilton said Barclays put together an article on dos and don’ts for online safety on the same day that a BBC article was published on phishing. She said there are also times when the company can plan to push out content, for example for the launch of the Barclays mobile banking app for the Apple Watch.

Will Butler-Adams, managing director of Brompton Bicycle, said consumers are "bored of all the bullshit" and that his company has succeeded because it was honest with its customers.

Butler-Adams said: "The cool thing about the last ten to 15 years is that it’s entirely changed. You can’t really bullshit any more." Butler-Adams used the example of a TV ad promoting a "pot of cream" with a "big green ball" and a "mumbo jumbo extra ingredient that no one has ever heard of".

He continued: "Some customers buy into that. They buy the green ball and put it on their face. Unfortunately, they’re an ugly hag. They buy the cream and put it on and buy another pot. But after two pots of cream, they’re still an ugly hag."

Alfie Deyes, a YouTube star with 4.2 million followers, said brand link-ups with vloggers do not jeopardize audience figures as long as YouTube stars understand the importance of authenticity.

He said  he will not promote a brand if he does not like it because honesty is integral to keep the relationship loyal. Deyes said: "If the brand can make the video for my audience then I will do it. I’m never going to do it for the sake of it, my audience are real engaged viewers and know what’s going on."

Orlando Wood, managing director of market research company BrainJuicer, outlined the psychology behind how human beings react to brands.He said the way that choices are framed affects decision-making. To test out the concept, Wood said, "We put people under time pressure. We give them five seconds to make a choice. What we found is that this predicts decision making in reality much better than giving people time to think too much."

He said Kimberly-Clark brand Andrex had "dramatically" increased its sales by applying that technique when asking people to choose between their products.

Lloyd Embley, the group editor-in-chief at Trinity Mirror, said Mirror Group Newspapers has no plans to put its content behind a paywall. At the Media360 conference in Brighton today, he told Claire Beale, Campaign's global editor-in-chief, that there is no clear business model for a paywall.

He also explained that’s global audience figure of 70 million for May would be vastly different if a paywall was in operation. Embley said that so long as the MailOnline and BBC are in existence, would not be behind a paywall.  

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