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Trading T&Cs

We’re in a world of immediacy. Whether it’s online shopping, instant messaging, or even takeaway apps, we’re becoming increasingly accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it. 

During a recent event hosted by ITV and APG, Kate Waters, Director of Client Strategy and Planning at ITV, said the same is true when it comes to advertising. Rather than looking to create long-term relationships between customers and the brand, she believes many marketers today opt for immediate, yet less effective, results. “What I’m fascinated by,” she says, “is why we have ended up in a world where increasingly clients seem to be constantly looking for quick rational messaging that pays back tomorrow.” The complex, time-consuming concept of building brand love can be forgotten, instead replaced by quicker wins. 

Making the comments during the event, called Eat Your Greens! The Power of Emotion, Creativity and Cabbage, Phil Barden, author of Decoded & MD of Decode, believes the turn towards short-termism is a direct result of digitalization. Online campaigns can be measured quickly, whereas it’s more difficult to see the results via indirect channels built in the medium or long term – for example, he says, like memory structures and brand equity. 

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Helen Edwards, a Marketing Week columnist and brand consultant, agreed – citing CMO turnover as a contributing factor. “They want to see something fast, and I think brand building takes time,” she says. Decision-makers, she says, often want results quickly to aid their own career progression, so quick wins can be chosen over long-term brand building. As a direct result of this, Kate believes it’s essential for advertisers to find and define new metrics that are quickly measurable, but are also indicative of longer term business impact. 

For brand consultant Paul Feldwick, the concept of time is less of an issue – what is most important for advertisers is to make their brand famous. “I think it's a bit of a myth that brand building is a kind of long term, touchy-feely thing that will happen in the next generation,” he said. Using the example of Fever-Tree tonic which has grown exponentially in the past years, he says when brands grow, they grow very quickly.

When it comes to the metric, he believes focusing on efficiency is “massively misleading” as you could generate a strong return on investment without necessarily making a large impact to the business in the long-term. For Paul, what you must look at is the people who changed their behaviour – people who bought the brand who previously were shopping elsewhere. 

Whether achieved in the short or long term, it’s the concept of fame that is vital for the success of a brand. But for Helen, the essential aspect is simply working out what a brand is going to be famous for. “That’s the hard bit,” she says. 

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