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‘Brand marketing is education as it is investment’

By N Jayalakshmi - May 20, 2021

With digital fatigue fast seizing consumers the world over, it’s important to catch them when they are “looking up”, rather than when they are “looking down”, said David McEvoy, Chief Marketing Officer, JCDecaux - UK, at the World Out of Home Organization (WOO) European Forum meeting.

Taking audience through the global scenario in terms of the pandemic’s impact on digital consumption and therefore, brand marketing, David McEvoy, Chief Marketing Officer, JCDecaux - UK, spoke on the ‘The Global New Different’ at the  World Out of Home Organization (WOO) virtual European Forum meeting held on May 18, 2021. 

Citing research data released in December last year,  David talked about the growth in digital advertising spends, from 48% of global ad dollars to 52% in just one year, indicating a 4 percentage points growth, and pointed to the increased reliance on private screens on the part of consumers.

However, cut to the present time, he also pointed to the digital and private screen fatigue that has enveloped a large section of the population the world over.  He cited data from a global survey  done in April 2021, according to which, 73% of global respondents said they spent too much time looking at the screen,  69% said they did not trust everything they saw online , 62% felt mobile advertising was invasive and 68% said they spent too much time on their mobile phones. 

He thus built a case for grabbing consumer attention when they were “looking up, rather than when they were looking down”. Reiterating his point and driving home the irony of the situation, David said,  “At the Wall Street Journal conference held recently, the CEO of Zoom said he had Zoom fatigue and that he couldn’t wait to get back to office for face to face meetings!”

David further went on to talk about the impact of social media on consumers. He said 50%  of global respondents said they did not trust social networks, 64% said social network was too invasive, eating into their time; and 70% felt there were too many apps on social networks. As he said, “People are bombarded with apps, so people are getting fatigued with online, private screen time and with the number of digital apps.”

He further pointed to the scenario that was unfolding in the ‘Global New Different’.  He again cited survey findings  -- 80% said they couldn’t wait to do the things they loved, 59% said they planned to spend as much time out of home as possible, 82% said they were excited to see their friends and family again, and 72% said they would be making the most of this year.

As David pointed out, it’s not just consumers who were waiting to get back to ‘new normal’, but also Chief Executives. He cited a KPMG survey conducted worldwide to highlight this point. He said the survey conducted in August 2020 among Chief Executives on what they planned to do with regard to the pandemic showed that at least 70% were looking to down size their office space and 73% were looking to hire talent, though predominantly to work remotely.  But fast forward to March this year, and the same KPMG survey showed that 70% were thinking of downsizing their office space and only 21% were looking at remote working.

The observation is clear - there is a need to get back to face to face contact to build innovation, entrepreneurship and the culture of the business and this, as David pointed out, is also true of digital first brands.

On a final note, David cited the example of brand Airbnb, which he said, had moved from “looking down to  looking up and is seeing the benefits”. David said that the brand had reduced its online performance spend by $441 million and still generated 95% of their same online traffic. This, he said, was because the brand found that it was their brand work that was getting people to search for them and book their space. So Airbnb has now decided on a permanent shift from performance marketing, back to the brand. Summing up his talk, David said, “In the future new different, brand marketing is an education as it is an investment.”

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