Overheard at Advertising Week Europe: Platforms must deliver value instead of ‘just stealing stuff from us’

As another Advertising Week Europe ends, marketers, publishers and agencies are rethinking their relationships with the duopoly, with Google’s grip on the ad market loosening and the fallout from the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. Conference attendees stressed that the best relationships in marketing will be transparent and honest.

Here’s what was on executives’ minds at the conference:

Facebook faces a reputational meltdown
“I think this will be the year brands wonder what to do with the sheer volume of money they put into Facebook.”

“Barack Obama was the one that made data targeting in political advertising cool. When he did it, people said he was smart. Now, we’re pissed off at Cambridge Analytica for doing the same thing because Donald Trump got elected.”

“Governments have been trying to find agencies that can do what Cambridge Analytica did for Donald Trump for years. There have been briefs in the past from both Labour and Conservative [political parties] saying, ‘Can you help us win an election?’ I’ve seen them, so the governments have known what’s possible.”

“We have politicians standing up and saying something must be done [post-Cambridge Analytica revelations]. Something is being done, and the European Union is responsible for it. On May 25, GDPR comes in, and in 2019, ePrivacy arrives, and at which point the industry will probably be the cleanest and best regulated.”

“We’re seeing a realization from people that even though the technology platforms are absolutely amazing, they have to start delivering value apart from just stealing stuff from us.”

Transparency between agencies and clients is a pipe dream
“There’s a difference between transparency and honesty — the best client-agency relationships will not only be transparent, but they will be honest.”

“This will be the year of the independent [agency]. It’s hard for the big network groups at the moment, but I don’t feel sorry for them. If you reward wrong behaviors, then you will keep getting them. A KPI of transparency should be rewarded, and all media agencies should have that information integrated into their business. Until that happens, you will always have bad actors.”

“On our [agency] side, things weren’t working well with our client because the contract was incentivizing us to do one thing, but they were telling us they wanted something else. We had a grown-up conversation, revised the contract, and now things are working well.”

“Clients need to understand how they translate business metrics into success metrics in the advertising ecosystem. But I don’t think we as media owners can sit back and wait for that to happen.”

“Transparency between clients and agencies will only ever be a pipe dream until blockchain replaces the counterfeit currency of relationships today.”

Why brand marketers avoid Advertising Week
“So many of today’s marketers have their heads down that they’ve forgotten to look up. Advertising Week is far from perfect, but it’s an antidote to the every day.”

“The worst thing about Advertising Week is its name. If my experience this week is anything to go by, the content is far more interesting than just advertising.”

Jessica Davies and Lucinda Southern contributed reporting.

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