Systemic change underway: Addressable media growth; swing from brand safety to brand responsibility is re-shaping industry

April 6, 2021 | Share this article

Coronavirus prompted staggering declines and rapid rises in spend in 2020. How industry responds to the systemic changes – rises in SVOD, BVOD and growth in addressable media – will transform advertising for the better, says IPG Mediabrands CEO Mark Coad.’

The Covid shock

There has been vast and significant Covid-led change to our industry: The ways people have changed their media habits, the ways media channels have changed their approach to market and the area I’m about to discuss – the ways agencies have adapted.

The resilience our industry has shown in the face of an unprecedented challenge has been remarkable. The entire industry literally packed up and headed home for a few weeks’ until this Covid thing could be worked through. Were still doing it, and weve done it remarkably well. Weve developed new ways of working – much of which will stay with us for the long term.

We saw teams pulling together and everyone looking out for each other. We saw the industry become much more proactive in areas of mental well-being, diversity and inclusion.

All the while, we saw staggering initial declines in spend, then rapid rebuilds while many clients turned to us for trusted advice. We saw media activity going from the deepest troughs in April-May to some of the highest peaks in Oct-Nov in terms of advertiser expenditure.

We saw the vast majority of agency groups take whatever steps they could to keep their people in place and industry bodies like the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) provide career planning and records of displaced talent, so they could be found and re-engaged as quickly as possible.

And while we collectively dealt with that, we continued to evolve our capabilities in a rapidly changing market.

How things changed

The rise of addressable consumption accelerated and shows no sign of abating. Without doubt the exponential growth in addressable media has presented our clients a unique opportunity to radically change the way they communicate with their customers.

We have spoken of the power of addressable communication to transform advertising for a while now, but it is only recently there has been the scale to effectively drive this transformation. We have continued to retool and equip our businesses and our relationships in market to take advantage of this opportunity.

Other changes in consumer trends were accelerated by Covid but are far more permanent, such as e-commerce. Significant growth in SVOD and BVOD consumption continue to change the media landscape.

Other significant evolution continues around data privacy and the cookie-less world. Marketers and agencies need to review their data strategy and build out first-party data. Everything they have known like targeting, reach and frequency management and cookie-based segment targeting is changing.

Brand Suitability as a topic accelerated significantly around Covid and will continue to build momentum. Brands are looking to go beyond just brand safety and move to brand responsibility; brands are looking to avoid association with media vendors and content that is not aligned to their brand values. (The Mediabrands Media Responsibility Index is a great example of work being done in this space).

Thats quite a lot to deal with. And I believe this industry, the media-agency industry specifically, has done more than just deal with it. Weve shined – and we ought to be very proud.

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