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Industry Preview: What Do Brands Really Want?


Industry Preview is a special, limited-run audio series, featuring interviews with key leaders in marketing, media and technology who share their predictions and key priorities for 2021. This podcast is sponsored by IBM Watson Advertising.

With almost a year of the pandemic under our belt (ugh), brands have figured out a way forward.

In many cases, short-term adaptation has set them up for the long-term– one without a health crisis, but with consumers still streaming huge amounts of content and buying en masse online.

In this special Industry Preview fireside, two agency chiefs – Belinda Smith of m/SIX North America and Tom Denford of ID Comms – analyze the vast transformation of 2020 and what 2021 holds for ad buyers.

Smith notes how a lot of the innovation projects that were sidelined for years are now front and center priorities. And Denford adds that even though brands have traditionally slashed costs amid looming economic recessions, in this go-around, they need urgent help on how to change their consumer messaging.

“It’s allowed agencies to really think of how they service the needs of their clients,” Denford says. “The scope of work for agencies has evolved.”

He warns against the short-term thinking that leads executives to cut staff excessively: “If you cut costs now, you’ll lose huge amounts of talent from the agency community. In nine months’ time, you’ll want those people back and they’ll be doing other things.”

Denford and Smith also discuss how to build on 2020’s recognition that workforce diversity and inclusion needs to improve. 2021 will have to make these factors a regular aspect of evaluating partner relationships – so there needs to be continued pressure on these partners to improve.

In this episode, you’ll also find actionable tips on how marketers can use their media agencies to improve their own go-to-market strategies. While media agencies won’t design your creative, they hold unique insights into how the media landscape and consumer behaviors are changing. So if you’re a marketer and you want to clue yourself in, phone up your media agency and ask them.

“Media agencies are really good at doing sources of growth analysis, of finding opportunities for growth,” Denford says. “But marketers don’t ask that question. They just want to know how cheap their Super Bowl spot is going to be.”

Also in this episode: How pandemic-related complications in the global supply chain alter advertising, how different regional policies around the pandemic change the way you message and, of course, how the transformation of online identity and cookies will impact the future of digital advertising.

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