EXCLUSIVE: It is time agencies and clients leave the “vanity measures of digital” behind to adopt a more mature and strategic approach, urged the global CEO of Hall & Partners.
Digital technology holds the potential to “really deepen brand relationships” but we have gone about it the wrong way, Vanella Jackson told B&T in Melbourne yesterday
“Too much of it is either very sales response driven and very transactionally driven or there is a lot of creative stuff that is just put out there to drive likes,” Jackson said.
“Those are the vanity measures of digital activity and really, for brands, you have to ask yourself how you are adding value and deepening the relationship.”
A more strategic approach is required to view digital as more than just a direct response medium, said Jackson on her first trip to Australia since 2010 when Hall & Partners merged with research group Open Mind.
“Creative agencies are becoming a bit more imaginative when it comes to digital but they are not always asking the questions about ‘how does this fit with the brand’ and ‘what response am I expecting?’”
“The challenge is still to think in a disciplined way and not jump straight to execution.
“You have to be incredibly useful in a way that matters or be entertaining in a way that matters and connects with a larger story in life. I think it is beginning to mature.”
When it comes to research, Jackson also believes agencies and clients need to re-think their approach.
“It is possibly focused on the wrong thing. People say social media is the ROI medium because it has behavioural metrics which I just don’t think is true.
“As I say those are the vanity measures because you are not really understanding what impact that is having on peoples relationships with a brand.
“The emphasis should be much more upfront. More emphasis on ethnography and profiling people and really understanding the broader context in which the brand and communications have to sit is needed.”
Jackson also firmly believes that brand health measures need to evolve faster.
“People have changed the way they think about the brand. Changed the way they think about the communications, and yet they still hang on to the old brand health metrics which were invented in another time.”
“We need some new metrics that reflect the new world.”
What does she suggest?
“Firstly, recognising that people’s response to communications, as we now know through brain science, is all about unconscious emotions.”
“We need some metrics that really get under the skin of what is going on and how people are being influenced.
“I also think integrity is really important,” Jackson said before adding that in social media it is integral that consumers believe brands have both values and integrity.