Why effectiveness in digital starts offline

In 1996, Bill Gates published a short article to the Microsoft website titled Content is King. In the piece, he made a series of prophetic predictions about how the internet would change society.

Gates speculated on the future for software, news, games, entertainment - and advertising.

“As connections to the Internet get faster, the annoyance of waiting for an advertisement to load will diminish and then disappear. But that’s a few years off.”

“In the long run, advertising is promising. An advantage of interactive advertising is that an initial message needs only to attract attention rather than convey much information. A user can click on the ad to get additional information-and an advertiser can measure whether people are doing so.”

A quarter of a century later, we can see how much of this has come to pass. The internet - and the digital technologies which channel it - have revolutionized every aspect of modern life. There are now over 4.6 billion people online. There is over £330 billion spent on reaching these users through digital advertisements this year. Consequently, the average person is now estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day.

And this radical digital transformation is only set to accelerate. Connected devices continue to proliferate, digital properties like NFTs and cryptocurrencies become increasingly mainstream - and tech giants invest in opening doors to new digital realms in the Metaverse.

Brands and advertisers have a vital role to play in developing these new worlds. But for digital advertising to be effective, it needs to begin with connections established in the real world.

Connectivity and creativity

The latest ad spend reports show that, in the UK, 70p out of every £1 spent on advertising goes towards online media.

Engagement with digital media has naturally been buoyed by the increased time spent online from consumers since the pandemic. But there is also evidence that digital creativity is reaching new levels of maturity.

P&G recently unveiled significant increases in its digital marketing effectiveness - illustrating how prominent advertisers are learning how to use online channels effectively - a far cry from the garish pop-up ads which plagued early online experiences.

But this is still only scratching the surface of digital’s potential. Digital media is more than the short-term, bottom of funnel activations - it can deliver unique, tailored, personalised experiences unlike any other channel before it.

So how can brands enhance the effectiveness of their digital media? Whilst much of the focus is on formats, data, technology and creative ideas - not enough emphasis is placed on the platform on which these concepts are built.

Effectiveness begins long before an ad is served. It starts with finding the right agency partnership. So what does this look like?

Foundations of success

Any successful relationship is built on solid principles of trust, honesty and commitment; these are table stakes.

The most progressive partnerships go beyond this to:

  1. True understanding of a brand and its goals - in both the long and short term.

    • The agency operates as an extension of the team and ‘brand guardians’, partnering with the brand’s internal teams to accurately orientate its strategic and creative output and hit targets consistently.

    • This integration often means sharing technology, tools and - most importantly - working culture and ethos. Forward thinking brands and marketers work best with forward thinking agency partners.

  2. Cement genuine trust. Trust is slow to build, and quick to lose. But there is nothing more profitable - for both brands and agencies - than a partnership with genuine longevity. Cut through comes from creativity. And true creativity is enabled by trust.

    • Trust empowers agencies to work in agile ways. And agility doesn't just mean turning things around fast - it can enable more forensic attention to detail between brand and agency.
  3. The cultural match is crucial. Agencies and brands who proactively create an open, safe space culture allows for better partnerships, and are able to work with other (in-house) creative teams in a progressive way.

    • Openness allows for authentic communication, which in turn leads to greater authenticity of creative output. A good partnership has equal amounts of energy, chemistry and alignment - and allows challenges to be approached respectfully.

Bill Gates predicted much of how the internet would change the world over twenty five years ago. But how we can best leverage these technologies through human connection is a mystery we are constantly unravelling.

At Toaster, we help forward thinking brands thrive in this changing world. To learn more about the team and our work, get in touch at hello-london@toaster.co.