I’m an optimist; it is with hope that the Cog Blog returns for the New Year. I don’t make grandiose predictions for the year ahead, like everyone else I haven’t got a clue what will happen except that it will likely be unexpected

But I can offer hope. Here’s my 2022 list of eight. Are there still grounds for hope?

  1. We get back to simplicity, to being creative.

Started to happen and needs to continue. The good work by the attention guys, Karen Nelson-Field’s Amplified Intelligence and Mike Follett’s Lumen among them has brought the importance of how audiences consume channels, as well as how many of them do the consuming, into focus.

It’s an important first step in the battle against the ‘biggest number wins whatever else’ brigade.

Sometimes the most creative wins; and if we can quantify that with some easy-to-understand metrics, so much the better.

  • Less prattle, more precision.

It’s sad how many conferences (and many trade papers) are still full of people selling, not shedding light. Many conference organisers pull off the impressive trick of being paid twice. Once by those buying a slot to speak, once by an audience thinking they’re hearing from the best as opposed to from those with the deepest pockets.

Sometimes these are the same people; often they’re not.

In the week after Jeremy Bullmore’s death we should all take the time to read, and learn from truly the best.

You could do far worse than make a resolution to starting your day with a Bullmore. Here’s how.

  • Less self-interest, more collaboration to deliver business goals.

Positive signs as that once-endangered species the agency planner regains some primacy over their cost-at-all-costs colleagues.

There are even rumours that FB, Google et al are rethinking ‘attribution’ into something more sensible and aligned with business goals (not just their business goals).

I would extend this to the market research business. We need less research done to feed some meaningless internal dashboard; and more research feeding into models seeking to explain business results.

  • If you’ve got something to say, say it.

I may be optimistic, but I see more agency people more prepared to break cover. Maybe it’s because their clients are becoming more vocal, more critical of the state of the online media world (in particular).

It was 4 years ago that Mat Baxter got into trouble with his employers at IPG for daring to criticise Facebook (IPG was an early stage investor in Facebook).

I’m not sure that would happen today although those hiding behind social-media pseudonyms may not agree with me.

  • Let’s focus on what truly matters, even if it doesn’t involve a trip to Cannes or Las Vegas.

I think we’re failing here, and in one area quite spectacularly. Fraud is the biggest problem we face as an industry, for dozens of reasons, and yet the agencies, their advertisers, the trade bodies all look the other way and focus on diversity and sustainability.

These are of course important societal issues and well done everyone for highlighting the issues, but on a pure money-at-risk basis fraud is the 800-pound gorilla, the existential threat that no-one wants to talk about.

I’m hoping more client CEO’s and journalists (whose jobs are ultimately at risk) enter the discussion, take action and make 2023 a year of progress against the fraudsters.

  • More truly international advertisers committing to doing it differently.

Suitably vague, but I’ll claim progress. ISBA’s Origin is to be praised; advertisers have become involved in audience measurement and that’s a good thing for all sorts of reasons, not least because those who pay should play an active role in decisions made around how their money is spent.

ISBA has moved Origin along, and have attracted a top talent in Tom George.

The broadcasters, whose lack of involvement is frankly baffling need to get with the programme.

2023 will be a year of solid achievement for ISBA and Origin.

  • Tactics aren’t the same as a strategy.

They’re not. Still.

Maybe in 2023 some salespeople and trade journos could go on a course to learn the difference.

In 2023 we are all going to have a tough time. Ad revenues will struggle. If we’ve failed to convince with the ‘investment not a cost’ message in the good times, it’s hard to see how we’ll make that stick in a recession.

I will make one prediction: advertisers will fall out-of-love with social media platforms and will rediscover the benefits of media forms comparatively free of fraud and comparatively free from hate.

In other words, context will matter even more. Programmatic providers should take note, adjust and tweak.

Ad spend will increasingly follow what works, not unverifiable numbers.

Belatedly – Happy New Year.


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