Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Q&A with Adnami’s Steph Miller

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Steph Miller is Commercial Director, UK, Adnami. She discusses the biggest trends in digital advertising and performance marketing to watch out for today.

What are the trends to watch out for at the moment in digital advertising?

There are perhaps three major trends in digital that we’re seeing. First, everything is exploding. All of us are online, and traffic has rocketed – in part,due to the pandemic. That’s trend number one, and we’re seeing brands losing audiences on traditional platforms, and viewership declining on the likes of TV.

Second, there’s the changing landscape when it comes to data; for instance, with Apple’s new ATT rules and the death of the cookie. Marketers are having to rethink how we go about digital. Digital advertising can no longer be  regarded as merely an instrument for driving performance and cheap clicks. Today, it needs to capture the whole user journey and funnel… yet many still only think of digital as just the last part of the funnel. It can be a highly effective branding channel, too, perception needs to change, and the creatives used to generate attention in other channels need to be brought into digital .

A third trend is around attention. Teams are asking, ‘Do we have the right metrics?’ and ‘Do we understand value?’ Marketers are finding different tools – which can lead us to increased creativity, which is, of course, a good thing.

From a performance perspective, what are you noticing is really working?

Video is working particularly well – particularly in larger formats. It can make users stay for longer and you can tell a story within video.

We’re also seeing increased interactivity within units working really well.. For instance, it’s possible to fill in a form within an ad, to combine branding and direct response, or to enable web users to get a quick quote at a convenient moment. 

Is there anything in particular you’ve noticed happening in the UK market?

People are starting to wake up to the fact that things are changing – fast. We can’t track in the same way as before, so marketers are reassessing. We’ve become used to having every step in the process monitored and tracked. Now, we can go back to what advertising started off  doing, but which got forgotten – accelerating your brand.

We’re also seeing a rise in interest in ‘attention’ being used as a metric. It’s so important to make sure your campaigns and creative canvas are set up in a way to measure that – and not just clicks.

In just a few words, how would you describe the digital advertising industry right now, and why?

Put simply, it’s very fragmented. The pandemic has thrown everything somewhat off course. Things are still settling down and we’re certainly not back to normal. 

In an already fast-moving industry, we have seen so much change – a few years rolled into one, and huge transformation. The industry still needs to adapt.

It’s hard to look ahead at the moment, but if you were to predict key areas that will come to the fore for digital marketers over the next 6-12 months, what would they be?

Today, context and creativity is the new data. Data has been in the driving seat for the last decade and a half. The next decade needs to be about creativity.

And there’s got to be an attitude shift in metrics and what we look for in campaigns. That’s got to change relatively quickly. I also think we’ll see more branding budgets going into digital and a lot of changes in the way advertisers are producing creative – moving away from clicks, thinking instead in terms of value, content, and experience within the ad itself – with more interesting and richer formats and features. These richer ad experiences drive better longterm results.

That said, the world of digital display is still complex. You need educated specialists to tap into the opportunities. We need more consolidation, more uniform offerings in the market. Digital advertising should be more convenient and easy to use. It’s bizarre that even now, in 2021, my best friend wouldn’t have a clue how to buy a digital campaign.

What are your top tips when it comes to media optimisation from an advertiser perspective?

In terms of media optimisation, buy the biggest formats that you can. And buy programmatically. This gives you flexibility and control. Use video and experiment with formats.

Follow your customers,  if people are still not commuting, and are staying at home on their laptops and phones all day, budget which previously might have been spent on out-of-home advertising or papers traditionally read by commuters can go into digital channels. But don’t just rely on small formats. Aim for interactivity and impact.

What have been your learnings over the course of the pandemic when it comes to ensuring teams remain motivated and connected to one another?

We ensure we have regular all-hands meetings which include all regional offices. This type of online, ‘watercooler’ chat is really important. We are hiring at the moment, but doing interviews over Teams can be tough. It’s tough for the candidate, too. You get a feel for an office and the company vibe if you go in. When restrictions allow, I suggest to potential candidates or employees that we go for a walk. We’ve also done silly quizzes – with questions such as ‘Who do you think is the tallest?’, ‘Who has a Harry Potter tattoo?’, or ‘Which month has the most birthdays in our team?’.

It’s a bit of fun and they’re small things that you don’t know about your colleagues when you don’t spend face-to-face time with them. These kinds of initiatives have helped with staff morale, helping us to remain connected to one another.