Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Simon Halstead: Don’t neglect the core

Simon Halstead is VP Exchanges and Supply International, Yahoo and NDA’s new monthly columnist.

I was asked to write a regular column for New Digital Age – and I thought fantastic – a chance to opine on industry topics, copy other people’s bright ideas and push subtle messages about how great Yahoo, and our adtech, is – and don’t worry I will do this in future columns…

And then I started to think about writing about identity, or programmatic direct, or digital out of home – but lots has already been written on these subjects.

So I wanted to start on a theme that has been exercising me across several topics and threads over the recent weeks on Twitter – and that is: don’t neglect the core.   It applies across marketing campaigns, the endless debates about home / hybrid / Return to office and an industry obsession with chasing the new and shiny.

In the debate about returning to office (or not), I’m seeing many people talk about the metaverse. Ready Player One is a great book (actually it’s not, it’s average book, written as if a screenplay and, actually for me, Snowcrash is much better)  – but we love to bandy around and spend time discussing how we should think and plan for the metaverse – while at the same time many of us continue to  work remotely on connections that are sometimes iffy at best.  

This is not to dismiss the opportunities that are arising – and the excellent executions already seen. I believe there are many opportunities for increased AR and VR worlds – see Yahoo Creative Studio’s work the Fabric of Reality as an example – but the step for us all to move into permanent or semi permanent digital spaces remains a way away.  The best comment I have seen was from Zoe Scaman – “What people believe the metaverse to be is a long way off. What we’re talking about now is immersive entertainment experiences. That is not the metaverse – the metaverse is so much bigger and more complex than that. It’s about 10 years away”.

So whilst experimentation and trying new things remains important, and we need to hold views that challenge the norm, don’t neglect your core. 

Spend time exploring new channels or offerings or new audiences – but don’t neglect your core audiences, those who live outside the media world or the bubbles we respond in.    Don’t ignore display, still a powerhouse of the internet, don’t ignore desktop and definitely don’t forget email as core effective channels that continue to reach huge audiences and generate significant ROAS.

I live in deepest darkest Kent – classic commuterville in many senses.  Paper business cards are still critical for finding work – word of mouth remains vital. Online is a key channel, but not the only channel for engagement.  

In the same vein – as well as not forgetting the core of where your audiences transact and exist online, don’t forget the core of your teams.  Not the Rockstar strategist, certainly not the VP but the operations teams and optimisers, the planners and traders that work hard every day to make it all come to delivery.  

When we think about what teams need in the future – and how work changes, remembering the needs of the core will be critical.

Ignoring the core risks disruption from competitors, both from a brand and B2B basis. Ignoring the core risks talent and opportunity moving to companies who have ensured healthy cores, and healthy hearts.

Remembering how to develop that core of a team is another topic – and one I will come to next.

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