7 learnings from the best marketing event of 2016

native advertising

By Claire Austin – Head of Audience (Sydney and Europe)


I can honestly say that the Native Advertising Institute (NAI) conference in Berlin last week was one the best conferences I’ve not only had the pleasure of attending, but also speaking at. It made me realise just how isolated we are in Australia – and when I say ‘isolated’, I don’t just mean distance. I’m talking opinions, creativity and insight. Last week I got to take my Aussie blinkers off and to find out how 34 other countries view and use native advertising to drive business results.

It was two days packed full of new perspectives, creative insights and opinions that challenged my current view of native, and its future. Here are seven key take-outs from the event:

  1. Listen… even more. Your customers are talking. This is so simple, but we still aren’t that great at it. We say we listen, but are we doing anything with that information? Most companies aren’t – and that, my friend, is called push marketing. Digital, especially social media, gives you the opportunity to learn so much about your audience through their reactions, comments, customer service questions. We should be using this information to inform our marketing campaigns and build better relationships.
  1. Mobile-first if you want to be taken seriously. How much do you use your mobile on a daily basis to research, browse and occasionally purchase? Well, guess what? If you’re doing it, so are your customers. Make sure your content, website, video, shopping carts and everything else is mobile-friendly. Many people forget to test on mobile, so make that your 2017 New Year’s resolution.
  1. Brand and publisher dishonesty will kill the industry. In his presentation, Chad Pollitt said that 54 per cent of consumers have felt deceived online by brands. That is a massive proportion, and indicates there are issues with how we’re managing sponsored content. Either publishers aren’t respecting their readers, or brands aren’t following the rules publishers are putting in place. Either way, we need to improve how we disclose content in publications. Label your content clearly so that consumers know who and where what they are consuming is coming from. This will ensure we earn the trust of readers and potential customers.
  1. Stop being a yes man and educate your clients. You are an expert, you know good marketing and you know smart marketing, so stop giving in to what your clients want and show them what really good content is. The chief innovation officer from Ebner Media Group put it well saying, “Smart marketing is about help not hype.”
  1. Break down the silo teams and start collaborating. Again, this seems simple, but many businesses are so caught up in their own metrics that teams forget they are working towards the same thing as the team next to them, and that working together might help them to be more effective. For some quick wins on how to do this read my recent blog on ‘5 things to change to drive better business results in 2017.’
  1. 100 per cent personalisation is the future. Think Her, think Minority Report. Through artificial intelligence (AI), native advertising will become personalised. It will have the capability to anlayse millions of words a second, and to determine the relevancy and context of every single piece of content on the net. This means ensuring the content is served in the right environment for the right person will become more efficient and effective. Layer on top of this the ability to read and know our emotional state and you have some pretty amazing targeting capabilities! It will leave our children asking, “Bad user experience? What was that?”

My biggest learning and my number seven is not from a speaker or particular presentation, it was from talking to different people and making new acquaintances:

  1. Build diverse teams. In the PwC Australian Entertainment & Media 2016–2020 Outlook report, it says that 37 per cent of the national entertainment and media workforce live in Sydney and, of those, 24 per cent live in the eastern suburbs or the inner west. Working in an agency, in Sydney and living in the eastern suburbs, I can vouch for this stat, as can half of my company! Too much of the same is never a good thing. We need diversity to grow, to see things differently, to learn, to create and to drive even better results. So, challenge the status quo and hire not just people from different backgrounds, but people with different skill sets.