I recently had the opportunity to attend both the ANA Brand Masters conference and the GABBCON Global Audience Based Buying conference. Attending both events within a week of one another afforded me the opportunity to see how closely brand marketing and media are becoming aligned.
The glue of this alignment is two things:
- Knowing the “what” and the “who” which essentially answers the questions “What purpose does my brand serve?” and “For whom is it designed and most meaningful?”
- The availability and advances in data and how it is used to derive strategic insight and target more sophisticated audiences in media.
The ANA Takeaways
There were many panel discussions at the ANA conference regarding brand positioning and re-positioning, many of which were about brands understanding and refining their core brand proposition. Presentations by Peter Boland, Senior Vice President of Brand & Advertising for Charles Schwab, and Alan Bethke, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Subaru, offered insights into how both brands are using considerable research and data analysis in order to rediscover their core brand proposition and more finely define and personify their aligned audiences.
Charles Schwab, according to Boland, is returning to its founder’s original proposition, which is to appeal to consumers who have a deep desire to take control of their personal finances and create their own secure future. Subaru, according to Bethke, clearly defined and personified their audiences by focusing on their love of the Subaru brand. The result was that their most recent Christmas Sales Event ad campaign focused on Subaru’s newly crafted brand proposition without even showing a vehicle in their ads. This is something that is unheard of in auto sales advertising. The successful results for both Charles Schwab and Subaru were assured by focusing on the emotional attachment that their core customers have for the brands. Both companies have re-positioned their brand message in a way that captures the emotional essence of their target consumer.
The GABBCON Takeaways
GABBCON is a relatively new conference that brings together media companies interested in creating more sophisticated audience-based targeting, advanced TV targeting and more strategic digital media targeting. The recent New York conference focused on leveraging current and new data sets to help brands target to their most important and valuable audiences. The conference stressed that building intelligent and valuable audience targets matters more than the media platform, ad technologies and even the data itself.
Carl Fremont, Global Chief Digital Officer at MEC, and Peter Naylor, Senior Vice President of Sales at Hulu, both underscored the importance of an “audience-first approach” which involves building plans around audiences instead of “managing media platforms.” Lou Paskalis, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Media Planning, Investment and Measurement Executive at the Bank of America, also stressed the importance the bank places on data analysis and insight to build stronger bonds with their consumers.
The message was the same in both conferences. Data and the strategic use of data to aid intelligent planning and media activation are paramount whether you are a brand that is defining and personifying your target consumers or a media owner and agency looking for ways to build valuable audiences for the brands you serve. To be clear, the alignment of brand marketing and media activation has always been vital. But brand insight and intelligence have been hard to activate in media. From what I saw and heard at these two conferences, the future bodes well for a stronger alignment and “meeting of the minds” between brand marketing/ad messaging and future media delivery.
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