Election Day Prediction Update

Election day is finally upon us and as the nation goes to the polls we thought we’d revisit our initial analysis and see the impact trends within the last week have had on our predicted results…

It’s been a turbulent week. Perhaps the most turbulent in the history of electoral campaigning. From the terrible events in London Bridge, which led to ferocious exchanges on policing numbers, all the way through to the increased scrutiny on the ‘Special Relationship’ after Trump’s remarks on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. It’s clear the battlefield has changed, and drastically at that.

As such, we decided to publish an update on our prediction.

Some slight changes have been made to the formula given how close we are to the deadline. The weighting for undecided voters has been reduced, reflecting the fact that many will have settled for a side, with greater importance instead being attributed towards the last seven days of search behavior.

Based on current search data here’s what we are now predicting will be the final results of the General Election:

Conservative: 337
Labour: 228
Liberal Democrats: 17
SNP: 42
UKIP: 4
Other: 22

So there you have it, on election day search data is telling us that the Conservatives will retain their majority. Whatever the result, make sure you have your say and get out and vote!

NMPi Predicts a Hung Parliament Using Search Data

To say we have witnessed some of the most surprising outcomes in politics over the past 12 months could potentially qualify for understatement of the year. Mr D.J. Trump and Brexit can certainly attest to that.

For many, this surprise was coupled with a complete sense of disbelief. A disbelief that choices, which were initially deemed marginal in their popularity, and utterly inconceivable in their application, eventually waltzed their way to victory.

Atop the lofty throne of hindsight, it’s clear that an all-too alarming level of complacency had captured and consumed the liberal masses. A complacency fed by two simple words: “Surely not”.

And yet, fingers cannot be pointed at the man in the mirror alone. Along the way, the confidence of the ‘surely nots’ was massaged by the reassuring presence of a long-established tradition: the election opinion poll.

In both cases, the end result fell the way of the underdogs. Whilst the red of the Republican Party now prowls the corridors of the White House, the blue of the European Union is starting to come tumbling down.

Interestingly, throughout the campaign season, opinion polls proclaimed the exact opposite. Perhaps influenced by the liberal glare of the interviewer, those internally espousing more right-wing views, appear to have often declared their backing for the ‘nicer’ option.

So, the question that falls at our doorstep today is: How do we address the inaccuracies of a method that provides genuinely valuable insights, and in the process, pull the heads of the ‘surely nots’ out of the sand?

As it happens, there’s a man out there who has taken up the challenge already.

Gupta’s Approach

Using Google Trends, and taking the US Presidential Election of 2016 as his example, Rahul Gupta published an article online claiming the following graph proved that Trump was always going to win.

Google Trends

Gupta’s analysis shows the level of search interest on Google for the terms ‘Donald Trump’ and ‘Hillary Clinton’ over the 12 months prior to the election.

His hypothesis rests solely on the idea that the search term leading in the weeks prior to election day typically ended up the victor.

In this instance, Donald Trump clearly outstrips Clinton when it comes to volume of searches, not only during the final throws but for the entire period. Despite what the polls may have said, a Trump win, according to Gupta’s method, was inevitable.

He quotes ‘Marketing Master’ Philip Kotler when theorising why this occurs, “prior to capturing market share, companies need to capture mind share”.

In Gupta’s opinion, Google Trends offers a bird’s eye-view of a region’s mindshare, from which we can apply his logic.

We found this interesting, and with the UK election only a week away we thought we’d have a go!

Gupta’s Approach Applied to UK Election

As we approach the final week of battle, our very own election shares many similar characteristics to those witnessed across the Atlantic.

  • A perceived-to-be unelectable mainstream candidate
  • A politically-motivated and agenda-driven press
  • Vast swathes of “surely nots” littering street corners
  • And most notably, opinion polls unanimous in their conclusion that there will be a Tory majority.

And yet, by Gupta’s reasoning, in just a few days’ time, Jeremy Corbyn will rise like a phoenix and settle into his seat at Number 10.

Google Trends

In summary, we don’t like it (Gupta’s approach, not Jezza’s victory – NMPi remains politically agnostic).

Whilst correct in the case of the US, and many others if you read his article, his theory is too simplistic, and doesn’t take into account a whole range of additional factors.

  • How do we know the searches being conducted are positive in their sentiment?
  • Does this really give a true reflection of our entire population?
  • What about the people (of which there are many) who don’t know who they’re voting for yet?

In true NMPi style, we decided to dig deeper. Applying three techniques of increasing complexity, and in doing so, devised a single formula designed for maximum accuracy. We are not only going to predict who will win the UK General Election, but we will forecast the number of seats won by each party.

Grab a coffee, sit tight, and strap in, there is some maths approaching.

Our Approach

To begin with, we improved Gupta’s approach by layering on some additional, (buzzword alarm), granularity. Rather than running our analysis at the national level, we assessed the search data over the last twelve months across seventy-eight different regions, whilst at the same time accounting for the population of that region, and how many seats that population is worth.

I give you version one:

The results were as follows:

Conservative Labour Liberal Democrats UKIP Plaid Cymru Scottish National Party
436 145 0 0 0

50

‘Well that’s not very accurate,’ I hear you cry. Wait. There’s more.

Whilst hypothetically more accurate in its design, this formula falls short in one crucial aspect – it gives equal weighting to search data across the entire twelve months.

Consequently, it neglects the shorter-term impact of interest in the smaller parties around campaign season, and also overstates the dominance of Theresa May. Her rise to power in the first half of 2016 undoubtedly has an impact on search volumes – at no point has the original method been applied to someone already in power.

And so, as Gupta himself suggested, we repeated the initial formula, but instead gave increased importance to the more recent elements:

Results:

Conservative

Labour Liberal Democrats UKIP Plaid Cymru Scottish National Party
381 182 22 10 2

35

Almost there.

The final piece of the jigsaw lay with addressing how we could incorporate the politically indecisive masses – the ‘which wayers’ as we have termed them. According to Yougov.com, this sits at around 20% of the voting population

For this, we used a tool called Hitwise to understand the flow of online traffic to certain sites following the search term ‘who should I vote for?’ Depending upon which campaign’s content they then consumed, we were able to proportionally attribute a value to each party.

And now, behold. The final fame-inducing formula:

WW = ‘which wayers’ – proportion of users visiting campaign sites following search term

TWW = ‘total which wayers’ – total amount of people categorized as ‘which wayers’

Our Prediction

So here you have it. The moment you’ve all been waiting/persevering for. On the 8th June 2017, news stations across the planet will announce the following results: Hung Parliament

Seats Split:

  • Conservative Party – 313
  • Labour Party – 232
  • Lib Dems – 20
  • SNP – 58
  • UKIP – 6
  • Others – 21

Welcome to a bright new era of election polling. Analysis conducted through genuinely decipherable and accessible data, rather than through rushed interviews influenced by the notion of ‘I can’t say that, what would they think of me’.

For you ‘surely nots’ out there, keep hold of that sand for now. But beware. The looming landslide is not quite as looming as you think.

 

*DISCLAIMER – whilst we’re hopeful of being correct, thus acquiring fortune and numerous appearances on breakfast television, this is mainly in jest. Please read with a pinch of salt.

NMPi Shortlisted for 4 RAR Awards!

We’re extremely excited to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for a record 4 categories in this year’s The Drum RAR Digital Awards! Online Advertising, On Budget, Online Media Buying, and Search. The awards ceremony will take place on June 14th at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane hotel.

What makes these awards special for us is that we’ve been nominated by our clients based on their reviews of our work. It’s always an honour to be recognized for our quality work and efforts by industry peers, but it’s especially nice to get that vote of confidence, and be held in such high regard, by the people who we work for every single day. A big thank you to everyone who helped gather recommendations.

View the shortlist here

The NMPi Brand Expands to South Africa

NMPi is excited to announce the rebrand of its fourth international office in the space of 6 months. As of today, we are expanding our brand to Cape Town, South Africa.

We are pleased to be partnering once again with our sister company, Clicks2Customers, to bring our agency services together under the same brand.

The South African Agency team will be lead by Adriaan Strydom,  Managing Director of Clicks2Customers. Strydom has an extensive background in digital performance marketing and joined incuBeta’s executive team in 2005.

“The rebrand is a culmination of months of planning to align our service offering and company into a global outfit which is able to provide the very best insight, strategy and delivery to South African companies. Our clients can expect the same business and technical support, with the added benefit of all the knowledge and deep insight from our global team,” comments Adriaan Strydom, Managing Director of NMPi South Africa.

Strydom added, “The South African market is showing a growing sophistication as our local marketing professionals embrace new technology and its ability to deliver meaningful business benefits. NMPi South Africa is ideally positioned to help clients deliver campaigns which can easily measure up to the best in the world,”

CEO of NMPi UK, Luke Judge, was pleased to see the agency on track with its plans for global expansion. “We had planned extensive global expansion this year and I’m thrilled to see that we’re on track with realising those goals” stated Judge, “The rebranding of the South African office is not the end of the road for NMPi this year, we still have plans of reaching across to the US. This has been an exciting, and big year for our agency, and I’m extremely proud of our efforts.”

 

NMPi Short Listed for 3 European Search Awards

Now entering its sixth year, the European Search Awards highlight the very best in SEO, PPC and Content Marketing across Europe. NMPi is thrilled to have been shortlisted in three of the 29 categories:

Innovation – Campaign
The innovation award recognizes the creative effort within a search campaign demonstrating the use of strategy, or implementation that sets it apart from the competition. NMPi has been recognized for their work on Dune Query Level Bidding on Google Shopping.

Best Use of Search – Retail
This award recognizes a campaign that has successfully enhanced the visibility of a website or web page in the retail sector. NMPi have been commended for their campaign efforts on Dune Query Level Bidding on Google Shopping.

Best Large PPC Agency
An exciting achievement this year has been the the recognition as Best Large PPC Agency across Europe. This is awarded to an agency that demonstrates consistently strong ROI for their clients, and excellent use of PPC.

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on April 27th in Kraków, Poland.

Best of Luck!

New Year, New Client, New Office: NMPi Launches Second International Office in Switzerland

We’re excited to announce the addition of our newest office in Zurich, Switzerland. We’ve opened two offices in only four months; launching in October 2016 in the Netherlands. We’ve set our sights on continued global expansion, and this year we’ll keep that pace going with plans in the works to grow the business in Asia, the US, and Australia.

Along with the launch, NMPi has announced a new client win: Swiss-based premium denim brand, 7 For All Mankind.

“We made a promise that 2017 would be a big year for NMPi, and we’ve made a strong start,” stated NMPi’s Managing Director, Luke Judge. “Switzerland is the next step for us as we continue to grow our business internationally, and we’re excited to be taking this step with a fantastic new client.”

The expansion into Switzerland also takes advantage of our international partnership with DQ&A, technology consultant and DoubleClick reseller.

“Continued international growth is incredibly exciting for our clients,” remarked NMPi’s Director of Business Strategy, Damien Bennett. “It allows them to work with us consistently across different markets, giving them access to a wider knowledge base, and local market expertise, ensuring that we can deliver on their wider international objectives.”

The launch of NMPi Switzerland boasts an experienced team of account managers, strategists, and analysts, who work with international and local clients including, HP, Swisscard, Avia, and Österreich Werbung. Their services will include NMPi’s full suite of digital solutions; Analytics, Paid Search, Paid Social, and Programmatic Display.

“Being part of the NMPi brand is extremely exciting for us,” stated Leonardo Kopp, Managing Director, Switzerland. “It is a perfect match for us; by combining our strengths and using NMPi’s proven processes, we can increase our local proposition and continue to drive better results for our clients.”

Herzlich Willkommen!

Google to Improve YouTube’s Cross-Device Metrics and Satisfy User Privacy Concerns

Google recently announced that it will take steps to improve YouTube metrics reporting for its advertisers, while addressing privacy concerns for users. It will rely less on pixel and cookie data to give advertisers an idea of how their video campaigns are faring, and focus on developing better mobile video tracking tools. On the user side, viewers will be able to mute advertisers that track them with irrelevant ads. Google is trying to strike a balance between transparency and control for viewers, and better, highly refined metrics for advertisers.

Why the sudden move away from pixels and cookies?

Google’s blog, Inside AdWords, indicated that 50% of all YouTube video viewing now happens on mobile. Traditional desktop tracking tools don’t provide an accurate overview for mobile based video campaigns because pixels and cookies were not designed for the way users interact with YouTube on mobile. This means measurement can be skewed. Google is developing a new way of measuring viewership to rectify this discrepancy.

How is this a win for advertisers?

In addition to a clearer view of campaign dynamics, it allows advertisers to reach the right audience. The new tool will provide accurate metrics to advertisers across devices. Information from a user’s Google account, such as past searches and Customer Match, can be used to suggest the ads they see on YouTube. In addition to this, Google will also allow advertisers to use their own data to target high value YouTube shoppers.

For viewers, Google will put the control back in their hands by allowing them to mute a particular advertiser across multiple platforms. For example, if a user has purchased a gym membership and is still being tracked with gym promotions, they can mute that advertiser.

According to AdExchanger, the new system will be cloud based with Google collaborating with several Media Rating Council third party vendors. This initiative was recently rolled out to a few select advertisers.

Pinterest Play? Instagram Takes Steps Towards Shoppable Ads

Instagram waded into the shoppable ads arena when it trialled its version of the popular ‘buy now’ button with twenty US brands. The social photo sharing platform has taken steps to close the gap between browsing and shopping by allowing users to learn more about products from within their app, and then purchase them seamlessly. If this sounds eerily like Pinterest, you may be onto something.

Instagram recently ran afoul of Snapchat when it was accused of copying Snapchat Stories with its Instagram Stories.  After several failed attempts to purchase the platform, Mark Zuckerberg did the next best thing, copied Snapchat’s most coveted feature, Stories, on Facebook-owned Instagram as Instagram Stories.

Instagram is ready to play copycat again with its venture into Shoppable Ads. It set about testing posts with select brands in the US to allow users to learn more about the products they see before buying them. Instagram presents the user with a ‘tap to view’ icon at the bottom left of each photo which expands tags for up to five products. The tags contain the details and cost of the items but don’t immediately appear, users must hover over the ‘tap to view’ indicator to see a featured item. Users can then scroll through the products shown and decide to purchase from within the app.

Pinterest has had this feature for some time, and has seen remarkable results. 75% of its users have purchased something on the platform or because of it.  Pinterest users stay on the platform for approximately fifteen minutes per visit, giving marketers plenty of time to deliver ads to them. The demographic for Pinterest and Instagram used to vary widely, with Instagram being the platform predominantly for Gen Z and younger Millennials, and Pinterest skewing predominantly towards women in their late 20s to early 40s. Recently, Pinterest has seen a spike in Millennial use, with 67% of its users falling into that category.  Instagram is eager to cash-in on this potential new source of revenue and is now strongly courting brands to use its platform to reach their younger demographic. Add to this, the eventuality of a ‘save for later’ button, and Instagram fully moves into Pinterest’s territory as a save and shop platform.

This latest development is aimed at Instagram’s discovery audience, i.e., those who use the platform to look for the latest items but aren’t sure what they want just yet. Much like Pinterest, it enables retailers to capture users as they are information gathering and turn them from inspired browsers to buyers.

Why is this development important?

  • It cuts out a step/barrier to purchase. Users don’t need to leave the app and open a separate search window to find out more about the products they like. They can navigate and get all the pertinent information they need all within Instagram’s platform.
  • The consumer can then hit ‘shop now’ from within the tags and be taken directly to complete their purchase on the retailer’s website.
  • It solves the problem of inserting unwieldy captions to redirect users to click on links to circumvent Instagram’s ban on organic links within posts.
  • Shoppable ads have the potential to steal revenue from online shopping giant, Amazon, as users are heading onto sites like Pinterest and Instagram to discover new products and get alternative shopping ideas.
  • Most mobile use is spent in-app. Instagram has the highest rate of mobile use among social networks in the US. Given that Instagram is primarily mobile-focused, making products shoppable is a vital step for the social media platform and for brands that have a significant following on it.

Twenty popular US retailers have joined the endeavour, predominantly up-market brands such as Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York, Coach, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Hollister. The tags will be initially rolled out to iOS users in the US, but there are definite plans in the works to expand globally. Currently, this is a free service to post to your followers but Instagram plans to monetise the shoppable format by allowing brands to advertise to relevant target groups outside of their followers.

While advertisers have seen success using Instagram ads, only time will tell how users will react to yet another form of advertising. If it does not alienate its original base of photography enthusiasts, it has the potential drive significant ROI from Instagram.

B2B Marketing Expo Round Up

Last week, the annual B2B Marketing Expo was held at the ExCel centre in London. Two packed days, hundreds of exhibitors, and dozens of fascinating seminars. On top of being able to see the latest and most innovative brands, the expo hosted brief half hour talks by subject matter experts. I attended three sessions. The first talk given by Luke Quilter, was entitled: Search Marketing and the Importance of Social Media. Quilter spoke about an integrated approach to SEO and social media.

Luke Quilter of Sleeping GiantQuilter emphasised the importance of reevaluating how much content brands have in the early stages of the sales funnel. By sharing experiences via social channels, it puts brands back in the awareness stage. Different channels evolve in different sections of the funnel but unfortunately, many marketers only care about the “DO” or conversion phase and the resulting ROI.

As marketers, we need to think about the different phases and channels throughout the consideration process. Quilter moved on to look at “micro moments” and how consumers make decisions. He offered some quick tips for marketers:

  • Don’t focus on particular keywords. Focus on longer tail search terms.
  • Focus on context and ascertain where a consumer is in the funnel.
  • Google doesn’t look at social sharing for its algorithm. It doesn’t appear to help your SEO, because it’s not causation, but correlation, i.e., if you do good work, write interesting and engaging content, you will notice better SEO performance because more people will be sharing it.
  • Don’t forget to leverage your content. Many marketers create content but forget to leverage it, they forget who they are targeting and just write content for content sake.

Quilter also shared some interesting social media facts with the audience:

  • Social profiles don’t rank within search results. Many social channels want to be search engines themselves; Facebook is moving in this direction. Bing, however, does rank social profiles.
  • People check their phones approximately 150 time per day! This immediate access to information has changed our purchase process. Are we doing enough at the top part of the funnel?
  • British users spend 1:20 mins per day on social media!

He finished off his presentation by offering some hope for those who are struggling: “The great thing about digital is that you can fail and switch gears quickly and not have to commit for a long time. Digital is a great place to experiment and try new things.”

IMG_0837The second session was entitled: How to Use Video Content Effectively for Social Media, by AdTube’s Utam Bhutia and was aimed at helping B2B marketers navigate the do’s and don’ts of creating effective videos to share across social channels. Bhudia has been producing videos for five years and saw the benefits of using video for social media to increase engagement and ROI.

What makes a video effective?

  • Tell a story
  • Be authentic, be yourself

Those two points may seem obvious, but they are not often followed by marketers. Bhudia’s sage advice to the audience was, “You shouldn’t do it for the sales, you should do it for the ‘feels’”. He stressed that an emotional connection is vital for video success. Case studies and CSR videos are good ways to show people how your brand is helping. Bhutia also talked about the importance of educating the viewer and to always remember who is the focus of the video content, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. It’s not about you, it’s about them.” What can videos offer your audience? They can be used to answer brand FAQs, give audiences industry news updates, share info with your customers, and most importantly, put yourself in the position of being industry expert.

Bhutia offered some tips for brands wading into video for the first time:

  • Don’t upload videos that won’t engage. If the video is boring, your audience will find it boring and you are wasting their time and your time. Upload original content.
  • Don’t upload one video and expect immediate success. You need to continually engage and update your customers.
  • Don’t put out content with the sole intention of it going viral. Consistency is key, the internet likes consistency, set a schedule and stick to it.
  • Don’t just share to Facebook. Share across newsletters and other social channels.
  • Don’t upload click-bait. People don’t like being tricked into watching videos that aren’t what they appear to be.

IMG_0843The final session of the day was entitled: Understand How to Unlock Your Call Data and Measure Your Marketing Spend by Infinity Tracking’s David Cornelius and Ben Goward.

Their talk tackled several questions and challenges brands have when embarking on call tracking, such as: Are you wasting your marketing budget because you can’t track your calls and leads? Do I really need call tracking? What is it? How much does it cost?

Today brands are faced with tighter budgets and more pressure to prove results in order to prevent future budgets cuts due to improper tracking. Many businesses struggle to track their calls and track their spend, or understand where their leads and opportunities originated.

This is especially important for paid search because tracking allows marketers to understand how their interactions were generated. Cornelius and Goward walked the audience through a typical customer journey and demonstrated how a call tracking system can track a phone call made against a customer journey (in their example, for a holiday search). They demonstrated how to assign special tracking identification, such as numbers that generated a unique code assigned to that particular caller. That ID was then able to indicate how far they went in the journey and if they converted. These insights allow brands to tweak their campaigns to ensure a higher likelihood of conversion.

While Goward and Cornelius showcased their own call tracking tool, Bing and Google have these tools available for marketers with easy to follow instructions, if they do not have a ready-made system in place. With the trend towards a mainly mobile environment firmly established, and the addition of “call now” buttons to many mobile websites, accurate call tracking becomes an invaluable tool for improving conversion and customer satifaction rates.

Closing Comments

The seminars were informative and enjoyable breaks from circling the stalls, with good take aways for B2B marketers on social, mobile, sales, call tracking, paid search and analytics. B2B often gets pushed aside for B2C marketing but it was good to connect and engage with industry experts and show that B2B is alive and well.

Want to learn more about B2B Marketing? Download our white paper: Your Guide to Successful Digital B2B Marketing

Panel Discussions at GADM’s Ad Blocking Friend or Foe?

The first session of the day’s conference, Ad Blocking: Friend or Foe was formal, but for the remaining guest speakers, talks were broken down into casual panels, giving the audience a better chance to ask questions and join the conversation.

This first panel, The Big Questions – Adblocking Friend or Foe?, caused lively debate because it featured Christian Dommers, Head of Development of AdBlock Plus, defending the ad blocking perspective from a volley of heated panelist and audience questions. He argued that although this issue seems to have exploded fairly recently, with the advent of mobile ad blocking, it’s not new, “Ad blocking has been an issue for years, it’s about the user, and his rights, and his right to protect himself.”

AdBlock Plus recently came under fire from advertisers and publishers for their part in the creation of the Acceptable Ads Board. The Acceptable Ads Board is an independent industry-wide group that determines which ads will make it past AdBlock Plus’ filters. The sticking point has been the accusation that AdBlock Plus are making money off the backs off advertisers and publishers while pretending to be the Robin Hood of web clean-up. AdBlock Plus faced harsh criticism this past September when the Wall Street Journal reported that several large advertisers had come forward, claiming they were being asked to fork over a portion of their ad traffic in order to be whitelisted. Dommers was adamant that AdBlock Plus was not earning at the publisher’s expense, nor engaging in underhanded tactics; he argued that this has been an issue since 2002, and that whitelisting certain ads is best practice.

The discussion then moved onto whether charging advertisers and publishers for whitelisting was acceptable. Martin AshplantMetro’s Digital Director challenged Dommers, asking, “Why do you get to say whats OK, and not OK? You’re the arbiters of a system that penalises”. Dommers stood firm saying, “AdBlock Plus are not arbitrating, the users of Adblocker make the decision of what’s deemed an acceptable ad, and what’s not an acceptable ad.”

Ashplant took a harsh stance towards ad blocking activity; Metro actively bars content to users who have ad blockers installed. Ashplant says it’s a big issue for the Metro, 19% of their impressions were found to have ad blockers installed. Other large publications have followed suit, The New York Times has recently experimented with similar messaging with some users. When the user with an ad blocker installed visits the page, a message pops up saying: “The best things in life aren’t free.” and then prompted to whitelist the paper or subscribe to read content. Ashplant felt publishers were being punished for the ‘worst in class’ players, and users who had one bad experience weren’t going to turn ad blockers off for advertisers who did have decent ads. “There is certainly room to improve at the moment and also, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. We have to work very hard to convince those who use adblockers, not to use them.”

More control for publishers might be around the corner with Google’s launch of AMP, which creates web pages that load quickly. This may be an avenue worth looking into for advertisers, Ashplant added, “What will the monetization from this look like? It could be an interesting proposition, and give publishers more control.” Another suggestion was for publishers to look at apps to circumvent ad blocking and to better engage with consumers. Ad blocking on mobile is still relatively minimal because people spend a lot of time in app on their phone, but it’s still popular on desktop.

57% of people polled by the IAB had no clue that advertising funded the content they saw online. IAB CEO, Guy Philipson suggested that in light of this grim statistic, advertisers need to reframe the conversation with the consumer and better educate them about the relationship between ads and content. Philipson also mentioned that retargeting is an issue; users don’t like being followed around the internet, or like having their transaction data used later for advertising purposes.

What do we need to do to move forward towards change? Dommer concluded the session by maintaining the that its up to the individual to be able to control what they view online, while Ashplant appealed to advertisers in the audience to take the issue very seriously, “Companies and organizations will be forced to close down, or put that charge on the consumer because someone has to pay for that content.”

iStock - Angry manThe second panel, Creative, the Value Exchange and Targeting Millennials, focused the conversation on ad quality, creative spend, and native advertising. Lolly Mason, Head of Media Partnerships EMEA at Celtra issued a challenge to advertisers: “Let’s create something awesome that people want to interact with. We’ve been disrespectful as advertisers to users, so it’s not a surprise to see an increase in ad blocking. People are annoyed by interstitials that won’t close down, or ads blasting loudly on your desktop or mobile, it’s a horrible experience. Millennials are not used to seeing the rubbish sites of the 90s.”

The panel agreed that people don’t necessarily hate ads, citing the earlier Ipsos example of John Lewis and Sainsbury’s Christmas ads. People talk about them, anticipate them, and like sharing them. The same holds for movie goers, who go to the theatre early to catch movie trailers. People will watch these ads and engage with them because they are done well.

Laura Jordan Bambach, Creative Partner at Mr. President felt that the balance between creative and message spend is out of whack. Brands are not spending enough on the message, and the quality of message is suffering. “You forget the person on the end is a human being and might want to be inspired.” The creative element is under a tremendous amount of pressure, with many creative agencies dying out because they can’t keep up. Bambach added, “The split between media and creative has really done us a disservice. We’ve become very lazy as an industry. There are opportunities to do really exciting thing, workout side the box.”

Panel moderator Bob WoottonISBA, noted that the creative being offered now is clearly insufficient, with all the ad blocking taking place, and Dale Lovell, Chief Digital Officer at Adyoulike suggested that the technology that underpins the ad process is struggling to catch up. Lovell works with native advertising and indicated that the majority of native ads are user initiated. He also said that Millenials are very demanding, very impatient, and have set the bar high for advertisers. The session concluded with all panellists optimistic about the future.

The final panel discussed The Future of Ad Blocking. What should advertisers do about ad blocking? How are they affected?

Nigel Gilbert, VP and Strategic Development EMEA at AppNexus, said, “The commercial issues are fairly obvious, if 30-40% of ads are blocked, it creates scarcity and prices will rise. The other issue is that with ad blocking, there is a part of the demographic you can’t advertise to, and that’s a problem and something advertisers need to get ahead of.”

Piers North, Strategy Director at Trinity Mirror noted that the monetization issue is more of a desktop problem than mobile at the moment. While mobile will be impacted, it’s a much smaller share of the pie in terms of ad blocking activity.

The panelists were asked if they felt there was an onus to educate publishers and advertisers? Nigel Gwilliam, Consultant Head of Media and Emerging Tech at IPA, responded, “The short answer is yes. It’s a very important wake up call…Consumers are telling us there is an issue here. The way forward might be to ask what do we do about that other than threatening to turn off content. Are there better ways? We need a better understanding of what is OK vs what is entirely unacceptable.” He concluded by suggesting that “badges” might be a solution.

Dr. Johnny Ryan, Head of Ecosystem at Pagefair felt that advertisers want a reduction of clutter, and cut right to the chase saying, “The meat of the discussion is this: advertising 1.0 is over. We have a smaller sandbox. Focus on premium ads.” 

The common refrain of the day was that ad blocking is a wake up call to advertisers and publishers. While ad blocking activities have been around for several years, the renewed interest and surge in the installation of ad blockers, especially on mobile, is sending a clear message that consumers are not happy with what they’re getting. Advertising is no longer about captive audiences, users are actively participating in, and now controlling, what they want to see.  Advertisers with shoddy practices and ads are being taken to task. This is a call to action; consumers are no longer willing to be subjected to intrusive, disruptive advertising. The advertising industry must sit up and take note, listen to consumers, or face the very real prospect of being shut out across all screens.