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We need to create advertising assets that are not just compelling but "thumb-stopping" creative: Rob Norman, GroupM

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We need to create advertising assets that are not just compelling but "thumb-stopping" creative: Rob Norman, GroupM

Addressing delegates at the International Advertising Association (IAA) Cabana, during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016 in a special session held by Hindustan Times, GroupM’s Global Chief Digital Officer Rob Norman stressed upon significant issues in managing supply chain in digital media.  

 “Everything boils down to an interesting notion - what presents an authentic opportunity? Every advertiser, when he spends money on an impression or on any other unit of advertising has the legitimate expectation that the publisher will be one in which the advertisement is seen by a human being for at least a feasible amount of time, and not by a robot or a fraudster,” he said.

What is a legitimate opportunity is not entirely a consistent notion, the speaker said, “because if you are looking at something and it is static on the screen for a given time, it is easy but if you are scrolling with your thumb at 500 pixels per second, which is often the case in feed-based environments, the mere fact that something passes through a viewable window may or may not be determined as legitimate opportunity. So working on the forward regulation and the commercial agreements around viewablility on a platform-specific basis is a huge priority for us.”

In his view, everyone in the supply chain has their own set of responsibilities. While the publisher has the responsibility of providing authentic opportunities, the advertiser has the responsibility to grow the propositions around the products and services that are of relevant value to the consumer. The creative partner, in all of this, has the responsibility of taking that proposition and making it compelling and sufficiently arresting  to consume and the media agency has the responsibility of placing it in an environment that is fit for the target that it offers value. These are the fundamentals for digital advertising.

Does that require a different set of behaviour in the ecosystem between the stakeholders? While in some cases it does, he feels there are cases where it is in fairly perfect harmony. "Only by briefing (stakeholders) together can there be a harmonious implementation of the plan, and an equally harmonious attribution plan that allows you in setting an objective, defining a fit-for-purpose media placement," he said.

Touching upon the subject of ad-blocking, Norman explains that there has always been a covert contract between the publishers and users of the content - if the user does not want to pay directly for the content then he has to tolerate the amount of advertising for which he may or may not pay attention to. However, with the rise of the ad blocking software, the covert contract gets broken and the user of the ad blocking software chooses not to participate in that contract by blocking the monetization mechanism of the publisher.

In order to resolve this problem, the publisher either has to create content of sufficient value, which people will accept, with the ad blocker turned off or build a greater value by turning into a monetization model from advertisement-driven to subscriber-driven. Norman further stressed upon the need to create advertising assets that are not just compelling but “thumb-stopping” creative.

Responding to a point regarding video consumption patterns on mobiles, Norman pointed out that the lag in adoption of 4G technology has affected video consumption in various parts of the world, particularly India. Giving the context of the Indian market, Norman explained that the only app that works on the 2G platform is Facebook since it has been built fit-for-purpose by downgrading many of its features that could mar speed. Issues such as buffering of video content existed on 3G platforms as well and that 4G has been introduced only in some parts of the country.

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