Brand owners should give themselves an “advertising experience MOT” in an effort to combat public distrust of the industry, triggered by the rise of bombardment, excessive frequency, retargeting and data privacy issues.
That is one of the key recommendations of a new paper published by industry quango the Trust Working Group, set up by the Advertising Association, ISBA and Credos, following research released last year which showed trust in advertising had plummeted to an all-time low.
The paper, Improving the Public’s Advertising Experience, follows work by industry consultants Derek Morris and Nick Manning. Brands are being encouraged to adopt five actions, including: make your advertising welcome in people’s lives; place business effectiveness above efficiency; achieve full visibility of where your advertising goes; ensure every impact and exposure matters; and deploy the necessary resources to track, measure and manage this programme.
Meanwhile, the MOT, available to all advertisers, is a new, independently verified test of a company’s approach to safeguarding the consumer, avoiding advertising bombardment and wasted investment.
ISBA director general Phil Smith, who is also co-chair of the Trust Working Group, said: “People still appreciate entertaining and relevant advertising, but they can also feel bombarded by too much irrelevant, obtrusive and repetitive advertising and they are switching their attention off.
“The more the balance tips towards the negative, the less welcome advertising will be in people’s lives. By ensuring that people are receptive to our advertising and improving consumer trust, we will create better value for our investment.”
Former Unilever marketing chief Keith Weed, who is also president of the Advertising Association, has been calling for the industry to change since April 2017, when Unilever revealed plans to halve the number of agencies it worked with and cut the amount of advertising it created by 30%. However, it continues to spend, spend, spend.
Weed said: “Improving the advertising experience is wholly in our hands. We have more tools and more opportunities to deliver advertising than ever before and we need to choose wisely how we use these in order to protect the vital relationship we have with the public.
“We need to put the consumer experience back at the heart of everything we do and, by doing so, create a healthy and sustainable industry for everyone – for people, advertisers, media owners and agencies.”
The latest Credos research shows the public’s trust in advertising is finely balanced. While there has been an uptick overall in public trust and favourability during the past 12 months, there is a widening gap against other UK industries, including banking and energy.
One industry source added: “You know you’re in trouble when banks and energy firms are seen as more trustworthy. And while this is a laudable effort, too many brands will ignore these proposals and simply carry on regardless. Sadly, bombardment techniques work too well for some to change their habits.”
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