Marketers, publishers and planners gathered at the British Museum for Newsworks’ 2018 Shift conference. Sessions covered the role of behavioural science in marketing, the City’s view on short-termism and whether we as an industry are neglecting the importance of context.

Here’s what Demi Abiola took away from the morning.

Shift 6.0 has once again reinforced the importance of newsbrands in curating and disseminating information for society’s benefit, while providing unrivalled commentary and setting the cultural agenda.

Newsbrands’ key virtues of effectiveness, engagement, influence and trust continue to show that they remain a powerful medium in a multi-channel world, in which we are increasingly shifting towards understanding the importance of context.

The serendipitous timing of Shift is apt as there continues to be discussion about brand safety, metrics and fraud within the digital sphere and the implications this has for brands – most recently highlighted by Unilever’s Keith Weed.

The “where” is resonating and gaining importance with brands. Louise Newton from Hotelplan UK demonstrated this in regard to the travel business, which she believes is seeing a shift away from digital and towards more contextual based advertising.

In addition, news brands continue to play a vital part in Britain’s cultural zeitgeist. Vanessa Clifford, Newsworks’ CEO, touched on this in her opening remarks with reference to the Daily Mirror’s campaign on changing organ law donation.

Meanwhile, short-termism was addressed by two of the speakers – Catherine O’Neill and Richard Shotton.

Catherine summarised empirical evidence (particularly since 2014) that shows that cuts to brand investment actually damage market share and further exacerbate business declines – whereas continuing spend on brand support helps continued growth. However short-termism is not going away and marrying the short- and long-term is important.

Richard illustrated the affect anchoring can have on human behaviour by showing us the greatest trick a brand has ever pulled, citing De Beers’ example of a suggested month’s salary for an engagement ring and associating the durability of love on that basis.

We are setting ourselves short-term targets and delivering against them, however are we feeding it using the metrics on offer? It may not be helping with the underlying issue of long-term growth. We certainly don’t want to start releasing more Cobras into the wild…


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