Media360 is about witnessing a return to growth

Ahead of Brand Republic Group's Media360 event in Manchester, Mark Holden, global strategy director of PHD and chair of the event, finds reason for optimism.

Mark Holden: chair of Media360 and global strategy director of PHD
Mark Holden: chair of Media360 and global strategy director of PHD

The credit crunch of 2008, which resulted in what is now being termed "The Great Recession", was the worst post-World War II contraction on record. The economy is out of this but still in intensive care. The question is, how is media doing?

Total UK adspend increased 8.1% in 2010. AA/Warc predicts growth of 2.9% this year. The IPA/BDO Bellwether survey published in April reports that the outlook for 2011 looks positive, with more businesses planning to raise their marketing spend, compared with 2010.

A higher proportion are now seeking to use marketing to help their businesses emerge even stronger from the downturn, through new marketing strategies.

So early signs that we are returning to growth. But the big question is are we returning to the world as we knew it, or are we moving into a different place?"

What I would love people to reflect on, over the course of these two days, is whether the world that we are returning into is the same. Put more simply – have the actual physics of marketing changed?

We all know the stats about online’s rise, with the share of spend now at 25%, and that 83% of us now access the net (TNS).

But something much more fundamental is happening. This year, Google's UK ad revenue is set to overtake ITV, Britain’s biggest advertising earner, according to The Guardian.

Trading is starting to move from a buy to a bid, using intent data for targeting.

And we are grappling with this explosion in social media, with six out of 10 now accessing social media in the UK. That’s 37 million new media owners that have emerged. And they all link to each other.

This has resulted in an understandable fascination with earned media – it is incredibly powerful. For example, organic mentions on Facebook (newsfeed) are 300% more effective at shifting brand metrics than online ads, and social ads are 200% more effective, according to Nielsen.

So surely, the physics of marketing and media have changed. Or have they? Very few case studies are showing the ROI of social. Nielsen and Facebook’s recent study showed that earned only represented 5% of total impressions on Facebook – this would be less 0.5% of total advertising impressions. A drop in the ocean.

And at the same time, commercial TV impacts were the highest ever last year – 35% higher than 1999, which is generally accepted to be the start of internet advertising in the UK.

Print has suffered, but then major print publishers have actually led the charge setting up online sites. They were never in the business of printing paper anyway – they are in the business of news.

And the dailies are racheting down off a very high base – still eight out of 10 people read a paper every week – with seven out of 10 of 18- to 24-year-olds (NRS). And they still set the agenda.

And finally, outdoor, radio and cinema are largely unaffected in revenue terms, and are using digital advancements in their own way.

So perhaps the physics haven’t changed? Perhaps the grown-up view is that things are broadly the same, but with small refinements.

I am not sure. I am hoping that Media360 will help shed some clarity on this.

Media360 is about witnessing a return to growth. Media360 is also about exploring what sort of place we are returning to – whether the media/marketing rules have fundamentally changed, or whether the media/marketing rules are still largely the same.

And, of course, it is also about drinking alcohol.

PHD Worldwide promoted Mark Holden to the role of global strategy director, in December. Prior to the move, Holden was managing partner of PHD Australia. He started his career in the UK with Saatchi & Saatchi as a planner, before joining OMD, where he ran a planning group, which included Gillette, Boots Plc and Volkswagen.

This year more than 220 delegates will attend the annual industry-led gathering of clients, agencies and media owners, dedicated to developing and reshaping the communications arena.

Guest speakers include: David Abraham, chief executive of Channel 4; Jon Goldstone, group marketing director of Premier Foods; and Paul Hayes, managing director, commercial of News International.

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