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Chris Hirst is the European and UK Group CEO of Havas, Chairman of Havas UK, and Chair of the IPA’s Effectiveness Leadership Group. He argues here that one of the challenges facing the advertising industry is about perception. This article first appeared on www.ipa.co.uk.

For me Effectiveness Week 2016 represented a pivotal moment for the IPA and the advertising industry. There are many facets to marketing effectiveness. As my esteemed colleague Mark Luce of SABMiller, on my panel at the event, pointed out, it can only really be achieved when all parties, are working together to create a shared understanding of what they mean by effectiveness. That means clients and agencies.

“Contrary to popular opinion, we advertising folk care a great deal about effectiveness.”

But I think this drive for effectiveness is especially important to the advertising industry at this particular juncture in history. Contrary to popular opinion, we advertising folk care a great deal about effectiveness. We really, really do. Yes we want to work on campaigns that win a Cannes Lions. But we also want to be able to say that we worked on something that sold a million more units.

Chris Hirst speaking on the
Chris Hirst speaking on the Can Marketing Effectiveness Drive Business Transformation panel at #EffWeek 2016

My issue, and the reason that I am the Chair of the IPA’s Effectiveness Leadership Group, is that I don’t think that as an industry we have done enough to communicate this to our clients. Frankly, I think that in the past we have become a little too focussed on talking about ‘how’ we did things, rather than the outcomes we achieved. Many in our industry are quick to moan about the fact that clients don’t take us seriously enough and that we are not at the top-table and so on. One way to address that is to start taking effectiveness very, very seriously, and to demonstrate that seriousness.

Because lets face it, our budgets are not a God-given right. They are allocated because shareholders believe they will get a better return on investment by spending that money on marketing than elsewhere. No one is expecting us to prove that everything we touch turns to gold. But, those shareholders, and the FD and CEO’s that are representing them, are doing an awful lot on trust if we don’t demonstrate we are being diligent about how we spend their investment. That we can deliver a clear outcome, measure the impact of that outcome, learn from it and iterate on it.

“There is a question mark hanging over agencies that address creativity the way we did ten years ago.”

It’s a cliché these days, but we are at a time of change. Many industries are facing a crisis of confidence as the evolution of technology continues to effect a great transformation in society and business. Agencies need to reorganise themselves better around data driven consumer insight and become more responsive, in real-time.

Illustration showing the potential to measure marketing investments in todays digital age and the impact of this

Creativity has a great part to play in all of this, but just as we need change clients’ perceptions of our commitment to effectiveness, we also need to adjust their understanding of the way we define creativity’s role. The purpose of creativity in advertising is no longer to persuade people not to go and put the kettle on in the break from Coronation Street. Those days are emphatically gone. In this new world creativity could just as easily reside in a brilliant algorithm, as it could in a beautifully executed campaign. For me, there is a serious question mark hanging over agencies that still address creativity the way we did ten to fifteen years ago. Will they be able to do business at any scale in the future? I suspect not.

“We are not reckless…”

This shouldn’t be seen as a threat. It isn’t a binary question. It’s not one or the other – creativity or effectiveness. Everyone in the industry does not suddenly need to become more scientific or go and learn how to programme. We simply need a re-balancing, a few more people that can do those things. A reorganisation around experts in consumer insight and a keener, and crucially, more public focus on effectiveness.

We are not reckless. Let’s show the world that.

Effectiveness Week was an event 31 October – 04 November 2016, which brought together senior marketers and decision-makers from both agencies and clients. The week tackled some of the big questions around making marketing more accountable and enabling the discipline to deliver value to the business through foresight and evidence-based decision-making. You can browse the learnings and key content from the week here.

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Effectiveness Week 2016

“Just what the industry needs, great collaboration between clients and agencies on the topics that drive business growth.”

Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

“It’s great to see the IPA in the UK bring the whole industry and particularly the trade bodies together to focus on effectiveness. This new Marketing Effectiveness initiative will enable people across the industry to work together to build on best practice.”

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer, RBS

“Effectiveness is a team sport, so it was great to see the industry in the widest sense, come together. In an increasingly diverse and fragmented world, only by using all parts of the brain will we solve effectiveness challenges and design our campaigns to deliver short and long term value. That’s why what happens next is important – if the IPA can help facilitate progress on this with a long-term initiative around Marketing Effectiveness, we’ll definitely crack it.”

Bart Michels, Global CEO Kantar Added Value and Country Leader Kantar UK

“The time spent at #EffWeek was extraordinarily effective. It was great to hear the diverse views from all areas of the industry. All tied together with the common themes of accountability and effectiveness.”

Andrew Canter, Global CEO, BCMA

“It has been a privilege to be part of the inaugural Effectiveness Week. The agenda is one which we at O2 UK feel passionately about. To see and hear perspectives across the industry demonstrates how the breadth of marketing effectiveness is increasingly being valued within businesses. Data, insight, social, customer experience, test and learn, ROI, these are all fundamentals and were covered expansively at the event”.

Sandra Fazackerley, Marketing & Consumer, Telefónica UK Limited

“The full week of effectiveness events brought into clear focus the need for marketers to use data and insight to achieve the key business objectives of growth and profits. Marketers today are in a better position to quantify their knowledge of customers and measure the ability of investments in marketing to increase brand and shareholder value.”

Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA