AdNews Annual: Rules of engagement

Val Morgan MD Dan Hill
By Val Morgan MD Dan Hill | 19 January 2018
Dan Hill

This is a free article from The Annual 2017. As part of the Perspectives Series AdNews asked industry leaders from marketing, media, advertising and tech to reflect on trust. Every issue of the monthly magazine has exclusive features, profile interviews and content that isn't usually available online. You can download a digital version of AdNews or subscribe to the print edition here.

Talking about trust is very conceptual and the danger here might be to create some hidden complexity and stamp it in a judgemental banner across our industry. Individuals remain the custodians of their own morality and ethics. Instead I wanted to think more about what we can do to add some thought to the rules of engagement. 

We're currently facing 'the rise of the machines’ but how do you start from a place of trust with a machine?

With the growth of AI and more machine-based learning, human trust is going to be more vital than ever before. The one thing that won’t change is the need for a human element to manage and control the decisions, the debate and the policy setting.

So then if we agree that increasingly the profits are in the margins then getting what you paid for, or delivering what you promise, becomes most important. It follows, that establishing the rules of the deal right from the start is key.

Before the machines get to work, if you strike an exchange of services, then you should expect to get what you paid for. If you are being provided a service you value then a fair price should be paid. And if you receive payment for a service then it should go without saying that you deliver on what you promised.

Trust is built in to all three of these expectations, you're judged and earn trust on your ability to deliver, and so it makes perfect sense to be authentic in the first instance. From that, be consistent and enjoy the benefits of long-term, trusting relationships, which also naturally start with authenticity.

There have been big, loud debates this year in this industry, about areas where trust has been undermined, but authenticity cuts through the jargon and hyperbole. When we are authentic we are honest, which means we tell the truth and go out of our way to do it. Making authenticity the driving force behind the business makes the opinions and debates mean something.

The big debates this year have been around the unforeseen by-products of automation and dealing with brand safety, new revenue models and associated transparency issues but we’re discovering good practice as we go. The frenzy and excitement of an unregulated market is giving way to solutions to the problems.

Gender balance in business, affordability, jobs and working conditions, flexibility, values, viewability, transparency and honesty are all serious debates that demand authenticity. But how can we tackle the trust issues and apply the simple notion of authenticity to preventing issues arising?

There isn’t a trust issue in our business there is simply too much of a racket when what we need are more serious people, tackling serious problems on a serious platform, in an authentic way. Having serious people leading the debates of our industry is fantastic and there are industry bodies dealing with that and giving their experience and time. The lessons of trust we learnt in 2017 should act as a signpost for how we do business in 2018.

This is part of the Perspectives Series - Reflections on Trust from The Annual 2017. 

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