Newsflash: People don’t hate advertising

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 12 October 2017
Tom Goodwin.

More often than not, the industry is berated and subjected to the cry that ‘people hate advertising’. Not so, according to Zenith head of advertising Tom Goodwin.

Goodwin is one of the leading voices in media and advertising. He's LinkedIn's number one voice in the marketing space, and has 400,000 followers on the network plus 20,000 more on Twitter where he shares daily gripes, observations, and questions about the current state of affairs and the future of media.

The day AdNews spoke to Goodwin, he had tweeted about the idea that “the worlds of advertising and real people have never been further apart.” A fairly concerning observation for a discipline that should be the voice of the customer within a business organisation, with a close understanding of what consumers want and how to deliver it.

Expanding on it with AdNews he says: “People think I'm really grumpy, but I just think we’ve got all these amazing tools, amazing things and people in our industry, but somehow were messing it all up.”

Technology has a big part to play in it. It’s his belief that there are three ages of technology - and we're stuck in the most complicated one at present.

The way he sees it there is the analogue age, before digital, when things were simple. Media and devices each did one thing, and it all just worked.

There is also the post-digital age, which we haven't reached yet, but when everything will make sense.

One day, taxis will all accept Apple Pay everywhere in the world and you won't need to remember a security pass to get into your building every day,” he explains.

But unfortunately, where we are now is ‘mid-digital’, where we have all the baggage from the pre-digital era and aren't quite ready for the post-digital phase.

We’re in the most complicated time. You’ve got there two systems working together - the principles of pre-digital age like TV measurement, then we’ve added on incrementally a digital structure where we measure things in different ways and the systems don't talk to each other. It makes it really messy and I don't think the industry is very well equipped to deal with that.”

He explains: “The disconnect between people who are normal and the industry comes from the fact that we've fallen in love with technology. We’re so busy trying to shout from the trees that we've got digital, it's been more important to us to demonstrate our forward thinking and our technical prowess,  than it has been to demonstrate empathy for our customers, and what they want.”

He believes that disruption and newness are causing the industry to fear what’s coming down the track, and it’s eroding marketers’ confidence in what they can achieve, rather than helping their ability to understand what it can enable for customers.

When people say advertising is dead, that's complete nonsense. When people say voice communication is going to kill brands, that's total crap. When people say consumers hate advertising, that's not true. It’s not based on reality, it’s based on a narrative that people want to believe.

We’ve whipped ourselves into frenzy. Collectively we just need to get more confident, more clear on what we know and be more selective about the newer stuff that we do.”

Goodwin is speaking at the AANA Reset conference on 17 October. Tickets are on sale now.

Other speakers include System 1's John Kearon, who recently told AdNews a third of advertising spend should be put on a bonfire.

Jamie Barnard, General Counsel – Global Marketing, Media and eCommerce at Unilever, Shadi Halliwell, Chief Marketing Officer Of UK telco Three,  Neil Perkin, Founder of Only Dead Fish; John Maclean OAM Paralympian and Chairman of the John Maclean Foundation; Bessie Lee, Founder and CEO of Withinlink.

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