Brand storytelling is evolving as marketers engage consumers through a wider variety of media channels. Those engagements offer a richer set of data signals to help advertisers improve the performance of their campaigns throughout every stage of the purchase funnel.

“We’ve been pushing very hard with our clients at PHD that brand and performance needs to go hand-in-hand and shouldn’t be looked at separately,” Catherine Sullivan, chief executive of Omnicom’s PHD US, said in this interview with Beet.TV. “We need to look at media holistically, and it needs to perform at every single level.”

To help  clients with those goals, Omnicom developed Omni as a people-based precision marketing and insights platform that identifies and defines personalized consumer experiences at scale. The platform not only facilitates key performance indicators (KPIs) for advertisers, but it also helps to avoid placing consumers in broad demographic groups like age and gender, as has been common practice.

“It’s really important that we stop talking about demographics,” Sullivan said. “We really need to take a look at audiences, and how those audiences and contextual relevance come together to really help things move forward.”

She pointed to carmaker Audi and spirits company Diageo as examples of marketers that reached upscale audiences by sponsoring the Met Gala, a yearly fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York. Described as the “Oscars of fashion,” the event is hosted by Condé Nast’s Vogue magazine and is attended by A-list celebrities. Audi and Diageo stood out as advertisers that consumers could associate with luxury.

“There’s no one sitting in the marketing department and any single major client that is sitting there saying we’re going to target adults 18 to 49 when they’re coming up with a new campaign or launching a new product,” Sullivan said. “As we move forward as an industry, we should stop worrying about what was in the past and really think about the future: what will keep that brand love?”

Authenticity Resonates

The pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement heightened consumer demand for brands that show how they give back to society. Younger generations especially want to see genuine steps to help others, not superficial gestures.

“We’ve learned a lot during the pandemic about being true and authentic and making sure that you understand what your goals are as a marketer, what you believe in, what you stand for and that you don’t just do it just once,” Sullivan said. “I’d even suggest that you can’t assume that what you did six months ago is going to work six months later. It’s a continual rejiggering of what you’re currently thinking about for your marketing goals.”

No Going Back

The growing audience for ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) and free ad-supported television (FAST) has pushed broadcasters to distribute more content through connected devices like smart TVs and mobile phones. Advertisers are shifting media dollars into those connected TV (CTV) platforms, though consumers expect to see a lighter ad load than what they find on linear TV.

“No one’s going back to watch a great entertainment program with 20 to 22 minutes worth of commercials in an hour,” Sullivan said. “When you have only three to six minutes of commercials, that makes it a lot more palatable.”

Lessons of Live Sports

She recommends that marketers create ad campaigns that complement the surrounding content, such commercials that appear during live sports programming. Many of the commercials feature athletes or creative that corresponds to the experience of watching sports.

For commercials during NFL games, “90% of it feels like it’s part of the game itself,” Sullivan said. “They have managed to get that sports feeling of love and excitement around the game. That’s what we have to do better as an industry on the entertainment front.”

She also sees opportunities for TV advertising that drives e-commerce as more households connect their TVs directly to the internet.

“How do we think about commerce in this new world of CTV? This is their tremendous opportunity to really harness and rethink what entertainment is,” Sullivan said.

You are watching “Engaging Stories, Impactful Innovation,” a Beet.TV Leadership Video Series presented by WarnerMedia. To view more videos from this series, please visit this page.