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Meaningful Media: Understanding Media That Matters

Meaningful Media: Understanding Media That Matters

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

July 25, 2018

Greg James, Havas Media’s Global Chief Strategy Officer, discusses a new thought leadership hub—and what distinguishes Meaningful Media today.

"we hope to cultivate better communication and an open and honest conversation about what’s happening whether that’s with our clients, our media partners, or amongst ourselves."

In simple terms, what does it mean to be meaningful?

The short answer is media that really matters to people—media brands or content that they trust, are truly engaged with, and that drives them to take action in some form.

With our clients in media, although they don’t necessarily express it in these terms, a lot of what they tell us shows they are worried about a lack of meaningfulness in media: We are dealing with brand safety, fake news, complex data, digital disruption, and all of these topics make media consumption and, of course, media buying, less clear than it was before.

Ultimately, through the portal, we hope to cultivate better communication and an open and honest conversation about what’s happening whether that’s with our clients, our media partners, or amongst ourselves.

Why is it top of mind for so many companies?

Well, I’ve been inside Havas long enough to remember that when we first talked about “meaningful” and began the Meaningful Brands survey it was really because companies were waking up to Corporate Social Responsibility in a much bigger way. They were realizing—and seeing in their results—that the voice people now had through the Internet meant they had to be more involved in communities and more conscious of their impact on the world because we could all hold them accountable.

As time’s moved on, I think that need is even greater. And with the power of technology combining with the complexity of the economic and political environments, meaningful is a wider and even more important topic for people.

Can meaningfulness in media be measured?

Well, I’d like to find out, to be honest, because I think that would be a compelling metric to take to our clients! We’re planning to carry out various types of research on meaningfulness in media and I’m looking for teams who have something in this space that they think we can explore and for media partners who think they have a type of content or product that they can prove means more to people.

The start point is what we have in Meaningful Brands—right now, the insights team is looking at the media brands in that study and putting together a paper on what we can learn there. After that, I’m interested in looking at some kind of digital “loyalty index” (for want of a better term), where we can see which digital publishers really matter and what’s wallpaper.

"I’m looking forward to learning more about what’s happening in the world, so if you have ideas and thoughts about the business we’re in, please get in touch."

Why is a meaningful connection a necessity for today’s advertisers, rather than providing products that simply satisfy basic needs?

Well, we know there’s a 71% correlation between content effectiveness and the impact a brand has on our personal well-being and quality of life. Great content is a great driver of personal well-being and, therefore, meaningfulness. But the actual connection, the interaction in a specific context, is something we need to understand better.

Can media planning and buying be used as tools that help create meaningful connections?

This is a question at the heart of the Meaningful Media project. Look, we know that it’s bad news if a client’s brand is seen with negative content—say a YouTube video that’s violent. And we know that some big positive moments like the World Cup are things that brands love to be associated with. Well, between those two is a huge grey scale of other content and contexts. It stands to reason that associating advertising with some content is better or worse than others.

Unfortunately, clients and our planning teams have so much on their plates, we’ve moved to a place where a disproportionate amount of time is spent on discussing technology and data at the expense of talking about media. And guess what? We’re in the media business!

How will the Meaningful Media project and portal unfold?

We launched the portal just this week, and it’s been great to have so many people already reach out with ideas and suggestions. Phase 1 is about curating ideas that are already out there in the media that are really touching on meaningful media and adding Havas voices to that. As we move forward, you’ll see more functionality added to the portal and more content—videos from media partners explaining how they’re creating meaningful relationships with audiences, consumer groups on what media matters to them, and thought leadership writing from our staff.

Later this year and into 2019, I think we’ll start to see some key themes emerge about what’s meaningful in media, and then we’ll be using that to put together more panel discussions in local markets, take that insight out to clients, and conferences, and to trade press too, of course.

By this time next year, I hope we’ve gathered enough interesting insight to be including it in our pitches, and presentations, and maybe even publishing findings in a bigger way, so stay tuned!

How can those of us at Havas contribute—staff, clients, and partners?

I need volunteers and thought leaders. We need to fuel this portal with content, so I need ideas from people. And I need content created around the world. I want the site to reflect media partners from every country and all kinds of consumer groups. We need to explore the full media landscape and there is so much local variety. I’m looking forward to learning more about what’s happening in the world, so if you have ideas and thoughts about the business we’re in, please get in touch.

"we hope to cultivate better communication and an open and honest conversation about what’s happening whether that’s with our clients, our media partners, or amongst ourselves."

In simple terms, what does it mean to be meaningful?

The short answer is media that really matters to people—media brands or content that they trust, are truly engaged with, and that drives them to take action in some form.

With our clients in media, although they don’t necessarily express it in these terms, a lot of what they tell us shows they are worried about a lack of meaningfulness in media: We are dealing with brand safety, fake news, complex data, digital disruption, and all of these topics make media consumption and, of course, media buying, less clear than it was before.

Ultimately, through the portal, we hope to cultivate better communication and an open and honest conversation about what’s happening whether that’s with our clients, our media partners, or amongst ourselves.

Why is it top of mind for so many companies?

Well, I’ve been inside Havas long enough to remember that when we first talked about “meaningful” and began the Meaningful Brands survey it was really because companies were waking up to Corporate Social Responsibility in a much bigger way. They were realizing—and seeing in their results—that the voice people now had through the Internet meant they had to be more involved in communities and more conscious of their impact on the world because we could all hold them accountable.

As time’s moved on, I think that need is even greater. And with the power of technology combining with the complexity of the economic and political environments, meaningful is a wider and even more important topic for people.

Can meaningfulness in media be measured?

Well, I’d like to find out, to be honest, because I think that would be a compelling metric to take to our clients! We’re planning to carry out various types of research on meaningfulness in media and I’m looking for teams who have something in this space that they think we can explore and for media partners who think they have a type of content or product that they can prove means more to people.

The start point is what we have in Meaningful Brands—right now, the insights team is looking at the media brands in that study and putting together a paper on what we can learn there. After that, I’m interested in looking at some kind of digital “loyalty index” (for want of a better term), where we can see which digital publishers really matter and what’s wallpaper.

"I’m looking forward to learning more about what’s happening in the world, so if you have ideas and thoughts about the business we’re in, please get in touch."

Why is a meaningful connection a necessity for today’s advertisers, rather than providing products that simply satisfy basic needs?

Well, we know there’s a 71% correlation between content effectiveness and the impact a brand has on our personal well-being and quality of life. Great content is a great driver of personal well-being and, therefore, meaningfulness. But the actual connection, the interaction in a specific context, is something we need to understand better.

Can media planning and buying be used as tools that help create meaningful connections?

This is a question at the heart of the Meaningful Media project. Look, we know that it’s bad news if a client’s brand is seen with negative content—say a YouTube video that’s violent. And we know that some big positive moments like the World Cup are things that brands love to be associated with. Well, between those two is a huge grey scale of other content and contexts. It stands to reason that associating advertising with some content is better or worse than others.

Unfortunately, clients and our planning teams have so much on their plates, we’ve moved to a place where a disproportionate amount of time is spent on discussing technology and data at the expense of talking about media. And guess what? We’re in the media business!

How will the Meaningful Media project and portal unfold?

We launched the portal just this week, and it’s been great to have so many people already reach out with ideas and suggestions. Phase 1 is about curating ideas that are already out there in the media that are really touching on meaningful media and adding Havas voices to that. As we move forward, you’ll see more functionality added to the portal and more content—videos from media partners explaining how they’re creating meaningful relationships with audiences, consumer groups on what media matters to them, and thought leadership writing from our staff.

Later this year and into 2019, I think we’ll start to see some key themes emerge about what’s meaningful in media, and then we’ll be using that to put together more panel discussions in local markets, take that insight out to clients, and conferences, and to trade press too, of course.

By this time next year, I hope we’ve gathered enough interesting insight to be including it in our pitches, and presentations, and maybe even publishing findings in a bigger way, so stay tuned!

How can those of us at Havas contribute—staff, clients, and partners?

I need volunteers and thought leaders. We need to fuel this portal with content, so I need ideas from people. And I need content created around the world. I want the site to reflect media partners from every country and all kinds of consumer groups. We need to explore the full media landscape and there is so much local variety. I’m looking forward to learning more about what’s happening in the world, so if you have ideas and thoughts about the business we’re in, please get in touch.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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