BBC’s Tom Bowman: ‘If you’ve served someone the same ad 40 times, you are probably annoying them’ | M&M Global

BBC’s Tom Bowman: ‘If you’ve served someone the same ad 40 times, you are probably annoying them’

Advertisers should stop seeking fix-all solutions for individual brand challenges, according to the BBC’s global ad sales boss.

Tom Bowman

Speaking ahead of his session at next month’s Festival of Media Global in Rome, Tom Bowman – SVP sales operations and commercial production at BBC Worldwide – says the media industry should embrace “shades of grey” rather than a cookie-cutter approach to reaching consumers.

He also argues that advertisers should strike a balanced approach between technology-led granular targeting and more perception-changing content.

“There’s a degree of what you might call bifurcation going on, certainly in the digital spaced: there’s automation and, on the other side, content-led marketing. Maybe one is a counter-balance to the other on some levels,” says Bowman.

“Should a brand be put in front of you, or should you discover it for yourself? Maybe marketers are thinking the very accurate push of more modern systems is only some of the answer, and more content-led marketing is creating a deeper relationship with customers.”

Perennial challenge

Former Microsoft exec Bowman, whose team spans four continents and is charged with the introduction of new commercial products ad platforms, says media’s obsession with the latest technology fails to take into account the “perennial challenge” of time and budget.

“There’s lots of exciting stuff, but whether there’s enough time and budget in the world to do all these things – of course, there never is. Sometimes finding a solution in a much tighter budget can breed great answers as well,” he says.

Is the media industry any closer to the panacea of delivering the right message, to the right consumer, at the right time? “We’re better than we were, but we need to be better than we are,” he argues.

“There is a right and a wrong answer at brand level, not at an industry level. If I was to be critical, it is of the way retargeting is used at the bottom rather than at the top. If you’ve served someone the same ad for a jumper 40 times, I would argue you are probably annoying them, you probably are giving the industry a bad name, and you are probably wasting your money.”

Joining piece

For Bowman, content is the “joining piece” which can bind marketing strategies and engage consumers with a brand: “I think we have to be sceptical of technologies companies saying they have cracked it. There are lots of spot solutions, rather than end to end solutions, and they can be madly expensive for what they do.

“There’s a degree of complexity – can you do all this stuff on the fly, and should you really be trying? With good content marketing you’ve got the right headlines and you’re attracting the right kind of people to you, in the right kind of environment,” he adds.

Tom Bowman is speaking at Festival of Media Global in Rome – click here for the full agenda

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