Trust Given – Trust Received? A Look Back At This Year’s AOP Summit

London’s publisher players were out in force last week at this year’s Association For Online Publishers (AOP) Digital Summit, and while industry leaders shared thoughts about the transformation of our trade, it all sounded very familiar.

Building authenticity in a distrusting world

The AOP Digital Summit is an annual event, held in London, which brings together the digital publishing industry to share the latest ideas and solutions that will drive profitability for digital publishers

This year, in his opening speech on the ‘The Post Truth Business’, researcher and author Sean Pilot de Chenecy spoke of the challenges brands face when it comes to building trust in a post-truth world. He said: “In an era of scandal, fake news and disillusionment, marketers need to work harder and smarter than ever before to build genuine authenticity.” 

He went on to outline the principles and importance of ‘reputation capital’, often seen as a form of non-cash remuneration for a brand’s efforts that gains respect from its communities. Shining examples of this are Lacoste’s “Save our Species” campaign, Falcon Coffee’s “Por El Cambio” and French Supermarket chain U’s “Fresh Stories” SnapChat campaign. Chenecy’s key takeaway from all this was “weaponise consumers to do your marketing for you”.

These examples take corporate social responsibility (CSR) to a whole new level by creating brand advocates who fight for causes on behalf of brands while simultaneously boosting brand reputation and bottom line. Ultimately, it’s important that these efforts are centred on the key principles of trust: competence, skill and judgement, and reliance.

AOP Summit

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much

Speaking on a panel alongside experts from marketing agency OMG and JICWEBS, the organisation dedicated to cleaning up the digital industry, News UK’s Commercial DirectorBen Walmsley spoke about how important it is to separate infrastructure from standards when it comes to brand safety. 

Walmsley said: “Brand safety vendors should not be introducing their own benchmarks, it’s essential that we work towards independent measures like the IAB’s Gold Standard.” This initiative was updated earlier this year to include a requirement that a minimum of 90% of traffic delivered through a buy or sell-side platform must include a valid ads.txt file. 

Consolidation was another key theme on the day. Mia Mulch, of OMG, spoke about their 2020 buying ambition, saying: “It’s all about creating deeper relationships with fewer supply partners.”

Advertisers, publishers, and consumers all benefit from direct exchange-publisher integrations, and ultimately, these relationships create a better online advertising ecosystem. 

Unruly was recently named as the number one SSP for direct publisher integration and this was down to our unique access to over 50 iconic, diverse News Corp titles and exclusive relationships with premium titles, including F1 and The Telegraph. As well as having more than 2,000 TAG integrations with publishers.

If companies want to succeed, they will have to look at ways of consolidating disparate teams within their own businesses too, putting the user at the heart of product development.

Panellists discussed the importance of breaking down organisational silos to drive innovation. Lauren Dick, of the Mail Online, and Laura Jenner, of Immediate Media, could both attest to this within their own organisations. As could Polly Curtis, who spoke about Tortoise Media’s weekly ‘Think Ins’, sessions run for members to come into the newsroom and inform the editorial voice.

AOP summit

Going forward, marketers will need to approach the new year with understandable caution, but opportunities for growth through Digital Marketing are vast. Especially if brands remember that although everything changes, the fundamentals of good business always remain the same.