‘Nobody builds brands anymore’: Harold Mitchell

In the age of Google, no-one is bothering to build brands, Australian media veteran and chairman of FreeTV, Harold Mitchell, has said in a debate at Mumbrella360.

In the debate with QMS Media’s director, Anne Parsons, Mitchell said the “bigger argument to have outside of this room” was what Google has been doing.

Parsons and Mitchell went head to head in a session moderated by PHD Australia’s Mark Coad at Mumbrella360

“The bigger argument to have outside of this room is what the hell is Google doing because I can show you about what trust, what works, all of those things.

“Nobody builds brands anymore and that’ll come back to haunt a lot of people in the space of time.”

The news follows scrutiny in the media around Google and its upcoming Chrome ad blocker. 

Google said it will deploy a built-in ad blocker for its Chrome Web browser, despite the fact one of Google’s main sources of its own revenue is advertising itself.

As part of the ad blocker, Google will block pop-ups, auto-playing videos and ads that are pinned to a page no matter where people scroll.

In recent months, Google has also been faced with other issues including brand safety and measurement.

During the debate – which saw the duo argue whether television or digital out-of-home was more powerful – Mitchell added great brands have always “been built on television”, contesting the idea a digital screen could do the same.

“There’s not doubt that television has been part of people’s lives for nearly three hours of the day for most of my life since 1956,” he said.

“Brands today want to be storytellers not signposts. Digital screens are nothing new.

“You can’t learn anything in seven seconds.”

He said when it came to consumers’ trust, TV ads were trusted by 80% of the population as the second-most-trusted medium behind print, while outdoor advertising was placed at number five.

Parsons fought back arguing “what is talked about is what actually matters.”

“We are an industry that takes the voice of the many as beings the facts. What is being talked about is actually what matters,” she said.

“If we look at the editorial coverage for the last two years in Australia, or in the UK, you’ll actually see that it is digital out of home that has captured editorial and positive headlines more than the television screen.

“It’s not about share of voice, it’s not about attention and recall purely, it’s about more than that.”

She pointed out digital out of home screens had a capability that television lacked – data.

“What happens with a digital out-of-home screen, that simply cannot happen with a television screen is that between relevance and engagement, we also have and are creating data.

“When you have those three things happening what you have is power.”

“Of those two [television and digital outdoor] screens, the one that’s going to work most naturally and powerfully with the mobile screen, is the screen which demands us to be out of home, to be mobile and that is the digital out of home screen.”

“Research proves that when you are outside your home and active, you are 2.5 times more likely to take action. You remember and you act.

“You marry that with a mobile screen and what you have is the most powerful communication source you are going to get in the next decade,” she said.

Commenting on the failed merger between Ooh Media and APN Outdoor, Mitchell said the outdoor industry doesn’t understand its clients.

“Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC said he had a huge amount of feedback from advertisers using out of home and their concerns.

“I seriously think he said, ‘and I don’t mean to be rude’ – before he went on to be rude – ‘but I think the CEO of Ooh Media needs to re-engage with his customers’.

“’We’ve had tremendous feedback from his customers and the customers’ concerns about the mergers’.

“Go back and worry about your customers,” he said.

Parsons fought back: “I have to correct you with great respect that Mr Sims didn’t actually say the out of home industry needed to be in contact with its customers just one particularly company, in the out of home sector and one person specifically needed to be more in contact with his customers.”

She concluded: “Television is like that Coles commercial, which is down, down, down.

“The share that they have in total advertising expenditure – down. Total revenue – down. The time spent viewing not ‘glued’ anymore – down.”

“It is all about digital out of home.”


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