Stephan Loerke, WFA's CEO, looks back at 2017 and what it meant from a brand owners' perspective
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It’s fair to say 2017 has been an eventful year. Even for an industry used to as much change and disruption as ours.
The world’s biggest marketer, Marc Pritchard, lit the blue touch paper in January with a speech which set the tone.
2017 will likely long echo with the words “murky at best, fraudulent at worst,” “an antiquated media buying and selling system” and “crappy” to describe the experience that drives people to ad blocking and prevents marketers from achieving their growth goals.
2017 was also the year that digital overtook TV as the single biggest form of advertising. The message has been made very clearly that it must now demonstrate that level of maturity.
Media governance has been core to the agenda of so many WFA Forums, including our CMO Forums. Our focus on transparency, brand safety, ad fraud and viewability has translated into practical actions for companies relating to internal structure, organisation and capabilities and externally in relation to agency rosters and ways of working with our partners, including Google and Facebook.
This year, we have held over 70 meetings in over 30 cities bringing brand owners together to address their common challenges. Tellingly, a third of WFA’s meetings now take place in Asia and a third are held remotely.
The WFA Public Affairs team is now bigger than it ever has been reflecting the number of fronts on which brand owners must look to engage policy-makers in order to protect their longer-term license to operate.
Public health challenges continue to shine the regulatory spotlight on food and alcohol marketing. Ethical considerations still weigh on toy and entertainment brands’ ability to market their products. But the big new conundrum for all brand owners is data collection online.
If brands felt that 2017 was disruptive then 2018 is likely to be even more so. Only this time the hallmarks are likely to be ‘GDPR’, ‘transparency’ and ‘consent’.