Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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“The volatility of global events over the course of the past year has seen record levels of audiences flocking to news media, in turn driving record levels of engagement and consumption across all forms of media. Brands continue to see the importance in ensuring they adopt brand safety positions and for some advertisers in India and across the globe this has meant staying away from news, but this may deny the opportunity to associate with relevant issues or simply lose out on the audience attention that comes with the coverage.  That’s okay.  It’s the right of every brand to make their choices, but the brands that stand up and maintain their share of voice stand to be winners – head and shoulders winners.  The myth goes that brands need to maintain distance from news that might be controversial, that aligning to ‘positive news’ helps build the brand.  Not so.  Consumers get it, implicitly understood if not always explicitly expressed.  Brands survive and thrive on the consistent, repetitive and recognised actions they take, being there for their constituency, being dependable in their actions.  And so it is the brave brand guardian that takes a stand, that denies the urge to apply overly restrictive brand settings that will reap the benefits.

But is all news media equal in this pursuit?  The answer is of course, a resounding no.  As the old saying goes, “the medium is the message” and never more has that been so true.  The company you keep says an awful lot about you, the perception rubs off, it sticks in a way that is not easily measured, but imperceptibly and indelibly imprinted.  So a brand guardian presented with multiple options to invest precious crore in a campaign, the choices that are made say much about the impression that is transferred to the brand itself.  Which is why choices matter, they matter because brand health is fundamental to sales, it is the foundation upon which the relationship with your consumers is built.  And yes, facts matter. In fact they are critical to the news media that you choose to partner with, because without facts you have little more than conjecture, just noise, fog…and what does that say about your brand?  With the consistency of fact based journalism as opposed to opinion based journalism, audiences learn to trust what they can read, watch and listen to. They learn this over many years, decades of doing the right thing, telling the truth, reporting the news, based on the facts that are learned. This activity becomes the earned behaviour of the audience as they see your brand – in turn they learn to trust you, as they trust the news media they consume.

But where to from here?  Back to the future is a good starting point, back to ‘ATTENTION’. As most brand builders of note will attest, attention has been, always will be, a cornerstone of building a successful brand.  And as the millennium took hold and media became more measurable, we did as we would have expected and went down the rabbit hole of measuring everything we could.  The only problem was that we measured the wrong things, the things we could measure, but not what we should have.  Attention, have you got your consumer’s attention?  That’s what matters. And keeping it, for as long as you can, so they want to come back for more.  This leads to better engagement, better consideration, better outcomes, and yes, better ROI.  So as digital media pivots around the axis of a spinning cookie that’s heading south, let’s be sure to measure the metrics that matter.  Fortunately, there are media choices available to all brands that deliver attention in spades, really engaged, engrossing attention and it all comes back to facts and trust and consistency – timeless journalistic values that matter – so yes, back to the future for brand building, and let brands make their choices based on how they wish to be perceived.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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