Ownership over the whole brand experience and the data that stems from it is a big theme in the WARC Marketer’s Toolkit 2019; at its launch in London yesterday, experts gathered to share perspectives and insight on the strategic landscape in the year ahead.


It was in 2018 that the in-housing trend really took off, piquing brands and worrying agencies. “We can confidently predict that in 2019 we’ll see a continuing trend of advertisers taking control of advertising affairs,” said Nick Manning, SVP MediaLink.  

Key to this is the need for data security and transparency, alongside data’s position as a key driver of business growth. “Transparency is no longer optional,” Manning observed.

Marketer’s Toolkit 2019

Data, analysis, interviews: Read the full report here

In-housing does have downsides, however. There is no single measurement currency cross-channel, the supply chain continues to be murky, and there are limitations due to both cost and expertise.

Media agencies can breathe a slight sigh of relief: brands may want all the data, but Manning cautioned that “it requires the involvement of outside expertise.” This, though, comes increasingly in the form of cloud-based software giants, including big names like Adobe, Oracle, and Google. Among these there are also interesting younger players such as the recent S4 acquisition Mighty Hive.  

Clarity of objectives is crucial, Manning advised, because bringing media and content capability in-house is complex and costly – consider that media agencies are made up of experts and have grown over many years, negotiating impressive deals that achieve economies of scale. “We don’t see this as a flash in the pan,” he said, but for many clients it has been far more difficult than previously thought.

Consumer trends

The Marketer's Toolkit survey suggests that in 2019 marketers will not be focusing on the newest tech, but rather on extracting value from channels that are gaining real traction among consumers; Mindshare’s annual consumer trends survey reinforces this finding.

“This year it’s really about getting used to the tech that’s already there,” said Sophie Harding, Trends and Insights Director, Mindshare. Key to this is the consistently growing field of voice, which has in the last year shown more potential as a search channel than as a direct commerce channel: 44% of respondents are using their voice-activated devices for search, while just 13% are using them for shopping. Just over half (51%) of respondents to Mindshare’s Trends survey also said they were using their smart speakers for more than they used to.

Media is becoming more mindful. More than half (54%) of consumers are now making more conscious and deliberate choices about the media they consume. This also goes for news; people are beginning to consider both the provenance and the volume of news they consume more seriously.

A third trend she highlighted was “seconds saved”, namely the use of technology to smooth the paths of our lives. In part, this trend plays into the growth of connected devices (especially in London and big cities; less so in rural areas), though consumers still see the uses of connected devices as very specific to individual use cases. 

One big point of growth that the agency has observed is in mobile payments. Not only are consumers are engaging more and more with mobile payments systems, such as Apple or Google Pay services, but traditional brands like M&S are trialling a Pay Go system that works with mobile phones to smooth the in-store path to purchase. 


The role of influencers continues to be the subject of debate, but Rose Van Orden, Planning Partner, and Emily Ellis, Planner, both of McCann London, offered advice based on their learnings from their Gold IPA Award-winning 23 Shades, 23 Stories for L'Oréal Paris. This modern influencer-driven campaign dates from 2016 but foresaw many of the methods and trends that have characterised the channel in 2018.

  1. Hold on to your power. Why and how will influencers help the brand reach its objectives? How do they continue to do that? Keep checking. Do they fit in with wider communications plans?
  2. Check your influencers have influence. Unless someone can truly influence the way someone thinks, feels, or behaves, they’re not an influencer.
  3. Remember that influencers are human beings, not media. L'Oréal has a three-step vetting process, which has worked well for the brand. “Be prepared to embrace the full person,” said Van Orden. Influencers will not always express views that the brand agrees with, and as a brand it is important to think about whether you will stick by your influencer or drop them.

Sourced from WARC