After visiting AdWeek Europe on the final day and watching four speakers, the message I really took away was; authenticity is key to advertising.

Consumers don’t trust ads. Less than 16% of UK consumers believe what companies say in their advertising. Brands need to stop selling and start engaging on customers’ terms. Authenticity is the key.

Now more than ever consumers are in control of how they interact and consume content. Advertising is built on the appetite of people wanting to communicate with your brand. Ads should be more appropriate to the content that you’re experiencing. One ad in the wrong place is one ad too many.

With authenticity being essential to trust, the focus should be on engaging people on their terms. This might cause problems for less authentic brands, because people have become less trusting of brands making bad promises. Don’t say that you’re authentic – be authentic. As a consumer we want to know that brands care about us – if you have an ad that says we care, but then they can’t get hold of anyone it’s going to send the wrong message.

‘92% of people trust recommendations from people over brands, even if they don’t know them directly.’

Having influencers advocate your brand to give content that your audience want on their terms and in their language from people they trust works well.

Case study – A brand put an ad on the front of the Evening Standard asking readers to download their audible app. They didn’t get a great response and ended up working with Fleur De Force (Vlogger) and she included the same offer 12 mins into her monthly favourite video. The contrast between the two is pretty remarkable. 35 people downloaded the app after seeing the Evening Standard ad whereas 900+ did so after Fleur De Force featured it. This resulted in a massive genuine increase in sales.

This demonstrates the real power of giving consumers content they love from people they trust! Brands don’t influence people, people do.

“62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks, but to engage them there.” People don’t want flashy ads, big promises and the wow factor. They want authentic messages, authentic brands and authentic interactions. There is an intimacy with this – it’s more personal, persuasive and authentic than traditional advetising. Take the opportunity to interact, engage and communicate with your audience.
B2B content is different and often longer than B2C – but that doesn’t mean that creating an emotional bond isn’t important. The key in B2B is not only to be authentic but to be honest. B2B purchases can be highly personal, due to the level of personal risk a buyer can feel. For example, contracts make a B2B purchase a significant decision for an organisation that can lock them in for months to years. It can take a longer to reach a decision, because there’s a lot more at stake than a B2C purchase. This gives us more opportunities to build trust, but also more opportunities to get it wrong. Every interaction is critical.

It’s clear that we need to renew our focus on creating content that people want to engage with. If you can build trust in a brand sales will follow.