Next year, I will be judge for the World Media Awards. It’s organised by the World Media Group, a strategic alliance of the world’s leading media brands — including The Economist, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, and several others — to celebrate and promote quality journalism and the role of international media.

I was asked to think about several key questions in preparation for judging, including why I think content-led advertising continues to grow. For me, it always comes back to the audience. Content allows advertisers to cut through the noise by focusing on their audience rather than on themselves. That means being helpful rather than promotional and adapting the narrative for each step of the customer’s journey.

Next, what is the key to truly engaging content? Increasingly often, this is about leaving room to experiment — to be brave enough in the face of the growing trend for “content creation via algorithm” to take a chance on an idea that might, at first glance, fly in the face of what’s worked for you before. 

While data is central to our work and used to enrich the idea, the creative, and the media mix, Big Data is not a big idea. It can spark creativity, but if you are beholden to it, you can end up creating your very own echo chamber. Something that makes an audience sit up and say, “What the … ?” can be equally as effective, if not more so, than simply pushing out more of the same. 

Finally, the organisers asked what am I hoping to see in the entries. I want to see entries that demonstrate companies or brands providing real value to their target audiences. Our own research (tldisrupted.com) shows us audiences currently feel overwhelmed by the amount of content they encounter. In our desire as marketers to be ever-present, we’re in danger of simply adding to a mass of mediocre noise and not saying anything of real value or offering anything useful.

I heard Seth Godin say recently, “We can make things better by making better things.” I couldn’t agree more, and I’m hoping that the 2019 entries will share that sentiment.