The Most Important Thing In Media


What is the most important thing in media? Trust.

Not impressions. Not efficiency. Definitely not VR. Trust.

If you do not have a consumer's trust, it does not matter what you say in your advertising.

And if agencies do not have their clients' trust, because they may be skimming rebates from their media or pushing them to a programmatic trading desk because it is easier to execute, you have nothing.

This simple truth is why influencer marketing got huge. It is why review curation got huge. (And why both will contract as algorithms figure out how to cheat their systems and consumers catch on).

If someone was badgering you incessantly on Tinder to go on a date, would you do it? No, because you wouldn't think that they were stable, that you knew enough about them, or that they even knew the unspoken rules of dating.

Simply put, you wouldn't trust them.

So why would you trust a brand that constantly badgers you with banners and pre-roll ads to purchase, purchase, purchase without telling you anything about itself and giving you room to build trust?

Why do you think brands stick their logos in every stadium in the United States? Because the CMO wants free tickets? Yes, sometimes, but when you place your brand in the context of elite athletic performance, it builds trust.

I am not picking an insurance company, even if they are incredibly cheap, if I don’t trust them to follow through on their obligations to me if I get into an accident. I am picking the insurance company that costs a little more but I have seen around town and looks like they are here to stay.


Why are 125 DTC brands shifting their budgets (by the billions) into TV? Social media only plans worked to a point, and they never built trust. Being on TV may feel a little old fashioned but it says, “I am big, I am real, I am here to stay,” before it ever says, “Here’s what we do, now please buy us.” 

The purchase funnel may be dead (or rather amorphous), but we still need to earn a consumer’s trust. Consumers are BS detectors of the highest order and if you don't have an incredible product experience backing up that Bachelor contestant Instagram post with trackable URL, people will read right through you.

Every marketer must ask themselves:

Is the media I am using creating or reinforcing trust, or just interrupting my consumer? 

Is every impression I buy or earn driving trust, or a quest to get them to purchase immediately? 

Ask your creative team their candid thoughts. Ask your media team for theirs. Then tell your sales and executive team to slow their roll – proper advertising, brand building, and sustainable long-term sales takes time.

Most CMOs get 2-3 years minimum, not 2-3 quarters. Act like it. And let your north star be an incessant quest for trust.