Simon Eastwood

10 minutes with Steve Eastwood – Global Communications and Strategy Lead at William Grant and Sons

Published: 07 Feb 2022

Can you briefly tell us about your role at William Grant & Sons?

I am a Global Communications and Strategy lead at William Grant & Sons. My role is to work with our global colleagues and agencies, to ensure our campaigns deliver on its marketing objectives.

From our latest industry pulse survey, the loss of the third-party cookie was one of the most concerning media challenges. How have you navigated through the current landscape?

The loss of third-party cookies impacts how we previously targeted audiences, reported delivery, and measured attribution. The best route around these challenges is dependent on each business and its objectives. However, in my experience the most common ‘first step’ was to audit what 1st party data we currently have, then work with partners to look at how best we can augment this data, scale it, and track across various publishers and platforms.

Digital publishers are seeing millions of “unmonetised impressions” on suitable content because some marketers are unnecessarily using keyword blocking. What can publishers do to better align their scale with a brands values?

Brand safety and suitability is the base for all planners to work from. Whilst publishers and platforms have increased their tools and measures to protect brand reputations, we understand this will be an ever-evolving practice. A common thought amongst digital marketers is ‘one unsafe impression is too many’, therefore keyword blocking may still be an appropriate and necessary tool – but we also know this tactic alone does not 100% guarantee brand safety and suitability. Publishers who can offer a combination of keyword blocking, contextual avoidance, and scale will always be in consideration.

One in three consumers have stopped buying a product because they believe the brand’s values don’t align with their own. When planning in-line with a brands’ values, what kinds of concerns would you say brands might have around this?

It’s impossible to ignore the increasing demands from consumers on an organisation’s values and practises. The world has become more transparent, which is creating a very knowledgeable and very conscious consumer. As a result, we’re seeing a lot more brands being ‘actionable’ in a way that demonstrates their purposefulness, diversity, and inclusion credentials. A notable update I have seen within our industry is brands and agencies asking publishers to share their values and business practices – e.g. environment goals or diversity policies etc. These policies and practices are then part of the consideration set when evaluating strategic partnerships.

80p of every £1 spent in the UK currently goes to platforms (FB/Goog/Ama). What can publishers do in 2022 to start to capture more of that investment?

Facebook, Google and Amazon were certainly the digital winners in 2020/21 in terms of media spend. However with new algorithm updates and the introduction of TikTok, we constantly need to assess the value of each platform. Going beyond the foundations of scale, transparency and engagement, publishers who can demonstrate how they can deliver brand or business effects will always have an advantage.