Project Reconnect identifies consumer preconditions for online marketing


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Beijing - April 13: The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and Firefly Millward Brown have unveiled the initial results of Project Reconnect, the first ever industry-consumer collaboration to define the preconditions for brand behaviour online.

Project Reconnect is designed to provide guidance to marketers on the basis of consumer feedback so that brand communications more closely reflect what people really want and expect from brands online. The ultimate goal is to build trust by bringing people and brands closer together around an agreed set of ground rules for interaction and communication.

The project's first phase has looked at the issue of digital marketing to children and involved conversations - both face-to-face through focus groups and via closed social media platforms with both parents and children.

WFA and Firefly Millward Brown asked both groups what they find acceptable and unacceptable as both consumers and parents and about when they allow brands into their online lives and when they don't. The research was carried out with parents of children aged 12-18 and children aged 15-17 between December 2010 and February this year in Brazil, China, UK and US.

The results show a significant degree of convergence between consumer expectations across different markets. Although there are diverging views in a number of areas in relation to the specifics of the marketing execution, this study represents a first global consensus on what is and what is not acceptable.
The findings, which will be unveiled at the World Federation of Advertisers' Global Advertiser Conference in Beijing, include a basic etiquette guide for digital marketers.

“Many of the insights may appear intuitive to seasoned marketers but it is not obvious to consumers that marketers are abiding by these ground rules,” said Stephan Loerke, Managing Director of the WFA. “The industry may benefit from making these principles known and committing to re-visit them on the basis of consumer feedback.”

The research results were presented in Beijing by WFA Deputy President and Visa's Head of International Corporate Relations, Stephen Kehoe, who commented: “In today's online world, maintaining trust means maintaining dialogue. The research shows how much consumers appreciate being asked their opinion about the advertising industry. We believe it is important to keep that dialogue going. The research presented today is the first step in a journey, led by the WFA, to help brand owners talk to their consumers about marketing behaviours and practices. The earlier that brands get signals that something is not working, the easier it is to change and adapt.”

”Digital platforms are changing all the time and marketers need to reach agreement with consumers about what is acceptable, what is welcomed and what is not. Project Reconnect demonstrates a remarkable degree of global consensus about how consumers expect brands to act in the digital age,” said Cécile Conaré, Europe Director, Firefly Millward Brown.

WFA is committed to creating an on-going dialogue between consumers and brands. It wants to facilitate the development of clear ground rules for marketers based on what consumers around the world think is acceptable. While the focus is digital marketing for now, the plan is to look much more broadly at all forms of brand communications.

To this end, it is exploring partnerships with Ethical Corporation, the leading magazine and business intelligence provider on sustainable and ethical corporate behaviour, to develop the next stage of Project Reconnect. More detailed plans will be announced later this year.

For more information about the research please contact Will Gilroy:

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