On Wednesday, October 3rd I attended Digilant’s gathering of digital marketers at Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City for a lunch panel around the topic of “Defining the Impact of Programmatic Advertising Buzzwords.”
Below is my summary of the events. This is my version of the events and is not word for word of what was said nor is it my opinion of what was said.
The event kicked off with the following question:
What digital buzzwords and shifts that have been trending in the industry this year, such as Transparency, Attribution, In-Housing, Influencer Marketing, etc. do you see having a big impact on your 2019 marketing budgets?
Claire Bishop was the first to answer by saying that attribution is critically important to them as a brand that uses multiple channels for acquisition. Children International is a child and youth development organization and their primary fundraising model is child sponsorship. It’s a very effective model with monthly continuity and in effect they have a loyalty marketing program. Attribution and having as much visibility as possible into the channels driving acquisition value for them has been important since she joined the organization three years ago.
It was of even greater importance when she was on the agency side working for travel clients, because of the significant LTV of the acquisitions. You don’t want to make decisions on the last touch model, you want to understand your attribution among the different channels. It’s not one of the things they nailed, so they just selected a new agency and part of the decision was based on the attribution partner that they have, Visual IQ. They have, as many clients do, a ton of data and data issues. As they plug this together, digital display, search, social, native and some offline channels that they are using, they will really be able to draw a more complete picture through attribution.
Influencer marketing, is also a very big buzzword for them. With charitable giving, people want to have a sense that this is a credible and transparent organization. Most of the time they are not making a decision on their first encounter with the organization, so they want to create warm leads and leverage referrals from influencers that are credible to the audience to move them down the funnel. This can lower acquisition costs and create affinity and credibility off the bat.
Carrie Gill was next to answer this question. Her company is in the pharmaceutical space and they tend to be more cautious in adopting new technologies, however, attribution is important because they really need to understand how everything makes a impact. How does one consumer journey differ from the others? She works from a really unique perspective where she can have two drugs in the market that treat the same disease, so attribution is really important to understand how one consumer journey is really different from another to eliminate cannibalization across brands. It seems somewhat shocking, but digital influencers are trending in pharmaceuticals, they are looking to activate it for some of their brands. People like first person opinion and knowledge. From an efficiency standpoint, it’s going to be very important for them because people are talking about the efficiencies in programmatic media buying. Lifetime value is very high, so are they always have to ask if they’re putting in enough to get the return that they need to make social a more efficient channel.
Beau White chimed to say that Mars Wrigley will be challenged to reach the same online share as offline. For them, in ice cream, they have to achieve higher share online than offline, because new market entrants are small companies that can easily create products. These competitors don’t have to worry about the same financials as big companies like his. The walls are coming down and they can be very fluid with their budgets. At Mars ice cream they spend a lot of time setting expectations from a budget perspective, with all the buckets that he needs to spend money needing to be clearly laid out, but he will likely come back and want to switch it around. Influencer marketing in the cosmetics industry as a whole category is moving online and large stores will begin to remove their cosmetic departments altogether.
Raquel then joined that conversation to say that what Beau had just said was quite true. For example, Mac by Estee Lauder is coming up against new brands that have no overhead, go online and do a video on YouTube and especially if they are a big star, they can take market share away from a big brand like Estee Lauder. This is a real challenge; the large companies have to rethink how they are doing business to deal with this changing landscape. She thinks that is the social influencer marketing that they are talking about.
Moving on to a different topic – as more marketing teams move towards an omnichannel approach to improve the customer experience, people also want their programmatic partners to be omnichannel. What has changed for you in your company based on breaking away from the marketing channel silos and being more holistic in your approach?
For Claire she said that nonprofits focus on many offline channels; while digital is an important part of the mix it’s not the entirety of what they are doing. Children International has a full production facility at their headquarters for direct mail. It might be more expensive, but it is still viable. We are printing out a vast amount of direct mail not only to prospects, but also to lapsed clients. Being able to tie the direct mail to the digital that they are doing is a new frontier they’ve embarked on since she joined. Just recently they performed several tests in which they tied IP addresses and home addresses, so when prospects receive direct mail they also receive social and native ads on mobile devices from partners like Digilant. They like to think of this as the 360-degree view.
For things like ice cream it might be a more immediate decision, but there is a long lead time to make decisions for big things like child sponsorship. It’s a big commitment and therefore they need to permeate the consumer experience through multiple touch points. Consumer journey mapping and omnichannel approach are tightly interwoven for them because they want to understand at what the micro-moments people are making the decision to sponsor. People might have encountered Children International at an event with one of their favorite performers and then they saw an ad geo-targeted to their mobile device, so they are starting to consider them as an organization but need to validate their decision to give. Claire has to then consider what kind of experience they can give consumers on their website to get them in that state of mind. Being smart about the way their consumers are using media to support their decision for this process and providing relevant information about that process ultimately drives what content is distributed across their channels.
Carrie answered this question by saying that historically when they looked at a demand side platform (DSP) they siloed it as a display only channel. Everyone is now looking for DSPs that can offer more turnkey optimizations. DSPs can actually be a great source for starting an omnichannel approach. Channels are planned in silos, because that’s just historically how it’s been done, but sometimes these channels are not even working towards the same objective. She thinks people just need to get in a room and make sure they are working towards the same goal, something that sounds simple, but they are still working through it. They have had different CTAs and goals across an array of channels, so now they just have to make sure that they are working in unison towards the same goal.
Beau responded by saying that they are looking at omnichannel, but his marketing department deals with the majority of it. In digital commerce, people are focused on shopping, so they need to make sure that their customers are aware of the omnichannel experience. Consumers can’t just be familiar with the brick and mortar experience, so Mars needs to look at its content, create context, use shopper marketing, and ultimately find a way to take in-store activity and activate online. From a consumer’s perspective, it’s an impulsive category. Over the course of the day people are constantly being interrupted with messages from brands, so they have to be very consistent with their message so when they come by their product, they’ve seen it a bunch of times and will hopefully choose them over the competitor.
Raquel wrapped up the question by saying that a lot of agencies that Digilant works with have gone from a siloed approach to an omnichannel approach. They’re integrating teams and bringing offline together with online as way to embrace the new omnichannel environment, and in the case of certain brands, even hiring for customer experience roles so that they can integrate the different experiences across the brand, which used to be a CMO’s responsibility but now can go either way.
Can any of you talk to the role of customer experience?
Claire said that customer experience is a huge thing for them. At the top of their priority list at the beginning of 2018, they identified that they needed to develop the capability to map the consumer experience and then to deliver and execute a really integrated and cohesive experience across multiple touchpoints in their organization. Being able to identify the journey and being able to execute on it well are two different things. The first step in achieving successful execution was their capability roadmap which required technology and expertise to support it in their organization. They re-launched their website in 2016 allowing for the ability to integrate multiple inputs and data points, relying on their CRM provider to make sure everything is captured so that they can begin thinking about a more holistic customer journey.
A major takeaway for her from a recent CEB event about personalization – cast vision and get buy-in from the technology and the experience that is needed in order to stand this capability up. Personalization is useful to consumers when it’s helpful to them, so if you are not helping but know a consumer’s name it is not doing anything for them. If you are not making their experience any easier in any way, then you’re actually hurting your brand because it takes away from what you are doing. Depending on what kind of brand you are, help can take shape in different forms. Help me save money, help me be fulfilled as a giver, help me validate my decision, help me communicate to my spouse, etc. Those are some of the things Children International thinks about in the consumer journey. The name and demographics are less important than what they are trying to accomplish in that moment. If they can pinpoint those micro touch points and deliver something of value that truly helps consumers do what they are trying to do it can lift affinity, that relationship between the consumer and the brand.
Carrie had a recent example of personalization her agency is currently working through. They’re trying to reach an extremely targeted and generally cautious audience, so they’ve developed an AI driven banner bot that adds value to the consumer. It asks people about their symptoms, if they are experiencing relapses, and provides some more information about how to treat them. Users are looking for a different relationship with brands beyond get more information from them, they can do that anywhere. AI is a real world thing, it is happening. The pharmaceutical brands she works with want true meaningful engagement with consumers and they want to establish a lifelong affinity to their drug with them by using a solid value proposition and serving as partner in their conversations surrounding the decision making process.
Beau said that for customer experience they are in an interesting spot because they are influencing without authority. They partner with different retailers who have different websites, so rather than focusing on personalization, they are focusing on consumer journey. One of the things they see and do a lot of work on in brick and mortar is understanding needs, states, and motives of shoppers through the consumer journey. Everyone knows that 95% of search starts in the search bar, so they do spend a lot of time looking at how customers set their websites up. How easy it is for people to find the categories they need and add items to their cart. They evaluated that and partners with different retailers to optimize that. They don’t have their own site but they do spend a lot of time making sure they are on top of the consumer journey.
There are different types of personalization on a website like CMS, content, colors, DCO but specifically what were you talking about Claire?
Claire said that Children International is really focused on the website and the digital experience, linking up all the data points between social and email to deliver the best experience. DCO is hugely relevant for them as well, especially in the digital ad space where you can get access to info for whatever on your website you can’t plug into. Being able to use and access that and use that information and then serve relevant info is important as well.
Attribution: For your organization, does attribution happen at the client level or the agency level or both? If you are investing in attribution which platforms are you investing in? Have the recent changes made by walled garden platforms like Google and Facebook impacted your attribution?
Carrie started by saying that they are partnering with C3 for their clients, because they have a heavy digital focus. Additionally, they talk to partners like Visual IQ that are great if you have broadcast spends or if you have offline metrics to pull in. Attribution has to have buy-in from both the agency and the clients. Before introducing these partners, most clients didn’t really understand attribution, but most of them thought they had it because they saw reporting so they had to sell attribution to our clients and they importance, especially from a franchise perspective how one brand can support the other. Biggest conversation that we have with our client, who should own attribution, they day to day management of it. They think it should be owned by an analytics team. Ongoing conversation they have that it’s important to have someone in there to analyze the patterns of what is changing. One of the opportunities that they have with pharma clients is often clients come to them in Q4 with incremental spend one thing we hope to achieve is that we want to show them which channel is converting faster.
Claire responded that for them agencies are viewed as the resource to help them inform their approach, measurement as a whole and attribution specifically. She hopes that clients have gotten smarter over the years and are coming to the table with agency partners prepared to have a meaningful discussion about attribution. Client has to buy into the formulas and the models you being created. Every client is so unique, like snowflakes, and they have to understand the data and strategies that are represented in an attribution model. Data is should be married to individuals with brains in their heads. Her experience with folks like Digilant is that they have the data and the tools but also the people that know the data really well. Individuals that bring human perspective, to help ingest the data and iterate towards the ideal attribution model. It takes smart data, AI, tools and algorithms but also really smart people who are committed to digging into that data.
Raquel said that she has been hearing about measurement and attribution in the market quite a bit. Digilant always felt that data and analytics are important, and we’ve had account managers to dig into data for clients and give them the insights. As the market evolves, more and more clients want this service to understand their data and insights.
Carrie responded that we talk about big data and data all the time, but what is more critical is how we apply the data and insights and you need to have the right people to adjust it and really dig into it the data is lost and a mute point.
So does anyone have an opinion on walled gardens?
Beau touched upon Amazon, saying that it is interesting for Mars. Amazon perceives itself really as a media agency, they really see themselves as the biggest media agency and they think you should invest all your media dollars in them. 55% of all searches start on Amazon, but why would you give the biggest retailer all of your ad dollars?
Raquel added that Estee Lauder didn’t want to be associated with Amazon because they didn’t think it worked in their favor as a luxury beauty brand, but the traffic is there and they can’t avoid it.
According to Claire, recent trends, especially with Facebook have cracked that walled garden shell. GDPR is exposing them to the needs consumers have on how their data is being used; they want to understand it. As marketers, they are doing what they can to understand how their data is being used. Demanding more transparency for their ad dollars at stake is crucial. She concluded by stating that if we work together as an industry to create a unified set of demands and make those real we might be able to get somewhere.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our event or took the time to read this summary. Stay tuned for next year’s calendar of Digilant events.