A Media Buyers Lunch Conversation About Breaking Media Silos in Kansas City

On Tuesday, November 14, Digilant hosted a discussion and lunch at Stock Hill KC on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.  I joined local digital media agencies and brands to hear their colleagues discuss their approach to integrated planning and media silos.

During this intimate lunch conversation Raquel Rosenthal, CRO at Digilant U.S. moderated the conversation with Claire Bishop, VP of Marketing and Engagement at Children International, Lucas Cobb, VP of Integrated Planning at MMGY Global, and Pam Williams, Director of Media and Client Services at Rhycom.

Raquel kicked off the lunch discussion by addressing the following question to Claire: How are you managing – or planning to manage – digital advertising activities across search, social and programmatic? Are you merging the tactics or do they remain siloed activities? 
In 2010 there were 150 ad technologies out there and now there are 5,000+, so what does that mean for our industry?  It has created silos of data and silos in organizations with all the different channels like email, CRM, and search so what does that mean for the customer experience and journey?

Claire said that at Children’s International the reality is that search, social and display are all managed by external partners and that her and her team have to work at making sure that all of the channels are integrated with everything else and one another. They are definitely working hard to make sure that they leverage everything that they know to drive more effective marketing campaigns with the agencies and each other. Still there are many things that we have to solve for in order to effectively discern the impact that each of these channels have. Children’s International does a lot of direct mail and promos during the holidays and are looking for these tactics to work in combination with email and CRM points of integration along the spectrum of their marketing. All in all Claire finds this exciting grounds to cover for her brand.

Raquel also asked if Claire is looking at personalization along the customer journey?

There general answer is yes, for them with 350 thousand continuity givers talking to them through all the various channels, being able to speak to them personally is very important. And they need to understand where does personalization pay and what’s its the impact.

Pam, a question for you, How is Rhycom is managing the customer journey with all the different channels that are now available for marketers?

Pam’s response was that the customer journey is so fragmented and you need to be nimble and relevant.  So how do you do that we when attention spans are so short and dispersed? You need to know your client, what they are looking, likes, dislikes and demographics so that you can segment effectively and then map back to the customer journey. Measurement is really important to us, we now know what is working, our job is to educate the clients on perceived failures and transition that into the next campaign.

Claire chimed in by saying that you have the ability to be responsive by having automation in place, thus creating your own journey and adventure. Marketers also have to have a system to smartly asses those signals in order to take advantage of the information coming back in – the landscape has widened for us.

The customer is demanding the experience that they want and we have to be careful about what we give them, Raquel concluded.

Lucas, what are the expectations that your brands have of programmatic marketing? 

People expect that the programmatic marketing will be smarter than the people who do it, responded Lucas.  Not every partner is going to have the same ability to reach every individual. Agencies needs to understand how the partner will fit into the customer’s marketing ecosystem. Paid search has been our closer for years, but there are new opportunities with other technologies to close that loop.

So Lucas, what new channels have you explored in digital in 2017 beyond display, native and video? And what new channels or formats do you plan to try in 2018, for example: OTT, TV, Radio or new platforms like Amazon?

I have tried them all, he said – channels like TV, radio and outdoor.  Using the data to drive the decisions in every channel and making sure they use the right partner that can get there.  There is now an average of eight devices per household, knowing that TV is still very important also knowing at the same time that what you put on their devices is equally as important. And it takes data to drive that connection.

Pam also added that it will be exciting to see what will happen with programmatic Out of Home and the impact on media planning.

So how have you been distributing your budget between search, social and programmatic?

For Lucas there is no ratio for every client that works but on average, 70% is probably programmatic.
For Claire the average split is 10% for search 10% for social and at least 30 for programmatic because of all the channels in programmatic is more expensive because there are so many more opportunities like native and video as well as reach even with target audiences.

Where does programmatic fit in your consumer lifecycle? are you planning to use programmatic within your overall campaign strategies?

For MMGY global, programmatic is everywhere in their campaign strategies, it helps them find new people but also exclude people that they don’t want to reach. It has also become a top of the funnel tactic, where in the past programmatic was only used for bottom funnel.

For Children’s International programmatic helps them reduce waste.  By that Claire means that digital advertising introduces reams of data, so they need help to reduce the waste of just putting spend out there in the impressions we are serving, doesn’t just have to be at the bottom the funnel, it just needs to be the opportune time to capture that moment. Programmatic can be central in guiding the decision when, where and to serve the message to throughout the customer journey.

We hear a lot about “always-on” digital marketing strategies, across social, search, etc. What are your thoughts about having an always on programmatic campaign and why?

We should absolutely have an always on programmatic strategy – engagement and exposure to digital media is constant, answered Claire.  In the past advertising was restricted to a certain time when you were at home watching TV or at work on the computer. Now exposure is across the board, people don’t even realize they are being exposed.  For us the problem is there is a lot of waste of exposing people when it’s not relevant to them.  At this time of year, the mindset of donating and giving is popping up all over the place, Children’s International has to be there, when people are ready to give a donation or gift or we are missing the opportunity. The world made up of individuals with different experiences, we have to be present when people are ready to raise their hands.

Lucas, can you give us an example of how you have put programmatic data into action? 

 Programmatic data for us has been more about who we are trying to reach and what do we know about them? We know a lot about the brands that we work with and who their audiences are and with programmatic we can find the people we know we want to reach.  Our programmatic partner needs to make that data work harder, that piece of that programmatic model is what we really need.

So another question then, if data is so important; how do you police your partners to make sure they are using the data the right way?

You can’t, but throwing your data into a black hole won’t do you any good.  We put walls around our data, we don’t share PII with clients, partners – so the protections are in place. You also make sure that we choose the right partners.

Claire also answered this question by saying that she needs smarter people than herself to apply that data, our data is out there everyone has it. Data security is a huge concern and we have folks that are committed to handling data, passing it through without PII and other ways that are really important. I agree with Lucas that it’s important to cement reputable partners, use your judgment and experience and relationships with people you can hold accountable.

Claire, one last question, given this years’​ YouTube controversy and the constant battle against ad fraud, ​ what has been your brand or agency’s POV and or approach?

Working with non-profit we stand for credibility, transparency and trust, in today’s climate, pairing those three things with programmatic is tricky. We want to show our ads in opportune and also safe places, not all those scary places that you can go on the web.  Something you have to think about, like what we said earlier about data partners, who are my partners and can I hold them accountable.
The landscape has really changed, to get sales up we have to be on the right pages. Ask your partners what are they doing to handle viewablity and fraud, ask the hard questions.

Lucas chimed in to say that he hates that they have to use fraud monitoring 3rd parties, why are we paying for that and why is there no repercussion for those committing the fraud? Buy side is delivering it and paying for it.  Publishers and SSPs are making money off fraud.  Claire wrapped up the discussion by saying that advertisers have to stand up for themselves when it comes to fraud and address it in a meaningful way.

A lot of content for an hour of conversation, but the panelists did a good job keeping up with Raquel’s questions and Digilant appreciated their time and thoughtful answers in what turned out to be an inspiring afternoon.

Media Innovation Day 2017: What is the Future of the Consumer Experience?

By Lainie Smith, Media Strategist at Digilant

This Wednesday, the Ad Club held its annual Media Innovation Day & Maven Awards, a “daylong content event covering new and emerging media, and focusing on the rapid media and marketing shifts that are impacting brands.” As soon as I stepped foot inside the building to the roaring echo of the crowd welcoming the next speaker to stage,  I knew I was in for a treat. Topics ranged from artificial intelligence, to robotics, to OTT, to partnerships and podcasts, but some overwhelming themes united the presentations, namely choice, personalization and relevancy. While technology continues to change how we communicate, media professionals can always rely on the unchanging nature of the consumer characterized by an innate desire for experiences.


In a world where people value their time above all else, new media channels and platforms must offer the user personal choice and flexibility if they want to survive. Nowhere is this more reflected than in OTT (Over-The-Top) content, comprising of all the media that we can’t get enough of from streaming platforms and services. Digital leaders from HP, Hulu, Nielsen, and Roku  spearheaded a panel discussion on the booming OTT industry, opened by Seth Walters from Roku who pointed out how ubiquitous OTT has become with Rokus now in 15 million households that collectively view a  billion hours of content a month.

Enid Maran from Nielsen jumped in to discuss how to best harness the buying power of these viewers, noting, “We have a new landscape to get messages out – what is the best way to market this space to advertisers?” The key to the success of this type of content lies in the flexibility it provides the user.  Media consumption is no longer dictated by a broadcast calendar, allowing users to schedule their entertainment around their lives and not the other way around. Even what the advertiser puts out needs to be on the user’s terms.  Peter Naylor added to the discussion by saying that, “nobody hates ads, but everybody hates irrelevance.”


Often times, the most meaningful media triggers the consumer’s imagination and allows them to take an active role in shaping the ads they receive. Chris Giliberti, Head of Multiplatform at Gimlet, perfectly illustrated this concept when he played a Hiscox podcast advertisement for us. Simply listening to the narration of a single speaker, the user must apply his or her imagination to picture the speaker – what he looks like, where he came from, his current environment. It’s been proven that imagination is deeply linked to memory, so the key to memorable media may lie in leaving space for the consumer to personalize it, rather than crafting the entire narrative for him or her.

Experiences Over Things

It’s tough to pick one speaker that I most enjoyed hearing from when the lineup consisted of top execs from companies like Pinterest, Waze, Havas, and IBM, but one particularly memorable presentation was delivered by Anthony Reeves, Global Creative Director at Amazon. Reeves began his presentation by clearly identifying  Amazon as an “experience” company, rather than a tech or eCommerce giant. “People need experiences to drive us forward, either physically or through technology,” he said, before  showing a clip of Amazon partnering with Hyundai to physically bring cars to potential car purchasers for a test drive, rather than the customer going to dealership . This novel approach to the test-driving experience yielded great results for Hyundai, increasing sales and brand affinity amongst its audience.

On the topic of change, Mr. Reeves quoted Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos by saying, “When trends emerge, businesses have a choice – embrace them and you get a tailwind; fight them and you’re fighting the future.” But he left the audience with his understanding of the one constant in the rapidly changing media landscape – experience. Withstanding all change, the need for human experience will never go away.

Although media is constantly innovating, media consumers haven’t changed. The constant that media companies can drive towards is experience; the problem lies in how to adapt experiences across increasingly automated media channels, while still allowing the user the flexibility of making their own choices.

3 Takeaways from FutureM For a Digital Marketer

Last week I attended FutureMMITX’s annual marketing conference in Boston that brings together advertising, technology, and design leaders to exchange ideas and share their latest innovations in the marketing space. Not only was this my first time at FutureM, but it was also the first large industry event that I’ve attended as a still rather green marketer. Although an initially overwhelming experience, with hundreds of innovators from around the globe participating in countless workshops, presentations, and networking sessions, there were many lessons I took with me to the office.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve decided to highlight three key takeaways from FutureM based on presentations that were highly impactful to me.

1. Curate your content

During the presentation “The Art of Non-Obvious Thinking,” best-selling author and professor of Digital Marketing & Persuasive Storytelling at Georgetown University, Rohit Bhargava, stated, “Curation is what turns noise into meaning. Out of everything I heard throughout FutureM, these words stuck with me more than anything else. In fact, they’re the words that helped me filter down pages of notes into this blog.

Bhargava spoke about how today’s saturated digital ecosystem has lead the consumer to run towards simplicity, a trend he calls“the desperate detox” in his most recent book. We struggle to keep our heads above water while being inundated with new technology, media, and products. When it comes to your content, do your audience a favor and curate it like a museum. Declutter anything that stands in the path of the consumer’s journey by putting out clear and direct content that will make their decision to adopt your brand a no-brainer.

2. Make the user feel 

In the age of information and constant innovation, many people have started to think that logic and reason is king. However, Dipanjan Chatterjee, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, reminded his audience that in order to convert users into loyal customers, brands need to make those users feel.  

From the very start of his speech, Chatterjee cites examples of Charles Darwin, the Star Trek starfleet, and the digital consumer, as all valuing emotion over rationality. We can measure the performance of the most nuanced segments and track their behavior with advanced KPI’s, but one thing that many often neglect to gauge is the emotional impact a campaign will have on the audience.
Today’s metric-focused marketers no longer have an excuse not to, because Forrester Research has designed a system of measurement that Chatterjee and his colleagues refer to as “Brand Energy.” In the below charts, emotion comes in as the most critical aspect to a brand’s identity and it’s no surprise given how the consumer-brand relationship has evolved.

It’s no longer solely a transactional relationship, but also conversational as we have the ability to strike up a dialogue with our favorite brands right at our fingertips. Marketers must engage with the consumer and use emotional intelligence to personalize and improve upon the customer experience. These interactions generate an immense amount of data, but only 0.5% of this data is put into action, a statistic that brings me to the final takeaway from the event.

3. Be Purposeful with your data

Many marketers today find themselves at a crossroads with information overload. On the one hand we’re told that it’s imperative to use data and predictive-models because implementing them is thought to be a surefire way to boost awareness and generate leads. However, there are others that warn us to not rely too heavily on algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence that are thought to take from the human aspect of the consumer journey. What’s a digital marketer supposed to do with these conflicting pieces of advice?

The panel “With AI Comes Great Responsibility” believes that the approach to solving this dilemma is much simpler than the technology that their companies develop. Cofounder of Born AI, Max Fresen, challenges brands to counter this question with another important question: “What data are you feeding into AI in order to get meaningful insights?”

If you don’t have a clearly defined answer to this question, then you’re probably not properly optimizing the data sets you have to reach your customer. Artificial Intelligence is best used when machine-learning is combined with a talented team that knows how to effectively implement the technology. Programmatic partners like Digilant can do just that. By tapping into actionable data science to facilitate unique one-on-one relationships with users on a massive scale, new insights and audiences are uncovered for advertisers.

Similar to Bhargava’s point that marketers must curate content to effectively reach the user’s cluttered mind, data must also be properly curated and decluttered to be of any use to today’s marketer. To tie everything together – 1.) Curate your message, 2.) Craft it with a real, emotionally-driven user in mind, and 3.) Maximize the precision and reach of this message with the data-driven technology available to you.

Overall, my time at FutureM ‘17 was very enjoyable and memorable. I left with great insights and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

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