Panel: Marketers still not getting the digital basics right

Panel of ad tech and marketing heavyweights debates the impact of the ever-complex ad tech landscape and the way marketers can improve digital capability

Jay Roxe: Understand your users
Jay Roxe is the Sr. Director of Product Marketing for Rapid7. We spent the summer telling each other bad jokes (we had a few good ones) and exploring the importance of understanding how people use our systems (link) (disclosure: Jay was a client that worked with me on an educational series).

One change for this year: understand your users and how they behave.

“We saw the importance of user behavior throughout 2014 as compromised credentials repeatedly made headlines as part of high profile breaches. If you know what your users usually do, you can lay the foundation for a comprehensive user behavior analytics strategy that will mitigate these risks and alert you to potential issues as they arise.”

Here are three areas to focus on, in order to gain an accurate understanding of your environment:  

Assess Your Administrators: We routinely work with customers who have many more domain admins than they believe. One customer estimated a dozen admins and found many more people with the keys to the kingdom.

Phish Your Users: Most current monitoring technology is blind to attacks based on compromised credentials, yet users remain susceptible to phishing. A quick phishing and education campaign at the beginning of the year can help to remind users of the best practices they may have forgotten over holiday turkey.

Check The Cloud:  Research has shown that more than 69% of terminated employees retain access to corporate information stored in cloud services.  Are you aware of which cloud services are in use and who’s using them?

Jay explained that “these three quick checks give you some insight on where you may be vulnerable to having users and their data be compromised. Hopefully this inspires you to consider the next question of how to put a more complete monitoring strategy in place to address compromised credentials and user-based attacks.”
Jay Roxe: Understand your users Jay Roxe is the Sr. Director of Product Marketing for Rapid7. We spent the summer telling each other bad jokes (we had a few good ones) and exploring the importance of understanding how people use our systems (link) (disclosure: Jay was a client that worked with me on an educational series). One change for this year: understand your users and how they behave. “We saw the importance of user behavior throughout 2014 as compromised credentials repeatedly made headlines as part of high profile breaches. If you know what your users usually do, you can lay the foundation for a comprehensive user behavior analytics strategy that will mitigate these risks and alert you to potential issues as they arise.” Here are three areas to focus on, in order to gain an accurate understanding of your environment: Assess Your Administrators: We routinely work with customers who have many more domain admins than they believe. One customer estimated a dozen admins and found many more people with the keys to the kingdom. Phish Your Users: Most current monitoring technology is blind to attacks based on compromised credentials, yet users remain susceptible to phishing. A quick phishing and education campaign at the beginning of the year can help to remind users of the best practices they may have forgotten over holiday turkey. Check The Cloud: Research has shown that more than 69% of terminated employees retain access to corporate information stored in cloud services. Are you aware of which cloud services are in use and who’s using them? Jay explained that “these three quick checks give you some insight on where you may be vulnerable to having users and their data be compromised. Hopefully this inspires you to consider the next question of how to put a more complete monitoring strategy in place to address compromised credentials and user-based attacks.”

Marketers striving for digital excellence risk focusing too much on shiny new technologies instead of getting basics like measurement, skills, operational structure and single customer view right.

That was the view of a panel of industry heavyweights discussing digital marketing technologies and capabilities in advance of this year’s Ad:Tech Australia conference, which hits Sydney in March.

Big Mobile Group founder and chief commercial officer, Graham Christie, said sourcing the right skills to cope with changing goal posts in digital delivery and technology is one of the biggest challenges modern marketers face.

“The basics are an issue, because there won’t be the basics in two or three months’ time,” he said during a pre-conference VIP event. “Are marketers really providing themselves with the best chance of getting the best talent around this?

“We see a lot of senior marketers who are not ‘digital natives’ and have a more traditional background. They’re not entirely sure how to staff up teams and create a new organisational design around digital. That is a recipe for poor results.

“We need to try and figure out the basics and get that right. You need to work with people who can tell you what the basics are, but having those people handy to work with marketers and the rest of the organisation is a big challenge.”

AIMIA CEO, Robert Wong, said organisations realise the need to do business in a digital-first way, but are struggling to implement this as a company-wide strategy. Faced with the explosion of technology solutions all claiming to address this challenge, he advised marketers to keep their eye on the customer.

“There is fragmentation of media, and lots of marketers are struggling with technology, the complexity in customer touchpoints, new technology in terms of retail touchpoints and so on,” he said. “There are so many things you could do [with ad technology], you need to bring it back to the fundamentals of what will deliver value to your customer.”

Digital disruption isn’t disruption anymore: Why it’s time to refocus your business

For Seven West’s recently appointed chief digital officer, Clive Dickens, a bugbear is how the industry pits diverse, traditional advertising and media avenues such as newspapers, out-of-home and TV, against digital as one lump entity.

“Let’s break down the digital media into its component parts and start talking about what it is – classified, social, search – and compare those, rather than beating up the traditional ads industry,” he said. “We all participate in this and we have to stop.”

Dickens also said any conversation about technology investment at Seven West needs to come back to delivering the best consumer experience and result, adding that mobile is a major focus for the business.

“We are holding technology that is far advanced than it was just one year ago,” he commented. “In the next year, greater technology will be in our hands than that which sits in our companies. Consumers have a greater ability to share content and that will challenge us as content creators, so want to make sure we keep up with that.

“We have to understand that consumer behaviour by driving the attention around this portable TV we’re carrying in our pockets, and trying to rapidly change the workflows around that.”

At NewsCorp, the biggest proportion of technology and digital investment is on better understanding what people are saying and doing, and what it means for the business, head of insights, Aryeh Sternberg, said.

To do this, Sternberg is looking to unite digital measurement and engagement activities, from Web analytics and ad consumption to content, to not only paint a better picture of the consumer, but act on it.

“Once you start looking at [digital] signals and start understanding what is happening, you can look deeper at engagement, and find patterns to tell a story that you can then engage people with,” he said. “It’s about connecting the signals and making sense of that.”

Sternberg added the key to digital success is not jumping on new terminology or trends like native, or mobile-first, or beacons, but by driving consistency in engagement and measurement.

“Everyone runs and jumps at the new technology without looking at getting the basics correct,” he claimed. For example, he pointed out there are still issues with attribution modelling and viewability of ads.

“When apples don’t equal apples, how can we expect to deal with that lumascape of marketing and ad technology?” he asked. “If we can measure the ad spend better and make sense of it… there’s a lot of value to be found.”

Keeping your eye constantly on the customer benefit and business outcome is also vital in the face of such technology change, Sternberg added.

“There are people pitching products who don’t get what the problems are in our business.”

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