In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
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.”
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.”
More on digital marketing strategy
- Digital marketing predictions 2015 - Part 1: Lessons learnt
- Digital marketing predictions 2015 – Part 2: Getting the strategy right
- Digital marketing predictions 2015 – Part 3: Finding the right skillset
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