We have all heard a client say “I know that only half my media budget reaches my audience, I just don't know which half.” At the most basic level, Programmatic Media has helped clients solve for this dilemma by letting them buy audiences instead of reach.
However, there is now a deeper problem. Clients are investing in new technology platforms, but only receiving a limited return versus the potential. In fact based on 2017 research from Walker Sands, only 3% of marketers get full value from their MarTech tools. And with 70% expecting to increase a Marketing Transformation agenda to increase their focus on technology this presents a serious forward risk.
To solve for this, we must first understand the primary causes of the problem:
In short, there is an optimistic tendency to believe that: “if we build something new, it will just work.” Unfortunately for all parties, it rarely works that way.
While this is a problem, it is rooted in what I would consider to be a positive trend: the need for brands to prioritise Customer Centricity. The belief being that technology and data driven systems will help to connect with consumers as a segment-of-one, and hence technology investment by the marketing team is a positive.
The view isn’t wrong, but it is incomplete as ignores the complexity of connecting back-end systems, incorporating 3party data, and navigating the politics that are so often involved when work programs require effort from both the offices of the CTO, and the CMO.
So, the question becomes, how do today’s brands navigate the complexity of marketing transformation in ways that yield the best performance both for the brand, and from their agency partners? While the answer will differ for every challenge, the following three elements are mandatories if the program is going to be successful.
There is an optimistic tendency to believe that: “if we build something new, it will just work.” Unfortunately for all parties, it rarely works that way.
1 – Align KPI’s across teams
Implementing a new Marketing Platform is a complex and time consuming task that is led by a combination of IT and an SI or experienced Digital Agency. But the demand for the technology is typically driven a well meaning CMO. The problem is that IT and the office of the CTO have traditionally prioritized operational and cost efficiencies in the work they do, with delivery and maintenance being the primary goal, and the CMO has traditionally prioritized intangible benefits such brand awareness, engagement and brand value.
These two business units require each other to succeed in the project of Marketing Transformation, and yet their objectives and KPIs for the project are unlikely to aligned. In most cases the teams hardly even speak the same language.
Success depends on this changing and the best place to make the change is at the KPI level where success definitions must be put in place prior to onset of the project. For most brands, the logical ask would be for each of the departments to maintain their individual KPIs, but align around but at a minimum it should be focused on Outcomes – likely to be sales – of at least business contribution rather than just efficiency not Outputs)
2 - Re-evaluate the tools you use in marketing and get your agencies to do the same
Agencies tools are not keeping up with the MarTech and AdTech landscape they are intended to influence.
The Creative Brief has hardly changed since the 1950’s. The customer journey has moved from being linear to cyclical, but for the most part it still looks at a large-scale consumer move from unaware, to engaged to purchase. And despite most every agency saying they are “data-centric”, data is still principally used to validate a Creative idea rather than inspire the idea and is not how one would define data-centricity. That’s not even how one would define data fluency, instead it just qualifies as “data-capable”
So clearly here things need to evolve. Agencies need to build models and tools that capable of reflecting or at least getting the best out of the new AdTech / MarTech solutions they are work with.
3 – Don't just assess technology implementation needs, but operations requirements
MarTech platform implementation typically requires a large investment with project plans that range from 6 months to multiple years of development. As a CAPEX investment, the longevity of the project is manageable for brands.
But with such focus on the technology and the initial cost, the OPEX investment required to train teams, to recruit new skills into the business and to update agency relationships based on new demands often get missed until after the project delivers. The recognition only comes when the business realizes that they are not recognizing the value promised, but at that point it might be too late.
Do you sink more money in and hope you get the technology to work for you? Or do you consider a wider set of options?
Brands must work closely with technology vendors, implementation partners, and experienced agencies at the onset of the Marketing Transformation journey in order to fully account for the changes and costs that will be required from an operational perspective to get the best out of the new capabilities and to avoid saying “I know that only half my [MarTech / AdTech] budget helps me engage my audience, I just don't know which half.”
Alex Sin, Managing Partner
Alex Sin, Managing Partner