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Managing Marketing: The Impact of Digital Technology on Marketing

Rebecca-Zemunik

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Rebecca (Bec) Zemunik is the Managing Director of Digitas Australia and she shares the issues marketers face with not just the digital transformation of their businesses, but the important role data is increasingly playing in developing and managing the customer experience in a world where personal privacy has become a key issue. This focus on the role technology plays as an enabler for marketers to deliver to the customer what they want, where they want it, when they want it, and at scale is the work they do at Digitas.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting down with Rebecca Zemunik, Managing Director at Digitas Australia. Welcome back.

Bec:

Thank you very much, Darren, it’s great to be here.

Darren:

Well, I really appreciate you taking the time. I mean, I imagine you’re quite busy either with the pandemic or particularly because of the pandemic.

But I was looking forward to this conversation because I think like me, you’ve worked in marketing and advertising with technology for a number of years, and I’m always surprised because I started in the nineties, last millennium; how the transition has happened from what was called interactive media through to what today is almost ubiquitous with digital technologies, virtually in every part of marketing, isn’t it?

Bec:

It is, and I think back over that transition, and I’ve been around since that time as well. It is pretty amazing the difference of what we do now, to what we did then. Technology is without a doubt, the constant in that conversation. Certainly, it was kind of first and foremost, and it was something that people really focused on, and they still do.

But now, we focus more on technology being the enabler to an outcome. And that outcome is inevitably a business problem, a marketing problem, something that we want to do for a customer, something that the client wants to do for an audience and understand what that is.

So, we don’t talk about technology in terms of it being the be-all and end-all; it’s a constant and a foundation that will enable all of the other activities and outcomes that clients want us to help them with basically.

Darren:

Yeah. I’m so glad to hear you use that term enabler because too often, we’ve been involved in projects with clients where they’ve bought into technology as a solution rather than enabling a solution.

And what I mean by that is we’ve gone into marketing departments and they’ve got virtually every tech platform you could poke a stick at, and some of them are absolute duplications of each other. But none of it actually works together. It’s almost like they’ve collected these toys and put them on the shelf, but no one’s actually planning with them. Have you seen that same sort of crap happening-

Bec:

Yeah, definitely, I think it’s definitely something that we see and something that we help with a lot as well because the technology vendors are extremely good at selling their products and their products are very good.

The key to success really for any organisation is to really understand what they need, not just from a technology perspective, but what they need from a structural and skill and capability perspective themselves, to be able to derive the best value out of that technology stack, whatever it may be.

So, that’s where we find ourselves more often than, not helping people understand where to get the value from it and how to build their own teams to be able to run with that value. Because it’s great for us to be an extension of someone’s business or their outsourced marketing which we quite often are.

But at the end of the day, what we recognise in a truly ubiquitously digital world, as you described before, businesses should be able to run that themselves, that’s going to be their business. We’re technologists, yes, we’re marketers, yes, all of those things. But we also recognise that businesses are going to need to be able to have some of that capability and to be able to make those decisions themselves.

So, that’s what we’re around for a lot of the time as well, to help them be able to do that.

Darren:

Yeah, I also wonder whether … because your career has been quite focused on technology solutions. When I look through the companies you’ve worked with, it’s had a very strong tech focus.

But I wonder whether a lot of marketers suffer from the fact that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable around technology, or it feels like another language that they have to learn and that somehow acts as a barrier to them being able to embrace it.

Bec:

Definitely. I think technology can be paralysing definitely for marketers. And I think that technology providers and consultants and businesses like Digitas definitely need to help to break down those barriers and make it not quite as paralysing in that regard.

I think that, yes, I have worked a lot with technology, I do understand it quite well. I’m sure that every technical director if they might be listening would laugh at me saying that. But really at the end of the day, it’s really all been about experience. It’s all creating an experience and technology has been at the base of that.

So, if you look back over some of the organisations I’ve worked for, you still have great creative people that are designing all of those experiences or products or assets or that kind of thing. So, I hope that I’ve got a little bit of that on my resume as well.

But I think that marketers need not be afraid. You know, there are ways to get the right experience out of what you’ve got. You’ve just got to have the right people around you, but it’s not easy. That is transformation. It’s what we call transformation. I think everyone’s going through it. A big one.

Darren:

It’s another one of those words though, isn’t it? Transformation because a lot of people call it digital transformation or technical transformation or customer transformation, we’re becoming more customer-centric as the transformation.

But you said before that really it starts with, well, what are you trying to achieve? What are the objectives and what is the strategy for getting there? That must be an important role in being able to get a client, a marketer, to actually be able to articulate what their objectives are and then be able to work out the strategy that is going to be technology-enabled.

Bec:

So, we don’t look at it in isolation. We don’t think about technology and we don’t think it’s just creative work, it’s just UX or just CX. We think about it in totality, I guess.

So, when we do go into clients and they say, “Oh, hey we’ve got this brief, or we’ve got this problem, or this challenge” or whatever it might be — we start with asking all of those questions and helping them be able to articulate that.

And sometimes spending a lot of time up front doing that is the best thing to do, because if you don’t, you’re going to end up in a very different place than you probably expected. And that’s where you end up with problems saying, “Well, I kind of wanted this, but I really got that. And how does that work?”

So, we spend as much time as possible as we can upfront with clients, interrogating them, I guess, in the nicest possible way.

Darren:

Numbers aren’t moving. Okay. So, one of the areas that a lot of marketers have talked to us about is that they often feel that there are people in the agencies and consultancies that are able to do that connection, but they quickly get lost even with their own teams when people start to dive deeply into technology.

And you made the comment before that the technical directors would probably laugh if they heard you saying that you understand the technology. That connection between the tech-heads, the propeller heads and the ones that are often seen by the tech people as the Luddites is a big corporal issue, or can be a big corporal issue, can’t it?

Bec:

It can be. I think we have moved on a little from that place. If I think about even five years ago, that might’ve been truer than I think it is now. I think that a lot of marketers have had to by force in a way come up to speed with what marketing technologies can do for them and what they should be able to do for them.

And hopefully, have been able to bridge a gap perhaps internally with their IT or digital teams to be able to broker those conversations. I think you do still see a little bit of that siloed behaviour which does make it, I think, difficult for organisations to come truly together. And often, we can sit in between those conversations and help translate without a doubt.

And that’s the key to success, right? We have to be able to translate Digitas, have to be able to explain that in the best possible terms to them. And I think that if organisations can figure that out themselves, then I’m out of a job.

Darren:

Yeah. But do you think it’s more complicated in bigger organisations or in smaller organisations that sort of disconnect? Because I can imagine it exists in both, but whether the complexities are harder in those bigger organisations.

Bec:

I think the challenges would be different when you’re in a much larger organisation. You’ve got different challenges to deal with. You do have a lot of people to get through sign-offs and all that kind of thing, and who’s earning what and that kind of business.

In smaller organisations, you don’t have any of those barriers, but you have the challenge perhaps of not being able to get done exactly what you need to get done from a budget perspective or a reach perspective and that kind of thing.

So, I think that challenges exist, but on different levels for all of those organisations, and I think solutions exist at different levels for those organisations, as well. As a smaller business, you don’t need the Rolls Royce of platform end to end, technical capability. You just need the right things to do at the right time for your business. And that’s about business strategy. That’s not about technology strategy.

Darren:

Yeah. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because when you pair it away, you get down to, well, what’s the requirements of the business, what are we trying to achieve? And then bring it in. I think the bigger challenge and for big organisations is all of the moving parts and all the places decisions get made.

I recall an insurance company we worked with that half the business was using Adobe and the other half was using Salesforce. And they actually didn’t know that they had both within the same organisation because it was so large. And some of that was legacy. Parts had been brought together and all these challenges for a marketer on a day-to-day basis just becomes a bit of a nightmare.

Bec:

I can only imagine. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be on that side … I’ve never made that jump. And yeah, we see those kinds of situations happening quite often. A lot of people … just the last years of an organisation would dictate that that’s probably a reasonable outcome to think about that you would end up with different types of platforms all over the place.

And a lot of what we do is sometimes rationalisation of those platforms once they get to a certain point.

I think the other thing is that those technology platforms are becoming more sophisticated and the product sets or the solution sets are becoming more refined, more holistic as well. Before, I think if you think back, so six, seven, eight years ago, Adobe went through a really amazing transformation of their own, their own business transformation.

And you think about where they were as a creative product set versus where they are now, it’s pretty incredible. And that’s been really fascinating to watch and fascinating to be part of. We’ve been partners with Adobe for a very, very long time.

So, I think that businesses have to be really savvy about the decisions that they make and the solutions that they put into their business. But what’s a dotting question in my mind is that they do need these solutions because they can’t operate and survive in a world now without them. They just have to be the right ones for their business.

Darren:

Well, and because you can’t scale. You can’t scale, you can’t respond, you can’t take advantage of the huge amount of information about your customer and the marketplace in the sort of time that would be required if you were still doing it manually.

But I wonder whether there’s a big advantage for companies that have grown up in this century compared to those that have brought the legacy systems of the 20th century forward. Because I know one of the big issues for a lot of those traditional companies is getting things to work together.

You talk about Adobe, the experience cloud is an end-to-end solution. Salesforce is offering an end to end … it used to be CRM, it’s so much more than CRM now as a solution.

So, it’s interesting if you actually started from day one, worked out which strategy was and were able to Greenfield a solution, whether you’re in a much better place than having to bolt and get the tape and stick things together.

Bec:

Well, you would hope so, definitely. I do think though that startups in their own right have their own challenges, very different to much bigger businesses that have legacy systems. But if you perhaps had worked for a much larger organisation then went to start up your own organisation, that would be an advantage because you’d know.

Darren:

Yeah, absolutely. So, I want to move away from the challenges clients have to the challenges that digital agencies have. Because an agency with a name that’s Digitas, it’s almost like it’s in the name.

Bec:

It’s in the name. Well, it means digital truth, so it comes from the two words; digital and veritas, so that’s the combination of what that means which I thought was fascinating … I’ve never really thought about it actually until I joined.

Darren:

It would be Latin, wouldn’t it?

Bec:

Yes, yes, absolutely. I hadn’t thought about it until I joined the organisation and had all the induction and that kind of thing. So, I think the challenges for an organisation … any digital organisation these days is twofold. And I’ve mentioned one already — that is that clients are taking a lot of this work themselves in-house.

So, we need to be ahead of the curve and where we need to be for clients. And I don’t see that as so much as a problem as it is the challenge to be ahead of where the technology and the digital world is actually going to, because it’s always progressing and progressing at the speed of light.

So, clients’ businesses, our client’s businesses are always going to need …  they’re always going to need a level of capability, but they’re never always going to have the full shebang. So, we just need to be able to make sure that we can be ahead of that curve with them, and always be able to be consulting and delivering in the way that those businesses need us to deliver.

And sometimes, technology will dictate that to us. And sometimes, other market forces will dictate that to us. I mean, the pandemic is an incredible force. That’s just really … I think helped businesses transform that in an ever-pervasive world, much faster than we were ever able to get them to do it before.

I mean, in my previous organisation, we did very large-scale transformations and to get anyone to move quickly was very, very difficult for a lot of the reasons that we said about large organisations, you have a lot to wade through. There’s a lot to get through, there’s a lot of approvals, people have different KPIs and objectives. And so, bringing that all together is really hard.

But nothing accelerated that more than what we saw last year, nothing. And I think that in hindsight, I think history will show that that was a really pivotal moment in the business world and in the agency world as well.

So, I think that’s a great thing for us because experience is everything and the client and their users are dictating what they want more than ever before, and they want it now.

Darren:

I think you’re absolutely right. I think history will show that the pandemic was the death of the power of the IT department to stop progress.

Bec:

Any reason they could.

Darren:

But back then, everyone was using … well, but video conferencing was limited to two or three very traditional systems because of the fear of the risk associated with it. And then suddenly, you’re finding companies all over the place, embracing Google Meets and Zoom, even with a risk.

Remember the early days when Zoom took off and suddenly, they realised that people could jump into your meeting. All they needed was the link and you could get people crashing in on confidential meetings.

But it was a necessity that made IT and the CIO suddenly sit up and say, okay, well, we’ve got to fix and fix it now. And let’s take some risks rather than trying to lock it down. So, I think if that continues, then technology, the pace that it moves at, if that gets wound through organisations at that pace, everyone’s going to be better off.

Bec:

I agree, and I think that as hard as it has been, and it continues to be hard for everyone, we’re both sitting in lockdown still at the moment. When we do come out of it really, really soon, I think we’ll be coming out into a slightly different world. And hopefully, some things will be the same because we would like them to be the same.

But I think in the world that we work in, there will be great differences. I think a lot of the work that we’re doing now, a lot of the work that we’re centered on and where we focus on is really around the data piece now as well, and the technology of data. So, it’s interesting because we’ve kind of focused on technology a little bit already.

But it’s now, what do we do with everything that we have because we’ve kind of gone way down the path, right? Most people have this, that and the other, but what are we actually going to do with that now? And how are we going to work in a calculus world? It’s coming, Google gave us a little reprieve, but it’s coming.

And how are customers really going to behave and figure that out? Because it’s the next big thing. I think we’ve been talking about data for a long time. Big data has been out in the vernacular for years and years and years, but really what’s happened.

So, I think that’s the next horizon and that’s the thing that we’re really excited about. And yeah, that’s I think the thing that propels us forward.

Darren:

Well, again, going back … so it’s interesting because earlier, you talked about how technology enables businesses to do things. And it reminds me of Lester Wunderman in the sixties and seventies, he was writing about direct response, but he was using typing pools of people typing personalised letters, sending them out to people. And it had mapped how they’d respond, with the pre-post-paid envelopes.

That was the strategic thinking of direct response. Now, technology’s allowing us to do this at scale, to respond to people in real-time; whether it’s through email or social media or whatever, we’re able to do this. And this is really to your point about how do we use big data, it has to be to make the customer experience more rewarding or more enjoyable, or more engaging.

Because ultimately, it’s the customer who we’re wanting to engage in our brains, in our business and buying products. And it seems to me, as long as we keep the focus on that customer relationship and that customer experience … I know you say CXs potential cliche or another term that gets thrown around. It really has to be at the forefront of everything you do, doesn’t it?

Bec:

There’s no doubt in my mind that that is the most important thing. Everything else flows from that. I think the concept of data and putting data at the centre… kind of the centre of your world now as well, means that you actually can in two ways, retrospectively and predictively understand where your customer’s been and why, and where they will be going.

And that’s really, really important because if you’re any brand in the world and you want to be successful, you have to understand the past and try and predict the future a little bit. And that probably sounds a little bit too futuristic perhaps. I know people don’t perhaps like the concept of predictive analytics quite as much, but it is a thing and it does exist. And it’s part of AI, that’s absolutely everything that’s going to come into what we’re doing. That’s for sure.

I think that’s probably the next frontier for marketers that they need to really try to figure out and conquer. I think personalisation or hyper-personalisation are more overused terms that have not been realised in any way, shape or form in the way that I think anyone thought it was going to be. That’s not to say that it still doesn’t get done, that it still shouldn’t be done.

But I think that it’s meant to be a little bit more unique than that. And I think that data and AI will certainly help achieve that. So, for us, that’s what we really think about in terms of a customer experience and the journey, and how you’re going to actually manage that and analyse that throughout the process.

Darren:

I think your point around personalisation is really important. It’s been quite clunky in that people have made huge leaps or assumptions based on data, but you’re right. You know, the thing about AI, it will allow the system to be able to analyse and then test in a way that starts to get a deeper and better understanding on a personal level.

I think the problem with the term personalisation is people went, “Oh, it’s knowing your name, your age and where you live.”

Bec:

Much deeper.

Darren:

And that’s enough because it’s personalised. It’s much deeper than that. It’s actually understanding the things that motivate you, the things that interest you, the things that engage you, and then being able to respond in a way that fulfils your needs.

And I think it’s interesting because you mentioned before Google and cookies, but the changes we’ve seen with Apple and the latest iOS and the power that’s giving back to the consumer to be able to say, “Well, this is what I’m willing to share about myself and what I’m not willing to share” is also going to have a profound impact, I think on these developments that you’re talking about.

Bec:

I think that the interesting thing here is what do customers not want, as opposed to what do they want as well, and what will they share and what won’t they share? And I think that it’s all well and good to try and understand what your customer does want, but it’s almost as important to understand what they don’t want in a way as well. So, yeah.

Darren:

The interesting thing about that Bec is that you don’t find out what a customer wants by asking them because Henry Ford said, if I asked them, they’d say faster horses. And Steve Jobs said he would never have come up with the iPod, but when he said, I can put all your music of your whole life in your pockets, that became exciting.

To your point earlier about being predictive about the future is really important for brands, because it’s not just fulfilling what a customer wants, it’s actually knowing how to fulfil what they want before they even know it. And you can only do that by having a really deep, rich understanding of what it is that makes them tick.

I know I say to people all the time, I don’t want range, I don’t want choice. I just want exactly what I want when I want it at the price, I want to pay right now. If you can work on how to do that, I’ll be very happy.

Bec:

I’d be very happy. I always said I used to have this theory for a long time — I call it the 711 theory where I don’t want it… it’s kind of what you just said. I don’t want a thousand chocolate bars to choose from. I want the 10 best curated for me, and then I’ll make that choice.

So, yeah, I think that the rise of the customer as king, as opposed to the product as king, is the difference there. So, the shift of power puts a really different spin on it. And behaviour is very, very different. What people want is very, very different.

And you’ve just explained something that people definitely want and that will be the death knell of any brand online that doesn’t behave in the right way, or have the right systems in place to understand what the customer wants; is if you can’t give me what I want, I’m just going to go somewhere else, because someone over there has actually got it.

So, therein lies the world that we live in right now. And that’s why you and I are having this chat, which is great.

Darren:

I also think it’s interesting from the pandemic, how so much of retail has moved online. Australian retailers were particularly slow at embracing e-commerce and yet, they’ve all moved into it, even if it’s as simple as click and collect, but they’ve now started to understand that while they may want the customer to get in their cars and drive down to the store and walk through the store with their shopping basket, filling it up with things, that customers are absolutely happy with buying online and making those choices.

The thing that cracks me up is when you finish the e-commerce experience and they give you the net promoter score and I’m going, no, no, it’s not about the experience of the shopping. I want the product, you don’t get it. I’ll fill in the net promoter after I get the product delivered, not based on my experience of shopping on your e-commerce site.

Bec:

Yeah, I think one of the great things that we did see as a result was that push online from the e-commerce community. Sluggish would be a word that I would have used to describe it before that. And I think Australians really wanted that. I think that we’ve risen to the challenge of being able to do it.

There’s no reason why bricks and mortar and online e-commerce can’t exist in the same world. And I think that some brands, big ones in particular were thinking about Amazon and that they land and before you know it, they’ll be all over us if they’re not already.

So, it’s important for Australian retailers to really be able to facilitate that for themselves and for us. I think it’s important for Australian brands to continue to be successful in that mode. And I think that Australians clearly, have risen to the challenge, poor Australia Post, right?

Darren:

Well, I mean, if you’re a business person, it’s one of those problems you’d love to have, is my business is failing because I’m too busy. We’ve got too many customers and too many packages to be delivered, so it’s like oh!

Bec:

I mean, that’s all about the supply chain. So, it’s all well and good to have an e-commerce store, but if the supply chain … another issue to deal with is not organised, and the data warehousing, then that’s the next part of the fulfilment process. And you’re not going to give them your NPS score until you get your product.

Darren:

Yeah, that’s right. Because that’s ultimately the experience … even the unboxing. There’s thousands of videos on YouTube of people unboxing, because it’s part of the purchasing experience. It’s not filling my cart and going through the payment gateway that’s the experience, it’s actually them receiving the goods and opening them up.

Bec:

So, I think the next frontier then for retailers… however they decide to do it is the digitisation of that supply chain.

Darren:

Yeah. So, Bec, because obviously for 20 years, I’ve been running pitches and 20 years ago, a client would say to me, “Oh, we’re after an agency that has digital capabilities.” And back then, thinking a long way back, this is before Facebook and the other social media platforms 20 years ago.

So, what they’re really talking about was maybe they could do some CD ROMs, remember those? And perhaps a simple website. That’s changed a lot. And I think probably about 10 years ago, we saw the big difference was the split as agencies started to build more of those digital capabilities. And I mean, digital advertising capabilities, there was a second stream, which I imagine Digitas falls into, which is more about digital technology as a marketing solution rather than as an advertising solution. Is that a reasonable summary?

Bec:

Yeah, I would say so. I think it was a bit of a mish-mash at the beginning, wasn’t it? I think that when I first started in a digital agency, I mean, it was pure digital. I was building websites and doing marketing stuff, market techie stuff for clients like Ford or whoever it might be, I suppose, whoever it might be back in the day.

And I think what’s changed between now and then, is that the sophistication of how you communicate with a customer and the experience that they want is far more detailed and the technology available to you to be able to manage that is far more comprehensive. And it is about advertising in one way, but really, I guess digital is so pervasive. What does that mean?

You know, I think that it’s a little bit of a brain crush for me when I think about it like that because it’s so everywhere. I don’t even see it. I don’t make that delineation, I guess, anymore. It’s just what we do and it’s what clients want and customers want.

Whether it be in-store. Like you walk into a McDonald’s as an example, and you’ve got a kiosk, like, God forbid, I know, I got told what the kilojoules were of my meal the other day, I nearly had a heart attack.

And I was like, “Don’t show me that. Can we change that, please? Can we change that?” But I’m physically in the store and I’m being advertised at everywhere, but I’m having an e-commerce experience physically in the store. So, what is the difference anymore?

Darren:

Yeah. Look, and it’s become a real issue for us because it’s quite a detailed conversation. When someone says, “I’m looking for a digital agency”, well, what do you actually mean? We started differentiating agencies on the basis of a digital, advertising, or a technology agency.

And what I mean by a technology agency is an agency that is as comfortable talking with the CIO or the IT department, as they are talking to the marketing department, as they are talking to other advertising agencies.

So, in other words, they become in some ways, the technology enabler, implementer, designer. That they can take creative ideas that have come from a creative agency who may want to do the display ads and the Facebook updates and the Instagram updates, and maybe make a few TikTok videos. But that’s the creative agency.

This is about taking the ideas in that and then taking it into a technology platform that is informed by customer data to actually then produce a digital or online experience.

Bec:

Well, everything you’ve just described, Digitas can do and does do. So, correct.

Darren:

Including the Instagram updates and the TikTok videos?

Bec:

So, look, we have a production company that works within the Publicis Group as well. So, we work with them on those kinds of things, but we have a creative team that can design all of that as well.

And we have a very broad client base also. So, depending on who we’re dealing with, it will depend on what are these that we can do. So, as I said, I don’t differentiate between creativity and technology. I think that they are intrinsically linked.

I think that often and increasingly so, they cannot live without each other. And they feel each other. So, when we sit down to brainstorm on something with a client, we don’t just have a creative person in the room. We have creative and technology and probably a strategy and probably a data person as well, because all of those things connect the experience.

And so, it’s a great kind of loop back to what we are. We are the connected experience agency and you can’t just have one thing. You must have many of those things working together. Sometimes, it’s only two or three, but more often than not, it has to be all of them. It might not end up being a huge technology piece, or it might not end up being a huge creative piece, but without all of those brains in the room upfront, you can’t get the best result.

Darren:

Yeah, absolutely. So, you’re positioning Digitas as the one-stop digital shop.

Bec:

100%

Darren:

And how would that compare because I know you’re at SapientRazorfish or Publicis Sapient. Do you see them as very similar or … because I have a perception that they really are much more about the sort of tech stack than the experience, or am I wrong?

Bec:

No, no, no, they have people engineering experience and capability. And I think Sapient was born out of engineering to start with and then merged with Razorfish, which was that agency piece. The current version of Publicis Sapient is the totality of that with a very, very strong consultancy strategic lens. And they talk about digital business transformation.

So, we would talk more about the marketing side of transformation and therefore, business transformation. That’s how I would delineate that if that makes sense to you.

Darren:

No, no, that absolutely makes sense. And look, I’m glad that you’re able to differentiate that because I worry sometimes the holding companies generally, and I’m not talking about Publicis specifically. But generally, holding companies can become so laden with duplicate services that unless you’re able to differentiate it, it becomes almost like, “Well, we’ve got three of those and six of those and seven.”

And it’s like, why? Marketers don’t want choice. They do want a lack of competitive conflict. But I think even at the higher levels, the strategic levels that agencies are able to transcend that, the same way that management consultants do in that it becomes almost an advantage to have categories because everyone benefits from it.

Bec:

Yeah. It’s interesting coming in from a consultant world into a world where that competitive piece is very, very different. In consultancy land, you live in an industry, you’re all about your subject matter expertise. So, you work across four banks, you work across three supermarkets or whatever it might be. And so, you do become very known for that.

So, it’s interesting for me to come across into a different kind of mentality. I don’t know that that’s going to change any time soon. I get it. I understand that brands don’t want that kind of conflict. It makes complete sense. But it’s a shame to kind of waste the expertise in a way. So, hopefully, one day we can figure that out.

Darren:

Yeah, I think it’s changing, especially in the very broad categories. Like telecommunications has morphed into content as well beyond just being IASPs. And so, they could spread their competitive set incredibly broad, but they’re not. They’re starting to cherry pick the bits that are most important. You know, financial services is another one, automotive is another one.

It’s interesting from my perspective, the more traditional categories like consumer-packaged goods or fast-moving consumer goods are very, very focused on competitive conflicts. But then the other side of it is we often get a brief that says, “Well, we’re looking for an agency with automotive experience but don’t have automotive clients.”

Bec:

How is that possible?

Darren:

Well, it’s a bit like I want the experience junior to come and work. What do you see … you mentioned earlier about the future and the use of data in defining the future because there’s that great quote….don’t worry about the future because we get to define it.

But in the immediate future, let’s just say, we’ve got the cookies disappearing. Apple is doing a lot to put the power back or the choice back with consumers about what they share. What do you see are the really big opportunities, the playing field that marketers should be considering, or businesses should be considering?

Bec:

Look, I think definitely it is around that data piece as I said earlier. The competitive spirit of the online world is only going to become bigger and more difficult to play in. And so, it will be your great differentiator.

So, if you do have that part of your world structured well, and I do mean that from a technology perspective, so CDPs are another thing you do need to be thinking about without a doubt in the right way. Not in a, “Oh, I just have to have one kind of way.” It’s not the CDP that’s going to make it work. It’s the strategy, the skills in your organisation and your ability to run that ad over your three to five-year plan, and continually be able to analyse that.

The CDP will do its job if everything else around it is right as well. So, I think that for us is what we’re seeing a lot of and where we’re doing some really amazing work with clients at the moment, and beginning to see the value realisation of that as well, because you have to prove that it works. It’s all well and good to say it’s going to work. And so, you have to prove that it does.

And you kind of need to give that a shot. And a little bit of that is put your money where your mouth is, off you go. So, for me, and for us, that’s what that’s all about. And then you can create all the experience around it. That’s perhaps not the hardest part to do. And the fun part, that’s the fun part you can do.

Darren:

Well, you’re right you know. Once you’ve got the data and you have it in a format that allows insights to be drawn and testing propositions in real time and learning and have an AI that allows you to learn as you go, the fun bit is delivering against that.

Bec:

Exactly.

Darren:

I think it flips it on its head, doesn’t it?

Bec:

Yeah.

Darren:

The old days it was let’s come up with a big idea and stick it out there and see how well it goes.  Today, I think, the big idea is now a succession of smaller ideas that create a big response.

Rebecca, this has been fabulous. It’s great to catch up. Thank you for taking the time to chat. I’ve really appreciated it.

And as someone with such an insight into technology and what they’re doing with data, what’s your favourite social media app, and what’s your least favourite?

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media, and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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    Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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