The CMO’s starter guide to building a Marketing Toolbox

Marketing Tech Toolbox

The last 12 months have witnessed an influx of Marketing Technology vendors, from large marketing cloud solutions to specialist (e.g. retargeting) vendors into the Australian market. Investment in marketing and customer service software locally was forecast by Gartner in March to double to 1.8bn in the next five years. But more options usually means more frustration for CMO’s already burdened by increasing responsibilities including managing end to end customer experience. Their new challenge is now wading through the Marketing Technology Landscape to find solutions that will solve their most pressing business needs.

However while expensive marketing cloud and enterprise campaign management platforms may suit the top end of town, for most marketers a step by step build is a more advisable and practical approach. As many experts have cautioned, strategy should always precede technology not vice versa. When technology decisions are made without due diligence the outcome is the marketing departments equivalent of tech-debt.

My own experience as brand manager taught me that a good starting point was to begin with a few fundamental pieces. These basic tools still answer the CMO’s everyday digital questions while a designated expert scopes out the technology required to deliver on the digital functions long-term vision. Even if as CMO, you have a digital agency on roster, access to the basic tools allows your team greater agility to act without losing time or costs.

  1. Web analytics – Gives you an overview of where your website visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your website. The Google Analytics free version is adequate for most websites and quite simple to set up.
  2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Consolidates and organizes prospect and customer information into a common database. Invest in a robust solution – many organisations are currently struggling to access historic data stored in outdated systems or in multiple incompatible databases. This is an area you don’t scrimp on so research well and read a lot of reviews like this one by ZDNet before choosing.
  3. Email Management – Communicate with relationship segments created in your CRM system in #2. For ease of use and the variety of templates on offer, Mailchimp is a good starting point.
  4. Creative software – Reduce agency revision costs and time by quickly editing images and document templates for social media and online publishing in-house. Free editing software is readily available online but a subscription to Adobes Creative suite (Illustrator and Photoshop at a minimum) is advisable if you can afford it.
  5. Competitive search monitoring – Big or small, search is an important channel for every marketer. Keep tabs on other advertisers, your own organic/paid search traffic and search landscape changes using the Adwords Keyword Planner and the free version of SEMRush.
  6. Paid advertising tools – Free tools include Adwords Editor and PowerEditor, that allow marketers to independently monitor and fine tune performance of their Google and Facebook campaigns.
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Five marketing implications for a multiscreen world

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The recent Q2 2015 Australian Multi-Screen Report – from Regional TAM, OzTAM and Nielsen, underlines the trend in declining broadcast TV viewership and a consequent rise in viewing on other screens. In this review I enumerate five key stats and their implications for marketers.

Finding: TV still accounts for 88% of video viewing, with 90% of this live broadcast

Implication: TV still rules all video screens

Linear TV alone has the ability to aggregate large audiences upwards of 900mn within a short window. This proposition has and will always be attractive to brand and retail advertisers who need to quickly build reach for a new product launch or tactical message. This is why sports properties are grabbed for huge sums and reality TV shows are often flagship properties for television channels. Unlike online video which is silent and skippable, TV offers an interruptive audio-visual combination to a captive audience which is better for message delivery. Apart from building awareness through TV spots, savvy advertisers can also use TV properties as a platform for deeper audience engagement through program integration and off-air activations.

Finding: Multiple screen ownership and usage is on the rise

Implication: Tell campaign stories across screens

The learning for marketers is to create video content that is consistent across screens and seamlessly continues the narrative. Storytelling tactics include targeting people who saw your Facebook ads with a follow-up ad on Instagram or, retargeting people who saw one of your videos on YouTube with videos that continue the story. Through the power of programmatic technology at my company ZenithOptimedia we are syncing our mobile video ads to appear at the same time our own brand spots or those of our direct competitors air on TV.

Finding: 12% of viewing is on non-TV connected devices

Implication: Adopt dynamic advertising formats native to each screen

As linear TV viewing dwindles and viewer’s time-shift, the ‘hero’ 30 sec brand commercial in ad breaks is no longer the only format to focus on. TV ads need to be more than they’ve always been and offer elements like mobile interactivity (Shazam) as well as supplementary online content (extras, behind-the-scenes). As vertical screen usage rises, video assets now have to be created separately for this different orientation. In online environments, ads autoplay often on silent mode – the creative needs to have prominent branding in the first 0-5 seconds before users have the option to skip or a view is charged. In our experiments we are seeing strong interaction rates with formats like Innovid and YouTube shoppable ads.

Finding: Younger audiences migrating away from broadcast TV to other screens

Implication: Follow young age groups to the platforms they spend most time with

Increasingly younger audiences are tuning out of mainstream media and into video content delivered by new media outlets like VICE and Buzzfeed. Similarly, YouTube content creators have huge social and cultural clout among their many followers and generate millions of views via their channels. Marketers need to carve out of their television commercial production budgets to tap into these influential channels in order to resonate with future generations.

The concept of waiting months for a new series in the US to air locally is alien to the next generation of adults as is waiting a week for subsequent episodes. In this era, Netflix and pirate sites aren’t the enemy – they have merely served changing consumer demand for immediate choice and binge watching.

Finding: Television is increasing being used for other purposes (up 2:24 yoy)

Implication: Don’t over-focus on content at the expense of placement

While a lot of the focus has been on content, how Australians set up their entertainment has also changed. OTT and streaming devices like Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV are increasingly becoming common in our homes and content creators will have to ensure their integration into the major distribution platforms. Currently these platforms lack content that TV viewers desire but once they do we may well be accessing content via apps on our television sets instead of switching channels on a remote. Marketers need to follow the path of savvy marketers who have trialed new opportunities like Honda’s Honda in-program integration with US program Community or Redbull who developed their own bespoke channel.

Summary:

For true cross-screen campaign management, there needs to be consensus on a common currency at both the buying and evaluation stages. The ideal scenario for any marketer is to have campaign reporting on audience reach (and duplication) across all the screens that a piece of content was run. This would include linear TV, subscription TV, connected TVs, game consoles and all online devices irrespective of the type of buy being direct, self-managed or programmatic. The challenge is three-pronged; finding a robust way to measure usage across devices, reworking historical trading practices and most importantly bringing competing parties to agree on the common currency.

In the future a video strategy will no longer be about creating one video and then distributing it across every screen in the same form. Programmers and content creators will aim to deliver content that is available on-demand on every screen. The media companies who come out in front will be the ones who transform their business models to rely on multiple content monetisation and distribution streams. And those organisations that solve the total video measurement conundrum and prove cross-platform evidence of success will win the lions share of brand dollars from advertisers.

Google launches new features for mobile shopping moments

Overnight the search giant announced a suite of features to make shopping easier than ever once a product is discovered via its search results. Mobile conversions have lagged desktop primarily because of poor mobile navigation and conversion experiences.

This has resulted in smartphones being used to research and compare, before the final purchase is made on laptop/desktop or in-store. The new features enhance the search results by bringing all the tools a user needs to purchase into the search results page. Presumably the move by other competitors (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.) to launch buy functionalities in recent months has stirred Google into its own Buy version.

POG - Under Armour The most compelling feature is called Purchases on Google which allows users to pay for a  product using a Google checkout process. Here’s how the Adwords blog describes the process:

When a shopper searches on mobile for a product such as “women’s hoodies”, she may see a  shopping ad with ‘Buy on Google’ text. After clicking the ad, she’s taken to a retailer-branded  product page hosted by Google. Checkout is seamless, simple, and secure, thanks to saved  payment credentials in her Google Account.

Other features include expanding Product Listing Ads, two new shopping cards in Google Now  and the ability to directly link to retailers apps from their shopping ads.

All these features will be a boon for retailers who lack the time and resource to overhaul their  current mobile landing pages. The added functionality doesn’t appear to cost advertisers any more but will certainly entice them to invest more in mobile search on Google in future.

 

What the Federal Budget means for the Digital Industry

Federal Budget 2015 digital industry

Last weeks Federal Budget announcements contained some important implications for the Digital Industry. The Digital Mantra blog outlines some of these here:

The 2015 budget proposes a reduction in tax rate by 1.5% for small businesses (<$2mn) and an immediate tax write-off for individual assets that cost less than $20,000 apiece. This will provide a fillip to small businesses that increasingly turn to digital for visibility and automation. Tech start-ups that are a sub-set of the small business community may also benefit through these incentives.

The budget attempts to deter families (via penalties) from accessing both government and employer parental incentives adding to the burden of families already struggling with childcare costs. More needs to be done to facilitate the re-entry of highly experienced digital women back into the workplace. An industry synonymous with long hours and that already struggles with high churn rates and a shortage of talent must work with the larger business community to find work-family life balance solutions.

Eligible start-ups can now offer employees share options that will be taxable only at sale. Start-ups can now use this as a sweetener to attract talent and also as a motivator to retain existing employees.

Changes to tax laws mean anyone on a working holiday visa will now have to pay tax from their first dollar earned, rather than their first $18,200 of earnings being tax-free. Many overseas digital specialists are usually on these visas when they first join Australian companies, a situation that works well for both parties. Local companies can fill vacant roles quickly and the candidates get to audition their skills in the hope of getting a permanent work sponsorship before their working holiday visa runs out.

New tax initiatives for startups were announced, specifically around crowdfunding. $7.8 million over four years will be spent getting the Australian Securities and Investments commission to work up and implement a new regulatory framework for crowdfunding money raised by startups. This is a step in the right direction and will hopefully offer a simplified yet more varied funding landscape for start-ups.

The above piece is of a general nature only reflecting the personal opinion of the author and must not be construed as professional financial or tax advice.

Mobile Marketing in 2015 – A Wishlist

Two months ago, I was interviewed by a publishing partner for my views on the future of mobile and whether 2015 would finally be the watershed Year of Mobile. My answer broadly was that the year of mobile has already happened for consumers, but unfortunately its advertisers and publishers who haven’t kept pace. Australian consumers have advanced mobile habits – multi-screening, smartphone penetration and data usage but mobile spend hasn’t been proportionate.

For 2015 to be the year the advertising and marketing community catch up here’s a few things that the industry needs to work out:

Mobile Search: One of the highest performed activities on mobile, search on mobile has grown significantly as a proportion of desktop. Google with its Enhanced Campaigns change in June 2013 made mobile search mandatory for advertisers meaning search advertisers would have to up their mobile specific ads. In a recent research, only 38% of users said that the Click to Call feature is widely available in search results. Advertisers need to get the fundamentals of mobile bidding, ads and scheduling right before mobile search overtakes desktop and the battlefield and mobile cost per clicks gets more competitive.

Consolidation of mobile inventory: Defragmentation in the marketplace needs to occur or publishers need to bring mobile inventory sales in-house. Currently there are multiple players in market, each claiming strengths in inventory, targeting and production nous. New ways of pricing mobile impressions must be considered, for instance paying different rates for peak mobile usage times and days of week (similar to radio) – provided the underlying data can justify the differential.

Mobile data needs to be improved in Australia. In particular, accurate (not inferred) location targeting down to the post code level. This will unlock opportunities to target people at point of purchase e.g. Car dealer lots and inside retail stores. Finding a way to follow users across devices and push them further down the purchase funnel will also require the industry to find data led solutions to target unique persons not impressions.

Mobile payments need to be fast tracked: Australians have adopted contactless payments, so mobile payments are the next step and should benefit small businesses and peer to peer transactions significantly. Retailers, financial institutions and regulatory authorities need to work out the guidelines and processes to make this happen. Some banks already offer tap and go on some devices, but the kicker for growth should be when Apple Pay launches in Australia.

Build creative and UX design expertise: Agencies and brands need to hire specialists who have studied and understand mobile user behavior extensively. Understand how mobile is used in your category, within the consumer decision journey. Tailor your creative, content and user experience for each part of the journey. I recommend this fantastic book to everyone. And I predict in 2015 every digital team will consider embedding a mobile only specialist to acquire up this expertise

Make mobile easier to make it mainstream: Mobile is an afterthought or bolt on for most campaigns because campaign buying and set up is an added and hence annoying layer. The top technology companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn who’ve seen their mobile revenues soar make both the front end (for users) and back end (for advertisers) seamless when it comes to mobile advertising. You upload one image and text in the backend and you’re ready to go on all devices with a little device specific bid adjustment if required. No separate sizes and tags.

Macro view for mobile: Ensure mobile becomes an important part of every user touch point not just advertising and media plans. A mobile first transformation project should encompass UX, creative and content as well. When evaluating, take into account metrics like phone calls and location extension usage that lead to offline transactions or estimate them (e.g. Store visits) using historic data the way Adwords now offers.

Mobile is utility or entertainment: Mobile users are looking to take an action immediately or a quick entertainment fix. Deliver actionable links (click to call, location extensions) within ads or build a killer mobile solution that solves a need within the consumer journey e.g. Commbanks Property app a few years ago. For utility be guided by location and intent and for entertainment create snackable content.

Stay ahead of the curve: Programmatic, retargeting and video will drive the next wave of mobile investment as advertisers become disillusioned with past results from mobile banner activity. Cross-device targeting has loads of potential – advertisers will either create their own databases or rely on big players like Google, Facebook and Twitter who can use their member sign in’s to create cross-device unique identification layers.

Mobile measurement: Finally we need a robust and recurring traffic measurement system. We also need industry research that provide deeper insights instead of telling us multi-device ownership and multi-screening has marginally risen year on year.

Keeping the Brand in Branded Content

Branded ContentIn years gone by organisations controlled the gateway to content, allowing them to own the message and the timing and the pace of release to consumers. Technology today allows consumers to control the discovery process – to choose the means and tools of access. This conundrum has compelled brands to increasingly create mass volumes of content for differentiation and branded content is the easiest and fastest way.

While branded content has been around for years in the form of advertorials or paid travel reviews, it is today an organised commercial practice with specialist agencies placing brands within existing or bespoke traditional and online environments. In this post I recommend five principles that advertiser should use to sense check their approach when undertaking a branded content project. Because what you put out there is not just content but your most valuable asset, your Brand.

Authenticity – Brands shouldn’t get into content creation unless they have a brand guideline manual in place, which lucidly articulates brand voice and personality. Resist the lazy option of outsourcing content creation to an in-between agency or publisher. Create as much content in-house as you commission through sponsored options. The best branded content arises from a perfect marriage of publisher and advertiser synergy, each bringing to the table the in-depth understanding of their readers and customers respectively. From this alignment springs content that appears authentic to the end user. A fail safe way to achieve authenticity is embed someone close to the brand (either from marketing or creative agency) within the leadership core of a branded content project.

Context – Always choose your final partners and environments with caution. Today decreasing revenue margins mean media owners are more open to offering editorial integration to advertisers. However tempting this may seem, it is better to wait for the right opportunity rather than rush in and allow the brand to appear in an irrelevant or worse still an inappropriate context. Consumers are more sensitized to branded content today, and jarring brand juxtapositions run the risk of harming the master brands credibility in the longer run.

Adding Value – Understand the needs of consumers in your category. What does the product (your product) add to their lives or simply what is the problem it solves. An easy way to identify these needs is by analyzing search queries in the category. Once identified create solutions that add value at every stage in the purchase funnel – information or comparison. A noteworthy illustration is the Commonwealth property app which allows prospective home-buyers to access.immediate buying and selling information as they are actually viewing properties.

Consistency – Make content marketing a part of an always-on budget line, so it’s not only done when you have a major campaign or launch. Just as it’s rude to leave abruptly after striking up a conversation with someone new at a party, don’t leave your readers in the lurch. And if you strike gold with a branded content series or sponsorship, stick with it. That is consistency. Transparency – Both publishers and advertisers must be transparent so as not to erode the trust of loyal advocates of both. Make it clear when a piece is paid for through clear labeling. Native advertising is a form of branded content that claims its place in the marketing ecosystem by seamlessly blending into editorial spaces. But consumers will soon wise up to the distinction through over-saturation with these formats. There is a fine line between deception and clever. Thread it carefully and err on the side of transparency always.

So there you have it, five principles to think about that should hopefully help you achieve your content marketing goals while also protecting your brand promise. If you have experience in this sphere and would like to share your own learning’s, I welcome the opportunity to interact and gain from your knowledge.

Four must-do things to retain digital talent

Digital team

The digital skills shortage in Australia has been well documented previously by numerous industry and research bodies. With digital revenue on course to surpass all other media in years to come, a grab for the limited talent pool has started. More recently advertising agencies and client teams have begun to expand their digital resources by poaching from full-service digital set ups or media planning agencies.

This puts pressure on organisations who have done all the hard work in identifying and training talent either locally or from overseas. Training new staff or going through the lengthy process of interviewing overseas candidates with sponsorship requirements can be cumbersome. To check the rate of attrition, organisations should focus on four simple retention strategies to keep existing in-house talent.

1. Have a Digital vision

Organisations with a clear vision of the role of digital in their business are more likely to hold and attract digital talent. Internal candidates will recognize that such organisations are more likely to invest in tools and resources that will aid their personal growth. Do not commoditize the digital product through an over-reliance on trading desks and exchanges. A strategy first organisation will always attract and retain the cream of the talent pool.

2. Build a team

Don’t just add one token digital specialist under a generalist manager. Instead build a high performance digital team. As new technologies and formats roll out, digital executives need like-minded peers to bounce ideas off and to share learnings with. Make your digital team members feel they are part of something bigger rather than just resources to keep your basic search, website and social functions ticking over.

3. Support. Support. Support.

Nothing inspires employees more than top management support. Hire the best and get out of their way as the adage goes. Chances are there is very little you can teach your digital people, but what you can do is ensure you clear any hurdles impeding them. Also allow them the latitude to choose their tools, devices and operating systems of choice.

4. Reward as required

Recognize that digital specialists are in demand and their salary expectations only reflect what the industry is offering. This is simply supply and demand. A few thousands to retain someone with valuable intellectual property (IP) and the right cultural fit is peanuts compared to the loss in productivity due to the inability to replace them.