The ClickZ Intelligence Roundtable, produced in collaboration with Marin Software, kicked off last week at our offices in London.
Following the publication of The State of Digital Advertising in March, the event brought together eight senior brand-side marketers from diverse backgrounds and industries to discuss key issues in marketing and advertising, and share their insights and experiences in an open format.
As with all of our roundtables, the event operated under Chatham House Rule, meaning no quotes could be attributed to individuals, and the participants remained anonymous.
Among the attendees were:
A search marketing expert from a major telecommunications brand
Founder of an international service app
Marketing Manager for a luxury brand
Head of Digital at a large charity
Marketing Director for a greetings card & gift brand
Digital Director of a global media brand
Tim Flagg, marketing consultant and host of the ClickZ Digital Marketing Podcast, led the wide-ranging discussion, covering key topics including data collection, ROI, ad spend and implementing new technologies.
After some quick introductions, Tim kicked off the discussion with a question on data: how to collect it, how to draw insight from it, and ultimately how to monetize it. GDPR emerged as a concern for several participants, but the group agreed that only time would tell what its impact would be.
There was an acknowledgement that popular opinion was split – some marketers think it will have a minimal effect on the industry, others think it will be transformative. All agreed that one effect would be a cost increase associated with encrypting data and avoiding fraud.
One interesting insight was around data collection – most participants were adept at collecting data, but few had fully understood how to apply it effectively. One person observed:
“Data and attribution are the same – anyone who says they’ve cracked it is either delusional or trying to sell you something…the reality is, we’re all still learning.”
Large-scale personalization, for example, were simply not considered feasible by some. Instead, the focus was on smaller projects like implementing chatbots or developing site search.
Nonetheless, the importance of using data correctly was clear. Although Tim pointed out that brands often have a quantity-over-quality approach to data, all agreed that a data-driven approach was key; anything else was ‘marketing based on nothing but assumptions’.
“Big data means nothing by itself…it’s the smart application of that data that’s important.”
The next key topic of discussion focused on the effectiveness of different channels. The main insight here was around the appropriateness of digital to certain marketing goals. Some of the participants felt that audiences were being ‘overmarketed’ to on digital channels, which could lead users to switch off entirely.
Others agreed, citing their success with traditional means of advertising such as with TV, OOH and direct mail for driving brand awareness, with digital reserved for engaging consumers further down the funnel.
“You don’t create a brand through Facebook. Online is a great way to refine the model, but if you want to achieve mass scale, traditional media is great.”
Another participant agreed:
“You need a mix. Digital is typically lower cost, which means CEOs are more willing to throw budget at it.”
Next up was the ever-thorny issue of digital advertising. Tim began by quoting a recent statistic he’d come across: 65% of ad impressions don’t make it to the landing page. Reports of ad fraud and rising levels of bot traffic are a source of stress for some members of the marketing community.
But most of the participants weren’t too concerned by it. One attendee said:
“If my team told me they’d spent the whole day looking at ad fraud, I wouldn’t be happy. Our competitors aren’t doing that. They’re looking for the channels that are working.”
The room agreed that while getting a grip on the brand’s ‘data universe’ was important, understanding exactly why each channel was effective or not wasn’t always an efficient use of time.
“For massive multinationals, there may be efficiency savings to be made…but for smaller businesses, it may be a waste of time.”
Tools and technology
The final discussion topic explored technology, asking what tools participants had found success with. Customer service emerged as a key area that technology could improve – several of the participants mentioned chatbots as an effective and low-cost strategy for improving customer satisfaction, typically used as a means of front-line support.
Live chat was also mentioned as an effective tool for improving the efficiency of customer service representatives.
“Live chat has been great. Customer service can now deal with five times as many customers…huge ROI, and customers tend to prefer it.”
Tim then invited participants to give their closing thoughts on the session. All agreed it had been a productive discussion, with several commenting it was nice to get a sense of the challenges other brands were facing.
The State of Digital Advertising Report, produced in association with Marin Software, is based on a survey of over 500 digital marketers. It explores the current digital advertising landscape, and looks at what the future holds for the industry.
Click here to download your free copy.