Four Takeaways from the Digital Marketing & Transformation Exchange

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Adaptly recently participated in (and co-sponsored) the Digital Marketing & Transformation Exchange in London. Set over two days, sixty-plus CMOs and Marketing Directors from leading businesses across many industry sectors came together to discuss and share knowledge on digital best practices. I attended with UK Sales Director Simon Eaton and EMEA SVP Frank Martin. Frank presented Adaptly’s view on ‘How to drive full funnel outcomes with Autonomous Marketing Platforms’ in one of the plenary sessions, offering insight into how the different advertisers Adaptly supports are addressing both the complexities and opportunities in paid social.

Following Frank’s presentation, we met with key decision-makers from companies based in the United Kingdom, EMEA and the Nordics. A common theme emerged: many advertisers are aware of the huge marketing opportunity that exists within paid social advertising but feel the increasing complexity (driven by product evolution and platform diversity) can make budget allocation and performance measurement disjointed. This challenge is compounded by a legacy approach to digital attribution that is deeply ingrained in many businesses, which can risk over or under crediting the channel.

The majority of presentations were from the advertisers themselves. Leaders from Argos, ASDA, LV, Vodafone, Barclays and Procter & Gamble, amongst others, offered a candid view of the challenges, successes and failures they’d witnessed across the whole digital sphere within their own businesses. It’s hard to condense so many hours into a few bullet points but here are the key takeaways we left with:

  1. The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ has progressed from theory to going concern for many advertisers. Many brands are considering its impact on the customer experience and what implications it will have for channel management and CRM.
  1. Focus on the small data, too: while there’s a lot of talk about big data, it’s crucial to make sense of the small data that feeds into it. On the one hand, it’s important to future-proof a business in a way it can query – and react to – macro trends in data. In the everyday operations of the business, however, it’s crucial to squeeze as much value from all digital touch points and exploit innovations made possible through technology. Scrutiny of on-site and paid media analytics were specifically referenced.
  1. Get the customer experience right: many advertisers agreed that the proliferation of consumer usage across different social platforms has inadvertently shifted control from the advertiser to the consumer. The impact of this shift has caused corporate structures to evolve (e.g. the birth of ‘socialCRM teams’) and also completely redefined and broadened the remit of creative agencies, who have found themselves challenged with building infinitely more creative formats, for more platforms, to deliver a more personalised experience to consumers. In a world of digital commoditization, agency rosters are in fact becoming larger, not smaller, reflecting the increasing complexity that comes with hyper targeting and personalization and giving rise to a new breed of specialists.
  1. There’s been a noticeable improvement in marketers’ understanding of various autonomous marketing platforms. The shortened knowledge gap (and increase in opportunities) has been led by the platforms themselves—Facebook, Twitter, etc.—and their evangelist marketing partners. The message is loud and clear that businesses have to be where their customers are, and in these environments, respect the native rules. Autonomous marketing platforms aren’t solely places for consumers to connect with other consumers; they’re also where consumers can forge connections with brands and vice versa.