Four Digital Marketing Lessons from the Road

In the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with and listen to a variety of thought leaders in digital marketing, including folks at Google, Microsoft, Experian, Acxiom, and more. Some observations, bulleted, to make them seem slightly more organized (of course)!

1. Hands-on testing and conversion are more important in a multi-device world.

  • Making our “Add to Cart” button bigger added $20 million to our business. (Williams-Sonoma)
  • Mobile is yesterday’s game; multi-device world is today’s. 90% of consumers begin a task on one device and finish it on another. (Google)
  • Demand Management Platforms just don’t make sense. There is this total end-to-end system needed (full stack) and marketers will want to work with a single player to achieve it. That player is a client-aligned agency. (Experian)

2. Caution: Attribution solutions aren’t silver bullets.

  • At Apollo [which owns University of Phoenix and spends $600 million on marketing], we have a last-click attribution model. This is wrong. But why use multi-touch attribution and change it to a different and still wrong model? (Apollo)
  • We use partitions hazard modeling from pharmaceutical research, so we can learn more about the incrementality of each marketing stream, by customer. This works whereas channel-level attribution is triple-counting revenue. (Williams-Sonoma)
  • Attribution isn’t transformative, it’s iterative. And it must be accompanied by control testing. (Stage Stores)

3. Use smart data, not big data.

  • Messages need to adapt to the medium; I talk to advertisers about making sure everything in digital drives to a good customer experience, across devices and channels. (Microsoft)
  • To me, programmatic advertising is all about using data to deliver better results for publishers and advertising. The most interesting aspect of programmatic revolution is not how you change bids in real-time (half the battle), but the more interesting aspect is making the connection with the consumer using dynamic creative. This is even more true in the mobile/video world. (Google)
  • We don’t need big data when certain data points – the age and gender of your kids – let us do life stage marketing. That beats every other variable. (Williams-Sonoma)
  • Weather variables are extremely important for our business. This matters more than most other factors. (Netflix)
  • No matter what the demographic is, movers are good customers for us. (Dish)

4. Brand and customers are paramount.

  • All of the technology on advertising doesn’t matter unless you can create an emotional connection with the consumer. (Google)
  • Performance advertising has driven the digital space to date, but brand advertising will drive it going forward. We are partnering with comScore and Nielsen. (Google)
  • Someone always ‘owns the moment’ versus ‘owns the experience.’ We need to look at owning the experience, across the entire experience. (Acxiom)
  • Don’t overinvest on targeting and not match it with accompanying creative. (Obama campaign)