Reimagining business in the digital age

A M+AD interview with Sam Thompson

Reimagining business in the digital age

A Q&A with Sam Thompson, Head of Digital Solutions & Partnerships, Bench.

What are the current technologies and upcoming technologies that will play significant roles in marketing’s digital transformation?

Technology in media is ever-changing and extremely fluid. We have seen various technologies rapidly enter and exit the space as well as established and dominant players that continue to add value for agency and brand marketers.

What stays consistent is the fact that different marketers have different needs when it comes to technologies required. A great place to start when working through digital transformation is to ask yourself, what are your most valuable target audiences? What data do you have on your customers? What media are you accessing or not accessing when looking to capture that audience? Are you predominantly a brand or performance focused business? How do you measure and report on success? The answer to these questions will give you a guiding light on how to approach digital transformation.

All the technology in our industry will have some element of unique value. It is important to research and understand what that unique value is, so that you can make appropriate business decisions based firmly around your needs. For example, should you need access to scalable audience reach, search marketing and YouTube, then the current Google stack might help you with your digital transformation. If you require heavy purchase intent audiences for performance marketing, or if you sell your products on Amazon, then perhaps the Amazon ecosystem is a perfect solution.

Should you want to engage in conversations with highly targeted or younger audiences then it could be a good idea to focus your attention on building your brand in social media such as TikTok, SnapChat, Twitch (as well as other in-game environments) or Meta. If you store data in the Adobe CDP, then naturally gravitating to the Adobe stack makes sense. Should you need a more agnostic or omni-channel approach then The Trade Desk, Xandr, Yahoo or Amobee might meet the needs of your business. These are current and established technologies that will help you on your digital transformation journey and in reality, a mix of them will likely be required for all encompassing digital transformation needs.

We also see a number of upcoming technologies that are making waves in the industry. Playground XYZ and Lumen are leading the way globally when it comes to assessing, reporting on and optimising towards attention metrics.

Microsoft, while being very established in our industry, have just struck up a deal with a new player in advertising technology and audience reach – you may have heard of them – Netflix. With cookie deprecation hitting the market sometime in 2023, nearly all technologies are building their upcoming first-party data strategies. 

How will buyers’ journey maps transform with the implementation of these new technologies?
I’d argue that buyers’ journey maps have already been transformed and it’s the implementation of these technologies that will help a business utilise data and technology to effectively capture these buyers when they are ready to purchase.

The age old AIDA model – attention, interest, desire and action – still has merits. What has changed is that our journey to purchase is less linear than ever before. We now jump around through the process, we spend more time researching products, we lean more towards sustainable brands, and we are less brand-loyal.

Add to the fact that media is more fragmented and digital than ever before and we can see that the buyer journey is much more complex. This is covered in Google’s The Messy Middle*, which is worth a read.

This highlights the importance of the effective use of technology and data to target consumers with your brand message to the right person, at the right time, in the right environment. Brands and marketers must capitalise on their first party data and personalise their approach to navigate the shift in buyer journeys.

Equally important alongside the shift in buyer journeys for brands is cross platform and cross media reporting to analyse success. Utilising a platform which can help you aggregate information in real time, measure success, and optimise accordingly will help on this journey.

The implications of delayed digital transformation for marketers?
I think it’s important to call out that it’s never too late to start. Whether you’re a marketer that works for a multimillion dollar brand or a marketer that works for a smaller retailer, digital transformation in regards to your data strategies, media buying, web experience or purchase opportunities will be important. As a society, we have swiftly shifted to more digital consumption of media, more general usage of the internet and more digital purchases so it’s imperative that brands have a strategy in place.

Therein lies the challenges in delaying digital transformation. If you’re not working on digital transformation you may be missing out on a scalable and often hard to find digital audience, which in turn equals a loss in potential product sales and revenue to your business. In addition, if you haven’t made your products available online, then you could be significantly limiting your pool of potential customers both locally and globally.

Finally, your own data asset is super-valuable. If you delay your digital transformation you could potentially be delaying having a conversation with your most valuable and likely to purchase audience: previous purchasers. Running through a well-structured digital transformation process will allow you to effectively capture and activate this audience which can help to drive your return on investment goals.

How implementing effective digital transformation will help marketers value-add to their clients’ campaigns and differentiate themselves from their competitors
A nice way to summarise the effect of digital transformation is to look at the practical application for marketing campaigns. Three points to think about are:

  1. Personalisation / effective use of first party data – so you can capitalise on your data asset, find customers most likely to purchase from your brand, and have an intimate and relevant conversation with each potential customer.
  2. Customer journey ease / purchase ease – to ensure you maximise your return on investment and streamline the process to product purchase.
  3. Media access – diversify to take advantage of the fragmentation in media consumption and find your target audiences no matter the environments in which they consume media.

Read the full article which appeared on NZ Media and Advertising News Daily in August, 2022.

2560 1834 Shai Luft

Shai Luft

Shai Luft brings over 25 years of diverse marketing experience to the table, with a focus on fostering growth by leveraging data led marketing strategies. His journey began with roles in senior marketing positions within leading telecommunication companies including TPG, Optus, and Telstra, where he gained valuable insights and honed his strategic thinking. In 2012, Shai co-founded Bench, a digital agency that quickly gained recognition for its quality services. Serving a broad range of clients such as Epson, Nestle, and Panasonic, Bench became known for its digital expertise and global media buying capabilities.. Shai holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from UNSW, with a specialization in Marketing and International Business.

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