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BW Businessworld

The Forward-Looking Marketers

The emergence of data as a reliable tool for successful campaigns and the blending of marketing with technology offer a glimpse of where the industry is heading

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The discussion around the application of technology in marketing has progressed from ‘whether’ and ‘how’ to ‘how soon’ and ‘how efficiently’, creating a breed of forward-looking marketers. Marketing is rapidly changing, with innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality becoming industry realities. The emergence of data as a reliable tool for successful campaigns, and the blending of marketing with technology, each offer a glimpse of where the industry is heading, and what the new world will offer.

While innovative tech is still making a mark, mobile, video, programmatic and machine learning are already making significant impact on businesses.

In this fast-evolving background, brand consistency has emerged as top priority for marketers. “Newer forms of tech have changed the way consumers engage with platforms. But we have to focus on the creative experience. It is important that irrespective of the number of platforms or the ways in which we can connect with a consumer today, we stitch it all together as a one-brand experience,” says global brand building officer of P&G, Marc Pritchard.

CREATING CONSUMER VALUE
The one-brand experience is consumer focussed in its outlook. With the consumer behaviour evolving, brands need the biggest platforms to focus on creating consumer value — an approach that most technology biggies are adhering to. 


“There is nothing that we do unless it is creating some kind of value for consumers — at times immediately and sometimes over a period of time,” notes Philipp Schindler, senior vice-president and chief business officer at Google.

Lately, Snapchat has re-evolved its positioning to create consumer value. Imran Khan, chief strategy officer at Snapchat, says that with the newly created corporate identity Snap Inc, the company is looking to occupy a much broader positioning. “We are moving to a place, where we want to be the ‘camera company’. Our launch of Spectacles — the debut product outside the Snapchat brand name in the realm of wearable technology — is in line with this positioning,” he says.

Spectacles can learn from Google Glass’ example. Schindler is quick to point here that even failures can teach great lessons. Consumers may have rejected Google’s wearable tech, but the company has used learnings from the Google Glass experience to create other solutions. For instance, the tech behind Google Glass has worked well for enterprise solutions, where professionals have significant amount of information to digest, and timing is of essence.

THE RIGHT PARTNERSHIPS

For future-looking marketers, consumers are always at the core, even while creating partnerships. General Motors CEO Mary Barra says that in the last four years, one of the company’s core values has been building transformational partnerships. “Relationships have always been important, but in the recent times, they have become more critical than ever to create winning partnerships,” she states.

Creating value for consumers requires brands and media platforms or publishers to work together.
Some partnerships that Google has formed entailed creating a joint business plan with a revenue-share model. “We need to focus on creating success for our partners because when we get that right, everything else will follow. It is important for us that partner ecosystems grow successfully, and this can only be achieved when you keep the focus on consumers,” says Schindler.

THUMB STOPPING CREATIVE
As consumers embrace mobile, there is need for a ‘thumb stopping’ creative. Elaborating on the term that is commonly used in the Facebook office, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of the company, advises exploring different ad formats to deliver the message quickly and efficiently.

“There are several examples of companies that are making a difference and getting advertising on platforms such as Facebook right. We have seen ads that are communicating the message quickly and in engaging ways. We are even seeing long-form creative work. The opportunity, however, is not the story or the format, but how the creative message is crafted in a format, to increase its efficacy,” adds Sandberg.

Another area where Google’s approach has become more sophisticated is collecting and using data. “Immense value can be created for consumers from data. It is important to use data to create good products, while ensuring the balance between privacy, transparency and control,” says Schindler.

Millennials are here and future looking marketers know it. Millennials have the ability to become the best brand ambassadors. In light of the rise of social media and the digital marketplace, refocusing marketing strategies to prioritise the millennial audience and its power to shape the relevant from the irrelevant has become the do-or-die thing for the modern industry.

As technology meets marketing and creativity, it helps in creating new age products that range from connected cars to connected tooth brush. At the end of it all however, the brand journey will begin with the creative idea, staying true to what a brand stands for, across formats and platforms.