Ana­log think­ing in a dig­i­tal age

Ali Nehme be­lieves that mar­keters need to mir­ror agility and ex­pe­ri­ences con­sumers ex­pect to­day

Campaign Middle East - - CAMPAIGN -

Pur­chase and con­sump­tion shifts are paving the way for dra­matic new habits, ones that will con­tinue to evolve un­til they be­come dom­i­nant. Th­ese new habits are not be­ing trans­lated into a shift in spend and in­vest­ment. The end­less strug­gle to pro­tect the tra­di­tional share is a los­ing one; every­body is ba­si­cally fight­ing the wrong bat­tle. To­day, top ad­ver­tis­ers, across ver­ti­cals, are ex­plor­ing e-com­merce, even though most of them don’t know quite what to ex­pect.

We’re an in­dus­try of $4bn spend at best, with an av­er­age of $14 in me­dia spend per per­son. Com­pare that to the US with their av­er­age of $589 per per­son, and we’re 36x be­hind. This ap­plies as well to most Euro­pean coun­tries – with an av­er­age spend ex­ceed­ing $250. What does this mean? We have a long way to go and to ma­ture as a mar­ket; whether it’s an ed­u­ca­tion is­sue or a pric­ing read­just­ment, the in­dus­try needs to be reimag­ined in or­der to grow the over­all pie.

To de­velop within this new era, we need to change the way this in­dus­try is po­si­tioned. Putting the ana­logue think­ing be­hind us, let’s start prac­tic­ing what we preach. Throw­ing words like mea­sur­able and track­able around when­ever we men­tion dig­i­tal does not change the fact that we’re still far from prov­ing our worth. Here’s a start:

Dig­i­tal cur­rency and ethics

To­day we’re at a stage where ev­ery ad server al­lows us to mea­sure what is ba­sic to the in­dus­try, yet un­told to many ad­ver­tis­ers. If you’re a pub­lisher and still de­bat­ing mov­ing to a view­able im­pres­sion at some point in time then you’re go­ing to be in a tough po­si­tion soon. At least let’s start by agree­ing that we’re not do­ing any bet­ter than ana­logue. If half of the inventory sold is never seen, let’s not poke holes in the tra­di­tional mea­sure­ment meth­ods. If that en­tails in­flat­ing the me­dia costs then let it be, at least we’re be­ing trans­par­ent and do­ing the com­par­i­son right­fully. Would this be another ad­van­tage for the big guys? The an­swer is yes; we al­ready started op­ti­mis­ing ac­cord­ingly since the tech­nol­ogy al­lows it, mainly on Au­di­ence on De­mand, our trad­ing desk. Not only that, tech­nol­ogy al­lows us to by­pass most of the push­backs from fre­quency cap­ping to a nar­rower geo-tar­get­ing and much more. This does not mean that pub­lish­ers have to suf­fer and have fewer im­pres­sions to sell, but it rather pushes the smaller play­ers to invest more in their ad ex­pe­ri­ence and find the bal­ance be­tween mov­ing the ad unit higher up with­out af­fect­ing the user ex­pe­ri­ence. Har­ness­ing and analysing big data is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing more dif­fi­cult due to the lack of in­sights about the end goal; be­ing prag­matic and go­ing back to ba­sics is what we need to­day. In­stead of try­ing to mea­sure ev­ery medium in silo, we (at SMG) try to un­der­stand how to or­gan­ise data around peo­ple be­cause we be­lieve ex­pe­ri­ences mat­ters. We use data to trans­form be­hav­iour through up­lift­ing, mean­ing­ful hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences. This means that our ap­proach, struc­ture and even tech­nol­ogy need to un­der­stand and talk to a con­nected con­sumer in real-time and multi- screen world. Big In­ter­net gi­ants like Face­book and Google have – or have the po­ten­tial – to crack the model with a univer­sal iden­tity. Publi­cis Groupe took a huge step this year with the ac­qui­si­tion of RUN to bring its clients closer to a con­nected so­lu­tion. Hav­ing said that, cross-de­vice lim­i­ta­tions still ex­ist. Data own­ers like telcos can play a big role in bring­ing the pieces to­gether. With more ed­u­ca­tion around the stored per­sonal data, both the own­ers and the users will have con­fi­dence in stor­ing and min­ing such in­for­ma­tion. In turn, this will im­prove the qual­ity of cross-screens track­ing and at­tri­bu­tion.

Rapid learn­ing mod­els

We need such mod­els in the way we mine valu­able in­sights in shorter du­ra­tion, the way we ap­ply that to the chal­lenges and fi­nally in how we track and mea­sure it all. You see, there is no Holy Grail in dig­i­tal; with such a fast-mov­ing en­vi­ron­ment, it is key to start iden­ti­fy­ing small op­por­tu­ni­ties for quick feed­back. Plan­ning will re­main key to avoid wastage but the cy­cle has be­come shorter with much faster it­er­a­tions. We need to think from the inside out; if ev­ery ad­ver­tiser and agency goal is to get closer to the dig­i­tal world, break­ing the si­los es­pe­cially within the dig­i­tal teams has to hap­pen fast. We need to mir­ror the agility and ex­pe­ri­ences the con­sumer ex­pects to­day. The big play­ers can be a great gate­way to re­shape our­selves, and can be a great ally to build part­ner­ships and push the bar­ri­ers.

As we move to­wards this new era, our in­fa­mous me­dia plans will blur with less “buck­ets” as no one cares if the brand con­tent is be­ing con­sumed on a lap­top, phone or TV. The dig­i­tal era has changed the way we look at things, let’s stop nar­row­ing the way we po­si­tion our­selves. In­stead, let’s con­sider it as a fresh start to build a much big­ger and bet­ter in­dus­try. Ali Nehme is man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of dig­i­tal at SMG MENA

Nehme… ‘You see, there is no Holy Grail in dig­i­tal’

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