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Roundtable: Why Tech Matters to Marketers

As fast as digital marketing and technology are moving, constant conversation is essential to making effective use of what’s available to marketers. We sat down with Laura Mitchell, Trevor Patch and Travis Adney to see what they had to say about creative executions with emerging tech, artificial intelligence, ad blockers and more.

When Trevor came back from MarTech in San Francisco, he shared a crazy graphic that showed just how many companies are competing in this space. How do you find the one that works for each campaign/client?

Laura Mitchell: It’s so hard to pick them, because you know you’re going to spend a significant amount of dollars, and you want to make sure you’ve thoroughly vetted each option to weigh their strengths and weaknesses. And then there’s a possibility that the company will go under in a few months, even though you’ve signed a one-year contract, and then you’re back to square one.

Did you see any up-and-coming companies that excited you?

Trevor Patch: I really like the new space of IPAAS – integration platform as a service. They solely exist to hook up all the other services you’re using, so things like If This Then That, Zapier…those are two big ones. All they do is program to other companies’ API, so in the future when you say, “I need to hook up my CRM to my email platform, but they don’t natively integrate,” you can look to these companies to help you get that done.

Travis Adney: Wow, you are nerdy. The type of vendors I get excited about, and Trevor’s going to laugh at me for saying this, but I’d love to figure out a way to use artificial intelligence at L&S.

[…The room laughs…]

TA: Strictly for cost efficiency, creating relevant content, etc. One of the companies I saw at Big Omaha specializes in categorizing content like images, so it will scan the images and apply tags—animals, tourism, tacos.

TP: The content space is exploding right now. Between categorizing, creating…

LM: I’ve seen a few platforms that are able to sweep and find content relating to your brand but not necessarily created by your brand. So, for example, if someone posts a picture to Instagram with a Coke bottle in the background, Coke can find that, see what’s going on, and comment on it if they’d like. There’s also a lot of exciting things going on involving using data to optimize content options and even to create new content. Kind of like an OST on steroids.

How can brands and marketing agencies best take advantage of emerging tech?

TA: Some things, like VR and AR, are still on the bleeding edge, so it’s still difficult to find ways to fit them in when you’re still focused on having things like websites with flawless functionality, personalized emails, that kind of thing. You have to make sure the basics are covered before you start thinking about the “cool stuff.” Not to discount things like AR and VR, because they do have the ability to grab people’s attention and really go viral.

LM: You have to start with what the technology is meant to do. For example, VR is very visual and engaging, so what sort of visual thing do we need to accomplish for our clients? That applies well to travel and tourism, because we want potential visitors to feel immersed in a location before they travel, or show them what they could be experiencing before they get here to build up that excitement level.

TP: You also have the PR angle, which can build your brand even more. If cutting-edge technology is done right, people are going to want to talk about it.

TA: Another thing you have to think about is the fact that we’re not just an advertising agency; we put a big focus on helping clients solve their business problems. For example, we’ve been looking a lot at advancements in mobile payments for Taco John’s, banking and finance, that kind of thing. On the surface, these kinds of things might not seem as exciting as creative executions involving VR, AR or the rest, but if we can show our clients that these advancements can impact their ROI, then they can have just as big of an impact.

TP: Another big part of it is creating lasting relationships. Rather than really “wowing” them once, these can help our clients establish long-term relationships with their target audience.

LM: Right. Creating brand ambassadors, repeat visitors, mapping out customer life cycles and anticipating what their movements might be, that kind of thing. “Once you have kid number 3, you’re likely to X, Y, Z.” Think about if you can pre-empt a cancellation of cable service, if you can get out ahead of someone who might be going to breakfast at a competing restaurant, if you can sway them in their moment of action using marketing, that can completely change their purchase behavior as well as their perception of your brand. Creating micro-segments and eliminating media waste is a huge benefit. It’s about weeding out members of your audience who will act from the ones who look like they will. We can give these tools to clients to prove that their marketing dollars are being spent wisely.

What excites you about digital marketing going forward?

TA: Getting down to the granular level. The way advertising used to be, you were worried about sending out a huge blast and getting as many people as you can, not really being able to tell if it was going to work or what kind of relationship you were going to build. Privacy is a hot button issue, but the availability of customer information is really helping marketers be more relevant.

LM: It’s become expected to be personalized. If I give you any sort of information, you’re going to use it in a way that’s beneficial for me as a consumer.

Do you have nightmares about ad blockers?

TP: So far, it’s a small enough issue that most marketers can basically ignore it. We’re starting to be able to find out who has ad blockers, so we can message them in a different way, but what’s most important is exploring different channels and methods to serve our target customers ads or content that isn’t considered annoying.

LM: We’re going to have to be a little bit savvier about how we get our content out there in general. How are we partnering with bloggers, people who write for news sites, how can we sponsor retailers to get our content in the right place rather than using banner ads or even rich media ads.

Digital ads aren’t going anywhere. How can advertising as an industry improve banner ads and browsing experience?

LM: I actually read recently that takeover and gamification ads are growing rapidly because we’re getting better at introducing things that audiences care about. Hitting Game of Thrones fans with an interactive unit based on the show, for example. That kind of thing keeps you top-of-mind with your target audience without feeling like you’re bothering them.

TA: I think it goes hand-in-hand with what we were talking about earlier, just making sure it matters to our target audience.

TP: Definitely. The most important part is relevance. You don’t want to put anything relating to your brand in front of someone who it won’t resonate with.

Have a question for these three or any other member of our team? Get in touch—we’d love to help.

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