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The digital marketing environment – interview with Dan Cohen

An interview with Dan Cohen, Regional Director, about the digital marketing environment, looking at factors affecting brands and opportunities for revenue growth.

1. How do companies today utilise and structure the vast amount of data circulating on the internet in today’s marketing?

Over the past five years, companies have started using CRM systems effectively and the data within these systems has grown exponentially. A number of companies are now integrating their digital channels with this CRM information so the systems are intrinsically linked. By doing this, they can work in conjunction – for example, the digital channels can be informed of the characteristics of their most profitable customers, and from this insight, build a database of lookalike audiences to target and win new customers.
The problem for companies is the ever increasing complexity of their data warehouses and getting the systems to work in real time. The data needs a precise structure before marketers can begin to decide how to utilise it.

2. How is Google’s close to monopoly-like position on the information market effecting the playground for other companies?

Google has a huge share of the search engine landscape – more than an 85 per cent market share in the UK as of January 2016 according to Statista[i]. This clearly signals a close to monopoly-like position along with its advertising network, which can show exactly what users are clicking on and what websites they are visiting. Also, with its Android phone and tablet operating system, it can see what consumers are doing across all devices and locations.

However, doing this on such a large scale makes it hard for Google to reach niche audiences in the most effective and nimble way on an individual, case-by-case level. This creates space for other companies to be involved and come up with innovative ideas to reach this market place but Google sets the benchmark. The industry needs to make sure this is in the interests of the consumer and advertisers, not just Google itself.

3. During the last few years, in what ways have the opportunities for marketing companies changed in how they can derive their investments to profit? What lead to this change?

The change is being driven by consumers and the way they change their buying habits. The opportunities for marketing companies to make profit has given rise to the digital data industry through how the consumer now browses and buys. The rise of the ever complex digital marketing environment has led to advertisers being willing to pay for the services of a technology provider who can answer these, such as deduping software, BI software, and re-targeting solutions.

Opportunities in certain markets have created specific revenue channels in particular niches, such as the rise of mobile purchases. We can now measure not only when an app is downloaded but whether the consumer is using the app to purchase. As such, it’s now become easier to measure what both the advertiser and the consumer wants, and from this we can create a true sense of personalisation in communications across all channels.

4. What would you say is the key rule for companies to succeed and stand out in today’s crowded digital marketing space?

You need to ensure you’re not doing what everyone else is doing. It’s essential to stand out from the crowd. Companies must also not do everything at the same time but instead focus on becoming an authority in one particular area. Doing just one thing and doing it well is key.

Companies must be engaging with their customers in the right way. Timing needs to be spot on, and being completely visible to your audience on all devices and platforms is paramount.

Experimentation is a must too. You must not be afraid of it. At Tradedoubler, we say experiment often, fail fast. And from an advertisers point of view, you must create compelling content – relevancy is the key to engaging with the customer.

5. How is the enormous availability of information effecting the efficiency of management’s decision-making?
The problem is the huge amount of data digital marketers have access to – it’s now very hard to make decisions in an effective way, in real time. The main problem is that we’ve gone from having a system where they don’t know what’s working to a point where everything is measurable in some way, shape or form. The issue for marketers is how to make the most of this and turn knowledge into profit. Analysis paralysis has definitely taken affect and marketers are now faced with a huge data-shaped mountain to climb.

It’s important to note that data comes thick and fast, and statistics that are months old are of no use. You need to be reacting in real time and that’s why we’ve created our market leading intelligence tool, ADAPT. As well as helping marketers react in real time, the tool can be used as a forecasting solution to stay ahead of trends and predict what a campaign will look like at the moment of launch. Research carried out by Accenture[ii] shows that a third of CMOs believe that in five years’ time they will not know what a marketing campaign will look like in advance: campaigns will unfold in real time, depending on the individual needs and intents of each customer across each device and channel.

6. How far do you see customized digital marketing developing within the next few years?

The biggest change we’re going to see is that marketers won’t be targeting sectors – they’ll be able to talk to and deliver specific messages to individuals. As we speed up the ability to analyse data, we’ll get to the point where individual messages will be delivered to you based on geographical locations, where you buy, when you buy and on what device you buy on. Personalisation in outdoor advertising will also become prevalent. For example, if you’re at a bus stop, browsing a certain website on your smartphone with your Bluetooth on, you’ll be targeted with tailored offers on the bus stop’s digital advertising board.

Websites will also be specific to you. Homepages will have a completely different look depending upon the consumer that visits the site. You’ll be recommended specific products based on the level of information it knows about you. This is all made possible from machine learning and technological innovation. We expect digital marketers to become increasingly agile with their marketing – putting the right message across at the right time. This will be driven by the analysis and optimisation of data and we believe personalisation is the key.