The Road to Success is Driven by More than Technology
To own one you need a spare £239,736 and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you need to be named Alonso or Massa to drive it. Not true, as the F12 is reported to be very approachable and easy to drive. Anyone can buckle up and attempt 0-124 mph in 8.5 seconds in a straight line.
But to optimise the F12 and keep four wheels on Ferrari’s Fiorano track it takes an experienced, trained driver and support team. Plus, you need an understanding of the car via its telemetry – the remote monitoring and measuring of hundreds of data streams pointing to a car’s optimal set up.
Digital marketers, like telemetry analysts, can easily get overwhelmed by huge volumes of real-time data from a gazillion sources. Every CMO knows they have to harness all the potential of this data to their advantage, but where to start?
The accepted wisdom is to license a self-service technology platform. With the consolidation of multiple point solutions across search, display and social media into a single dashboard, or Digital Marketing Suite (DMS), there are a host of opportunities to more effectively manage digital activity and action a wealth of data.
However too many marketers invest in advanced technology platforms hoping to analyse, organise, and optimise data, as well as automate campaign management, but hand this complex marketing job to less experienced staff and expect the positive results to pour in. You wouldn’t hand the keys of an F12 to a driver who has just passed their driving test. Clearly they could push a button and go, but they’d hardly be able to optimise the car’s capabilities. An inexperienced driver needs time on the road and investment in training before they can maximise performance.
It doesn’t take too much to see initial results improve when migrating onto a great technology. The problem is when staff don’t fully understand why things are improving (or performing badly), and how to harness the capabilities they may not know exist. This leads to questions such as “how do you leverage your technology to consistently improve results?” And “if you are paying for self-service features and functionality why not use them all?”
Digital marketing is not an easy business and centralised platforms have a lot to offer in providing solutions to optimise and automate efforts. But all of the tech in the world is not enough to handle the complexities of integration, implementation and automation.
It’s not always about the ability to use a platform. Marketers will not get full value out of a technology platform if they are not also leveraging the support and services offered by the vendor. Many clients turn a blind eye to the need of quality service when they evaluate technology and negotiate deals. Unfortunately that’s when it's too late - when something goes wrong or a promised target is not achieved, low- to no-quality service won't help.
It’s happened to IgnitionOne. We had a client who found they were spending ineffectively and thought they could leverage the technology their own way to better maximize return. They received recommendations both from the automated tools available in the platform, which are fueled by algorithms, as well as from our quantitative media strategists. But the client chose to ignore the recommendations and continued to manage the account in the way they previously did. In some instances the changes that were being made were actually the exact opposite of what was being recommended.
Not only did their performance not improve it actually got worse, wasting more money. It's difficult to assist a client who is not open to taking or implementing recommendations provided by the tool or team. Collaboration is the key to getting value out of a tool.
F1 cars don’t win races, drivers do, and all the telemetry in the world can’t automate a Grand Prix. Despite increasing promises from ad tech providers, nothing can (or should) be completely automated in digital marketing.
The clients who get better performance are those who have partnered with and leveraged their provider’s support and expertise. So why is there a continued undervaluing of the service component in ad technology and the propagation of the myth of self-service? Our job as an industry is to make the complex simple, not vice versa.
Everything needs tweaking based on vertical, industry and specific situations. You need humans with understanding of digital marketing beyond the technology. This should not be the responsibility of someone just learning about the industry.
On a more positive note, a large telecommunications client came to us following difficulties optimising its activity and driving sales volume effectively, due to budget fluctuations and varying target CPAs. Initial efficiencies of migration onto the DMS were seen as a result of the consolidation of multiple media channels within the platform.
They identified performance could be further improved by taking the time to leverage more of the technology’s capabilities. Investing time understanding the DMS’s full capabilities and how features like predictive portfolio optimisation work together to allow holistically improved results. The client increased its average daily budget by 90 per cent and improved sales volumes while still decreasing the CPA by 12 per cent.
Stitching different marketing systems together is not easy and few people in a company can be expected to have experience. Marketers need to work with providers who understand how the pieces fit together and work efficiently.
Ferrari has won the FIA championship 16 times, and its boss, Stefano Domenicali, wouldn’t be smiling over the most successful team in history if he tasked an apprentice mechanic to interpret his cars’ telemetry. To maximize performance and overall potential, CMOs should practice these same methods and invest in their teams as much as they invest in the technology.