In your talk at Festival of Media MENA 2016, you spoke about millennials. Do you think marketers are ignoring other consumers by focusing only on this demographic?
We are starting to limit ourselves too much with demographic data. Simply because someone is between 18 and 25 years of age, it doesn’t mean they are not interested in a variety of other things. We need to move away from these strict confines of putting people in specific buckets and start to better understand the individuals and bucket them into interest- or behavior-based groups, which would have a better impact. There are 60-year-olds who love surfing, so, if you’re missing out on that demographic, you’re making a mistake. It’s about better understanding the data you have about your customer.
You talk about using data to understand consumers. How much of this is based on machine learning and how accurate is that?
Machines are only as good as the questions you ask them. Everyone talks about DMPs [data management platforms] as the solution to all problems, but actually, we have so many issues with data integrity, tagging and so on that no one is truly solving them. The more data sets you have, the harder it is to make a judgement. When we look at our brands and consumer groups, we start to look at things such as the customer journey.
There are two questions: how do I retarget or identify someone based on insight – and that has to be computer-based – and then, there is a creative element, where you try to create segments based on [consumers’] interests.
You also said that humans haven’t changed, but the purchase journey has. Hasn’t new technology changed humans too?
If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are certain fundamental human needs, wants and desires. Technology has adapted faster than human behavior and that’s the bit that’s different. So, although we still communicate, the way we communicate is different.
Given this different way of communication, we see brands going beyond their usual KPIs to create a strong brand personality. But, as you mentioned, if a brand is not selling, it isn’t successful…
What do you think keeps a CEO up at night? Shareholder value. A CEO is judged on the [company’s] reports. That’s the definition of success and the most important metric for a CEO. There are massive opportunities for brands to add significant value to consumers’ lives – so, Philips creates light bulbs, but also uses that technology to light up children’s playgrounds in Scandinavia. However, at the end of the day, make or break, it’s binary: how many did we sell?
So then, is sales the only measure of success?
Not at all. Everyone has slightly different perspectives in terms of what they’re hoping to achieve. But, in order to sell that, you have to figure out what steps are [required] to get someone to walk into a shop and buy a brand new soap. There are loads of different methodologies and formulas: awareness, consideration, purchase, advocacy… Content can support across any of these, so what you have to identify is what role content [plays] within that customer journey and whether it is successful there or not.
Define content marketing in its simplest form…
It’s two unique disciplines. On one side, it’s the creation of content – that is, the right piece of content at the right time. Whether it’s a TV ad, article or a product page, it’s content that has value of some sort. The second thing is distribution: making sure that the content gets in front of the right person at the right time.
Why the sudden emphasis on content marketing?
There are three reasons:
Trust. Nielsen releases an annual survey that focuses on understanding what forms of advertising people trust – and they ask every demographic. At the very bottom, people don’t trust text ads, mobile phone ads and display ads. At the top, they trust recommendations from people they know, followed by branded websites, third-party reviews and editorial content (paid, owned and earned).
Banner blindness. I don’t care what anyone says; no one goes online to look at ads. So, if you want to create trust and engagement in a digital space, you have to go where people’s eyes are and the only thing people’s eyes are on is the content.
SEO value. Google’s algorithms – Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird – are designed to get better search rankings for content that is made for humans as opposed to machines. So, it’s less about cheating the system and more about creating good-quality content.