Faaez Samadi
Aug 26, 2016

Context the key to effective engagement: MasterCard VP

Brands need to fully re-engineer their marketing strategies to ensure the driving factor is context ahead of just content, said MasterCard vice president Dominic Koh.

Dominic Koh from MasterCard speaking at Forrester CX Marketing Singapore 2016.
Dominic Koh from MasterCard speaking at Forrester CX Marketing Singapore 2016.

SINGAPORE - Forget relying on content marketing, brands needs to completely overhaul their digital marketing strategies if they are to have any resonance with consumers, according to Dominic Koh, MasterCard’s vice president and head of digital and social media marketing.

Speaking at the Forrester CX Marketing Singapore Conference 2016, Koh explained how MasterCard has revamped its entire marketing strategy to effectively engage consumers in an era of dwindling resources.

“Budgets are going in the opposite direction to where we want them to be,” he said. “We have moved a lot of our budget into digital, but the speed of change these days is very hard to manage.”

Brands need to be constantly alert and prepared to take big decisions in shifting their strategy, as MasterCard did to remain relevant to its target audience. Koh cited the example of The New York Times, which has seen visitors to its homepage drop by 50 percent over the past two years due to the growing use of social media and mobile apps.

“No-one visits our sites anymore,” he said plainly. “Users are easy to reach but hard to engage. When was the last time you opened an eDM from a bank? They are not working.

“We were creating microsites [globally], but they are not scalable, it’s not the fastest way [to reach consumers]. You’re paying half of the budget to agencies to develop and manage them.”

Koh said content marketing was one avenue, but is often difficult to manage and maintain. What’s more crucial, he said, is “context marketing”, knowing when is the right time to put your content in front of consumers.

He cited the example of MasterCard’s partnership with TripAdvisor in its ‘Priceless Cities’ campaign, which showed “contextually relevant” content for consumers browsing travel options on the website.

However, Koh was also quick to point out that relevant content is not the finished article, and that it must be appealing to consumers emotionally.

“You have to reach the heart, not the head,” he said. “If you are just focused on the discounts and offers, the consumers will quickly become ad blind.”

Achieving these big changes at MasterCard inevitably required a restructuring of the brand’s agency relationships, which Koh said was difficult but necessary.

“There is no perfect solution, but we brought the teams in several times to define clear roles and responsibilities,” he said. “There are no more grey areas. What’s important is that it’s the brand that has to do this. You can’t just leave it to the agencies.”

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