Jessica Goodfellow
Aug 2, 2019

Obsession with hypertargeting means brands are becoming ‘culturally invisible’, says MediaCom

Striking the right balance between narrow targeting and broad brand-building, between inhousing and outsourcing, and between generalist and specialist is still puzzling brands.

Obsession with hypertargeting means brands are becoming ‘culturally invisible’, says MediaCom

In the pursuit of hypertargeted, performance-driven advertising, brands risk becoming “culturally invisible” by ignoring the more traditional brand-building channels like out-of-home, according to MediaCom regional account director Dejan Kutnjak.

Speaking at Xaxis DeViate 2019, Kutnjak spoke of the current “struggle” that media agencies like MediaCom are having in communicating the validity of traditional media channels, as more clients “look for ROI in everything”.

“More and more clients are focused on business outcomes," he said. "They love that everything is measurable, they look for ROI in everything. There other platforms that are good for brand building that are still valid but not as measurable, like OOH.”

Narrow targeting also prevents any spillover that has for years inadvertently helped brands reach non-core audience segments, Kutnjak added.

“We love certain brands because we remember them from when we were a kid. If you target only 25- to 54-year-olds, how are you going to build that brand with kids?” he asked.

“If you are going fully digital you are going very narrow, you never have any spillover. The spillover is what makes a brand culturally relevant,” he added.

Kutnjak’s view that the industry should “go back” from an over-reliance on business outcomes was echoed by GSK's director and head of media for APAC, Silas Lewis-Meilus.

With digital-first brands like Uber among the biggest investors in traditional OOH campaigns, clearly there is still value in broad reach, Lewis-Meilus said.

“Is there an awareness gap for Uber? No, but they still see value there,” he said. “Finding the balance between priming the pipeline for new customers while also being smart and relevant about how you deliver messaging to people who are relevant to your business is where the end state is going to be,” he said.

Lewis-Meilus also spoke of the balance between inhousing capabilities and tapping into the expertise of agency partners—the perennial industry debate.

Where most brands want greater ownership of creative, data or digital, GSK wants to own strategy.

“Strategy had been the bastion of agency partners,” Lewis-Meilus said. “[We want to] strike the right balance between inhousing some of that strategic leadership while also partnering with agency partners to help deliver it.”

Elsewhere, the panel debated the value of generalist versus specialist marketing teams.

The brand marketers, including Lewis-Meilus and Adidas senior director of brand activation Liliane Sek, spoke of the value of having a decentralised marketing team. that are exposed to other parts of the business to build up the generalist knowledge.

“Have experts but encourage them to be more general by exposing to other parts of the business,” Sek said.

Where brand marketers are becoming more specialist, agency client leads are needing to have a “broader, generalist understanding” as pitches are increasingly consolidating into one ‘super account’, said Kutnjak.

Continuous investment versus 'big splash'

Elsewhere at the event, Ogilvy APAC chief experience officer Tom Voirol called out the “lumpy” nature of digital transformation projects, and the need to more strategically allocate investment.

Many businesses are currently trapped in a vicious circle where they put an initial “big cash injection” into a project, don’t allocate any further resources to improving it over the next few years, and then start the cycle again, Voirol said.

“When this happens, the experience deteriorates as expectations rise,” he said.

Additionally, too often businesses are spending millions of dollars on Adobe, Sitecore and Salesforce technology without realising their full potential, Voirol said.

“The number one complaint I get from [those software providers] is that clients have bought a massive tech stack and are only using 5% of it. They are using it for web content but not personalisation or full automation,” he said.

Instead, reallocating resources to drip-feed continuous investment over a number of years will allow businesses to “continuously improve” their digital experience, rather than just maintaining it until the next mass overhaul, Voirol said.

Continually evolving the functionality of a website or app also prevents users from having a “traumatic” experience where “everything they have just gotten used to suddenly changes”, he added.

“Think back to the early days when Facebook made massive changes to its app and everyone was unhappy. Now Facebook releases updates every two weeks, and they are always small and gradual, but if you compare it over a year there is massive change,” Voirol said.

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