Gabey Goh
Dec 8, 2016

Roundtable: Digital pain points include attribution, measurement, justifying costs

At a lunch roundtable event hosted by AdParlor, brand marketers shared pain points in trying to navigate digital and connect all the dots.

It’s not that brands don’t see the value in digital or cross-channel marketing, but rather overcoming the challenges unique to their vertical while justifying investment—especially with the current gaps in attribution models and measurement.

That was the main message to come out of a recent roundtable discussion, hosted by Adparlor, that took place on the sidelines of Campaign Asia-Pacific’s Marketing Innovation Summit in Singapore.

Qaiser Bachini, director media, APAC, Middle East, Africa, GSK said that cross-device marketing is already happening across brands but the challenge lies in the integration piece.

“If you don’t have that, you don’t know what is working, which channel is more effective and can’t optimise spend,” he said. “Integration of data is key as well, for with no single view it is difficult. I know some tech partners do offer solutions but we have yet to test them as a lot of clarity is required internally first on role and effectiveness of each solution.”

Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, global head of brand and CMO of Standard Chartered noted that cross-chanel marketing is quite consistent across organisations because there is “no alternative”.

“The challenge is the attribution element, and how accurate we can be in terms of measuring returns,” he said. “There’s a lot of experimentation going on in this space right now and there’s no silver bullet, yet.”

For Isabella Tan, VP and GM for Singapore, Brunei and Philippines at Cerebros, cross-device marketing is already place at her company. But the pain point resides in juggling the media mix spend and the lack of expertise in-house to handle matters.

“We’re learning and for B2C brands, the lack of a single currency for measuring effectiveness in spend remains an issue,” she said. “If one channel is working better than the other, we don’t have an answer to that.”

There’s also the need to have consistency in brand communications and have the right message go to the right audience and the right moment across multiple channels.

“All this from a single marketing team,” she adds. “I think for a lot of brands, there is a mismatch between what’s needed and what’s available in terms of talent in the industry.”

Measurement and commitment

Jon Stona, head of regional marketing for Google Play APAC at Google Asia Pacific, shared that in client conversations about cross-channel opportunities, commonalities pop up.

“Measurement is a big one, it’s difficult to track a direct mail to retail or social and marketers are moving away from last click attribution,” he said. “Internal structure is also an issue they struggle with when different teams are focused on and benchmarked on different KPIs.”

Figuring out the right product pathway as well is a challenge; especially for mobile devices where in Asia the split is currently 50-50 between mobile apps and web apps.

Meyrick D'Souza, global marketing and digital communications at Lenovo, doesn’t think many marketers are moving away from last click attribution as one would think.

“Many marketers are too comfortable with their current attribution systems,” he argued. “Because if you start not looking, then other channels come in and the value proposition with digital starts to reduce. It takes a lot of effort to look at other channels.”

D'Souz noted that the data integration puzzle that would enable brands to do cross-channel attribution is one of the biggest issues to be addressed.

“But it takes some real desire to change,” he added. “Because it is expensive and difficult, but brands have to drive it, if not change will be very slow.”

Untangling from legacy

But for some brands, the challenge isn’t on the nuances of the rapidly evolving digital sphere but rather laying the groundwork to reap its touted benefits.

For Kieth Chia, head group brand, loyalty, digital marketing and customer experience practice at Great Eastern Life, much of the pain points stem from legacy issues.

“Compared to retail banks, we don’t have access to customer accounts as a lot of the data resides in siloed product systems,” he shared. “And that is a fundamental challenge to execute anything on digital when you don’t have 360 view of the customer,”

Chia shared that the company is in the very early stages of its digital transformation, and recognises the root cause of its data problem, with projects being implement to help address the issues.

“We’re quite close to the tail end of it, which will see us having a customer file that consolidates across products,” he added. “We’re finally getting there, and with that single view, then the rest of the digital empowerment in marketing can really flow through.”

He admits that it is a huge undertaking and all the problems won’t be immediately solved as then the next issue arise—making sense of the data.

“There’s no lack of data, it’s a case of data everywhere but which drop do we drink?” Chia said. “We’re in a unique business as we don’t market direct but via intermediaries, so it’s about how we leverage digital and data to empower them.”

Online to offline and back

For the B2B players, the landscape is a little different, with Travis Teo, director of integrated media at SAP Asia, sharing that the traditional focus has been on events marketing.

“We ran more than 300 events across Asia this year alone,” he said. “There is a shift toward digital, and we are looking at how we use digital to amplify our events.”

Teo noted that cross-channel marketing has become the default approach but making a tangible connection and alignment between online and offline activity is the current focus and challenge.

Calin Mirea, ONE channel marketing leader at IBM Systems Asia-Pacific, agreed with Teo, adding that the mix has definitely moved toward digital.

“The deal still lands with that handshake at a conference, but 70 percent of the B2B buyer journey happens online so we have to look at what’s the best way to capture that attention and consideration,” he added. “There are a lot of bright minds from the solutions side working on this and we’re working on finding the best approach, expecially with our large portfolio.”

Summing things up, Eliot Connor, Singapore director with AdParlor Asia Pacific, agreed that there are still a lot of gaps in the industry and in his own conversations with customers, the point of attribution modelling crops up often.

“They understand their own customer journey but not how it translates from offline to digital, they’ve got wealth of data but don’t know how that translates from digital to traditional to offline and marketers are constantly trying to chase their tail on this,” he said.

There’s also the difference when looking at markets like the US where there a lot more research and investment available to put into discerning the digital landscape and how it fits in—simply because the budgets are bigger.

More so than the navigating the myriad of solutions, said Conor, the first hurdle must be to gain deep insight into just exactly how consumption habits have shifted and understanding just how that correlates with each touch point and how in turn that leads to a consumer believing in the brand.

“Without that understanding, it is difficult to come up with the right model, and especially in Asia where the marketing mix from one market to another can vary dramatically,” he added. “There is no one size fits all, but understanding how all the different pieces fit and influence each other will make the different in execution.”

Roundtable participants

  • Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, global head of brand and CMO, Standard Chartered
  • Qaiser Bachini, director media, APAC, Middle East, Africa, GSK
  • Jon Stona, head of regional marketing, Google Play APAC, Google Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.
  • Clara Goh, VP Communications, Asia, Swiss Re
  • Meyrick D'Souza, global marketing and digital communications, Lenovo
  • Calin Mirea, ONE channel marketing Leader, IBM Systems Asia-Pacific
  • Travis Teo, director, integrated media, SAP Asia Pte Ltd
  • Kieth Chia, head group brand, loyalty, digital marketing and customer experience practice, Great Eastern Life
  • Isabella Tan, VP and GM, Singapore/Brunei/Philippines, Cerebros
  • Eliot Connor, director Singapore, AdParlor Asia Pacific
  • Aarti Lyall, regional manager, client and product strategy, Adknowledge Asia Pacific
  • Gabey Goh, moderator, Campaign Asia-Pacific
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