Innovation now turns on making creative and analytics tools smarter, easier to access, and then deploying them more rapidly to campaigns.
There are three elements of successful technology-driven outcomes in the marketing industry that represent, I’d suggest, a triad of innovation. The three factors common to offering and projects that earn attention and adoption are agility, speed, and the product-development capabilities to allow brands to actually access emerging marketplaces (such as audio, as we saw this year).
The first two terms are interconnected, and each fuel the drive for innovative products that big-name brands are beta-testing already.
Quickly, to make the distinction clear, agility is your team’s ability to change direction and marketplace position with efficiency as new marketplace stimuli come along. When advertisers move on a new format, for example, agile teams have the balance, strength, and coordination to react to that demand without needing to, say, onboard a whole new department.
While speed is often a factor in being agile, it’s also important to note that your team won’t always need to change direction to meet new market demands — you might in fact already focus on the emerging device or technology, and so you only need to accelerate fast enough to win partners as the new demand comes to life. You want both agility and speed in your toolkit, but it’s reasonable to use them to different degrees over time.
Finally, the successful innovators, as we’ll see below, meet significant new market demand early — thanks to agility and speed — with installable, functional tools that all comers can look at and try. In other words, the teams that best represent this triad of innovation have the under-the-hood capacity to materially deploy something that empowers early-adopting brands to access the formats and environments in demand.
In the sections that follow, let’s look at how the distinct elements came into play.
Build marketing tech that innovates on factors of agility and speed … or lose business.
Traditional models will lose business — that’s the takeaway from Sir Martin Sorrell’s and Brian Whipple’s recent conversation at Cannes Lions. One way to think about their strong agreement that digital creative needs to be “super-slick, high-end” and “rendered in a more agile way” would be like this: If you’re not pouring your budget into the tech that will drive future formats — yes, AR, VR, and AI — and if you’re not leveraging the massive speed and capacity of 5G when it rolls out, then the 2020s are going to be the decade you could join the 41% of S&P 500 companies already gone since 2000.
Winning marketing strategy? Invest right now, and heavily, in next-era innovative technology.
When it comes to innovation, WPP and Kantar help to illustrate how this triad of innovation comes into play. From the ability to simulate campaign results in different environments — a “context lab,” they call it — to forecasting established ad unit performance in new geographies with AI modeling, this is about doubling down on their commitment to AI. That will take a lot of spend. So, by selling off the Kantar research and consulting component of WPP’s offerings and getting it picked up by private equity — but keeping a 25%–40% WPP stake in it — that kind of investment can proceed without rattling shareholders on the public side. It’s a smart strategy. It’s also attracting very significant attention. Coca-Cola and Hulu are already testing the new AI tools.
Join the audio-marketing conversation, or miss a giant near-term opportunity.
Sizable players are joining forces to put data and analytics to work in marketing to the massive interest consumers are showing around audio content. Take iHeartMedia’s joint launch of Project Listen with WPP, for example. This move is about putting audio studio tools and planning and measurement in the hands of the brands that are racing to get in on the audio-consumer dollar.
The core of the message is as follows: innovation now turns on making creative and analytics tools smarter, easier to access, and then deploying them more rapidly to campaigns. Agility, speed, and access to tools to reach new formats: it’s the only way to compete in a marketplace where the duopoly/triad giants hold most of the cards when it comes to scale.
Julie Bernard is CMO at Verve.
A version of this article first appeared at Street Fight.
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