In The Marketing Industry’s Machine Age, Who Do You Trust?
Welcome to the new marketing machine age! Columnist Kendall Allen explains how human relationships are more important than ever, despite technology's ascendance.
Despite our fascination with it, many of us are suspicious of what I once liked to call the Math State — the ascendance of mathematics and algorithms that has occurred in the advertising industry as real-time bidding (RTB), pioneered by search marketing and now rising in programmatic display, has taken hold.
We wondered what this development would do to strategic collaboration between brand, agency and publisher. We worried that it would bridle our creativity. We worried that it would dumb down our talent, as we all relied — one way or another — on the algorithm behind the scenes, meaning we focused on running the dashboard rather than understanding and managing everything that was going on. We were concerned that somehow the “who” in what we all do was going away. But, happily, industry evolution proved none of this to be the case.
The programmatic environment, data science and the engineering behind audience modeling, targeting and optimization have all proved critical to our evolution.
And this has required a whole lot of who: supply side partners as well as strategists, data scientists, analysts and every breed of digital execution mechanic. But, as we continue to do business, partner and service digital ad marketing together — amid the math and on top of the machinery — I still can’t help but wonder where and to whom we should allocate our human trust.
I think about some of the most valuable interactions and conversations I’ve been a part of or privy to and the people who added the most value to the equation. In their best version of themselves, you’d be fortunate to have any one of these people on your team, in your corner or on speed dial.
The Creative Director That Gets Programmatic
This person understands that it’s a new age, that there’s a new opportunity to execute creative, visuals, messaging, sight and sound and quickly tune it to succeed. He or she is willing to refine traditional agency or studio processes to collaborate within the programmatic planning mode.
The Programmatic Lead That Embraces Creatives’ Stake In The Game
A person innately inclined to the math and the science that leans in and welcomes (expects) the creative team to be a part of the planning from the get-go makes all the difference in the world in achieving a quicker success story. If creative is addressed from the beginning on an equal playing field to the media and the media mechanics, it’s better for all involved.
A Chief Technology Officer With Diverse Experience
With so much converging in our future — data science, programmatic (not to mention programmatic TV), networks, mobility, video, cross-screen — a diversified background, with several lives lived, engenders worthy trust on any team and with any client you are taking into new territory.
The Sales/Client Services Team That Effuses Solid Product & Marketplace Knowledge
Eschewing the smiling, dialing, transactional seller, we’ve been saying for years that “consultative” sales and client services folks that know how to thoughtfully develop business are key. Still true. But, even more than this, with so much to know, learn and navigate, it goes a long way when this team genuinely loves to learn and share every day. It can mean the difference between getting left behind because you’re playing it overly safe and readily venturing into new territory.
And, of course, if you’ve been in the mix for a while, you’ve hopefully already developed certain circles of trust. Just as you know who never to consult, you have your people, people you trust, to vet any business idea, brainstorm, wild-hair idea or otherwise. They’ll check you. I know I have mine.
In the age of the machine, you still need to know who you trust. So, add that little cabal to the above list and consider yourself duly backed up.