As the marketing transformation and strategy director at Oracle, Wendy Hogan has been at the forefront of helping companies transform to become customer-first businesses by using technology to build direct relationships with their customers and prospects.
In a conversation with Campaign India, Hogan says that across the Asia-Pacific region there is a growing need among marketers to get smarter about spending advertising budgets and thinking about how they get to know customers better and build a better data-driven marketing strategy.
"Some countries are better than others at executing that but the conversation is very similar across Asia-Pacific," she says. In the past, marketers went from trial in digital to programmatic, which is the proxy for data driven advertising. "Now marketers are getting smarter about understanding the supply chain that supports programmatic and thinking about what they want to be in control of as opposed to what they want third parties to control on their behalf," she says.
According to her, most companies want to try and build their own view of the data and own the data at the company level as opposed to the agency. "In some cases they are moving well beyond advertising and are looking at other tactics that they can use to reach out to engage with prospects and turn them into customers," she says.
Will this lead to the agency getting less important in the scheme of things? "I don’t think the need for an agency goes away. I think the need for a marketer to understand their customer and have a direct relationship with their customer increases," she says.
She adds that there is definitely an activation layer in terms of being able to segment, target and retarget – where agencies will always have a part to play and build a relationship with a marketer. Whether or not that leads to buying media, building segmentation modelling, helping understand the broader ecosystem and building a stack with the client that will help clients achieve their goals – there are many roles that agencies play and will continue to play. She adds that by understanding their customer better, it does not mean clients will bring their media buying in-house. Instead, they will bring the data and insight from their media buying in-house.
Hogan says, "We live in an era where the customer dictates on how they want to interact with a brand because of the tools that customers have in hand to make purchasing decisions."
That also means that the role a media brand plays is rapdily changing. "There’s still a value in a third party masthead. But I don’t think it’s a brand’s job to pay for the news. A brand’s job is to sell the product that they are trying to sell and build a relationship with their customer." So the presumption by media mastheads that the value of their real estate is determined by their masthead may no longer hold water. "Publishers need to come up with a more compelling ways to interact with brands," she emphasises.
She elaborates that the reason media is challenged in terms of revenue today is because marketers have found other ways to interact with customers and prospects. The channels are no longer limited to the broadcast environment. The power of the broadcast mastheads – in today’s discussions about fake news – is definitely there. But it really depends on what is the business model for that relationship of a publishing brand with their own customer. If the customer is the reader, then what is the value exchanged. In the past, a brand funded the content creation and the publisher charged the brand for accessing the readers. That model is challenged these days.
There are few brands that are experimenting with data to deliver linear TV buying and to drive engagement with their audience across screens. There are lot of advancements on how you apply what we are learning in a digital data-driven environment back into other forms of media. We will see it across all media types at some point of time.
"In the scenario of a mass migration to an online environment how can marketers be there with their customer. The effect of demonetization on digital payments and the massive millennial population, it’s inevitable that India is going to continue to accelerate into a digital driven economy," says Hogan.
Brands need to be present there to execute right message, right moment and right context. Brands need to get their head around what it means to have a digital customer base and how to stay relevant in an environment like that. In India, brands can ride the wave with their customers, rather than play catch up like brands in other parts of the world have had to do.
She says, "The way you learn digital is by doing digital. The way you learn marketing automation is by trialing marketing automation. The way you understand customers is by getting all the data sets in the business into a single view. The other thing is to educate your organizational leadership. Not only do the CMOs need to educate themselves, they also need to coach the board and the CEO around the opportunity and the changing environment, not just for marketing but for the whole business."