Nikki Mendonça, president, Accenture Interactive Operations leads the marketing activation network of Accenture Interactive across the world. As the marketing world complements data with human insight, Mendonça feels that we are gravitating towards a much better world, a world that delivers the advertising that is relevant to consumers. In a world that's increasingly driven by TLO (test, learn and optimise) all the time, the former Omnicom Group executive tells Campaign India that within the realm of marketing operations, the analytics part is particularly interesting and that the world of hyper-personalised marketing is on steroids. Excerpts from the conversation:
How different is your current role from what you were doing in your previous role at OMD Worldwide?
The area of brand experience activation is similar. What is more exciting now is to be able to make that end-to-end. Much more analytics in the front end and then obviously making sure that we are always selling. We are always looking at marketing for sales as opposed to marketing for building awareness.
It recognises the fact that when you think about the platformisation of marketing, mobile consumption of marketing, platforms like Instagram etc.., the whole purchase cycle between awareness and conversion has suddenly become three minutes. We are making sure that we are understanding that and we are taking advantage of that for our clients. We are very data driven, very tech enabled, content powered but also recognising that a lot of transactions are going to take place over the mobile.
At one end we have the shortening of the purchase cycle between awareness and sales. At another front attention spans have dwindled to six seconds. How does the marketer strike a balance between the two?
Yes, you have got to make sure that you are excellent in storytelling in both long form and short form. I don’t think we should opt for one or the other. What we are also seeing is that once clients have ascertained a long form way of storytelling, we then help them customise lots of assets so that they are creating thousands or sometimes millions of assets from the long form content. We have to be able to take that story and make it more hyper relevant to all the different target audiences. We have to do it at speed, at scale while retaining the essence of the story and the essence of differentiation.
So that’s essentially the personalisation-at-scale model at work…
Completely. Personalisation at scale is the business that we are in across multiple formats. We also make sure that we have a lot more predictive analytics and predictive modelling to make sure that we are getting the right short form communication that’s pertinent to our audience and their previous behavior.
Now, we can drive not only the asset formation but also the delivery mechanism. Hyper-personalisation is on steroids. Technology and data enable us to do that. It’s unbelievable. Everything that we were talking about five years ago and wishing for, we can now do.
How big is the opportunity?
If you look at how much is spent on marketing, globally it’s a trillion dollar market. That’s the size of the uber market opportunity. Specifically, in terms of activation I would say that revenue-wise the market at large is probably 100 billion. That’s in terms of revenue as a managed service. It’s probably no surprise that Accenture wanted to leverage all of their data tech and content ability to be able to start to convert that opportunity.
We already had an excellent relationship with CTOs, CIOs and CEOs. Now, it’s a case of let’s build excellent relationships with CMOs and CDOs. Now you even have VP for marketing platforms.
Everyone is realising that marketing is evolving to a platform. Marketing technology is important to do with everything in terms of activation. Everyone has realised that, so they are reengineering their roles and responsibilities within the marketing fraternity. Hence they are forming those five or six key roles that actually help deliver end to end marketing on behalf of the client.
We are trying to ensure that marketing delivers sales. And marketing, sales and customer service are all coming together. The convergence in that space is happening at quite a rate.
Is sales become the lead function now as opposed to marketing that would have played big brother earlier?
Marketing is now grown up. It now needs to defend its role in the board room. The CFO has got his eyes on the marketing budget. So if that marketing is a cost and not an investment – it has to be an investment and deliver something back to the business. If that marketing cost is not delivering sales back to the business, then the CFO is questioning the potency or the role of marketing. Marketing now is in the spotlight on that.
There is a lot of pressure on CMOs to deliver the ROI on the marketing spend. We are conscious of that because we believe that it has to be an investment and not a cost. Therefore whenever we are doing a marketing activation across touchpoints, we have to be thinking about sales at the end of the day. That’s in terms of hard metrics.
What about the softer metrics?
Obviously, there are some softer metrics. Take for example, the automotive business. We are still looking at test drives. We are still looking at driving people into dealerships there will still be a number of proxy metrics that we will look at. But we are also looking at the number of cars sold. We are constantly evaluating how much money we have to spend to achieve cars sold. So, we are understanding that our clients are increasingly more pressurized to improve marketing led growth and that’s the sweet spot of what we are doing. Through data and technology and much better analytics we can prove that marketing is delivering sales. That really is the conversation that’s going on in many, many board rooms.
On one hand we are talking about hyper personalization. On the other front, there is the issue of consumer data privacy…
We understand that we have to protect privacy as well as deliver hyper personalised communication. The customer actually wants hyper relevant communication as it’s empowering and enhances their lives. We are making sure that all the laws –GDPR, e-privacy, the California Privacy Law (CCPA) is embedded into our systems into the way we operate. We are writing algorithms that understand the privacy protection. We will make sure that we operate only in a way that’s privacy compliant.
We are operating in an opt-in world and operating in a world where someone has already given us access to their behavior and therefore wants to receive hyper-personalised communication – finally both parties are happy. We are finding that balance by making sure that everything is already coded into our set of behaviours so that we understand that is the world we will operate within.
This is not only happening in the pure-play digital world. This is going to happen in TV as well. We are also preparing for a world of hyper personalisation on the large screen.
Legacy agencies often argue that while the consulting biggies might have the ears of the boardroom, they have the ears of the consumer. How would you react to that?
I think the world has opened up so dramatically. I don’t think any single person has a monopoly on any consumer. If you develop powerful compelling communications, then you have the consumer in the palm of your hand irrespective of who you are or where you have come from. So it could be a small start up, a holding company or a consultancy. What is important is the understanding to have the know-how of powerful consumer behavioural insights from the data that you have access to, and if you can create powerful communication and messaging conversations as a result of that understanding, that is the game.
Consultancies like Accenture have access to inordinate number of data sets and ways of analysing consumer behavior that give them an advantage in the marketplace. That gives us an advantage to deliver better marketing solutions that drives results.