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With two out of every three marketers agreeing that data-driven activation is crucial to marketing success (Gartner 2017 CMO Spend Survey), it’s not surprising that technology and data have become central themes in modern day media and communications.
But in the most recent CMO Survey, Gartner found that the proportion of marketing budgets directed towards technology fell 27% year-on-year. This downward trend was exemplified in a recent report by Digiday, highlighting falling adoption of Data Management Platform (DMP) technology, and citing the ongoing struggle marketer’s face in recognising the value of DMPs. The report suggested that most brands were struggling to execute effectively, stating “Eighty percent of advertisers feel like they’re not getting the most from their DMP”.
What’s Going Wrong?
With brands seeking to create, manage and automate personalised communication strategies at scale, growing investment in martech appeared to be inevitable. But this burgeoning and vibrant ecosystem appears to be slowing down, with brands seeming to question internal adoption rates, practical usage, and return on investment of these technology solutions.
The truth is that brands do face significant challenges in recognising the value of martech, and just because something is right doesn’t mean its easy. But what are the major roadblocks to technology investment and adoption?
I’ve summarised below what I see as the 5 most common mistakes that brands make when working with new technology platforms, and remedies to these challenges:
1) Failure to Establish Purpose
A purpose and a use case are two very different things. People talk a lot about use cases, and not so much about purpose. Brands need to look beyond use cases, towards establishing a guiding principle, a vision and a purpose behind adopting a given technology platform. They need to identify not only what can be gained, but also what can be lost if the technology isn’t adopted successfully. Use cases will come and go, performance will rise and fall, but the purpose will not change. Purpose maintains motivation. Purpose maintains focus.
2) Failure to Resource & Govern
Resource planning is difficult, and there is often a skill-set deficit with newly adopted technology platforms. My advice is to build a small, dedicated task force, reduce internal complexities, and encourage disruption. Your task force should comprise highly focussed and heavily incentivised individuals working at a practitioner level to implement change as close to the ground as possible. This team needs to be dedicated to the platform, it needs to be 100% focussed on its success, and it needs to be given room to operate. This is a new tool, a new capability and the people managing it need to be given room to alter and adjust existing business processes and structures, without being wrapped up in red tape.
3) Failure to Launch
Time to first value (TTFV) is a key metric in Software as a Service (SaaS), defined as the moment when customers first realise the value of a product. For DMP technology, it could be the first audience insight report, the first audience targeted in programmatic, the first time creative decisioning is influenced by audience. TTFV is just as important for the brand as it is for the technology vendor, and brands need to be focussed on launching the technology in as strong and aggressive a manner as possible. Starting with “low hanging fruit” to demonstrate value in the short-term is imperative to long-term success. TTFV reduces internal friction, builds confidence, provides a platform for advocacy and generates internal momentum. Remember the Newton’s 1st law “objects in motion stay in motion, objects at rest stay at rest”.
4) Failure to Reward
New technology often comes with inherent risk, and risk should generate reward. Teams that initially support the technology deployment, that are responsible for adoption and that are accountable for successful execution need to be incentivised effectively to maintain focus. This isn’t simply about financial rewards, it’s about career progression, visibility within the organisation and having a top-down approach to recognising members of the team focussed towards driving adoption of new capability. These individuals are risk takers and internal entrepreneurs, they are leaders and they should be encouraged to succeed at all levels.
5) Failure to Systemise
Having a small team of dedicated individuals driving use case execution is one thing. Adopting technology systemically across an organisation, with multiple markets and lines of business is something completely different. Adoption at large scale requires (1) clear governance and delineation of roles and responsibilities, (2) embedded incentive schemes to encourage operatives at all levels, (3) forums dedicated to sharing best practice, success and ongoing challenges to be overcome (4) maturity modelling exercises to manage disparities in adoption across the organisation, and (5) a patient mind-set that understands inherently that these things take time, that there will be short-term successes and failures, and that the journey to adoption is continually evolving.
More important than all these things combined, is the inherent understanding that change, in reality comes from the top, not the bottom or the middle. In order to systemise adoption, and really manifest change within a business, the people at the top need to be driving the mission, day in and day out.
Despite facing increasingly difficult terrain in martech I remain optimistic. I’ve seen what happens when brands overcome the above challenges, I’ve seen the transformational impact of technology adoption within a data-driven marketing framework. I’ve seen what can be achieved, and I know we have the skill-set, the people and the tools to help our clients to get there.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Omnicom Media Group or any of its subsidiary entities.
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