This week nearly 7,500 people from 89 countries made their way to two airplane hangars in downtown Las Vegas for Collision, a “new kind of tech event,” in which tech is approached as an intrinsic part of every aspect of business. In addition to sessions on four main stages—Center, Enterprise, Builders and Marketing—the event attracts speakers and attendees from Fortune 500 companies to nascent startups, along with no small number of VC and Angel investors. What they all have in common is a focus on what’s next and driving the innovation that will take us there.
While tech was undoubtedly the underpinning of the vast majority of sessions and conversations, marketing was also central to many discussions—given that few of the “big ideas” brewing at Collision will go far without it.
Here are my three marketing takeaways from Day 1 of Collision:
Programmatic with polish: Without a doubt, speaker after speaker confirmed the growing dominance of programmatic. In fact, eMarketer founder and CEO Geoff Ramsey kicked off the day with a slew of stats, including that we can expect to see $15 billion worth of advertising bought programmatically this year, comprising 55% of all display. And while Digiday’s Ricardo Bilton pointed out that “The promise of programmatic is that it is intensely efficient,” a number of people throughout the day made clear that they were looking forward to the continued evolution of programmatic to be more creative and contextualized. Howard Pyle, VP of Marketing at IBM, said that while programmatic is “a convenient way to make marketing function more like a machine” he remains focused on creating customized experiences that best suit his different customer segments. Thus, he is exploring how he can create “unique experiences at scale.” And Anthony Mazzarella, SVP, Agency Sales, at Celtra says that this creates an opportunity to “bring marketers and the media closer together,” which can only make the experience better.
- Data is a game changer: “The job of marketer is changing” according to Paul Berry, founder and CEO of RebelMouse, who believes that there used to be a lot more guesswork and intuition around which aspects of customer information would help them make good business decisions. However, giving the influx of real-time data and increased ease of use, “today’s marketers can swim deeply in all of the insights,” emerging with information that they can readily apply to their strategies. At L’Oréal Rachel Weiss, the company’s VP of Digital Innovation, says they’ve moved way past Facebook Likes and are focused on really getting to know their customers. To do so, the company recently began to hire data scientists, who help shape all aspects of customer experience and marketing.eMarketer’s Ramsey also emphasized the incredible potential that wearable data offers marketers though he noted that marketers are “struggling to manage the torrents of data pouring through all of these different devices.” But with the rise of increasingly personal data, Vivek Sharma, CEO of Movable Ink says he sees a rise in “data-inspired creativity.” And of course, there will remain the responsibility to use “data in a way that’s not creepy,” as Tariq Shaukat, EVP and chief commercial officer of Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation put it. “Data offers an amazing opportunity to do better things for customers,” he said. “You give your data in exchange for a great experience. When you explain it to customers and do it in a way that adds legitimate value for them, you will find that customers really do appreciate it.”
Customer experience and marketing collide: Pyle of IBM believes that it is essential for marketing to emerge from its corporate silo and be better integrated into the entire business so that the insights marketers have about customers are better reflected in product development and so that marketers can better create customized content experiences that fuel business objectives. L’Oréal’s Weiss noted that customers believe “they are their own brand first, and that every product they use should be built around them.” At Movable Ink, Sharma finds an increased demand for “personalization on the fly” because customers expect messages tuned to things such as location and weather. He sees content marketing intersecting with context to create value for the customer. “Rather than asking someone to buy trainers, tell them about road races around them. Then, when the time is right you can offer them the right shoes.” Berry at RebelMouse observed that “it turns out that it is very hard to capture people’s attention” and that brands must continually focus their marketing tactics on serving their needs. “Today, there’s no tolerance for a mediocre experience.”