Which brands are making the most of real-time marketing?

MediaCom's EMEA CEO Nick Lawson reveals his thoughts in a panel debate at dmexco 2013

“Too few clients are taking advantage of the opportunities of real-time marketing”, Nick Lawson, CEO of MediaCom EMEA, told the world’s largest conference for digital marketing recently.

Speaking at a debate entitled “Meaningful Brands in a Real-Time World” at dmexco in Cologne/Germany, Lawson said that while there were pockets of great activation, it was yet to become a universal reality.

“The only clients I see doing work consistently in real time are the big, traditional direct response advertiser who have definitely moved into this world. I look at clients such as Sky in the UK, for example, who have the content, who understand their purchase funnel really, really well and understand how to apply content to maybe 20 different contact points and they are as close as I’ve seen to that happening,” he noted.

Such efforts might be part of the Superbowl experience for US brands but it still wasn’t part of the day to day, he added.

Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital marketing and social media, highlighted his company’s attempts to change that and the work of the Digital Acceleration Team. His company was giving global leadership teams eight months training together and these executives were now rolling out real-time marketing capability in India, China and Italy among others, he said.

KitKat now had 18m followers, for example, and the Nestlé team were now producing 1,500 pieces of original content a day, not including responses.

Such efforts were reaching the “the most influential, persuasive and viral consumers and I think they count for a lot”.

Blackshaw stressed that teaching the company’s brands to use Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms was not an attempt to bash traditional media, but a way of maximizing investment.

“We have an existing investment where a lot of money is poured into TV, the question is how do we help TV to produce more, how do we hold TV or offline to greater accountability?” he said. “We’re talking about an ecosystem that revolves around a central big idea, that grounded in some great insight, and we’re leveraging big channels to bring it to life. I do believe there is great exponential value to be gained by getting the pieces to synergize.”

Lawson emphasized that brands needed to get to grips with real-time, as their products and services were being discussed online.

“Great brands understand every single part of the customer journey towards buying their product and they develop great content around those touchpoints, using a number of different partners and not just a media agency,” he said.

Marc Bresseel, President Client and Services G14 at Mediabrands, said real-time marketing should be used to deliver surprise in an age of serendipity.

“People are looking for that experience in an online world. Surprise me, do something as a brand, do something in an intelligent way that shows me something that I don’t know yet,” he said.

However, Lawson pointed out that if clients wanted real-time marketing they had to empower their agencies to deliver it.

“We’ve got to be tougher on our clients. I think we’ve got to demand a different form of remuneration, which I think is important, but also a different type of briefing,” he said. “Most of our relationships with our clients on the media side we haven’t even got brand KPIs, we’ve got effectiveness KPIs or buying KPIs.”

Bresseel agreed that brand KPIs were a minimum, sales results and sales effectiveness were a better measure. Mostly, however, he said that clients needed bolder managers. “You need a Pete in every single client. You need someone that has the balls to push the idea,” he said.

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