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Digital Transformation Festival Marketing

Claire Valoti, Bob Lord, Gary Vaynerchuck & more on the new skills marketers now need


By The Drum Reporters, Editorial team

March 17, 2020 | 13 min read

From Spotify to Snapchat and Visa to Vaynermedia, we ask some of the world’s best digital marketers about the skills that will be required of the marketer of the future if they are to survive and thrive.

marketer of the future graphic

What does the marketer of the future look like?

Su Lin Tan, vice-president of operations, Carousell

Su Lin Tan

In order to thrive in a young upstart environment, marketers will need to be able to appreciate and adapt to working with ambiguity. They should feel energized by both the challenges and the immense prospect that we have as an industry.

They should take to working in an agile manner in cross-disciplinary groups of highly talented individuals who come together as a team to solve complex problems with novel solutions. They should be fully grounded in the fact that everything revolves around the end user, listening to them to formulate solutions, without letting preconceived notions stand in the way of learning and iterating.

Putting this all together in a real-life example, a marketer of the future would be able to plan and execute campaigns with publishers, monitor results together and then iterate by tweaking the set-up based on findings from the results to improve the performance of the campaign. The days of ‘set-and-forget’ campaigns are long gone.

Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer, Visa

I think marketers of the future will need to essentially be human Swiss Army knives – they will need to be capable of doing any number of things. People who have a bias toward action and insatiable curiosity will break apart from the pack and come out on top.

Youssef Ben-Youssef, director of ad platform, Roku

Youssef Ben Youssef

Being data-driven is key to understanding OTT campaigns. Marketers today have unprecedented access to all kinds of data to make more informed decisions and to measure across the full-funnel, including brand lift, store visits, site visitations, sales, and which target audience was reached.

A continuing dialog around data between marketers and their partners is critical for everyone to ensure the train does not come off the tracks.

Matt Candy, global leader, IBM iX

Matt Candy

I believe those that will survive (those that will successfully future-proof their business) will champion an enterprise-wide, customer-centric culture as the foundation for their digital reinvention. They will own the client experience from beginning to end, across their organization. They must re-imagine their role and address how their organizations will compete and win. This goes way beyond just thinking about the customer at the center of marketing. They need to align with their chief executives and C-suite peers to lead this transformation from the front, driving the growth and change. They must have skills around change management, employee experience, customer experience, design and data science, and have a vision of the business model of the future – the workflows, the ecosystem of business platforms – to which they are traveling.

Stephan Loerke, chief executive, World Federation of Advertisers

The marketer of the future will need an unlikely blend of creativity, tech savviness and business acumen. The job profile is challenging – and the role, no doubt, more exciting the ever.

Brian Whipple, chief executive officer, Accenture Interactive


All marketers are human beings, and I think a critical piece of surviving and thriving in the current and future market is the ability to be yourself at work. The world is waiting for leaders to show up who will speak authentically, who understand their personal brand and the value they bring, and who aren’t mired in industry jargon and process. Be uniquely yourself. Know what you’re good at. Do it authentically every single day. And if you can’t be yourself at work you won’t thrive, so find another job where you can.

Claire Valoti, international vice-president, Snapchat

Claire Valoti

Anyone who knows me knows I value authenticity above anything else, and I really believe that this trait will be key to the marketer of the future even more than it already is. Today’s consumers are rejecting the fake, and craving authenticity from platforms and the brands that advertise within them. To me, that means a few different things: a genuine understanding of the makeup and motivations of your audience, a desire to speak their language and create experiences and stories that resonate with them, and an appreciation of the technology they’re embracing and enjoying at scale, such as AR.

Ellie Norman, director of marketing and communications, F1

Ellie Norman

Adaptability: every marketer will need to embrace complexity and the dynamic process that is the path to purchase for their customers today and in the future.

A finger on the pulse: be able to make sense of all the data, extract useful insights in an increased real-time environment to action against.

Happy in frameworks and metrics: the more complex the environment becomes, the more helpful frameworks become as a way to provide order and navigate successfully. Frameworks help keep everyone on track. To stay on track, marketers will need to identify the metrics that best reflect the desired outcomes for the company and those that truly give a sense of leading indicators.

Creativity and curiosity: aside from expertise in data analytics and skills in the study of human beings, you need to be adept at telling compelling stories and embrace creative, disruptive thinking – these are the people who can connect disparate things in new ways, helping consumers and customers to get their stuff done more smoothly, and even with a bit more joy.

Doing the right thing: with deeper fan and customer relationships comes greater responsibility to ensure value is created for consumers and society, as well as the company.

Ben Sutherland, chief digital officer, Diageo

Marketers of the future must see themselves as business people who excel at marketing. Fully embedded in every dimension of the business, they must be trusted advisors and partners to the C-suite, focused on the growth of brands to ensure they are vibrant now and in the future.

Matt Derella, global vice-president of customers, Twitter

Matt Derella

The combination of collaboration and analytical thinking is potent. Collaboration is critical for businesses with internal teams, with their agencies, and with platforms like Twitter. But collaboration is insufficient alone. Analytical thinking unlocks the best of collaboration, enabling focused experimentation and fast learning.

Oliver Deane, director of commercial digital, Global

Adaptability. The Re-evaluating Media report from Ebiquity and Radiocentre researched planners’ perception of the effectiveness of media channels and found “a significant mismatch between industry perceptions and what the evidence says”. Therefore, the marketer of the future needs to be able to interrogate the evidence and challenge the existing ways of doing things. I believe that approach will drive a competitive advantage for brands.

Nigel Vaz, global chief executive officer, Publicis Sapient

Nigel Vaz

Today, the customer’s experience of a brand can come from myriad touchpoints. Within the client organization, responsibility for these many interfaces does not always sit in the realm of marketing and so it is easy to conclude that the power of the marketer is on the wane.

In fact, the opposite could be true – at least for marketers who have the adaptability, agility, curiosity and desire to embrace and own ‘experience’ in its widest sense. Securing competitive advantage through utilizing technology and harnessing data to get an organization to its future digitally enabled state is essential. It differentiates a business by allowing it to know its customers best. Less replicable is purpose, the promise of what a brand stands for and the creativity to make the emotional connections needed to build relationships with consumers.

Marketers who can combine a technological and marketing approach and capabilities will face a strong future – for their businesses as well as for themselves.

Josh Peters, director of data partnerships, BuzzFeed

Adaptability will never be undervalued; just thinking about how much the field has changed, and will continue to do so, with things like GDPR, CCPA and the death of third-party cookies, shows that we all need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Creativity isn’t often associated with the business side of the house, but it I think it’s one of the most undervalued skills. Being able to use one part of your brain to understand complex business and legal ramifications of market or regulation changes and then quickly switch to the other side to figure out creative solves for your business will be paramount to surviving, let alone thriving, in the future.

Collaboration skills will become more and more important as the entire marketing ecosphere gets more technical and more entrenched in legal, security and privacy areas. No one can know it all and no one should be expected to. So, having the ability to build a solid core of knowledge around your specific role and then be able to reach out and effectively partner with other internal groups or external agencies, clients or vendors to achieve your goals is necessary. The days of siloed business operations are well and truly over.

Lizzie Widhelm, senior vice-president of ad innovation and sales marketing, Pandora

Lizzie Widhelm

For better or for worse, the marketer of the future has to be skilled in finance, data, legal, adtech and creative, to name just a few, while also trying to keep up with the ever-evolving consumer. My advice is to keep it simple, prioritize your focus on understanding what will deliver the best human experience. We expect personalized customization from every service, and the ads we receive are no exception. Pandora is an audio platform, so I spend a lot of time working with our advertisers, helping them understand that their audio ad is no longer just an interruption. Instead, it’s a part of a getting-ready routine, workout soundtrack, lunch break or time spent with family. I believe investing in a deep understanding of what makes your customers tick will always matter most.

Jamie West, group director of advanced advertising, Sky

A marketer should not lose sight of the fundamentals just because there is some new tech company or disruptive technology or trend.

Jeff Green, chief executive officer, The Trade Desk

Jeff Green

The digitization of media has driven a massive skill shift in marketing. Marketers need to understand data and how to apply it to optimize and automate their digital marketing campaigns across all formats and devices. Advertisers must learn how to leverage technology and AI to maximize their ad campaigns’ effectiveness and to measure campaign performance by tying ad spend to actual business results, rather than proxy metrics. But even among seasoned marketers, programmatic advertising can be overly complicated. That is why we developed a free e-learning curriculum on programmatic advertising to help marketers – everyone from media planners to traders to chief marketers – understand what’s possible with programmatic.

Lisa Utzschneider, chief executive officer, IAS

Understanding data and having the ability to apply data to their marketing campaigns will be crucial for the future marketers of the world.

Julie Clark, global head of automation revenue and podcast monetization, Spotify

Julie Clark

We are moving beyond a time where standard media math is going to work in a broad sense.

To survive, it’s about understanding and utilizing the vast array of tools available and discerning which are the best for your business, not necessarily which are just the best.

To thrive – the ability to think beyond campaign activation to a holistic view of brands engaging with consumers in a meaningful way. This will make it necessary for us to have a real understanding of moods and moments of maximum impact and leveraging the right tools and insights to make marketing magic.

Bob Lord, chief digital officer, IBM

Bob Lord

An individual’s LQ, their learning quotient, is arguably a better predictor of their success than their EQ or IQ. It’s their intellectual curiosity, their drive to learn. Throughout my career the individuals who I have seen succeed most are those who have the internal drive to learn something new and approach change with energy and enthusiasm.

My advice to anyone in the industry is to work in an agile manner. The only way to keep up with the pace of today’s advances in technology is by having a clear direction, collaborating in short iterations, and eliminating blockers. It also means not being afraid to fail and actually celebrating our failures – learning from them and accelerating because of them. In other words, we should ‘fail forward’.

Gary Vaynerchuk, chief executive officer, Vaynermedia

They need to be deeply consumer-centric and actually be thinking ‘Why would someone like this picture, video or written word?’ and ‘Will this compel them to buy this yogurt, donate to this charity or buy this B2B SaaS product?’

They need to wildly understand both math and art. There’s a much greater need for a 50/50 split on analytic capabilities and creative capabilities, while still understanding that creative is the variable of success. Thus, if a tie goes to the runner, always go with the art and craft to the story.

Marketers will have to be far more educated on the nuances of the platforms that distribute the information. The blunt objects of TVC, radio, outdoor, banner ads and emails are far more complex today as social platforms and other emerging places will be far more nuanced and have so many more ways to activate. Just look at the OTT companies – their ad products are dramatically more advanced and have so many more variables than a traditional TVC. So much of our television behavior is starting to go into OTT.

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