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Trust can’t be replicated by an algorithm – the rise of ‘business to human’ marketing

By Ian Darby, journalist

April 25, 2022 | 6 min read

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The increasing use of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has driven lightning-fast progress, but the speed of change risks removing humans from the loop. We explore how the marketing industry must also focus on the primary reason for digital engagement: human response.

Trust can’t be replicated by an algorithm – the rise of ‘business to human’ marketing

CMG Digital is relaunching this week with a new positioning focused on putting humanity back into digital.

Against a backdrop of a global pandemic, rapid climate change, rising food prices and the spiralling cost of living in many parts of the world, today's digital marketing technologies must evolve to meet very different demands to those of just two years ago.

We've seen the concentration of what would usually be a decade’s worth of development into just 24 months. The increasing use of automation and AI has, to a large degree, driven this lightning-fast progress, but brings a significant danger too. That the speed of change risks removing humans from the loop.

The role for humanity in digital marketing has never been more pressing. Yes, technology’s ability to scale, respond rapidly and deliver messaging more effectively are all plus points, but the marketing industry must also focus on the primary reason for digital engagement: human response. Machines, even intelligent machines, help audiences to make sense of what we see but they can’t tell us how we feel. While technologies are able to deliver messaging more effectively, this doesn’t mean that they deliver more effective messaging.

It's time for ‘B2H’ connections

The more progressive brands and agencies in the world are aware of this. For instance, CMG Digital is relaunching this week. The agency, based in Croatia, with a presence in the UK and the US, has evolved a new positioning focused on putting humanity back into digital.

CMG Digital is unfurling its new ‘B2H’ (Business to Human) banner as a reflection of its belief in human-focused digital marketing. The agency will concentrate on bringing this to life through real, serious ways of understanding digital sustainability, inclusivity and the role of digital in building consumer engagement over time. Based on appreciating the role of content in developing the relationship between brand and consumer when consumers are faced with an ever-increasing range of choice.

The agency, which works with some of the world's largest FMCG and pharmaceutical brand owners (including Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline) backs this vision with real-world initiatives of its own, focused on introducing humanity into the heart of what it does. For example, its mental health program called MindGiving provides a series of ongoing activities for all its people. There is also a strong commitment to gender balance at the business (two-thirds of senior management roles are held by women, and 55% of all positions at the agency).

CMG Digital's president Ana Tolić, is confident that the new ‘B2H’ focus will provide a statement of intent to forward-thinking companies and brands – that digitization is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. “Over the course of the pandemic the lightning-fast adoption of digital meant the space quickly became inhuman and cold. We are an agency that recognizes that we can’t replace the people’s side of things with a platform, and that relationships are critical to success," she argues.

Human-led digital transformation

CMG’s new ‘B2H’ focus is vital in light of insight from McKinsey, which argues that digitization is critical to business success, but in turn, customer-centricity is essential to successful digitization. The consultancy finds that, “…competing pressures and priorities mean that the customer can often be side-lined. Top companies that sustain a comprehensive focus on the customer (in addition to operational and IT improvements) can generate economic gains ranging from 20 to 50 per cent of the cost base.”

At CMG, recent achievements based on this human focus include leading the design and implementation of digital marketing production across one of its key clients, impacting hundreds of markets, saving 10% annually in IT resource costs and delivering up to 40% annually on time and budget efficiency through increasing adoption rates.

The gains possible from this human focus are set to intensify due to the acceleration of marketing industry trends. Take the rise of direct-to-consumer, for instance. The FMCG industry is well set to capitalize on DTC growth by delivering human experiences through digital transformation. And there's a sustainability angle to this too, of which the world's major brand owners are only too aware.

Marc Pritchard, P&G's chief digital and marketing officer, used a recent World Federation of Advertisers' report to emphasize the need for greater sustainability in marketing and outlined how this will deliver commercial benefits: “Brands that are a force for good, begin to be a force for growth as well – there's a very clear correlation.”

And there's ample evidence that putting people at the heart of digital marketing experiences also delivers strong results for brand owners. For instance, CMG Digital worked recently with GSK pain relief product Panadol on the launch of a new visual brand image. The challenge was to align the global master website with a cluster of five locally relevant microsites – reflecting the experience of real people as they used the brand’s products.

Following its people – not platforms – engagement principle, the agency mobilized SEO, analytics, UX/UI, graphic design, translation and development teams. This led to the successful co-ordination of visual and content elements that encompassed a new global identity for Panadol with the subtle socio-cultural nuances of each of the local properties.

Empowering brands

Building on this type of digital marketing activity, CMG Digital believes its relaunch and focus on ‘business to human’ will help it to better achieve an overall goal of empowering brands to scale their global message to the local level with consistency and pace.

Most importantly, this approach will be based on the key principles of humanity and sustainability across platforms and markets. A relentless focus on these values as brands look to deliver digital transformation is a strong recipe for growth.

Agency Culture Agency Models B2B Marketing

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CMG is a digital design & smart production agency delivering digital excellence for global brands at a local level. Clients including Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline,...

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