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Digital Transformation Brand Strategy Possible Miami

Overheard at Possible Miami 2024: ‘We’re obsessed with tomorrow while neglecting today’


By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

April 17, 2024 | 10 min read

This week, The Drum is reporting live from Possible Miami 2024. Amid the sea breezes and the buzz, here’s what we’re hearing from industry leaders on the ground.

possible miami 2024

Marketing luminaries share their thoughts at Possible Miami 2024

On marrying brand and performance marketing

Tariq Hassan, chief marketing and customer experience officer, McDonald‘s: “For the longest time, it was like brand or performance, and I just refuse to participate in it. If you think about the construct, when were we ever told, ‘Oh, yeah, go build the brand, but who cares if it performs. Oh, and by the way, perform the heck out of something, but who cares if it deteriorates the brand!‘ It‘s just counterintuitive in terms of what we should do.“

On the industry’s inability to solve for today’s problems

Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, chairman of VaynerX and CEO, VaynerMedia: “This industry is obsessed with yesterday, the romance of the commercial – the ‘big idea’ – and obsessed with tomorrow, like VR, virtual influencers and AI. And [the industry] just sucks at today. My hot take is that this industry is atrocious at marketing for today. And we have to get our act together, because our clients are losing market share. The leverage of distribution, both in media and in retail, is being taken away from the Fortune 500 set, and that’s why we’re seeing so many things emerge. It’s a major issue. Shit, it’s 2024. It’s time to finally take some of this stuff seriously. Organic social is the starting point for marketing, and on a good day, [for example,] at this conference, it’s the 20th most important thing to these brands.”

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On cookie deprecation preparedness

Tracy-Ann Lim, chief media officer, JPMorgan Chase & Co: “Marketers at large really ought to be looking to highly regulated industries like finance for the blueprint on how to stay prepared, because we have the regulator grading our homework, so we have to get it right. If I had this job elsewhere, that’s what I would be obsessing about: What are the finance companies doing? What are the insurance companies doing? What are the pharmaceutical brands doing? Because they have an awful lot more at stake in terms of getting it wrong.”

On avoiding AI missteps

Laura Jones, chief marketing officer, Instacart: “Using AI for the sake of using AI is a pitfall that we can all fall into. On some level, you do have to just get in there and play. But really thinking about what your strategy is and how AI lines up behind that strategy [is crucial] – instead of trying to create a bespoke AI strategy that’s just [added] on top of whatever your core objectives are. I really think of it as something that supports us and lets us do what we’re going to do in a better, more efficient way – versus something more performative, where we just tick the box, like, ‘Yes, we have innovated with AI.’ It’s important to be playful and be on the edges, but you also have to have that judgment of really making sure that something is ready for public consumption and really making sure you’re not launching things too early or in a state where they’re not tested enough.”

On navigating data signal loss

Jeremy Flynn, vice-president of data products and strategy, Clear Channel: “A lot of the reason why people are here right now at Possible is because the techniques that they’ve used for the past 10 to 20 years for running good marketing campaigns are being increasingly challenged – whether by consumer privacy regulation or data signal loss. So they’re coming to explore new ways of continuing to do the same good work, and they’re going to be increasingly challenged to be innovative and creative and operate more with less – or [finding] new paths to delivering the same value to brands and advertisers.“

On shifting attitudes around shoppable media

Tony Marlow, chief marketing officer, LG Ads: “We’ve been able to do QR codes literally for more than a decade. You can push it on any ad on TV. The technology is not new. You’ve been able to do the shoppable experience – whether via QR code or other means on your TV, or on your TV to your mobile. But the difference now is that people are actually ready. People are now very receptive to this notion of shopping on their TV or bringing the shopping experience from their TV to their mobile – like with the Barbie movie, with quick-service restaurants, even finance. The readiness and the mindset of the consumer has shifted, which means the marketer needs to shift as well.”

On marketers’ unhealthy obsession with data

Heidi Andersen, chief marketing officer and chief revenue officer, Nextdoor: “We’ve gone way overboard with the amount of data we collect. We’ve been caught up in this pendulum swing. Marketers decided to … track everything and then put it into this mix and create these very sophisticated models for showing outcomes. But we swung the pendulum so far … that now you have these massive data teams looking at an abundance of data and trying to look for the insights – but instead, they’re looking at a lot of observations, maybe some correlations, maybe some causations. At the end of the day, they can’t totally tell what the attribution looks like. And yet, a lot of resources are going into all of that. So, what I’m trying to figure out … is how to swing the pendulum a little bit further back, which will take care of some of the waste in the system. How do you simplify [your data practice] into finding metrics that you can stand behind and simplify the way you’re tracking and managing your data? I honestly believe half the data [marketers collect] is garbage.”

On publishers’ identity problem

Matt Leardini, president, iMDS: “Publishers are trying to find innovative ways to capture identity but also adhere to privacy standards that they’re [unsure how to navigate] in certain markets. But as they focus on newsletters, it ends up being a commodity, trying to capture users for newsletters. And there are only so many newsletters that users will sign up for and find value in before they opt-out or unsubscribe. So, publishers are challenged with the identity problem as users are being oversaturated with identity requests, and it’s very difficult for them to capture a login without having some other authenticated wall beyond the newsletter. Publishers are … not seeing the same amount of traffic from social, SEO and other more organic means of acquiring traffic. And now, even their paid traffic means are under scrutiny. Is it made for advertising inventory? Or is it promoting your business? It really depends on the eye of the beholder.”

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On the the value of partnerships in retail media

Evan Hovorka, vice-president of product and innovation, Albertsons Media Collective: “The next generation of the retail media network evolution is going to come on the back of partnerships. We’re seeing the most progress come through a humble kind of ‘wear the right hat for the role’ approach to building, [for example], a CTV network. Retail media networks typically don’t own a full-stack CTV platform the way we do with display – so how do you compensate? While we can partner with the NBCs, Disneys, Rokus and Hulus, now there’s a gap in data sharing, so clean rooms start to play a bigger role. [So we need] a partnership where we can both build this together – it’s a collaborative design, co-owning the channel. It doesn’t sound like a major step forward, but in terms of owning and controlling the product, [this kind of partnership] is a big step forward because it’s, ‘Hey, let’s build this [data capability] together, place it in a clean room, make that available to the client.’ And it’s owned by two or three companies, which is an interesting dynamic that we’re seeing evolve pretty quickly. And when we find the right partners that want to build that way, it’s such a beautiful place because then everyone’s got that attitude of, ‘Hey, we’re all in this together – let’s do what’s right for the client.’”

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