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The Digital Voice is a boutique PR agency working with ​impact.com, Adnami, Cavai, White Bullet Solutions, Adverty, Brand Metrics, Gumgum, Verasity, Lumen Research, Hybrid Theory, Verasity, Optable, multilocal, Exit Bee and Passendo.

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Adnami’s Emelie Malmquist on how to thrive as a modern CMO in 2022

by Julia Linehan

November 11, 2021

Adnami’s head of marketing, Emelie Malmquist, speaks to The Digital Voice about the challenges her role has faced in 2021, and why the CMO of the future needs to be a flexible multi-disciplinarian. We asked her to complete this sentence: the CMO of 2022 needs to be…? Read on to find out what she has to say.

In the last 18 months the pandemic has ripped up the rulebook and forced marketers to adapt effectively and efficiently. How does Adnami view these challenges and changes?

A lot has changed in the last year and a half, even down to the practical considerations of not being able to attend physical events, and the technology that has evolved to cater for remote working. These have made a big difference to how we go about our business. Yet, despite marketing always being an industry on the move – and it has changed hugely in the past 15 years, let alone the last 18 months – the fundamentals will always remain the same. Understanding your buyer and consumer, their pain points, focusing on good copywriting, great creative and amazing storytelling is critical. These core marketing values will never change.

However, what does change are the tools, processes and channels we use to speak to consumers. Telling a good story (to the right audience) and being creative is the most important thing, as is being able to stick to these fundamentals while remaining flexible on the actual processes behind them. That’s why I don’t think we need to lose any sleep over the demise of the cookie; it's just another example of change. We’ll move on.

What lessons have you learned during 2021 that you are looking forward to applying in 2022?

Our biggest win as an industry over the past 18 months has been that we have become more effective. For example, marketing teams have traditionally planned quite far in advance, like huge advertising campaigns or global events that stakeholders attend from around the world, all for the sake of a couple of presentations. That feels outdated today, especially with the increasing (and correct) focus on our industry’s environmental credentials. Now, with the advent of home working as the new ‘normal’, we have become very good at communicating quickly and effectively, and getting work done efficiently. We have better tools, better data and better support, and as we return to normal it is going to be increasingly important to apply the lessons we have learned 2022. At Adnami, these last few years have also emphasised how getting back to basics with branding, creativity and content are at the core of what we and our partners need to do.

As we move towards a post-pandemic 2022, what messages are you sending to your publishers?

We are in constant dialogue with our partners. There is an understandable concern about a cookieless future, but Adnami is keen to reassure our partners that we're working really hard to put control back in their hands after an over-reliance on data, which I think the whole industry has been guilty of. Fantastic creative is the way to take back control of inventory, and that has become very obvious over the past year.

There’s also a large amount of evidence to suggest that branding is a very underrated channel for customer acquisition. Especially in B2B, where brand activities are rarely prioritised due to the difficulty in measuring the impact on the short and medium term. There’s plenty of revenue attributing tools and studies proving that brand campaigns and activities generate the best overall results. A big chunk of your “direct traffic” is probably related to recommendations or referrals, and if you check your search ads, your brand name will probably generate the best leads, and so on. But of course, you need to put your brand out there for people to recognize it. Therefore, I believe that a lot of companies, not only B2C, are going to invest heavily in branding, and more specifically, brand advertising in 2022.

What do you think will define the CMO role in 2022, and what qualities will they need to succeed in the current landscape?

The CMO of 2022 will have to understand both revenue and branding. The old school marketer was all about text, shape and colour. The new way that has emerged the past few years is more about channels, data, tools and analytics. But ideally you need to be a hybrid of both to have real impact (but let’s also be kind to ourselves and realize that we’re no superhumans that can be experts in everything).

So far in my career I’ve jumped between tech and software sales and marketing roles, always B2B and always in revenue-driven positions with the responsibility of attracting new customers. This has given me a fantastic insight into how both marketing and sales departments work in an organization, and the fact that these two disciplines are aligned here at Adnami helps me to operate at my best. Flexibility regarding roles in the workplace is certainly going to be a theme through 2022 and the future.

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