1. What role does technology play in marketing in the modern era?
Marketing is all about giving people a compelling reason to care about your brand. But we can’t make people care if they don’t know that our brand exists. Technology is what enables marketers to find the right prospects, connect with them through more personalized content, and optimize campaigns based on behavior. Above all, technology is what makes our creative product more relevant, more timely and more impactful.
Powerful creative ideas—not necessarily technology—is what gives marketers a competitive edge. Technology is merely a means to help make something creative more relevant. DMPs and CRM platforms allow us to integrate our customer data; DSPs enable better targeting, and CGI and augmented reality make content more life-like. But at the end of the day, all of this is in service of creativity that evokes emotion. If it doesn’t make people care, then none of it matters.
Leo Burnett owns a proprietary tool called Ardent, which analyzes 6 billion online searches everyday to understand what people want and need.
When Facebook took off more than a decade ago, people were really excited about social listening. But when you think about what people share on social media, it’s about the image they want to project to the world about who they are and what they value, but it’s not always the reality of how people really feel and behave.
Search behavior, on the other hand, is an unfiltered reflection of what people really want and need, right now, without anyone else knowing. Marketers can use this data to find unmet needs, inform content and predict future trends. Search is essentially the new language of demand.
Fear of the unknown can paralyze marketers. How can you invest in something that you don’t fully understand? Morever, technology is always changing, so it’s difficult to keep up. My advice to marketers: If you have an agency, let them guide you. Ask your agency to facilitate training programs for you and your teams. Request collaborative work sessions with technology leaders to hear an outside perspective. At Leo Burnett, we offer clients always-on access to technology partners like Google, Facebook and Adobe to help them transform their business. Finally, don’t be afraid to start small and test new things. The biggest successes often start with baby steps.
Some marketers believe that technology is hindering creativity in advertising—that data and automation is killing the craft of emotional storytelling. I adamantly disagree with this. Technology has the ability to amplify—not hinder—creativity. It allows us to understand people better, serve up more meaningful experiences and find people in the moments that matter. As marketers, what we do need is to make people feel something so powerful that they are compelled to act. If we think about technology and creativity in separate silos, we fail to do that.
When it comes to marketing, just because you can use shiny new technology doesn’t mean you should. Never use technology for the sake of trying to be innovative. Consumers are smart and can see through this, and it often leads to marketing that is convoluted and confusing.
Focus on making people feel and take action, and then apply the tools and tech to help you get there. If it’s successful, you’ll see it in the results.