Bingle marketer Kristi Barrow on separating real opportunities from hype

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 23 May 2019
Kristi Barrow

Suncorp’s Bingle marketer, Kristi Barrow, tells AdNews about the benefits of building an online only brand, talks modern-day marketing challenges, avoiding buzzword BS and how to stay focused on strengths while delegating weaknesses.

Speaking to AdNews, the senior manager of digital marketing and customer engagement at the insurance brand said building an online only brand vs one with a retail presence means everything is instantly trackable and data is available in real-time.

“This also helps brands in terms of their speed and agility to react to different market conditions and demand,” Barrow said.

“To add to this, there are no long lead times for print or instore promotion and it also gives brands the opportunity to test ideas quickly and pull those that don’t work, and scale up the ideas that are successful.

Barrow, who leads the end-to-end marketing function across Bingle, is tasked to innovate in digital marketing, data and technology; to lead the testing program for offsite and onsite optimisation across media and data, and to test new media business models and digital marketing optimisation initiatives.

The brand is currently working with Adobe, and is one of many brands to shakeup or axe legacy tech systems in favour of the newfangled marketing clouds which aim to help marketing teams understand customer behaviour and connect with them across the various channels they communicate.

As marketing automation giants such as Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce take hold, agencies have also been trying to get a slice of the action. Just last year Dentsu Aegis Network’s marketing agency Merkle acquired Sydney-based Salesforce Marketing Cloud specialist Amicus Digital and CX Lavender also upped its focus in this area.

On the question if a modern-day marketer must know all about back-end tech stacks, analytics and optimisation to qualify as a ‘good marketer’, Barrow said “yes and no”.

“You don’t need to be an expert because it’s just not possible to be an expert in everything, but you do need some basic knowledge on how things work,” she said.

“My advice would be to play to your strengths and work with the best people you can find for everything else. If data and technology are not your strengths, surround yourself with people who live and breathe it.”

Bingle's well known CGI chimp ad by The Monkeys

Barrow, who has worked at Optus, Expedia and in digital analytics at the AFL, said it’s about improving your strengths and learning to delegate your weaknesses.

“Everyone enjoys working on what they are good at it so embrace it and don’t waste time trying to improve stuff you don’t like and are not good at,” she said.

“I think it’s also great when someone understands their strengths, so they can look for opportunities where they can enhance them and stand out from the crowd.”

In terms of the biggest marketer challenges today, Barrow said these centre around separating the real opportunities from the hype as there will “always be a new shiny toy for marketers to chase after”.

“Just because there is a new piece of technology, dataset or way to buy media, that doesn’t mean it’s always right for your business now (or even in the future),” she explained.

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning are current buzzwords marketers often throw around to prove their credentials in data, but the reality is you can’t do any of this without a strong data foundation, which is often lacking.”

The Sydney-based marketer said it is essential for a marketer today to have a good foundational understanding of data as competitors will be basing their decisions on data, so “you will be left behind if you ignore the data available to you”.

The ways consumers express interest and show demand for products and services is completely different now compared to a decade ago, with Barrow adding that understanding the basics behind the media value buying chain is also key.

“As more and more money moves online and into programmatic ad buying, technology and vendor’s costs will increase as a proportion of total spend,” she said.

“You need to really know who and what is adding value.”

In November last year OMD Australia won the Suncorp media account following a competitive pitch that included MediaCom and Publicis Media. See here for more.

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