It’s time we used data and technology to help us, not distract us

GroupM Australia & New Zealand CEO Mark Lollback
By GroupM Australia & New Zealand CEO Mark Lollback | 16 July 2018
Mark Lollback

Our industry has always been obsessed with the next new thing, and that’s a good thing. To help our clients remain ahead of the pack, we need to know what’s coming and how to apply it to our advantage.

But lately the marketing communications industry has gotten so wrapped up in shiny new things that we run the risk of forgetting what’s most important when it comes to marketing and brand building, and that’s being brilliant at the basics. There has never been a time that we need to do brilliant basics better than now, facing as we do the pressures of doing business in a hyper-tech world.

With 24/7 demands on brands, an explosion of data and an endlessly expanding array of channels, it’s easy to get distracted. To build brand value, we have to be super-clear on the objective and the business problem we are trying to solve.

In my view, there are three key elements we need to be brilliant at the basics.

Leverage data

More often than not, agencies use data to drive measurement rather than to drive insights. I believe to build brand value, you have to go searching for deep compelling insights, and then use those insights to produce a killer media strategy and build the right creative response to go with it.

On the most basic level, we have to use data and technology to help us, not distract us. The question we should always return to is, how do we leverage the data and technology we already have to be better at what we do? That is, to deliver better, more effective communications strategies.


We all know that an engaging 30-second ad in a high-engagement TV program is far more effective than a 10 second ad in a low-engagement program. The winning ingredient, of course, is quality, the right content, and the right message for the right job in the right channel.

However, there is so much internal pressure on clients and so much fragmentation and a pervasive fear of missing out, that marketers feel the need to be everywhere. We are dealing with highly fragmented budgets because clients are simply scared of missing out. Nobody wants to be the one left behind.

What’s needed is to step back and consider the basics: what will that channel do for my objectives and what is the right message?

Short term vs long term

Differentiation between short, medium, and long-term marketing activity shouldn’t be a problem, but it is. For a variety of reasons, many marketers focus on the short-term challenge and tension we are dealing with rather than understanding how to balance short-term tactics with brand longevity.

Paradoxically, shareholders want short-term results but long-term shareholder value. While share prices are valued according to short-term sales results, true shareholder value is generated by creating asset growth on balance sheets, something effective marketing is proven to achieve.

As any marketer worth their salt knows, genuinely growing long-term brand value is not about short-term sales. During my time at McDonald’s Australia & New Zealand, I saw first-hand that the minute we focused on long-term goals and genuine innovation, rather than short-term sales promotions, was when we experienced double-digit growth.

I’m not suggesting we ignore short-term activity. Rather that we find a way to effectively manage both short-term and long-term requirements to drive our clients’ brands in the right direction.

A final word

As an industry, it’s crucial that we are passionate about the value we can create on behalf of our clients. We need to be brave and continue to build and educate the decision-makers on how long-term marketing communications works to deliver brand value. Right now, we are not helping marketers enough to have that conversation with their boards and CEOs. After all, our job is to make their job easier.

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