Digital Assets

In the first part of this series I referred to a report from Econsultancy and Adobe called “Impact of Digital Transformation in the Media and Entertainment Sector” which included results from a survey of media execs, as follows:

How does your organisation regard the following challenges as it continues for second half of 2014 and into 2015?

Many media and advertising firms have systems-based obstacles to deriving the most value from their data, and thus face great difficulty in getting insight as to how they can improve their asset base, sales targeting, customer service and revenue growth. There is a general feeling that the problem is too big, and I often hear the question ‘We want to do it but where should we start?’.

So what should be your key initiatives to deliver better customer relationships, sweat your digital assets, improve marketing, and measure performance against corporate and departmental KPIs? From a systems perspective, how can BI/analytics and CRM help you deliver them? Well, I think the answer, as often, lies in some business change as well as technology; here is an approach I suggest based on customer experience and observation:

1) Streamline your sales force. Many agencies and media firms have multiple, parallel sales operations that don’t necessarily compete with each other for share of the same customers (although some do – I always remember dealing with a UK agency that had spent a six-figure sum on a bid. When they arrived to deliver the pitch in Paris, they met their French operation’s team walking out of the client’s foyer having delivered their own pitch for the same business. Luckily for me, this happened just before the board meeting to consider my proposal for a new CRM system that would enable transparent communication and collaboration, and prevent this sort of thing from happening again. Big success for me J). But the point is, firms are asking “why have multiple sales teams doing similar things in similar markets, and how can we best consolidate them and give them the tools to become more skilled and more efficient across a wider range of our business?” CRM systems, driven by powerful customer insight analytics, can provide the processes and focus that helps underpin this transition.

2) Enabling your customers to buy and execute their own advertising. Many years ago in the mid 90s, my firm implemented a new ad sales and scheduling system for Teletext – the old block-script information and advertising ‘portal’ broadcast on ITV and Channel Four (Minecraft addicts would be very jealous of the “futuristic” typeface…). Our new system replaced an antiquated mixture of separate sales systems and manual operations, replacing them with a straight-through process that captured the ad contents via email or a phone conversation. It then processed it through all steps needed to get it automatically published on the right page, at the right time, for the right time interval, and billed in the right way.

My point in mentioning this was that we spent a lot of time trying to convince Teletext to do something radical rather than just streamline what they had always done – we said they should open part of their new system up to their customers, so they could enter their own ad text and format it all themselves. At the time, the technology would have been a lot more expensive than nowadays, but we knew the business case was strong enough because of the time it would save Teletext in ongoing admin and error correction. Today, almost all the most successful media companies including gorillas like Facebook, Google and Twitter rarely have any of their staff involved in selling or producing advertising. Most ads come from customers going online, creating and scheduling their own. It’s tremendously efficient. A good CRM and sales system, open to your customers, can in most cases affordably do the same for you, no matter what the size of your business.

3) Converge your advertising. If you consolidate your selling activities, and allow customers to do a lot of the buying/production themselves, you can join the many firms now pursuing convergence – making multiple channels to market more attractive to advertisers by offering integrated advertising and marketing campaigns across multiple outlets and formats. Of course, customers would much rather work with a one-stop shop for national or international positioning across TV, radio, internal and newspapers in both electronic and digital formats than to deal with each outlet separately.

Some forward-looking firms were pursuing convergence a long time ago. I worked with United Business Media on a large convergence project in the early 2000s. They had very many channel outlets through their various publications, periodicals, exhibitions, conferences, and directories businesses, as well as their then emerging digital channels, and realised that in many cases, the same customers/buyers were being dealt by many different UBM staff who did not communicate with each other or share any information. So we built a number of parallel CRM solutions, each one optimised to suit the particular area or department it was built for to optimise their particular selling process, but a key corporate goal of this was to be able to identify common customers and needs, and then suggest and enable up-sell or cross-sell of multiple channel opportunities.

The benefits to the customer are obvious. But to make sure your organisation can achieve this efficiently, and so effectively compete in the market, you will need have a powerful infrastructure which provides:

a) Proper integration for an overall view: Advertising should no longer be sold in silos, and so you will need to provide self-service advertisers with a single view of availability and customer demographics across all your channels and advertising platforms. Your various sales and CRM systems that control each of these will need to be integrated, often in real time.

b) Drive repeat/regular advertising via proper relationship management: Integrated campaigns cannot work as well if you still rely on advertisers going online ad hoc to buy ads or space. One-off transactions are expensive for both sides. Instead, you need to build excellent relationships with your advertisers, and this means a combination of understanding their business, and making it easy to do business with you, by tailoring your systems around how your customers work (and doing this for each large customer so that they can do what they need with you, easily and quickly).

4)  Leverage the data you capture to sweat your assets. Life used to be simpler. Advertisers came to media and advertising firms based on the demographics of their outlets. They advertised. And they measured the result, if they could. If they thought the result was good (or in many cases, even if they couldn’t tell one way or another) they came back and advertised again.

Those times have gone. The internet blurred the boundaries between customers and consumers – often someone is both. Communication is bidirectional. Social media has further stirred the mix.

However, this has created a new holy grail – the connected customer where:

  • you know all the channels an individual uses to consume your messages
  • can identify them on each one
  • profile and continue to improve your profile of them
  • tailor / optimise your message to suit your strategy, their profile, and the particular channel they are on at the time

This looks a daunting task, but it can be broken down into simpler elements; in many cases this has already happened and is still happening.

A great example is Sky Adsmart. Using the data gleaned from digital boxes in over 500,000 UK homes, and combining it with additional data sources, this technology gives advertisers greatly valuable information including geodemographics, personal data, behavioural information, what programmes where watched, for how long and at what times, how much channel switching there was, what ads were viewed, and so on. It gives far more detailed feedback to advertisers than BARB ever could, and thus enables Sky to offer a business proposition to their advertisers which promises them results that can be far more targetted and predictable.

Applying this to your own business, can you combine the various sources of data you have about your customers, consumers, and readers, their geodemographics, behaviour, likes/dislikes and so on? Could you provide your advertising customers with a view that can go from a high generic to a personal individual level, so they can pinpoint target a campaign and then get direct feedback on the campaign effectiveness?

This sort of insightful data, and the targeted advertising they can thus deliver, is why platforms like Facebook and Google are so valuable. This is also why other media firms need to improve and integrate their own systems, and create relationships with owners of external but useful data, so they can share rich information back with their advertisers, combining customer data in new and valuable ways, and using BI analytics and CRM systems to deliver related sales and services in an easy to use manner.

© Steve Sydee 2015


This article was first published here by Steve Sydee.


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