Neo@Oglivy's Muzzy Discusses Agency Trends And Momentum In Data-Driven Advertising

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Sean Muzzy of Neo@OgilvySean Muzzy is Managing Director, N.A., at Neo@Ogilvy, a full-service digital and direct media company and division of OgilvyOne Worldwide, a WPP Group company.

Where are the big opportunities for digitally-minded agencies today in your opinion?

Digital is complex and it’s getting even more technical. There also doesn’t appear to be a slow down in the development of new point solutions that look to advance the category. But those challenges also represent opportunities for agencies.

  1. Take the complexity out of digital and make it easier to understand for your clients.
  2. Trading desks are a nice thought, but marketers really need investment consultants. An advisor they trust, that can deliver both new and innovative solutions, as well as actionable insights and business intelligence.
  3. Better enable marketing through technology and systems integration; more relevant and deeper consumer experiences, richer data, actionable insights. Oh - and do this across platforms.

Within data-driven digital marketing channels, what trends are you noticing from clients?

There are significant shifts occurring in digital consumer behavior and they are impacting advertising, but also how business takes place. Increasingly, social and mobile are where consumers engage, communicate, transact, and access the Internet. There’s a definitive need to leverage these environments to reach/engage both prospects and customers, through a new form of contextual relevance.

ComScore’s 2010 review pointed out that 10% of all page views occurred on Facebook, with 3 out of every 10 Internet sessions including a visit to Facebook. Those are big numbers, and while that means a lot of revenue for FB, it also means opportunity for marketers. In terms of being data-driven, through API access Facebook is now scalable in terms of targeting, campaign management, and optimization. Look for more social networks to follow with opening up their own biddable/data driven inventory.

Let’s not also forget about using social data to improve your programs. We’re using this data for targeting, but we’re also feeding social insights into SEM and creative design/messaging. In mobile the trend is using location signals to inform us on consumer context/intent, that’s powerful and becoming more and more actionable for marketers. Even with new forms of advertising like iAds, data-driven targeting is a fundamental component of the offering. But the big push is on delivering insights that are cross channel and measurement that addresses holistic attribution. This kind of work helps us understand what activity truly impacts business performance, enabling us to effectively and iteratively optimize.

Is display advertising attracting brand dollars today?  Where do you see this going?

Yes, brand dollars are going into display, but perhaps not at the scale/rate certain people would like. A lot of this has to do with how display is used and measured, as well as, it’s inability to provide a comparable experience to other tactics that can be used to drive awareness or affect other brand metrics. It’s going to be a part of the mix for a while to come; but beyond display there are increasingly more vehicles for brands to express themselves digitally. There’s going to be continued increases in video, social, and richer mobile experiences. I don’t think “audience” buying is the savior of display, because it doesn’t change the method by which we communicate with our target audience or where we engage.

How are ad exchanges useful? Where do they fall short? And, have they been a tough sell to clients?

Ad exchanges have become an important layer in activating a data-driven media plan. We’ve found them helpful to drive reach and scale efficiently, allowing us to achieve multiple objectives. But they do have limits, especially considering the types inventory available through exchanges. Also, ad exchanges require rigorous management and optimization. In terms of the "sell" – it can be tough unless you have a solid strategy rooted in constant testing and iterative optimization.

Overall, when reviewing client-marketing strategy, how important is the guaranteed/custom placement media compared to the non-guaranteed/DSP/ad network side?

An effective strategy and the solutions used to achieve business objectives determine the importance of various tactics. The tactics themselves can’t drive the solution. We develop solutions customized for a marketers needs and to that end, guaranteed and custom placements can be a competitive advantage. Ultimately, it takes the right mix of activity, carefully measured to determine optimal effectiveness.

What types of people are digital agencies like yours looking to hire today? What's the right skillset in your opinion?

There’s not one profile, but there’s a definitive need for technical fluency and analytical thinking. One of the big challenges is the exponential growth of digital marketing. There just isn’t enough talent to go around. This is a challenge for agencies and marketers alike. In the end, we look for passionate people that are hungry to learn and think differently.

Finally, what's going on with creative?  Given data-driven advertising's potential, are you seeing effective creative, for example? How do you bridge that gap?

We’re constantly looking at the factors that drive creative effectiveness. It’s not just about optimizing in real-time on the front end, it’s also important to be adaptive based on more in depth analysis. Using data to drive creative relevance is paramount. Delivering messages based on geography, consumer intent, and past behaviors are most effective. We bridge the gap through iterative development and an agile process for optimization. But we’re constantly learning new drivers for effectiveness and our toolbox is constantly expanding. With new formats and channels there needs to be a dynamic interplay between data driven insights and innovative thinking.

Follow Sean Muzzy (@blynmuzz), Neo@Ogilvy (neo_Ogilvy) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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