Today’s column is written by Kumaran Ramanathan, chief executive at IDG Global Services.
Global media companies – or any global company, for that matter – face a complex set of challenges when they try to equitably invest at the local, regional and global levels. The best chance of success is when all company decision-makers around the world are in sync, which requires a concerted effort that is easier said than done.
The most common pitfall is when a global headquarters pushes strategic direction and messaging across regions with a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach and no nuance between regional and local markets. Centralization efforts should not resemble children playing soccer, where every kid chases after the ball no matter what direction it’s kicked in, with zero strategy behind the play. That kind of dysfunction is far less amusing in a global corporation.
Without good alignment between headquarters and regional marketing and sales, business becomes inefficient and success becomes difficult. There needs to be a balance that encourages local flavor but complements global strategy.
Currency Differences, Deal IDs
Global publishers must keep in mind how currency differences will potentially impact their sales, pricing and positioning. Most global marketer clients don’t want to learn after their campaign is live that they’ll be billed in multiple currencies through individual deals because a publisher isn’t able to deliver a single comprehensive campaign. And regional political shifts, such as Brexit, only complicate local currency dealings.
For access to global publisher inventory, there should be just one Deal ID, which allows publishers to specify the types of inventory available to different types of advertisers. Using only one Deal ID will offer marketer clients a seamless point of entry that generates valuable operational efficiencies for their teams.
The last several years have seen a growing number of technology providers entering the online advertising market and adding different solutions, but also- increasing complexity for their clients.
When publishers work with fewer preferred partners, they will streamline their processes and gain insight into which partners drive the best results. And significantly, publishers need to know whether their partners have not only global but true regional capabilities.
The ability to access and measure campaign-related data needs to be tempered with informed insight into which metrics truly matter across marketers’ programs and campaigns. Are all publisher metrics aligned and reportable, and can they report, analyze and optimize globally?
For example, do the metrics being used in APAC measure the most relevant projects and initiatives in that region? Is it reasonable to measure the same metrics across several regions, or should publishers access campaigns differently based on geography? Are success metrics set against realistic market expectations of performance in each given market? Gaining sales-based project information for demand generation programs, for instance, is counter to some cultural expectations, making this a difficult requirement to deliver.
Campaign Tactics and Messaging
Although overall campaign strategy can be centralized, the tactics on how this might be taken to market across different regions and geographies should consider the local market differences.
In terms of messaging, is consistent messaging adding value or only creating localization gaffes and missteps? How do publishers balance global consistency with local and regional relevancy? When publishers offer their clients sophisticated content marketing, for example, they must keep regional differences in mind. While social media’s importance around the world is a given, for example, it takes on different forms in different global regions. LinkedIn isn’t as dominant in China, Korea or Japan as other social media channels, but it’s hugely influential in India. And the countries where Facebook is the most dominant may surprise you. As of May 2016, Facebook also has the most users in India, followed by the US with 191.3 million users, Brazil with 90.1 million users and Indonesia with 77.58 million users.
IT buying teams are also smaller in EMEA and APAC than in the US, with decision makers touching multiple stages of the buying process. Content that is created for these regional audiences should reflect these differences. For example, line-of-business decision makers in EMEA are more likely to be involved in the vendor shortlist decisions. Building buyer personas that reflect regional differences and behaviors will help build engagement.
Bottom line: Global publishers looking to find the right mix of headquarters-based marketing and regional and localized messaging and tactics have to really believe in the approach. Anything half-hearted will come across as a lack of respect and be detrimental across the organization, and this will be apparent to clients.
Global publishers should be codifying commitments to this balance across the organization to succeed in the intricate international marketplace. Focus, ownership and accountability are crucial components to driving this success. It will be hard work, but the positive experience for customers will be more than worth the effort.