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Huge consulting firms see an opportunity to displace out of touch advertising agencies — and they’re taking it

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Alicia Hatch Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte Digital
Alicia Hatch Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte Digital. Photo courtesy Deloitte Digital
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Advertising is no longer just the domain of Madison Avenue agencies.

Instead, data-rich consulting firms including Deloitte, Accenture and IBM have been moving into the business — pitching themselves as more strategic and tech-savvy advisors. 

While most agencies view these tech consultants as a looming threat, the marketing head of Deloitte Digital doesn’t quite view it as a zero-sum game. Still, she does believe that many advertisers’ needs are no longer being addressed with legacy tactics.

Business Insider caught up with Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch during Advertising Week last week for a chat about why there’s ample space for both ad agencies and consultancies in advertising. Here’s an edited version of the conversation.

Tanya Dua: You’ve been on an agency acquisition spree over the past few years. Where do consultancies like yours fit in the advertising landscape?

Alicia Hatch: The needs of brands have changed dramatically. Every single industry out there is getting disrupted, and advertising is no exception. So this isn’t about consulting coming in to enter a new market, this is about consulting responding to the needs of brands changing.

The needs of big companies are changing dramatically. We are in the business of making them better. What that requires now is working across the entire business. You can’t do marketing in isolation, separate from sales and service and business model innovation and customer model innovation…Deloitte Digital is in the business of business outcomes. That’s what we do.

Dua: What specific changes in the industry are you responding to?

Hatch: The role of the chief marketing officer is changing. The CMO is playing a completely different role in the C-suite and in the boardroom now. Over 70% of CMOs now own [balance sheets], which is a huge difference from the days of being marketing as a cost center. So they have to wear a business hat and think very differently about how they are orchestrating all of their activities.

The big shift is that technology budgets are moving over to CMOs, and that’s another change in how they’re operating. The best CMOs right now are using data very effectively at scale, fueled by that technology, to do really precise and powerful marketing that drives growth. So they can actually pinpoint the business impact of what they’re doing.

When you as a CMO can be the growth driver of the business, you have a whole new power. To empower that generation of CMOs, you need a much broader base of capabilities and understanding of business and technology strategy, understanding of depth, data and analytics — that is not what the agency model was built on originally.

We are having to save a lot of companies. 40% of all Fortune 500 companies today will not exist in 2025.

Dua:  Agencies haven’t exactly welcomed consultancies into the mix. Are they justified in being threatened and accusing consultancies of buying creativity and culture?

Hatch: Creativity is the most important business skill in the 21st century.  And the role that creativity plays in a business, is expanding….Historically, it was always an outsourced model, where you send the work out to the agency and you get the deliverables back. So what we’re trying to do is expand the role of creativity. And in that, there’s room for a new model. That’s what we have to add to the industry. What is at play here is that the whole industry is changing, and we just all need to focus on what those changes are, and shift.

Dua: Give me an example of that. What does that new model look like?

Hatch: An insurance company that we work with wanted to rethink its retirement business because they realized that in fact, millennials don’t really care about retirement and don’t want to engage in a conversation about retirement. The advertising creative that they had so far didn’t work because the positioning they had and the topic itself was outdated for the modern consumer.

Our approach was to approach the business differently. We brought in a group of business strategists, creatives, technology strategists and design experts in a room together. We invented a new business concept that we set up within this insurance company, which is a whole new business platform about how you deliver and talk about retirement and start making it relevant to millennials in their 40s, in their 30s.

We found through our research that the concepts of health and wealth are inextricably linked. Instead of just applying that insight to a [single ad], we completely changed how that product was delivered, setting up a whole new division within the company with all of our capabilities coming together to actually enable a whole new business.

Dua: What do you think you do better than agencies?

Hatch: It’s incredibly important now to understand the industry you exist in, as well as the shifts in other industries. This is super important to us in helping brands innovate and deliver their messages. It’s a really important part of business strategy that consulting firms and we have the most depth in. That’s the big difference in terms of what we bring to the table and how strategic we can be.

It’s also about technology horsepower….Both the depth and breadth of our technology capabilities set us apart.

Dua: Yet agencies say that they’re seeing consultancies in pitches, but they’re not winning as any yet. And even when they are, they haven’t seen creative come out of the wins. How do you respond to that?

Hatch: I think one thing that’s true is that historically, agencies have been very, very public about their work. That’s how they build their brands. We’re the opposite. We actually work so deeply within companies and have so many [non-disclosure agreements], that we are not used to taking about ourselves or our work. We’re doing the work, just not screaming about it from the rooftops.

Dua: How much of your job involves you trying to change the perceptions surrounding consultancies? Do consulting firms have a branding problem?

Hatch: Contrary to what is said, we have no trouble on actually attracting talent. It is more of a problem on the client side. We are a legacy company as well, historically known for our numbers DNA. There’s definitely a perception challenge.

I think the biggest challenge is communicating our vision for how the old model needs to be redefined. We don’t think that the old model of advertising is what marketers need moving forward, so what we’re trying to communicate is this bigger vision.

This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2017.

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DJG partners with GetStarted to create voice-activated content experiences for brands

DJG’s new partnership breaks ground for voice-activated branded content experiences.

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Voice-activated content experiences
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Content marketing firm Digital Journal Group (DJG) and voice technology platform GetStarted today announced a partnership to build voice-enabled experiences for brands wanting to reach audiences via smart home devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

This partnership will leverage DJG’s cross-industry content marketing and storytelling experience for leading B2B and B2C brands, and GetStarted’s technology platform that allows organizations to create dialogue and conversation via smart home devices.

“Voice is a really exciting space for us because it allows for totally new kinds of content experiences, as well as unique data insights that are possible as a result of the way people interface with content,” says Chris Hogg, President and Partner at DJG. “Up until now, a person’s interaction with their smart speaker has been largely query-based, where an individual asks for information such as weather, recipes or events in their calendar. Our partnership with GetStarted allows us to shape the experience on behalf of a brand, allowing an organization to have a conversation with a person around their interests.”

In Canada, 77% of the population is aware of smart speakers, and 26% own a device according to research from Edison Research and Triton Digital. In the United States, 80% of the population is familiar with smart speakers and nearly one quarter (24%) own a device.

The DJG-GetStarted partnership allows companies to connect their audience via the voice-activated speakers they already have in their home, so no additional hardware is required.

As part of its partnership, DJG will design and deliver voice-enabled content marketing experiences for brands via a managed service, and GetStarted will provide the voice technology platform. 

DJG will focus first on creating brand-audience experiences that deliver surprise and delight via voice, as well as deepen engagement and conversion opportunities for organizations exploring new ways to connect with an audience. 

“We are very excited to count DJG as a key member of our pioneering launch partner group to explore the rapidly growing voice activation arenas,” says Norbert Horvath, CEO and Co-Founder at GetStarted. “Using our innovative GetStarted dialogue management platform, brands are now able to design, launch, iterate quickly, and perfect their conversation-based content experiences with their respective audiences.  We are looking forward to pursuing this opportunity together with DJG by engaging and actually listening to what the stakeholders have to say.”

DJG offers consultation, design and build services for voice-enabled experiences for multiple stakeholders within an organization:

  • For marketers: Give your audience access to news and information, exclusive content, thought leadership and insight, as well as offers and contests.
  • For internal communications and HR teams: Deliver company updates, news and executive messaging on a one-on-one basis with distributed teams and remote workforces.
  • For virtual event organizers: Provide attendees with “backstage access” to speaker interviews, sponsor information and exclusive content. Attendees can engage with their smart speaker live during an event, deepening engagement and creating a new kind of virtual attendee experience.

“While the use of voice in content marketing, HR and events is still in its infancy, we anticipate audiences will move in this direction and be open to new kinds of content experiences via conversation with a smart home device, so we’re building for it now,” says Hogg. 

For more information or to discuss how voice-activated content experiences could be produced for your business, contact DJG.

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A marketing mindset translates to DX success for banks and credit unions

43% of banks saw a stronger ROI in digital transformation efforts by giving marketers a seat at the table.

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A winning strategy for banks and credit unions in their digital transformation efforts? 

Bringing marketers on board.

Global marketing agency Metia Group polled 500 senior financial marketers in the US and Europe between April 27 and May 17 — covering institutions of all sizes with active DX initiatives underway. Their research found that the most successful efforts are those where a marketing mindset was applied.

Of those institutions surveyed, more than one third gave their marketing teams a full seat at the table to determine company-wide DX efforts.

As a result of including marketing teams, 43% of banks said their initiatives exceeded expected ROI. This compares to only 23% of the other institutions not taking the same marketing-led approach.

Additional key findings of the Mindset Matters report include:

  • Institutions with a marketing mindset were able to pivot their customer experiences more rapidly in response to COVID-19, with 32% finding it easy to pivot the digital customer experience, versus 25% of other institutions.
  • Financial institutions with a marketing mindset were found to be more likely to have built digital experiences superior to their competition: 60% versus 35%. They also reported greater success in terms of customer acquisition, increased deposits, and improved cross-sell rates.
  • 69% of those surveyed believe that the role of marketing will be even more critical post-COVID in securing a strong future for financial institutions.

“Marketing experts are the most customer-centric personnel in any organization, and their absence from the digital transformation process in the majority of financial institutions is a missed opportunity,” said Liz High, Vice President of Insight and Strategy at Metia. Smaller institutions that have been further disadvantaged by COVID-19 have a clear opportunity to extend the impact of the resources they do have, by putting their senior marketers in the driving seat. The same is true of the larger banks that want their investments to deliver what matters to their customers.”

The report from Metia can be downloaded here.

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2020 digital transformation trends in media and entertainment

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Back in July, Netflix reported its first domestic subscriber loss since 2011, and lowest quarterly subscriber growth in three years.

Stock value, of course, plunged — a mind-blowing $17 billion in one day — proving that especially for the media and entertainment industries, immunity from disruption is non-existent, even for massive pioneers like Netflix. 

Writing in Forbes, Futurum Principal Analyst Daniel Newman explains that while last year’s digital transformation (DX) trends for media and entertainment were focused around the increase in video ads, buzz for digital experience, and the resulting rise in mobile data usage, predictions for 2020 focus on the need to “cap the crazy.”

There’s a need to “realize what types of technology and advancements and content creation will really drive business in 2020 — and which will merely drive companies into the ground,” Newman writes. 

2020 will also be an “inflection point,” he says, “where companies are going to better operationalize current technology.” Preparing will be key, with organizations working to handle emerging technologies like 5g, mobile AR/VR, and conversational AI — while maintaining a balance between profits and connecting with the customer. 

Here are Newman’s top four predictions for digital transformation in media and entertainment:

Applied AI for operations: Spending is growing faster than profits at today’s organizations, which is a business no-no. Media and entertainment companies need to take the wheel on spending, but the situation is still controllable. 

“Every company today, aided by AI and machine learning, has the power to be smarter about where and how they’re spending. They have the ability to see what’s working and what isn’t.”

Privacy: The trust gap is currently massive, and media and entertainment are at the centre. Consumers overwhelmingly (61% in one survey) feel that companies no longer have control over data and privacy.

“In the future, there will be a significant opportunity for brands to work on offering greater levels of data usage transparency,” Newman says, “to deliver best of breed experiences while also providing consumers a better understanding of how data is being used.”

This will translate into giving better and more levels of control to consumers, including information on what brands know about them and having the right to be forgotten.

Focus on building intelligent enterprises: Going hand-in-hand with the aforementioned spending issue, companies in media and entertainment need to shift their focus on building smart enterprise, “not just cool and exciting media arms.”

With the innovation that’s taken place within media and entertainment, it’s important that “companies apply the same effort to the back office to make sure operations can support growth and scale profitably.”

Personalization: Gen Z-ers and Millennials are willing to pay for personalization. Especially if it’s well done and lead to deeper engagement. In 2020, Newman explains, companies will take a closer look at both successful content and which audiences they’re attracting. The result will be, thanks to AI and machine learning, more niche communication and customized content geared to specific audiences. 

Going beyond content, “it’s time for the industries to clean up their databases and make smarter outreach,” Newman says. “2020 will leave no room for messy communication and customer relationship management.”

Given that consumers haven’t changed their habits too much, previous predictions continue to hold out. The coming year, however, “will focus more on getting a handle on the wild masses of content being created and shared across an endless number of channels.”

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