Fast lane

There’s more to content than increasing its speed. 

The marketing world is moving faster than most brands can keep up. It seems like every month there’s a new social platform, app, content type, or analytics tool you can’t live without.

What can brands do to meet the demands of these fast-moving audiences and make the most of their marketing and content dollars? For answers, we turned to Max Kalehoff, Chief Marketing Officer at SocialCode, a technology and insights company that manages digital advertising for brands like Nestle, Macy’s, Heineken and Capital One. Read on to get Kalehoff’s advice on how marketers can best use the latest marketing trends and technologies.

What has you excited for the future of marketing?

I’m excited about the shift to “digital-first advertising” — where digital advertising operations become the central nervous system that informs all marketing decisions for a brand. In a digital-first world, identity-based marketing will drive the best outcomes, marketers will make investment decisions based on timely insights about consumers, and data will be only as valuable as the insights and actions they create. The best advertising will come from audience data and storytelling working together, matching the right messaging with the right niche audiences. Most importantly, marketing will, more than ever, be judged by impact on business results, as opposed to loose proxies.

Inextricably linked to a digital-first world are changing demographics. This year, millennials — the first digitally native generation — outnumber baby boomers as the largest living age segment.

How are audience expectations changing in regards to the content they receive from brands, and what can companies do to meet those demands?

People are expecting more personalization, relevance and authenticity from brands. Marketers must reflect that in their values and behaviors, and content is but one expression of that. Marketers must become more sophisticated in telling interesting and valuable stories that resonate with hyper-niche audience segments, as well as with individuals. Doing so requires becoming better at understanding audience segments and data, and becoming more agile and responsive with content and message delivery.

What are the most common mistakes marketers make when developing content — and how can they avoid them?

Many marketers are holding on to legacy methods of “spray and pray.” The worst example is when a marketer gains an insight, creates a big idea with a television ad, and then tack on a bunch of other tactics. A better approach is a more agile, responsive framework that tests many different messaging and content strategies against audience segments in the real world.

Digital advertising makes it possible to quickly identify the best combinations of audiences and creative at global scale. You can use the learnings to rapidly refine the strategy, and then deploy broadly across the rest of your channels.

Have you noticed any sources of audience insights that marketers tend to ignore, but should pay attention to?

Facebook is perhaps the world’s largest consumer database, with rich information about its audiences, capable of matching against other data sources. Advertising activation on Facebook creates high volumes of response data, which is useful not only for understanding a campaign’s effectiveness, but for better understanding who your audiences are, for building new audiences, and for testing new markets. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest — which are based on user identities — are forging the intersection of marketing intelligence and activation.

What can marketers do to improve their overall campaign results?

They should minimize advertising waste before chasing attribution and understanding impact. The goal for any marketer is to increase ROI, which you can achieve in two ways: increasing the impact of your ads or decreasing what you’re spending on a campaign. Eliminating waste decreases that spend.

Controlling and measuring what doesn’t have an impact is usually a faster route to ROI than pinpointing what did work with attribution models. The reason is pragmatic: It’s hard to tell what worked, but relatively easy to tell what didn’t. This is especially true online because impressions that don’t contribute value are often a huge portion of the total. Your content will only be as effective as the quality of your impressions.