By Mike Lane, CEO & Founder, Fluency
An important part of the ongoing digital transformation occurring in marketing organizations is process automation. While brands of all stripes accrue advantages of efficiency and resource allocation through automation, for marketer verticals that are inherently localized like car dealers, QSR chains and retail, the stakes are even higher. Large multinational brands like General Motors and McDonalds benefit daily from the multinational brand equity established over generations but where these brands truly compete is through the gigantic network of local franchisees and dealers. For these companies, marketing process automation is table stakes. Yet, I scratch my head at how many still go without.
It’s a complex dynamic that brands and their agencies need to solve. The good news is that the tool kits are available to do just that.
Marketing Automation Driveshaft: Harnessing Data for Actionable Insights
Brands want to meet customers where they live, work, shop, play and breathe. Whether it’s a car or a handbag or stereo equipment, consumers reflexively type “near me” in Google search as they look for retail locations in their communities to source their desired goods. Leading car brands, QSRs and other vertical leaders are actually sitting on a treasure trove of data that comes with being on the front lines of various retail territories.
The Best Buys and the Toyotas of the world have the advantage of possessing the most scaled mountain of data that can be organized and analyzed into insights that drive actions like promotions and other consumer relationship-building.
Brands are now fully waking up to this reality and the vast potential that lies therein. Brands are beginning to demand that their agencies partner with them to build out data tech stacks for sophistication that drives efficiency and both lower and upper funnel KPIs. Brands want more complex ad inventory control and more accurate sales attribution.
Automation Reduces Sweat Equity and Generates Better Results
Relentlessly, digital marketing sophistication grows and consumer engagement morphs with it. That sophistication comes with advertiser requirements and effort. Without tools, it simply can’t be done. Agencies require too much labor to achieve the level of sophistication that brands now require and consumers have come to expect. They can no longer make do with just manpower, especially since the tech tooling is now accessible.
When your labor investment outweighs return, optimization becomes impossible. Instead, when supported by automation, your team members are liberated to repurpose their efforts against high-touch, strategic work that can turn them into superheroes.
For inspiration, our industry should look towards Wall Street, which went from paper to digital in a relatively short time.
After the market crash of 2001, fintech was embraced and it transformed an old school industry in just a few years. And Wall Street’s transformation went from analog to digital. In the ad biz, we already have built the digital foundation to build upon for further transformation. This is where industry groups like the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of Ad Agencies (4As) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) could play key advocacy roles in accelerating the velocity of change.
There have been strong examples of brand-agency-platform collaboration in marketing process automation to which these industry trade groups could point to help tout marketing automation to their broader memberships. Stories abound like how a leading auto brand and its agency partnered with an automation platform to generate advertising speed-at-scale, which wasn’t previously possible with legacy process and tooling.
Automated pacing and more optimal cross-channel management triggered by big caches of harnessed data were two key game-changers in this relationship. Instead of manually tracking ad spending and pacing — a process that has become exceptionally difficult to scale — automated pacing made it easier to ensure client budgets were spent strategically and at the highest optimal levels 100% of the time.
If all stakeholders can elevate the marketing process automation conversation, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
The tooling is here; we only need industry commitment to take advantage.