Thinking Out Of The Box: Q&A With CDA's Jin Kim

Jin Kim, president of Creative Digital Agency (CDA), believes that both his identity and career have revolved around not really “fitting in to the traditional culture or system, which has actually worked out great for me to come in as a more ‘outside-the-box’ strategic thinker.” 

Starting out after college launching Korean Air’s successful Skypass Loyalty Program, he moved into marketing, then mobile, before launching CDA in 2016.

Weisler: How important is digital in a buy?

Kim: The main points you’ll hear people talk about are the data & insights, the high specificity of targeting, the agility (you can update a creative mid-flight), the scalability, and the ability to optimize for conversions and sales. 

But one thing that is often overlooked when it comes to digital advertising is the emotional impact. On mobile in particular, the retention rates for video are much higher than they are on broadcast TV, even though the screen size is smaller and the video length is typically shorter. The mindset of a mobile audience is quite different – more focused in – compared to their mindset when consuming other media channels.



Weisler: Why place more emphasis on direct?

Kim: Programmatic really excels at the bottom of funnel; attributing and optimizing conversions and lift to ad spend. The problem is balance. There’s so much buzz and activity around programmatic right now, that key parts of the funnel are being ignored. 

That’s the area that’s ripe for disruption. Programmatic has less qualitative impact at the awareness/inspiration stage compared to direct. There are also industry-wide challenges regarding brand safety, viewability and fraud that still need to be worked out. 

You see this rebalancing happening with the biggest buyers in advertising now – the brands who really have the budget the experiment and take risks to see what works best.

Weisler: How relevant is creative in a campaign's success?

Kim: There’s a lot of cynicism when people talk about creative these days. I’ve heard people say that “creative is a commodity,” and some brands are experimenting with programmatically generated creatives and ad copy. 

There’s probably something to be said for that, but if you want to have a strong and lasting relationship with the consumer, you’ve got to have original creative that makes an impact. It doesn’t need to be huge and flashy. In fact, these days a smaller and more relevant story is often the most powerful you can get. 

One thing we believe is that video can be personalized. People have been extolling the virtues of personalized, one-to-one marketing communications for years now, but there’s this belief that video is too unwieldy and expensive to execute this way. If you focus on a mobile audience, I can tell you this isn’t true. 

Weisler: What are the biggest challenges to brands today?

Kim: The biggest challenge for brands today lies in their ability to relay a powerful message through creative storytelling. Too often, brands try to tell their story from their own point of view when the most successful campaigns are told from the audience’s point of view, allowing the brand message to appear naturally. These campaigns are much more authentic and therefore well-received by the audience. 

The end user is always, always, always the hero of the story. 

Another challenge a lot of brands face is agility. When you’re part of a huge, multi-layered company with dozens of departments, internal agencies, etc., it’s hard to push new ideas into the market. 

Weisler: How can they be overcome?

Kim: Follow the data, follow the audience, and accept that you will need to constantly learn and evolve. If you are an expert in digital marketing in 2019 – and you don’t keep learning – your skill set will be obsolete by 2025.

4 comments about "Thinking Out Of The Box: Q&A With CDA's Jin Kim".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 10, 2019 at 10:16 a.m.

    Charlene, I noted Kim's comment that the "retention rates" for mobile video commercials are higher than for TV. Which I take to mean that the advertising impact of digital video commercials is superior to that of TV commercials. I wonder if he happened to cite any research on this important point?

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, May 10, 2019 at 2:14 p.m.

    I will ask. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant: replied, May 10, 2019 at 3:35 p.m.

    Jin intended to say “recall rates” not retention rates. That is taken from a 2012 Nielsen study when mobile video was just starting to take off. Please see citation below:

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 10, 2019 at 5:21 p.m.

    Thanks, Charlene. As I recall, the old Nielsen study as conducted at a time when there was very little ad clutter on mobile videos. I wonder what the results would be like now?

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