He started his career in tech sales and operations at Sybase and CommerceOne (think a very early predecessor to today’s Shopify). He ran sales at TACODA and 24/7 Media, did his own tech start-up in sports media, and then jumped to the marketer side to run digital marketing at JP Morgan Chase, led marketing at smart CRM provider Pega Systems and spent four years as a partner at McKinsey’s digital marketing operations practice. A year ago, he joined 1-800-FLOWERS as chief growth officer.
I’m sharing Robert’s background and our discussion because some of the points he made are really worth sharing.
Don’t underestimate easy. We started talking about Facebook and Google and the publicly stated desire of so many marketers to have other alternatives to the “duopoly.” Robert matter-of-factly called out that while many espouse those hopes, the big tech platforms aren’t going away because “they are big, have lots of data for targeting and make everything easy.”
TV should be bought and measured like digital banners. Robert doesn’t buy into the notion that TV and premium video should be split into branding and performance buckets.
Nope. He believes that video should do both branding and performance, and TV campaigns must be tracked at the spot level for everything from target audience to reach to web visits to sales to impact on search and social and ROI, both organic and paid, and as much in real time as possible. This is a big part of what he preached and enabled in his years at McKinsey, and something he has been doing a lot of with 800 FLOWERS’ Harry & David food brand.
Control your destiny (and your advertising operations and analytics). Robert emphasized that marketers now need to own how they do their advertising, and really control key elements like analytics and data.
He’s not anti-agency. Robert, in fact, touted the great work his company gets from partner Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media out of Dallas, but underscored the importance of integrating advertising into the marketing operations, planning, product development and supply chain of the company.
Data, data, data. We ended our conversation where we started it, noting the fact that data targeting is one of the big reasons that platforms like Google and Facebook are so powerful, and that the more recent enabling of automated, data-driven campaigns on TV are making the medium much more attractive as a performance channel.
Robert’s mantra is that marketers must own and control their consumer and audience and campaign data, and the more the better. It’s not just essential for driving effective ad campaigns, but is essential to help support all of the other functions of the enterprise mentioned above that need it for fuel, planning, product development, etc.
My post begs the question on whether marketers with more traditional backgrounds (time at agencies, not so techy, not so mathematical and empirical) will be able to survive and thrive in the modern marketing world. My answer is the same I would give someone who only knows TV advertising for its ability to drive brand awareness: There is a future. But it is becoming increasingly narrow, limited and crowded.
What do you think?