iMedia Brand Summit: Day One

Simon Kemp

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The iMedia Brand Summit got underway in Bali on Monday evening with a keynote address from Bob Arnold, Associate Director Digital Strategy at the Kellogg Company, titled “Digital Self Sufficiency For Success”.

Bob’s session covered a number of core areas that will likely recur throughout the three days of the summit, with a particular focus on the accountability of digital to deliver meaningful business results.

While not all of the things Bob spoke about are specific to social media, it’s well worth touching on them in the context of the broader digital ecosystem, and how the various pieces of today’s online marketing mix fit together.

Programmatic Buying

This topic grabbed the attention of brand delegates, and inspired plenty of conversation over the subsequent dinner too. For those wondering what it’s all about, this Business Insider article offers a succinct yet insightful intro, including this handy definition:

Programmatic buying is the process of executing media buys in an automated fashion through digital platforms such as: exchanges, trading desks, and demand-side platforms (DSPs). This method replaces the traditional use of manual RFPs, negotiations and insertion orders to purchase digital media. 

In particular, Bob talked about the need to use real-time data to help build more effective media ‘plans’ (albeit plans that evolve and come to life dynamically), and he stressed that brands need to “get a lot more friendly with data“.


Bob then segued neatly into the importance of digital analytics, which he described as “the biggest opportunity in [the marketing] industry“.

He reiterated that the need to understand audiences and their behaviour is paramount in today’s fragmented and ever-evolving digital landscape. His simple, “right message to the right people at the right moment” framework holds true across all media, but Bob made the observation that we sometimes get distracted by technology and miss the needs of the audience when preparing digital activities.

Bob also stressed that real human insights and strong creative principles are still key to success, and that when these elements are combined with powerful analytics, marketers are best placed to achieve the ‘holy grail’ of connecting with the optimum audiences with the best message in the most relevant situations.

Digital Centre of Excellence

Bob moved on to talk about the role of the Digital Centre of Excellence (CoE) at Kellogg’s. He began by observing that many traditional marketers are still skeptical of digital, especially when TV still delivers highly compelling results.

He also noted that many traditional marketers hold misconceptions about the resources required to deliver effective digital activities, noting that “digital isn’t as easy as saying ‘viral video!’

To help ensure the whole organisation can benefit from the full power of digital marketing, Bob suggested that a CoE needs to provide three things:

  1. Develop a central digital strategy that ensures the organisaion can avoid the repetition and overlaps of ‘silo thinking’, maximising both the efficiency and effectiveness of activities.
  2. Provide powerful analytics that offer timely insights and inspirational inputs into the marketing process, as well as measurement during and after activities to understand what worked, what could have been better, and suggestions for what might drive even better results in the future.
  3. Offer centralised technology and IT solutions to ensure teams have access to best-in-class systems, and can benefit from economies of scale. The CoE should also offer guidance and training in how best to use these systems to make sure brand marketers can make best use of them.

Better Measures of Success

Bob concluded his session by saying that the CoE’s main role was to help engender ‘smarter risk taking’, and as a result, marketers need to find more meaningful metrics to guide their activities. In particular, Bob stated that research indicates click-through rates now have “zero relevance” to purchase intent, and are therefore not well suited to informing that smarter risk-taking.

As a result, his parting challenge was for delegates to identify (and implement) metrics that have greater relevance to their brand’s specific objectives and contexts – advice we’d fully support here at We Are Social.

Stay up to date on Summit activities via the #imbsummit hashtag on Twitter. Look out for a summary of Day 2’s highlights here on the We Are Social blog tomorrow.