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DIGITAL MARKETING MATURITY PART 4 | Full interview with Des Odell, CEO, Resolution Media Australia

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Gavin: [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen working to Ashton cast. I’m here with Des Odell, who’s the CEO of Resolution media Australia. Des, welcome to AshtonCast. How are you today?

Des: [00:00:11] Yeah, thank you very much for having me. It’s great to be on the show.

Gavin: [00:00:15] Fantastic mate. So obviously we’re in some, some very unusual times at the moment. You know, none of us have ever been through anything like this in our lifetime or our career. Um, and that’s all down to COVID-19. So, where were you when you first thought, Oh man, this COVID-19 thing is going to be very bad. And what made you think that?

Des: [00:00:34] So it was probably in mid-March. So we, we’ve got a big team, um, doing all the media buying and, and a lot of the digital for big global hotel chain for example. Um, and, you know, they, they started shutting down all their spend and, and so that, for me, that was the start of it. Um. And luckily for us though, we, you know, we, we, we, we not one industry focused, so we have clients across telco, banking, financial services, supermarkets, fast food, and, and all of those clients where we’re pretty good.

Um, uh, whereas, you know, obviously travel, travel was hit really hard to start. Um, yeah. So in answer to your question, when w when Quantas started, um, shutting down, that was when I thought, okay, yeah, we were in for a crazy ride.

Gavin: [00:01:57] And are you saying the travel side of things, is that starting to gain, regain any momentum at all?

Des: [00:02:02] I am seeing a little bit actually. So, um, we, we, a client that we won only in the back end of last year, um, runs a lot of tours around the world, uh, and many into Europe. And, you know, it’s a bit of cruising and river cruising. They, they shut down all their spend. Um, in, in the March, April time, um, we now starting to see some of that come back.

Um, uh, and, and also projects. So, so our businesses is, is a lot of managing spend, but it’s also doing consulting projects for clients around digital marketing. So, so a lot of projects where we’re shut down, um, I’m starting to see projects starting to come back now, although, you know, smaller projects. Up to maybe about 50, 50 K, a hundred K. Um, but the, those big digital transformation projects are mostly all on hold.

Gavin: [00:02:54] Yeah, this has been a very unusual time. And I think, and I think a big part of the, you know, the unusual time is our social isolation and, and you know, the huge working from home experiment that we’re all going through at the moment.

So, so how long have you personally been working from home for?

Des: [00:03:08] So, so Omnicom in Australia, shutdown our offices pretty much in the second week of March. So for me, this is week 10 or week 11. Um, I’m sure like most of the guys, you know, it’s, it’s, I can’t believe it’s been that long. Uh, it doesn’t feel like that amount of time. Every week is just a blur, right? Video conference calls and, um, and just so much time on the phone. Um, um, you know, by, by the time you get to lunchtime, my phone is like hot. So got to get off the phone for a little while and let it, let it cool down a little bit. Um, so that, so that’s been the really interesting part is just how much, how much time we’ve spent on the phone. Um, and, and, and, and discussions and video conference calls. So, but at least we’ve been able to keep the business going. And, you know, we lucky enough to, to work in an industry where, where you can service clients from, from home. Uh, it was a little bit of a challenge to start. Um, once but once we got set up, uh, you know, a lot of my staff churn through a lot of data. Uh, they, they were maybe sitting at home in a share house with no screens trying to work off their laptops. So by the, when, when we, when we got them a couple of screens at home, you know, set them up with desks and they were a lot happier then, you know, that they, they were actually getting back to being much more productive.

So it, it took, it took a little bit of a while to get us all set up. But we luckily, um, you know, working at a good cadence at the moment. Um, uh, actually we surveyed our staff, uh, a week or so ago, and. And, and most of them wanted to stay at home.

Gavin: [00:04:50] How do you feel about that, being the boss?

Des: [00:04:51] We do a town hall every week with all of our staff and, um, and we have like open question session and I did get a question from, from, from other guys last week going, would it be a problem if I never ever come back to the office again?

Um, so, so I sort of, you know, like you said, I don’t think it’s going to be that extreme. Um, I think. I think we were going to have to work through the scenario. You know, in, in, in advertising media industry, the margins are slim. Um, it is difficult to, to, to make, make good margins when a lot of your staff are sitting in the CBDs, have made major cities.

So, so, you know, we, we’ve already been talking over the last couple of years. You know, how do we outsource some work? Do we locate some staff outside of the CBD? Do we move like further South out of the CBD in Sydney? Um, so, so, and then, and then you move on to the hot desking discussion. Um, and, and this is what’s going to be the big challenge is a, is a lot of, a lot of our staff don’t like hot desking, but I don’t think you’re going to be able to be an environment where you allow people to come in maybe one or two days a week or three days a week, um, and not use hot desking. So, so we, we’re going to have to be, be in that environment and, and I don’t really have a problem with it. You know, I like the flexibility myself of working from home. I like the fact that I can save some time off on the commute.

And, and I think this has proven to a lot of business leaders that you can actually continue to deliver really, really good results to clients with a distributed team. Um, that, you know, there are some challenges. Yeah. And we’ve been pitching for a bit of work. I mean, surprisingly enough.

Gavin: [00:06:32] How’s that been going? Pitching is very different when it’s over Zoom, right?

Des: [00:06:35] Um, it’s, it’s, it’s a real challenge. And, and the, the main challenges is, is not so much in the presentation. It’s more in, in the, in the non-verbal feedback, you know, the sort of body language and trying to get a feel of, of the room. Um. You know, and, and that, that’s, that’s been the real challenge.

Pitching to existing clients where you already have a good relationship with them, has been relatively straightforward. Pitching to, um, to new clients where you don’t have that relationship already, that’s been the real challenge.

Gavin: [00:07:07] Yeah. Right. And so do you feel that there’s going to be less commercial real estate space used in the future for you guys? Cause you’ve obviously got quite a big crew at OMG?

Des: [00:07:18] so, yeah, I, I do think so. Um. And I think we might see us move to an environment where we don’t, where we’re not all sitting in the CBD of, of a, of a major city. Um, maybe we might have an environment where, where we have a smaller office in the center of the CBD where clients can come and people can go for a few days a week, and then maybe we have a, a bigger location, um, you know, further out of town.

Um, so, you know, we, we, we had the situation in Singapore just recently where, um. Uh, our Omnicom office was located in the center of Singapore and they’ve moved it out to one of the office parks. And, um, you know, there’s been a fair amount of adjustment for staff because instead of now being in the middle of the city, they, they way out of town, there’s not a lot of coffee shops and restaurants around to fight to go to clients, they’ve had to go all the way into town.

So, so there’s that sort of adjustment that we have to work through. But in the end, it’s going to come back to commercials. And I think you’re going to find that if you’re not. If you’re not having all of your staff there every day, then you are going to need to wear to a more flexible hot desking type environment, and that does create opportunities then to maybe look at your office space quite differently to the way we do now.

Gavin: [00:08:38] Yeah, I guess the space kind of becomes redundant, right? I mean, if you, if you’re not there all the time, you know, you’ve gotta gotta be as flexible as possible. Um, so moving on to the next question for you, mate. So, you know, we’re obviously all in, in hibernation at the moment, and we touched on it before you, before, when we’re off air.

Um, you know, you’re, you’re missing having some holidays as we all are, but what, what do you miss the most, you think?

Des: [00:09:02] Well, from a personal perspective, I’m pretty lucky because I live in Manly and I get to go and swim in the sea and have a surf and, and go for a run. So from, from that perspective, you know, I think, um, no major dramas there. From a work perspective, like I touched on before, the, the, the pitching is, has been a challenge, um, for us.

Um, although, you know, we’re not doing loads and loads of pictures, but the ones we have done have required an another level of, of rigor and organisation that the biggest thing I’ve found is, um, is, is more the creative side. So, so. Getting in a room with a bunch of smart people from different disciplines and trying to knock out a real creative answer.

Um, I’ve found that more difficult to do over over Teams or Zoom than rather all being in the room together with the white board. So, so we still managed to do it. You know, that’s a big part of our business coming up with creative ideas. Um, but, but it is a little bit more of a challenge. Um, it seems to work smoother when you’re sitting in the same room together.

Gavin: [00:10:03] I think, you know, we’re, we’re designed to be together, you know, as human animals like that. That’s you. You, you touched on it before. 90% of communication is non-verbal. Right? So, you know, it just makes everything, it adds that level of complexity to it. Absolutely. You know, I, I certainly miss being around my, my colleagues.

Um, so what are you, what do you feel are the most immediate differences that we’ve seen in the marketplace after COVID-19?

Des: [00:10:31] Yeah. So there’s been a lot. It’s been like, it’s been a very interesting couple of months. The, the obvious one for us is, is cuts and spend. Um, so I think that – I’ve got some stats just just this week in terms of the SMI index in Australia that we’ve shown a 42% decline year on year this April versus last April.

Um, so, so there’s been a lot of clients that have been cutting spend, um, as well as cutting, cutting projects. So that, so that’s been the biggest impact. Um, but very, very industry specific. So obviously travel has been impacted massively. Um. You know, the guys at the other end of the spectrum, fast food, telco, financial services, that sort of stuff, not that impacted.

Um, and some of them doing quite well actually. You know, some of our FMCG clients doing, doing really well.

Gavin: [00:11:27] Whoever makes hand sanitizer,

Des: [00:11:28] Hand sanitizer, you know, toilet paper, toilet paper. So Kleenex is a, is a, is a big client of ours, so it’s, uh, so they, they killing it. Um, you know, people are Bayer – pharmaceuticals. People are Pepsi, you know, all those types of things where, you know, people are spending more time at home, um, spending that money that maybe they would have spent in the pub and in restaurants and that sort of stuff. Um, so the big hit was spend industry driven, um, some industries worse than others.

Um, the, the one that I’m seeing now, which is quite interesting, is, is auto. So, so we worked for a number of auto brands in Australia and, um, you know, they, they, they were definitely not in the first wave. But definitely in the second wave and tint in terms of cuts, um, in spend and projects. Um, so that’s number one.

Um, the other, the other ones have been just, um, you know, the shift in spend from, from channel to channel. Obviously, you know, there’s, there’s not much point in spending money in, in cinema advertising or, or out of home or events, you know, so, so, so that’s sort of, you know, like, you know, I walked out, I was in this, uh, in the office on Monday actually, and had had a bit of a walk down George street and there’s hardly anybody there. Um, there’s still loads of ads out in the street though, but not, you know, nobody’s seeing them. So that the trend has been away from some of those channels towards, um, more digital, obviously, so people are spending more time on, you know, on their social devices or searching online. So, so we’ve, we’ve been seeing spend being pushed to digital display, digital, social and digital search and, and, and also you sort of running in parallel to that, um, the, the, the cost per clicks have have dropped significantly in some sectors, you know, cause it’s, it’s driven by auction. It’s a supply and demand type thing. So you’ve seen spend levels drop as you’ve seen, spend levels drop, you’ve seen, you know, the CPCs dropped. Um, so, so we’ve had, uh, some clients taking advantage of that. We’ve had some clients pushing. Spend more away from brand towards performance. So, um, and I think that’s driven more probably, and I’ll talk about this next to, you know, what’s happening in eComm. Um, you know, if you’re spending money on a direct action or performance action, it’s much easier to track that spend and in this environment where every dollar is important.

It’s, it’s extremely, uh, you know, if you have to front up to your CFO and said, you know, I’ve spent X dollars, um, can, can you track that through to, to some sort of performance metric or something is really important. So, so I’ve been seeing a bit of that push away from brand to, to performance.

Gavin: [00:14:16] short term versus longterm.

Des: [00:14:19] Yeah. This is the, uh, this is always the big debate in market agile battle right. You know how much, how much this brand and how much does performance. So, and we see that moving backwards and forwards all the time. But at the moment, I think. Because of the rise of e-Comm and the drop in some of the drop in CPCs and, and, and more rigor on ROI.

I think that’s probably driving some, some of the push more towards a performance versus brand. Um, in terms of e-Comm, yeah. Like we, we probably running 16 more e-Comm projects now than we were running in February. So, so that just shows you how. You know, some of our clients are at the real cutting edge of e-Comm.

And then we’ve got other clients who, who’ve never really invested much money into, into their e-Comm channel. And we’ve got the whole spectrum in between. Um, we’ve got a whole bunch of our FMCG clients who have obviously pushing heavily into e-comm now. So, so they were, they were. You know, starting to think about selling via Amazon and selling via eBay, but now, you know, they’re talking about direct to consumer.

Um, and so, so, so e-Comm’s, a big, a big factor. And I got some interesting stats from, from some of my colleagues in the, in the States just yesterday. Um, so they, they said just, I’ll just give you two stats just to give you a bit of an indication of the types of things that they’re seeing there. Um, and apologise for not having any local stats.

So, so the traditional chain stores in the U S have seen an 80% year on year rise in online sales in April. Um, and the digitally native retailers have only seen about 53%. So, 53 is still good. Um, but, but you seeing, you know, the 80% rise for the, for the more traditional chain stores.

And, you know, I think this is going to have a massive impact on, on what happens in the future, um, and the investment levels that go into, into e-Comm. The other stat that I thought was really interesting was the number of first-time purchases placed through an eCommerce site. Um, are up 120%. Yeah. So these are people that have never purchased before ever.

Gavin: [00:16:39] Brand new online consumers.

Des: [00:16:39] So first time purchases up 120%. So, you know, so those, those are just two stats that I saw that actually we all intuitively know that, that, that e-Comm, um, is, is the default.

Gav: Um, no one’s to get to the shops, right?

Des:Yeah. Well there, and then on the news this morning, I, I heard that a lot of the retailers, you know, they starting to open up in Australia is, is they actually thinking of, of not allowing people to try on clothing and shoes in, in stores. So, you know, so then you’ve got to go, okay, well that’s the main reason why you would go to the stores to get the sizing right. But if you’re not going to be allowed to try on the clothes, then why would you even bother going to the store? You’ll just buy it online.

Gavin: [00:17:27] You know, you’ve been in the industry for quite some time. Um, so you would have been through both 9/11 and the GFC. Um, so, you know, how, how did you know, have previous global challenges like that effected global business?

Des: [00:17:44] Yeah, so I’ve, I’ve got some really good stats on this. Um, our, our, uh, investment team have. You know, do, do, I’ll always studying the marketplace. I’ll just give you a couple of stats, I think that will really show you what’s happening in the space. So generally GDP and ad spend, they follow each other. So if GDP is going up, ad spend is going up.

If you look at what’s happened over the, um, you know, over the 9/11 and over what happened at the GFC, the, the correlation actually went the other way. So, so for example, um, post GFC, a real growth in GDP was, uh, 2.5% whereas ad spend was down 8%. So same with, in 9/11, GDP was up at two. This is a year after 9/ 11 – GDP was up 2% but ad ad spend went down by six. So, so there’s this massive decline in ad spend in, in the year post these major events and, um, but what, what’s interesting about it is, is it only happens for a year and then it recovers significantly, way to the other side. Um, so, so then you move on to this massive debate around, okay, we, we all know it’s going to recover.

Is it going to be a V shape curve is going to be a U shaped curve. And if you look at all the data, um, for Australia, and, and the same applies globally. Um, in most cases, um, ad spend jumps back very quickly. Um, so, you know, the differences is that what we facing now is probably, you know, a health and a financial impact. Whereas talking GFC, it was just finance. You know, 9/11 was, was I obviously something different and maybe you need to go back to World War 2 to have something that’s comparable.

Gavin: [00:19:36] The world has changed so much though, since world war two, you know what I mean? And that’s a very, very tough thing to compare what we’re going to now, because obviously.

You know, the internet was far from existing, you know, everything is extremely different between then and now. But yeah, let’s, let’s, let’s hope we don’t have another great depression, if that’s where you’re heading.

Des: [00:19:55] Don’t, no, I don’t think so. I’m thinking I’m tending to more a V shaped recovery as opposed to a U shaped recovery.

Um, if you look at the consumer, um, index. Got your consumer confidence rating in Australia. Um, w it was tracking around about 110, a hundred, 120 prior covert it, it went all the way down to 80, but it’s already bounced back up to 90. Um, you know, when, when, when the GFC hits, it was around 125 that went down to 90, but it took two years to recover.

So I think the differences is that in the GFC it was led by, um, financial, um, you know, spend. And, and, and that took a long time for that to filter its way through. I think a lot of the regulators and governments have learned from that and are pumping so much money into the economy that I think that the recovery will be significantly more V-shaped.

And then it was U shaped during the GFC. And, and you. You can start to see that in discussions with clients already, you know, people are starting to think about spend. Um, and, and that’s across the board, across all of our clients, even even those that have been hit by, you know, the most – airlines, for example. So, when we look at spend, we were thinking, um, that the market, the market would, um, so the market’s probably gone down about minus 6% in 2020, whereas we are spitting a growth around 2.5.

And you know, that’s probably taken about $2 billion. Out of about a $16 billion market. So, so although the numbers are big and the percentages are reasonably, it’s not, it’s not as bad as you think. And I think if you, if you see a reasonable, the in the back end, so some of those numbers might be, might be a bit, a little bit less than what we think.

Gavin: [00:22:06] That’s one of the positive things I’ve heard in months I think.

Des: [00:22:08] yeah. Um, you know, we have a lot of calls with some of our global colleagues and the impacts in America and Europe in particular seem way worse than what we’ve, what we’re seeing in Australia.

Gavin: [00:22:20] have been hit way worse with COVID, right? I mean, they’re way, way worse than ours.

We just had our, unfortunately, we had our hundredth death. Um, but you know, w where’s the US at now? Um,

Des: [00:22:31] a thousand hun, hundreds.

Gavin: [00:22:35] It’s massive. So it’s obviously, you know, it’s, it’s very, we’re not really comparing apples to apples when it comes to COVID in Australia and other parts of the world.

Des: [00:22:45] Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a diff, it’s a different beast everywhere. And if you look at what hap, what’s happening in Asia compared to Australia, it’s a different story again. So, and, and every country in Asia is going through their different, you know, their different timings and recoveries and that sort of stuff.

But, you know, at least from where I’m sitting and the data that I’m seeing and from what my colleagues are telling me, um. The Asia Pacific region looks like it’s probably been impacted the least out of the rest of the world. And, and then within that region, Australia’s look looking pretty, pretty good compared to some of those other countries in Asia. So we definitely, we are definitely not seeing the worst.

Gavin: [00:23:22] of this. Well, fingers crossed, fingers crossed for a V shape recovery. There isn’t, I think you kind of touched on this before when we were talking about e-commerce. So, um, so who in the marketplace has shown to be well-prepared or rapidly adapted to the shifts that we’re seeing?

Des: [00:23:39] Yeah, so I think obviously the, the guys that had invested in, in, in e-Comm more well prepared than those that hadn’t. But, but you know, then you go back to what or what does that actually mean? So, so just having a shopping cart is, is, is not enough. And in today’s world, you know, you need to, you need to have a good experience.

You need to have, um, as frictionless environment as possible. So, so, so those, those, um, companies that, that firstly have a direct to consumer presence, but they have taken it to the next level where they can actually. Um, act on the data that they know about that person that’s coming through their shopping funnel, tailor difference discounts or special offers to them to make sure that they get to the end of the funnel.

Um, so, so, you know, you, you, everybody likes to talk about predictive marketing, you know, so yes. If those companies that, that have had the data and have the systems and are further down the digital marketing maturity curve are the ones that I think are, are, are ones that are coming out well. And the reason for that is, um, firstly, obviously wanting to sell directly to your consumer, the margins are higher, but secondly, um, the further down that journey you are, the better your return on investment.

So, from where I’m sitting in the data that I’m seeing, you know, the, if you have a, uh, a more personalised experience. And, um, and you’re learning about your customers and you’re tailoring that experience to them. Um, the click through rates on your media are significantly higher. Um, the engagement is higher, the conversion rates are higher.

So your overall return on ad spend is, is, is higher. So, you know, it’s not just about having a shopping cart that people can come in and purchase something. It’s, it’s about taking it to the next level so that people have a good experience. That way when you’re bringing them into the top of the funnel, you’re trying to bring them in with offers that are relevant based on, you know, based on their behaviours, their demographics, their location, previous purchase, all that sort of stuff.

So you know, that, that, that’s what I’m, what I think is important. So being able to use the data. Um, tailor that experience and create a seamless experience for people that are now all online. Those will be the winners.

Gavin: [00:25:57] So really it’s about a lot of, it’s about clever use of the entire digital ecosystem right?

Des: [00:26:04] Yeah. And you know that. Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, we, we do a lot of work around how do you use data to drive insights? How do you use data to, to segment your market and give them a special offer? I think where, where things fall in the hole is that. A lot of people have invested so much money into digital marketing stacks in the last few years and haven’t necessarily implemented them properly, or they’re not properly integrated with their existing systems.

So, you know, there is quite a negative vibe around digital marketing transformation, especially some of the bigger companies that have spent millions of dollars buying tech stacks. What I’m seeing is. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of smart things you can do on a more incremental basis where if you have a CRM, for example, and you have a reasonably simple shopping cart. You know, there’s some really cool stuff you can do around segmentation, special offers. You don’t need like a million dollar investment in a DMP or something to start doing some of that stuff, you know? And, and that’s, and that’s where we really try to work with clients to go, okay, you know, what, what tech do you have?

What data do you have? Um, let, instead of, let’s try to do. You know that the big bang approach, let’s, let’s just try and pick some, some campaigns that we can do. Let, let’s, let’s, let’s have a look at the funnel where people dropping off. Can, can we, we know a lot about some of those people because they logged in.

So if we know, if they logged in, we know that if they are new, you know, an existing client, we know what their past purchases are, let’s offer them a, let’s offer them a simple, um, if they’ve purchased hiking boots in the past, you know, maybe offer them hiking socks or whatever it is. And there’s real simple stuff that you can do like that, that doesn’t cost a lot of money to implement and, and will drive real returns in the short term. So, um, I’m really, we, we’ve always operated like this and, and, and try to lead clients along that journey. Um, rather than trying to say, well, he has a project. It’s going to cost you millions of dollars to do. Let’s start on a, you know, let’s start on a small project and really try and use the tech that you already have.

Um, you would be amazed how many, how many clients that are out there that have spent money on. You know, on, on a simple CMS too in a shopping cart, for example. Um, and they’re paying license fees that those, those CMS has have evolved now, or a lot of them have evolved into more digital experience platforms, for example.

And for not a lot of money you can upgrade to the newest versions and there’s some real neat stuff in there. And, and most of our clients would have a CRM. If you take what’s in your CRM, you take us in advanced shopping cart tech. Um, it doesn’t all have to be fully integrated. You can run a whole lot of stuff, but by some manual steps in between.

Um, and, and it can drive real value. And I think into, in post COVID world, it’s, you know, it’s hard anyway to try and get marketing spend signed off by our CEO, CFO, um, uh, post COVID is going to be even harder. So, so those companies that, um, that can, uh, show what they see are what, what the ROI is and that there and that they’re trying to make every dollar work – I think those are the companies that that will continue to get investment in and the ones that will succeed.

Gavin: [00:29:27] Yeah. Fantastic. So what role do you think digital marketing maturity is played in coping with this crisis?

Des: [00:29:34] Yeah, so, so going back to the previous point, um, those, those companies that are already on that path of using data, using tech to bring the return or to increase the return on investment. Um, I think those, those are the ones that are going to do well. The second is the ones that have put that extra effort in, uh, around creating a great experience as opposed to just a purchase. And then people that are mixing those two together.

So if you talk about personalisation at scale, so you know, there’s, there’s enough tech around these days where you can deliver tailored messages to clients multiple times through the funnel, drive them to the website. You know, who they are, tailor the messages to them. Um, so if you, if you’d done that pathway. The, the, your return on ad spenders is way higher. Overall return is better. And, and those are the people that are going to continue to get funding and, and continue to win because, you know, they’re justifying that spend.

Gavin: [00:30:37] Would you say existing strategies fed well in the early stages of the COVID atmosphere shift, do you think?

Des: [00:30:52] I think, like I touched on before, um, I think it’s very industry specific. Um, how some industries have continued doing pretty much what they were doing before whilst other industries have had to change significantly.

There’s definitely been some shift from channels like we spoke about, um, out of home cinema, event marketing, those types of things, uh, away from those, but into, into digital, social display, et cetera. Um, what we have seen those that in terms of the ad creative, for example, um, some companies have had to be very, um, you know, they have changed their messaging way from more from a hard sell, um, more to add, showing human connection. Um. And a connection to place and community, that sort of thing, you know, has, it’s somewhat on the channels. Um, and then somewhat on the messaging as well, um, has all the areas that have had to change.

Gavin: [00:31:50] Hmm. Interesting. And so what about in terms of, um, you have your own agencies, so you know, how digital strategies within the agency shifted during the development of this crisis?

Des: [00:32:02] Yeah, so we’ve, we’ve obviously, um. Sat down with our clients and talk them through where, where we should be moving, spend away from those channels that are, that no longer have our Archibald to, to unset do. Um, we’ve worked through them, worked through with them the, the changes in the environment in terms of cost per click and CPM rates, which, which in some industries have been quite significant.

Um, we’ve also. Um, done a lot of work more around the owned and earned channels as opposed to opposed to the paid channels. Um, uh, generally those channels tend to have a higher ROI and tend to have a payback over a longer period of time. So, um, we’ve been, we’ve been actually doing a lot more sort of SEO, CRO type work as a paid, so maybe paid search work.

Um, and also. Um, one thing that we’ve been pushing really heavily with our clients is more around retention and upsell to existing clients rather than acquisition in this environment. And, and, and the reason, you know, in, in good times, we generally know that return on investment, um, around retention is higher than around acquisition.

And I think it’s even more so now. Um, so, so we, we’ve been trying to tailor out our strategic advice to our clients around those. Pillars in terms of channel cost, et cetera.

Gavin: [00:33:20] Yeah. Brilliant. So we’re going to switch it up a little bit here, Dez. It’s time for a few bonus questions. It’s going to farm out at you.

Des: [00:33:27] Are you ready, sir? Yes. Fire. Right.

Gavin: [00:33:30] So who would you look up to as a mentor or role model or muse for your own personal digital guidance?

Des: [00:33:38] So I don’t have a specific mentor, but in terms of the person that I’ve done a lot of reading. Of their books. And that is Seth Goden. So, um, you, you would probably know him from books I per book, permission marketing stuff.

So, so for me, um, I, uh, are based. The resolution business around purple cow. So we, um, so you will see when, uh, when you go to our collateral and that it’s, it’s about being, being remarkable, uh, about driving remarkable results to clients. So, so we, we try to be a purple car for our clients. We, and we tried to make sure that.

Um, you know, that we stand out from the crowd in terms of the remarkable results that we, that, that we deliver. So yeah, and also what I like about Seth Goden and in a lot of ways is, is it’s not all, all just about digital. Um, a lot of times he takes the traditional marketing that has worked very well for, for, for a lot of decades, and he, and he puts a digital lens on top of it.

So, you know. Yeah. I find a lot of what he writes, really, really smart. Any recent book that he wrote, it’s called, this is marketing. Um, you know, there’s, there’s some really good insights in there.

Gavin: [00:34:52] He’s a smart dude, Seth Gardner, and anything he does as well, like, you know, it can just be a couple of paragraphs, you know, like, Oh wow.

That was, that was so insightful. He just,

Des: [00:35:00] yeah, he just sends out like a little, like one line or something like that, you know? So yeah, I think he was, he was supposed to come out to Australia, um, and we’d, we’d booked to take all of our stuff there and of itself has all been canceled. Now suppose I think it was supposed to be in may that he was doing a bit of a tour around Australia.

Gavin: [00:35:18] Yes, I can, I can assure you from firsthand experience, the events industry is having a challenging time at the moment. So, um, so. What books, podcasts, media, are you consuming right now to help you with your own digital education for yourself, but also for your clients?

Des: [00:35:36] Yeah, so, so I’ve got a big mix. You know, they’re staying on top of things in the digital spaces.

Such a challenge. It’s so broad. It’s so deep. Um, so, so from a strategic perspective, it’s more like, you know, Seth Gordon’s books, you know, that one that I referred to earlier, which is, um. This is marketing. Um, what, what I really found interesting about that is it’s about identifying your smallest viable audience and then looking at their behaviors and tailoring and tailoring your marketing towards that.

So it’s really. It’s about predictive marketing, but it’s not tailored to predictive marketing. So, so a bit of Seth and then a lot of different blogs that are following around all the different sectors. So there’s a whole bunch around programmatic analytics, et cetera. So,

Gavin: [00:36:24] and, uh, do you get into any podcasts at all apart from Ashton cast?


Des: [00:36:29] Um. Yeah. So, um, I don’t know if I should say this or these guys, your competitors. So I, I have been listening to him quite a bit. No, they’re great. Yeah. So, no, so yeah, there was a good, uh, a good one yesterday with Robert Morgan who runs klemm’s and you know, it’s a sister agency of ours, so I have been listening to that, to that podcast a bit.

Gavin: [00:36:50] Yeah. Cool. Um, so what’s the trend that you’re most excited about in digital.

Des: [00:36:56] Yeah, this is a bit of a unsexy answer, but the, the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to and driving towards is, is better integration of, of the tech stack. So, um. Yeah. Within we, we’ve got a lot of people that are in the space. Um, firstly, they’ve made a lot of acquisitions that they haven’t necessarily integrated. Secondly, it doesn’t necessarily integrate well with other pieces of tech that are there, that are business might have.

So, uh, I, I’m looking for, and you know, the, the capabilities around integration and the use of APRs and all that are, are advancing away really quickly. So. It to me, the, the answer to this problem isn’t, is not. Been buying really expensive tech stacks from, from one vendor. It’s, it’s, it’s about taking what you have and, and integrating it.

Um, so that you can use a lot of the components of the tech stack that you already have. And, and, and so it becomes about the plumbing. And unfortunately, without the plumbing. You can’t do all the sexy stuff. You, you know, you can’t deliver tailored messages. You can’t, you can’t build awesome audiences. Um, if you don’t have that plumbing and you, and you don’t have those APRs working properly, you’re not storing the data correctly, then, then you can’t do all that other stuff.

And I think the tech is moving fast enough. For us to really address some of those issues. Um, I think one of the most common things that I hear from clients is I’m not going to invest any more money in tech because I’ve invested so much and I haven’t, haven’t got a positive ROI on it. I think there’s a lot of ways that we can look at more incremental change, plugging what you have together with, with other bits and pieces and, um, and, and really driving some value out of that.

So that, that, that’s what I’m really looking forward to. Over the next sort of 12 months or so.

Gavin: [00:38:51] Yeah. One of the, one of the things that I often hear at our events is that, you know, lots of people invest in tech, but it’s, it’s about knowing how to use it. Right. How to, how to get the most out of it.

Des: [00:38:59] Yeah, absolutely.

And, um, you know, the, these, these are big complex systems. Um, sometimes. There’s probably been a significant oversell. Um, and you know, that, that’s where clients are struggling the most. And unfortunately there’s a lot of vendors out there that are selling, selling the dream. But to actually implement that dream and make their dream work is, is, is a lot harder.

Um, and I really think that the people are, people are trying to do too much. Yeah. So I really would, I try to talk to my clients about, let’s start smaller, let, let’s take, in a lot of cases, let’s take what you already have and let’s see how we can do some really smart stuff with what you have. And most of our clients have a CRM.

Most of our clients have got some sort of CMS, um, you know, that, that will have some smarts in it. Um, and so let’s take those and let’s, let’s do a few proof of concepts before we start trying to run before we can, we can actually walk, you know, the digital transformation is, is, uh, is about a lot of different things.

And, you know, it started back in the day, in my opinion, around marketing automation. So. You know, when CRM started coming out and then CRM has moved into the cloud, and then, you know, they started to build some, some triggers within CRMs that would allow you to send an EDM out is two to one group versus another group.

And you started to see some behaviors and then you started to be able to tailor messaging to those. And, and, and. So that’s really simple stuff that a lot of clients aren’t necessarily doing. You know, you don’t need to have a DMP in place and, and be buying third party data at, you know, there’s a lot of other things you can be doing before you get to that point.

Gavin: [00:40:44] Yeah. Interesting. Obviously this is a, you know, you were just talking about simplicity there, but this is one of the most complex things, um, you know, facing humanity, the moment I think. So w what are your thoughts on, on AI in both marketing, but also beyond that?

Des: [00:41:00] Yeah, so I think AI and machine learning is.

Is a, is going to be a key part of, of the marketing ecosystem going forward. It has to be the amount of data that we are gathering. It’s just too, there’s too much data there for a human to be able to churn through. So I think in terms of. The machine learning and the AI. Even today, I’ve seen some great examples of where that is being used, um, in a, in a really smart way.

Um, and that’s only going to get better. I think the issue is more about what we’ve just been talking about is if you don’t, if you don’t have the plumbing in place, um, to gather that data. And you don’t have it set up in the right way. You don’t have a tagged in the right way and you don’t have the mechanism to match the data across different walled gardens or across different platforms, then you, you know, you could have the best machine learning and AI in the world, but if you don’t have those, those plumbing and storage basics in place.

Then you know that the AI is not going to do, deliver that much to you. Um, and then I think, you know, on top of that whole discussion, you’ve got to bring privacy into, into that discussion then and moving to cookie lists, browsers, um, in the future. And how are we going to deal, how are we going to deal with that and how are we going to deal with the different walled gardens?

And how’s that gonna play into people’s own DMPs matching data. Activating that, activating those things into different walled gardens. I think, yeah, I think the discussion around AI is interesting, but I think there’s a lot of other things that we need to figure out before we worry too much about AI.

Gavin: [00:42:35] Interesting. Uh, and this, this isn’t a question that we’re prepped for, but I’m really interested to get your take on, on your view, on the cookie lists future that we’ve got ahead of us. What, what are your thoughts there?

Des: [00:42:49] Yeah, so. Um, I have seen a couple of your podcasts, so thank you. Thank you for that.

You guys, have, you guys have explored that, that topic in, in a lot of depth. So this big, big, big topic. Um, and I don’t know how, how it’s going to pan out, but, but, but we all know that the environment that we operating in today. Um, is, is going to be fundamentally different when, when, when that, when Chrome turns it off.

Um, so I know there’s a lot of work going behind the scenes to try and figure out, um, what alternatives they are. Um, but I’m not seeing anything at the moment, which has really jumping out. Um, so I think that. A lot of the work that we obviously do around retargeting and gathering of data is fundamentally going to change, but you know, we still got a couple of months to go.

What is it about 18 months or 12 months to go before

Gavin: [00:43:47] 18 months, I think.

Des: [00:43:48] Yeah. So it’s, I think it’s going to push us more towards where all guidance, um, within those well walled gardens, you’re still going to be able to do a lot of what you do today. But whether you can take that data across the wall gardens and match it, um, and even store it.

Um, so, so, so sorry, a bit of a rambling answer, but I think it’s going to push us, push us more and more to, to the use of first party data. Um, and, and really, um, you know, trying to find ways to get people to log in, get them to use the app, get us to learn, learn more about them, get them to opt in. Um, and then there might be some other technologies or changes to the regulatory environment that, that allow us to do some of the things we’re doing today.

But it’s, it’s a, it’s a big change.

Gavin: [00:44:35] Yeah. Interesting. Interesting times ahead there, I think. Um, so one more question there does, and then you’re off the hook. Um, if you could tell someone 10 years ago, one interesting thing about how digital would turn out now, what would it be.

Des: [00:44:50] I think, um, there’s two things that stand out to me.

The first is how. How advertising is moving away from a interruption based mechanism to something that’s a bit more tailored. So, you know, as young bloke growing up and used to sit in front of the TV and, and you know, you’d get all these adverts just downloaded on you. Um, you know, now you, you can sit within your social media as in, you know, you can get, uh, ads that are tailored to you based on part search behavior and your interests and stuff.

You know, so personally for me, um, having, having ads that are. Or personalized or, or relevant to me is, is, is a, is a big game changer. And we shouldn’t underestimate the tech, um, that, that has to be in place in order to deliver that and the amount of plumbing and stuff you need to do. And you know, that, that’s something that I, you know, 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought, you know, we could deliver tailored, different tailored messaging messaging to two people at different points in the funnel based on their behavior.

And. Th they’re, they’re buying signals and data. And to me that’s, that’s really exciting, you know, like being able to pick up all those signals and then tailor your messaging. And because I’ve seen how that can really, really drive return. The second one is, is just the, um, the low friction environment, you know, so it’s a lot of customers, a lot of.

Businesses now, then it’s not just about selling their product, it’s, it’s about selling their product in the least friction environment that you can. And you know, you know, I think companies like Uber and that, you know, they, they were the leaders in terms of this. And now, you know, eCommerce companies and that are coming along.

So, so just, just how much we care about the user experience and how much we care about personalization. And, and how frictionless we tried to make it as is something that’s quite amazing to me. How, how far we’ve come in in that 10 years.

Gavin: [00:46:41] Brilliant. Dez O’Donnell, thank you very much for your time and thank you for joining us on Ashton cast.

Des: [00:46:46] Okay, great. Thank you so much for having me today. It’s been fantastic.

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