Code Worldwide

Creative Technology 2012 – the Big Themes and what they meant for Code

07.06.2012
Matt McNeany

Matt McNeany

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

2012 has been a pretty significant year for marketing technology.  It’s probably too soon to describe the sector as having come of age, but it’s certainly in its adolescence and is starting to grow a bit of confidence, make some more noise and form its own identity.  (For a good overview of development, take a look at Scott Brinker’s post here.)

Like many teenagers, marketing technology is pretty trend-obsessed and although as the grand old men of the space Code should be above all of this, we’re not.  So here’s a quick review of some of the highlights of our year, grouped to resonate with the trends pulled out by Econsultancy, Wired, Mashable etc. Business is Social This has been the year where taking the learnings from how you build a community using social media and the benefits that this can bring have really been started to be applied within the commercial world.

It is becoming ever more clear that creating groups around common interest, providing a social context to work and exchanging experiences and knowledge for data is a very efficient way to get people to work in the way you want them to and align their energies and creativity with the goals of the business - voluntarily.

This year we created the Source operating system for PHD (more on this below and here).  This app unites 70 media planning agency offices around a single methodology for communication planning.  This brief could have (and until recently would have) resulted in a big workflow/compliance tool.  But instead, we have a community focused application where media planners are asked, invited and rewarded for contributing ideas on clients they don’t work on.  The eco-system is deliberately open and users are encouraged to connect with their colleagues in different offices.  

The effect is that the PHD community is much more active in shaping client strategies, which is engaging for the PHD people and generates huge value for their clients.

Example  # 3:  Citroen The Dealer Network is a Social Network”.  We build a lot of systems that automate advertising production and so are fundamentally fairly transactional in nature.   

But we get a lot of traffic so we realized it is a good opportunity to build a connection between the local office/franchisee/retailer etc and the brand.  By using some pretty basic approaches of delivering relevant content, providing learning forums, discussion spaces, feedback loops, likes etc, we have really been able to deepen the connection between local and centre.  

We know because people tell us – and we see both the volume of advertising and brand compliance increasing. Business is a Game I really struggle with the term “gamification” because I think it is perceived as trivializing work and so gets rejected.  But I don’t have a better alternative and this year we’ve seen some pretty great results by making elements of work, er, a game. Back to Source.  Every time you make a contribution, respond to an idea, use a data tool etc, you earn points.   They are on screen all the time and when you log in, you see your position on the leader board, so you get to benchmark yourself against your colleagues.  

This is a simple and effective way of driving engagement with the change that PHD want to drive through their organization, after all who wants to be bottom of the league?  So you do more of what earns you points and thereby do a better job for PHD and its clients. In

In Nissan, we took this a step further.  Here you don’t earn points for compliance but you do get to benchmark yourself against your fellow car dealers.  

Our system records all your advertising work and we integrate sales data – so we can calculate how much each dealer is spending in marketing in order to sell 1 car.  And we show them how they are doing versus other dealers.  This is a huge motivation if you are spending more and so the next question is why – and here we show them how their media mix compares with other dealers so they can self-correct to choose more efficient marketing channels.  The result of this has been a big shift towards more accountable and cost-effective marketing this year, saving Nissan and its dealers money (a pretty hard-headed business result from a game).

Data is BIG BIG DATA – another term, I’m not crazy about as I think it confuses and intimidates.  But data, well managed and well delivered is of course powerful, but also playful. Back to Source once more.  In this screen, our clients can ‘play’ with optimizing media campaigns.  The drag & drop different scenarios and the application predicts the effectiveness of the campaign at reaching their audience.  It is really interactive and demands that you fiddle with it. Behind it is an enormous data engine, taking in audience demographics and media effectiveness data from close to 100 markets.  But the user just gets to indulge his or her strategic and creative mind to try out new ideas.  In geek-speak, it’s Big Data + html5 visualisations; to users it’s putting them in control. In

In geek-speak, it’s Big Data + html5 visualisations; to users it’s putting them in control. In Peugeot, we have taken the massive amount of advertising data we hold and presented that to their dealers and regional teams.

Not as reports, but as something they can explore.  As soon as you have answered the question of what is happening (= reports), then everyone wants to know why it is happening (= exploration), and by empowering users to find this for themselves, they can respond in a more accurate and agile way. And for our own parent company Omnicom, we are using data to find insight for new business.  Omnicom has tens of thousands of client relationships.  Overlay that with the services we provide in these relationships (advertising, media, PR, digital, healthcare, shopper marketing, CRM etc etc) and the relations become multi-dimensional and complex.  By adding exploration tools to this data, we can help new business people look for patterns, gaps, opportunities and connections.  Or put another way – who else would benefit from what we do, who do we know there and who can introduce us?  Now we have an application that can do this prospecting work for us.

 Omnicom has tens of thousands of client relationships.  Overlay that with the services we provide in these relationships (advertising, media, PR, digital, healthcare, shopper marketing, CRM etc etc) and the relations become multi-dimensional and complex.  

By adding exploration tools to this data, we can help new business people look for patterns, gaps, opportunities and connections.  Or put another way – who else would benefit from what we do, who do we know there and who can introduce us?  Now we have an application that can do this prospecting work for us. Mobilification Ok, so I made that term up.  But mobile is huge and growing and increasingly a space where the new marketing mix is taking shape.  By new marketing mix, I mean the move from campaigns to continuous customer engagement and experience, delivered often through software and continuously measured and optimized. Code have made a major investment in mobile this year by establishing our mobile studio based in Brazil this year. 

 But mobile is huge and growing and increasingly a space where the new marketing mix is taking shape.  By new marketing mix, I mean the move from campaigns to continuous customer engagement and experience, delivered often through software and continuously measured and optimized. Code have made a major investment in mobile this year by establishing our mobile studio based in Brazil this year. 

 Our team of 60 native app, mobile web and hybrid developers is already hugely experienced, having delivered work for Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Henry Schein amongst others.  We are delighted to have agreed a mobile partnership with Organic this year to service a number of our clients and are in final stages of a couple of significant client partnerships for mobile. Local Digital/Hyperlocal This theme – linked to mobile, linked to data – has been around for a while without yet making the expected impact.  

But it will because the logic is unarguable and technology is now proven. One of our clients spends c£5m on ‘national’ (ie centrally controlled) media each year, but their retailers spend c£11m on local media, predominantly on press – which they know doesn’t work effectively for them, but until recently there has been no viable alternative for local retail advertising. This year Code has introduced two new channels into our adZU platform: Facebook advertising and local digital display.  

The Facebook functionality allows brands to manage hundreds of locally targeted campaigns and gives local retailers the opportunity to customize these.  By managing this centrally, we are able to create relevant local versions of national brand campaigns, use central resources to optimize campaigns, integrate Facebook into the overall customer journey management plan and prevent local retailers bidding against each other. With local digital display, Code is enabling local retailers to target buyers with a local offer/call-to-action at the point at which they are researching their purchase on-line.  This is highly targeted, very cost efficient retail advertising.  

Using IP targeting, we can deliver a message to a potential customer who we know is in the retailer catchment area and we know is actively researching the purchase.  It’s like delivering a newspaper open at the page with your ad on it, only to people who are interested in buying. You can tell – I have high hopes for this as a significant part of the future retail media mix.

Agile/Agile Marketing It’s been difficult to get through a meeting without Agile coming up this year.  And for good reason. We’ve been running versions of Agile for some time and early this year codified our approach into our ACT method (Agile Creative Technology). So here are some things I like about Agile:

  • People focus, not technology focus
  • Iterative allowing refinement and improvement
  • Repeated, short sprints delivering testable work
  • Value Engineering
  • Transparency and openness of communication

And here are a few things that can mangled, misunderstood or deliberately misinterpreted

  • Agile requires a lot more rigour and discipline than other methods as it cascades responsibility to the delivery team
  • Teams rarely self-organise.  They need to be managed, directed and inspired
  • Agile needs a plan as much as other methods.  Whilst a free-form, flexible, innovative approach sounds great, at some point someone is going to ask for progress vs budget/expectations.  Agile must be as accountable as other approaches (and often needs to be more accountable).
  • Agile works best when it is working on top of an existing eco-system / operating method (eg it works really well at Facebook because so much already exists).  Particularly in the context of an Agile marketing set-up, it can be challenging to make progress unless the team have the backing of a delivery system.
  • Agile teams needs a clear Vision of what is expected.  This is not freestyling go wherever you want
  • Agile encourages innovation and test/learn.  This means outcomes are less predictable, which means some flexibility in your project roadmap

Overall I think there is good scope for the marketing industry to learn from some of the Agile methods developed for software.  As marketing moves more to an always-on paradigm and away from an on/off campaign model, a process which encourages continuous innovation and regular delivery becomes increasingly relevant – all the more so when the product of marketing is increasingly a software release in the form of a new site/banner/app etc. I Thank You 2012 has not been without its challenges.  Innovating in technology is hard and is demanding both of our clients and our people. So thank you to the clients who have continued to support Code this year – and to those who have just started to work with us.  And of course, thanks to the Code people now in UK, US, Ukraine, Brazil and Australia for their hard work and relentless innovation.

So thank you to the clients who have continued to support Code this year – and to those who have just started to work with us.  And of course, thanks to the Code people now in UK, US, Ukraine, Brazil and Australia for their hard work and relentless innovation.