How digital media has revolutionised advertising
With social media now having an audience that spans the globe, how can a company take advantage of these platforms to better engage with its intended audience?
When manufacturing a new product a company must consider how it will engage an audience. To make a customer see the merits of a product, the first hurdle is how to best reach a target demographic. When Hush Blanket was released, Aaron Spivak and Lior Ohayon knew it would be a challenge educating consumers around the benefits the product could provide. “We couldn’t rely on people searching for a weighted blanket,” says Ohayon. “They didn’t know what it was.”
To reach a wide audience the duo decided to use Facebook. The platform allows for advertising to be easily targeted at key demographics by using retargeted ads. This enables a marketing campaign to reach customers who have already visited the Hush Blanket website and left without buying. Capitalising on customers who have already shown an interest by informing around the benefits of the product they may have been unaware of, Facebook also allows advertisers to identify similar audiences and focus new advertising towards them.“You can look at the characteristics of your current buyers and have Facebook identify a ‘look-alike audience,’” says Ohayon. “They’ll say, here’s a million people who are very similar to those buyers and hence are more likely to buy from you.”
The point that video marketing requires an interaction from its audience to view the ad means there is a level of engagement inherent in the medium. If you are able to have a viewer click a video, you have already broken down the first barrier to have your product made visible, and the customer will have already had to identify the product on offer and establish whether it is meaningful to them or not. If the real objective is to grab a prospective customer’s attention in that short time, how can a business achieve this?
With the rise of social and digital media, reaching an intended audience has never been easier, but this is tempered by reduced attention spans, according to a Microsoft report. The immediacy of modern entertainment means that advertisers traditionally have a very small window to engage a viewer. Often the most cost effective and impactful campaigns comprise short ads that get to the point. “You want to explain the problem within like the first 10 seconds and then get to the solution (your product) pretty much right away,” says Ohayon. “The most important part is getting them to click through to purchase your product or find out more about it, he says, “and if it takes three minutes to get there, you will likely lose them.”
Facebook is only one avenue that advertisers have come to make use of. Reddit divides itself into subreddits, each one catering to a particular topic, essentially categorising key demographics based around its interests. The platform’s ad builder allows a campaign to be targeted by geographical location, topic, or a general interests. These interest-based adverts can show up across multiple subreddits to give wider exposure. Wealthsimple took advantage of this by placing promoted ads at the top of subreddits asking for financial advice. This ensured that those going to Reddit, specifically to look for that advice, are presented with Wealthsimple as a commercial option.
By making the best of opportunities provided by social media and the information revolution, a company can ensure proper investment strategies through its marketing department. The modern consumer demands advertising that is relevant to them and their interests. By using platforms they may already be engaged with, companies are able to remove the first barrier between an industry and engage its intended market.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.