The Slant – Programmatic Q&A with Marlene Vicaire

We sat down wih Marlene Vicaire and had a programmatic Q&A on data-enabled creative.

Marlene Vicaire believes creativity and data peacefully work together to literally transform the world.

She’s full of insight from her bucket-loads of experience travelling the world (speaking three languages to boot) and her 10 year career working in advertising agencies like Amnesia Razorfish and DDB Group Australia.  As the former programmatic marketing director at RAPP Australia, a major digital advertising agency with some serious programmatic know-how, she has a lot to share on the subject of creativity and data co-existence if you just ask her.

This Effie and ADMA award-winning “digital nomad” believes the future of digital advertising will rely more on understanding the meaning and context of information rather than “data” isolated in a silo all by itself.

Marlene is in love with digital. So, we just had to hear her thoughts on the future of digital advertising –she took the time to share her insights and perspective from the Down Under:

PA.O:  In your opinion, how is programmatic advertising – the growing prevalence of marketing automation, data mining and the cloud – changing the world?

Marlene Vicaire: Programmatic advertising has changed 3 key things in organizations:

Firstly, the pace of campaigns with real-time buying, real-time reporting and real-time decisions. Everything needs to happen in real-time to answer the consumer’s need.

Secondly, the skill-sets on both client and agency side. Marketers need to understand not only the products, the brand and the unique selling proposition – they also need to shift their focus to approach their strategy from an audience perspective. We are shifting from a product-centric to an audience-centric industry where we do not decide anymore which product fits which individual. Users are now choosing who they are and what they want from brands and we need to provide them with more engaging, personalized experiences.

And lastly, the convergence of data, technology and marketing automation is pushing the whole industry towards data-driven decisions which can ultimately improve channel marketing mix and ROI.

PA.O:  What systems and ways of thinking do you think are being completely disrupted by the emergence of programmatic buying? By digital advertising in general?   

Marlene Vicaire: Programmatic buying is slowly bringing channels together, such as display, video and TV. This means companies need to change their organizations. The marketing structure with CRM, digital and brand silos is not working anymore since users are not thinking by channels, but by experience. And, their experience needs to become seamless across all channels.

We target an audience based on their need state and serve them relevant creative in the relevant context at the right time in their user journey. Agencies on their end need to reinvent their model and bring media and creative together again. The technology already enables this, but most people lack understanding and interest to work collaboratively.

PA.O:  How is this affecting our culture? And – is this for better or worse?

Marlene Vicaire: A positive aspect is the fact that through data, we can provide users with more relevant messages and offers, versus very generic messaging in the past. The drawback though is the misuse of personal data, which then makes programmatic “creepy.”

Accordingly to a recent study published by RAPP UK & Inskin Media, “Familiarity, Frequency and Fine Lines,” 69 percent of consumers are uncomfortable with advertisers knowing which websites they’ve visited.

As a result, marketers should be respectful and measured about how they access personal data. It is critical to inform customers what data they use, where they would use it and whether this data is shared with 3rd parties, etc.

PA.O: In your opinion, what are some significant trends emblematic of today’s advertising philosophy? Does it align with your own opinion of what’s the most effective?

Marlene Vicaire: On the one hand, we keep hearing “data is everywhere” and every investment needs to be measured, which is fair. On the other hand, there are very few actions taken based on the analysis and reporting we provide.

I was attending a Data Strategy Symposium in Australia recently, and the main topic was about brands owning their data, being able to understand, analyze and use it.  Above all, it was about using data to make decisions and go to market with a testing strategy that will bring learnings. Our industry has become a lot smarter thanks to the use of data, but we also became reluctant to test and fail despite the fact that this will ultimately help the business to be more successful in the future.

A lot of the strategic decisions are based on short term results rather than long term which will ultimately have an impact on driving long term ROI.

PA.O: Can you tell us about any campaigns over the past year that have caught your attention (in a good or bad way)? Why did they stand out to you?

Marlene Vicaire: There are a lot of impactful campaigns, however how many have real, long-term, profitable results of brands on a conversion level?

For me, the best campaigns are those that include technology innovation and relevance. The Other Side Honda YouTube video had a lot of buzz. The success of this type of advertising piece was that it provided people an opportunity to decide if it was the story they want to hear about the brand. Personalization is key nowadays, from your Starbuck coffee to the car you drive. Everyone wants to be unique, hence the success of personalized ads.

Another one which was launched by our team at RAPP Australia, is the MyMaccas App which provides users with personalized content based on what products they order, and gives them the opportunity to interact with the brand and shape it to what they want. This is the start of any engaging content and a great step towards content personalization as well.

PA.O: What excites you about the future of digital advertising? What are you looking forward to? 

Marlene Vicaire: Omnichannel. I am looking forward to sharing with marketers that are looking at the big picture how their users interact with multiple touch points, what the stories are and what the path is. Right now, we are stuck with old business structures that are not flexible and involve too many decision making leads, which ultimately, are missing the point: be customer-centric.

PA.O: Let’s play devil’s advocate – what are some of your concerns about the future of digital advertising/agency trading desks? What keeps you up at night?

Marlene Vicaire: There are definitely a huge number of trading desks and technology providers which make the market quite complex. Everyone has a different offer and it became increasingly difficult to integrate one with each other. Clients need to own more of the technology and data stack to enable more flexibility.

The other pain point is the lack of knowledge and understanding of most senior management level marketers. This might be more specific to Australia, but I feel a lot of them are still figuring out the digital world and keeping channel silos that are protecting them from more hungry, data-focused, digital savvy younger managers (Generation Y).

PA.O: We’re looking at the cover of Advertising Age 50 years from now – what would the headline would be? What do you think the ad industry might be like? Our consumer culture?  

Marlene Vicaire: The industry is shifting toward virtual reality where one will not need to go on holiday to have a holiday! It’s a bit sad, and at the same time very exciting in term of how far technology can go. Also, the brands won’t be the ones deciding they want to target such or such audience, it will be the user that will choose which brand they interact with. Everything will be user-generated. I would call it the extreme personalization.

Brands will create all sort of content and stories while users will pick and choose how they want their experience to unroll. Users will make their own story our story of the brand!

PA.O: How can data benefit creative in the programmatic space?

Marlene Vicaire: Good question! My mission is to actually bring creative into the programmatic space and we can already see some fantastic opportunities for brands to use their data to deliver better creative. These opportunities are based on user identification, which enables personalized content and ultimately better decision making. Our aim is to put the user back in the center of the strategy through data analysis and continuously improve their experience with the brand. This ultimately will lead the brand to connect with users on a 1:1 relationship before the user even becomes a customer. In summary, data becomes the enabler – humanizing the content between a brand and a user.

PA.O: Thanks so much for your time, Marlene!

Would you like to learn more about Marlene Vicaire? Check out her LinkedIn profile, blog 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *