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    Google’s Matt Bush on how to drive growth & differentiation with agency partners

    The Drum sits down with Matt Bush, managing director of agencies, partners and creative at Google to discuss why data is the differentiator helping agencies build competitive advantage, drive performance and value for brands.

    Marketers know they must invest in data, automation and privacy – but it’s not easy if you don’t know what to do. Not every company has that expertise in house, but agencies can have the capabilities and skills to know how and where to deploy data and integrate with technology in order to drive success.

    “Marketing is sophisticated enough for us to be able to think much more about the value that’s being created for a business,” says Matt Bush, managing director of agencies, partners and creative at Google. “There becomes a much greater imperative for marketers to try and understand how they can harness data, technology and automation to stay ahead of the consumer and attract demand, when it exists, and an opportunity for agencies to put data and measurement literacy at the heart of all roles, especially activation.”

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    Finding value in an uncertain market by doubling down on data and automation

    Market volatility has forced many marketers and agencies to realize that the old playbook isn’t working and what they have been doing previously isn’t necessarily going to be successful going forward. Those who can get to grips with automation and get ahead of it have a great opportunity to really drive value for their business.  

    On the agency side, it is important for agencies to keep investing in talent to create expertise in data and technology. As Bush notes, “if you can upskill a whole bunch of talent (which was previously doing relatively manual roles which could be automated) into data roles to really understand the way in which you can drive technology and use first-party data as the differentiator, there’s potentially a cost saving to your business. At the same time you’re getting match fit for what is important now, and into the future.”

    Pushing for privacy by building a solid first-party data strategy

    Rising expectations around privacy are also a driver of change. Privacy regulation has done two things: it’s given consumers control of their data, but it’s also closed off some of the tech that brands would previously have used to try and drive campaign success. A future proof strategy is one that is based on trust – and those who can build these relationships will be able to get ahead of this growth opportunity.  

    “Use this as an opportunity to really understand privacy-first data collection and privacy-first measurement,” says Bush. “The more that we can embed things like Enhanced Conversions and Consent Mode, the easier it’s going to be to work in a way that’s safe for the consumer; that the consumer feels safe but that’s also driving the value they need for their campaigns.”

    Agencies have been championing privacy as a topic and can support brands in building a future proofed strategy. As Bush explains, “if you can really get to grips with the opportunity that exists and get ahead of it, then you’ve got a great opportunity to really drive value for your business.”

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    Activating first-party data through a Data Agency of Record

    This has pushed the focus towards first-party data, but still far too many organizations haven’t fully harnessed it to drive marketing effectiveness – despite a Boston Consulting Group study showing that those who use first-party data for key marketing functions can achieve up to 2.9x revenue uplift and 1.5x increase in cost savings.

    “The data exists, marketers have access to this data but it’s often siloed,” explains Bush. “It’s not being utilized to drive campaign success in the way that it could. Automation, value-centric measurement and first-party data is critical to get on top of right now.”

    The advertising industry is familiar with a Media Agency of Record and a Creative Agency of Record, but the importance of data in marketing is such that the most progressive agencies are now positioning themselves as a Data Agency of Record. Brand marketers should look at partners in that sense and agencies should continue to invest in this space, advises Bush.

    “Agencies who can guide their clients on how to bring their first-party data sets together holistically so that they can understand how best to utilize them will be able to extract as much value as possible from digital investment.”

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    There is a huge opportunity to partner with agencies on data transformation to drive growth, utilizing the dynamic agency model who have the breadth and depth of talent with the data literacy to amp services as opportunity exists. 

    Agencies have the capabilities and skills to know how and where to deploy data in order to drive success and integrate with technology like Google Marketing Platform (GMP). “If you haven’t already got that skillset in your business, talk to your agency partner to help you bring those first-party data sets together and how best you can utilize them to extract as much value as possible from digital investment,” says Bush. “Having a person working alongside or utilizing the best automated solution, you’re always going to end up with a better result.”

    “Data is the number one lever for differentiation and key for driving performance,” concludes Bush. “Agencies have an opportunity to build profitable data services and own the key data strategy, while marketers who utilize their partner ecosystem to accelerate and scale the opportunity will be in the strongest position to build competitive advantage and grow.”

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