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Algorhythms for Marketing Transformation

June 24, 2016

We all understand that digital media, data, and analytics are driving transformations in society and business. Most marketers are now armed with case studies of what can be done differently, but many are still challenged with how to truly develop new ideas and execute new strategies to grow their business.

Mitch Joel, President of Mirum Agency and successful author of CRTL-ALT-Delete and Six Pixels of Separation, spoke to our BRITE ’16 audience about the “three little piggies” he sees as necessary for marketers to stay ahead:

  • Transform – your internal processes and strategies
  • Innovate – not just communicating in new channels, but creating new revenue streams
  • Transact – measuring and attending to all of the little interactions a person has with your brand

Mitch Joel
In order to execute on these three pigs, Joel notes that marketers must be constantly paying attention to the small changes that consumers are making in their interactions with the world. Think, for example, of Snapchat, which created an ‘impermanent internet‘ that is much more closely aligned with how we historically socially communicated; where every detail of every interaction isn’t recorded in perpetuity. Another example are changing consumer expectations to pay merely for access rather than ownership, e.g. streaming video and streaming music.

Joel stressed that we are at an inflection point where, “technology has removed technology from technology.” It sounds confusingly circuitous, but then Joel asks, “Where do you keep your instruction manual for your smart phone?” and it is clear that he means that technology and design have allowed our digital experiences to become intuitive and marketers must craft their communications and initiatives to feed such an experience.

As Joel concludes, “The true opportunity you have in digital is not just to pump out impressions, but to make an impression.”

Watch Joel’s talk at BRITE ’16.



Reflections on Business, Leadership, and Branding: Shelly Lazarus ’70

February 22, 2016

Much has changed in the world of advertising from the picture painted by Mad Men. Shelly Lazarus ’70, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather, was one of the women helping pioneer these changes. Making the journey from ‘the only woman in the room’ to CEO and Chairman of Ogilvy gives Lazarus a lot to reflect on in the world of business, branding, and leadership.

“Being the only woman in the room in an industry where most of what was being sold at the time was to women was remarkably powerful,” Lazarus notes. This was a dual power, driving value both in the workplace and for the client by providing more accurate perceptions about a target audience at a time when decision-makers didn’t have the breadth of data in front of them that exists today.

At the time that Lazarus entered the advertising world, typing was in many ways the only skill that was expected of women. Having been inspired by the women’s movement of the time, this expectation was disheartening to her. “I must have looked so crestfallen at some interview, when some recruiter was telling me this, that she said, ‘You know, I bet if you got an MBA, they couldn’t make you type.’ Frankly, I didn’t even know what an MBA was. But I found out.” After enrolling at Columbia Business School in 1968, as one of the very few women in the School at the time, she took great pleasure in her marketing classes, and that kicked off her future career.

A lack of women in the business side of the ad world also impacted Lazarus’s leadership style, as she recalls, “I really didn’t have any [women] role models… that turned into something wonderful for me, actually, because I just was myself from the beginning.” She says this focus on authenticity has always been crucial to being a strong leader, and it will be increasingly important as the Internet and social media further drive people to expect and demand transparency from their leaders and corporations.

Authenticity, Lazarus remarks, is also key to becoming a leading brand. “If people ask me what’s important when you think about branding,” Lazarus told AdAge, “it’s understand your essence, figure out who you are, and then consistency — maniacal consistency — is really what makes for strong brands.” Sadly, despite growing attention to exactly this point, companies still don’t always fully value the strength of a brand and its associations. “[I’m] flummoxed when a company buys another company because they believe in the brands, and then, within the space of six months, they fire all the people who have been there forever.”

Oglivy & Mather is renowned for building long-term relationships with both its clients and its employees. Lazarus believes developing these types of relationships can help agencies play the role of brand steward at times when changes within a company may drive it to lose focus on the perceptions of its brands.

As for where the future of brand building is heading, during her recent Marketing Hall of Fame speech, Lazarus highlighted a huge contrast from her early years in the ad world, “[Back then] you could run two campaigns per year, and the only choice was which magazines would get to run the campaigns—Ladies Home Journal, Better Homes and Gardens,or Cosmopolitan … I used to start presentations with, ‘Imagine if you could engage a customer as an individual.’ And now you actually can.” The marketing world is abuzz with the concept of personalization, but most would admit that there is still a long way to go before consumers experience such a relationship with a majority of their favorite brands.

We are delighted to be hosting Shelly Lazarus ’70, at a special panel at the BRITE ’16 Conference honoring Columbia Business School’s Centennial. She will be joined by Lew Frankfort ’69, Chairman Emeritus of Coach; Russell Dubner ’00, CEO of Edelman US; and Nt Etuk ’02, Founder of YourGuru to examine “Is Past Prologue? The History and Future of Brand Building.”

Register now for BRITE and join us on March 7–8, 2016, at Columbia University.


The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age

February 17, 2016

Every business begun before the Internet now faces the same challenge: How to transform to compete in a digital economy?

This is the leadership challenge examined by BRITE founder and Columbia Business School faculty member David Rogers in his newest book, The Digital Transformation Playbook (April 5, 2016; Columbia Business School Publishing). In the book, Rogers argues that “digital transformation” is not about updating your technology but about upgrading your strategic thinking. To grow in the digital age, businesses need to rethink their underlying assumptions in five domains of strategy—customers, competition, data, innovation, and value.

5 Domains of Digital Transformation diagram

Rogers applies his model of customer networks (introduced in his last book, The Network Is Your Customer), to show how brands need to shift from mass markets and broadcast messaging to a dynamic two-way interaction with customers. That means rethinking the marketing funnel, treating customers as the key influencer on your brand, and creating omni-channel experiences to match customers’ lives today.

Competition must also be reimagined, according to Rogers. Traditionally, businesses have thought of competition as a zero-sum game, defined by industry, where competitors look just like them. In the digital age, we are often faced with “frenemies”–a company’s biggest competitor that is also a critical partner (think of Apple and Google). Rogers explains the rise of platform business models, and how they enable companies like Airbnb and Uber to compete with traditional firms in radically different ways.

The third domain of digital transformation, per Rogers, is data. Where businesses traditionally used data to optimize processes, today data is becoming a key strategic asset, much like your brand. Rather than residing in functional silos (sales, marketing, operations), data today needs to be integrated to provide a complete picture of customers and unlock new sources of value for any business—through insights, targeting, personalization, and context.

Digital Transformation Playbook diagram

The process of innovation is also changing. Thanks to digital technologies that allow businesses to learn in real time, innovation is moving towards a process of constant and rapid experimentation. Rogers distinguishes between “convergent” and “divergent” experiments—explaining how AB testing and minimum viable prototypes each play a crucial role in innovation. Innovation requires a shift in leadership as well, from top-down decisions and high-cost bets, to leaders who know how to pose the right questions and drive a learning organization.

The last domain of digital transformation is a business’s value proposition for customers. To succeed in the rapidly-changing digital era, every business must be ready to adapt early, and to continually re-think how it creates value for its customers. With case studies ranging from Facebook to The New York Times, Rogers argues that continuously evolving your value proposition is essential to every business today. Rather than seeking to defend yesterday’s business with barriers to entry, firms must look to understand why customers will still need them tomorrow, and adapt to meet their changing needs.

The book concludes by examining the threat of business disruption—updating the classic theory of disruption to account for the new dynamics of the digital age, and dispelling the notion that disruption is inevitable and irresistible. Despite the fall of companies like Kodak or Blockbuster, the lesson of Rogers’ work is clear: no business is doomed to distinction. With the right strategies and leadership, any company can adapt to grow for the digital future.

The Digital Transformation Playbook+head

REGISTER NOW for BRITE 16 to hear David Rogers talk about The Digital Transformation Playbook. Attendees of BRITE will also get an early pre-release chance to buy the book, thanks to Columbia Business School Publishing. Join us for BRITE, and take home the Playbook 4 weeks before it goes on sale anywhere else!


145 Years Young: Digital Innovation at The Met

June 17, 2015

In 1967, IBM founder Thomas J. Watson approached The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a then unheard of offer… to donate computers to the Museum. The Met declined. Ironically, one particular curator doubted that a computer would be a “time-saving device.”

This resistance to joining the technology-driven world may now seem as dated as a piece from the Met’s Ancient collection, given that 2011 marked the year the Met lifted its cell phone ban and redesigned its website for optimal viewing on smartphone screens. And in 2013, the Museum’s first-ever Chief Digital Officer, Sree Sreenivasan, was brought on board to digitally transform the museum experience.

Art and technology have long been bedfellows—from Michelangelo with his chisel and hammer to Ryan TrecartinSree Sreenivasan at BRITE'15 with his mixed-media video installations. Speaking at the BRITE ’15 conference, Sreenivasan, who is also formerly Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer, noted, “Any art you see today is because the artist used the right technology at the right time—the right canvas, the right marble, the right tools.”

Sreenivasan understands firsthand the challenges of keeping pace with a rapidly evolving digital world, particularly at renowned institutions with such historical significance. At BRITE ’15, Sreenivasan shared insights from digital, mobile and social lessons learned during his tenure with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He explained that a consistent strategy across mobile and social media platforms, like the one employed by the Met, is pivotal to staying relevant and continuing to meet consumers’ day-to-day desires in this age of constant change and innovation.

It’s no secret that mobile is now more important than ever. In September 2014, the Met launched its first app. Sreenivasan wanted to provide Museum visitors with an app that would speak more directly to their interests, “instead of putting the whole museum in [their] pocket.” Art enthusiasts can track upcoming events, save their favorite works of art to their smartphones and tweet about their favorite exhibitions. Within two weeks of its release, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times and has been hailed as one of the Apple Store’s “Best New Apps.”

Though his title is Chief Digital Officer, Sreenivasan considers himself to be more of a “Chief Listening Officer,” observing the varying interests and behaviors of the institution’s 6 million museum attendees and the 30 million unique online visitors a year. “That’s a lot of listening,” quipped Sreenivasan.

One result of all that listening was a commitment to creating hashtags for each exhibition. No small feat, considering the Met currently houses over 2 million works of art. Sreenivasan credits the audience who tweeted their wishes for an intuitive way to share their museum experiences.

Sreenivasan notes that audiences are becoming increasingly “culturally curious,” eager to glimpse the behind-the-scenes of installations. The Met answered this growing need by displaying online the restoration of one of its most coveted acquisitions, Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660, by French artist Charles Le Brun.

Charles Le Brun (French, Paris 1619–1690 Paris) Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660 Oil on canvas; 110 1/4 × 129 1/8 in. (280 × 328 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Keith Christiansen, 2014 (2014.250)

Through the Met’s social channels, fans and followers were able to view this typically veiled process from anywhere in the world. “Instead of working on it in secret for a year and then putting it out, we’ve already started blogging about it.” Viewer comments have ranged from questions surrounding oil paint solvents to expressions of gratitude for the ability to witness art history in the making.

One such commenter said, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see this fascinating work…. [R]eading about it does not convey the same image.”

Another asked, “How many more do we have to look forward to? I’m anxious to see the work in the gallery, but not so much that I wish you to rush, rush. I am enjoying my time!”

When it comes to choosing social media platforms, Sreenivasan advised that, depending on your business, you don’t always have to be on every network, and “there is no reason to be first [on a social media platform]. Join when it makes sense for you.” Sreenivasan reminded the audience of the potential minefield of controversy that social media platforms can become. “Almost everyone will miss everything you do until you make a mistake,” he cautioned. In the October 2014 New York Times article, Museums Morph Digitally, Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute in London, echoed this sentiment, “I learned not to underestimate museums. They were a little slow to the digital game. That’s a good thing.”

Slow to the digital game, perhaps, but well-conceived. Sreenivasan’s digital strategy at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has allowed this nearly 150 year-old institution to remain a timeless cultural mainstay while continually reinventing how it delivers art to art enthusiasts, based on their desires as they express them, from their smartphones to the front steps of the Museum itself.


Effectiveness in Mobile Display Advertising

October 22, 2014

mobile-advertisingOne might assume the types of companies that benefit most from mobile display advertising (MDA) are those that sell no-frills, everyday products like cleaning supplies. But new research from Columbia Business School’s Professor Miklos Sarvary has shown that short, promotional messages on mobile devices pack a powerful punch for big ticket items that entail a high level of consideration during the path to purchase—such as cars.

In Which Products Are Best Suited to Mobile Advertising?, Prof. Sarvary, along with INSEAD’s Yakov Bart and the University of Pittsburgh’s Andrew Stephen, analyzed mobile display campaign data from a variety of industries spanning 2007-2010 and reaching nearly 40,000 US consumers. They focused on two primary psychological measures: (1) how favorable consumers’ attitudes are toward advertised products and (2) consumers’ intentions to purchase or use advertised products.

Sarvary, Bart and Stephen identified product characteristics associated with MDA campaigns that boost consumer attitudes and purchase intent and found that mobile ads are most effective in reminding people of a purchase decision for highly-involved products.

“If you’ve been thinking about buying a car, you already have plenty of information in your mind about it…” Sarvary explains. “The ad’s strength is not adding new data, but reminding you what you already know and making you think about the product again.”

By 2016, global spend on mobile advertising is predicted to reach $36 billion. As marketers increasingly dedicate larger portions of their budgets to MDAs, it’s essential to have an in-depth understanding of when and why these ads are most effective.

Download the study to learn more about mobile display advertising and its effects on consumer attitudes and intentions.


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