When content meets commerce
Three opportunities from the East and a personal nudge from Jacco ter Schegget
‘There are big commercial opportunities for brands in western society’ Jacco ter Schegget [CEO, Publicis Groupe Benelux] explains. ‘During my 5yr stay in Asia, I experienced the added (business) value of intertwining content and commerce based on real-time first, second, and third-party data.' ‘After returning to the Netherlands and Belgium, I noticed we are still far behind’. ‘We should look towards the East to know what’s next.’
Before diving into the three differences, first two observations.
Fact: we are too slow
‘Compared to the East, we are too slow in professionalizing the ecommerce processes.’ We need to speed up to implement the available technology.
There is no need to explain people buy more online. Not even to mention the exploding sales numbers of Asian mobile commerce, in value and in volume. We are behind. From the far too many clicks to get from the inspiring content to the actual sales, to the annoying switching between apps. We have many different apps and content and the processes: inspiration, information, actual sales, fulfilling the payment to finally the confirmation. Nothing compared to the all-in-one-experience in WeChat.
Fact: ecommerce still stands alone
In 2020 we continue to define ecommerce as a separate silo, not at the core of the business processes. Sounds fuzzy, to be more clear: there is no integration between the marketing department that is responsible for the content and the ecommerce department that is responsible for the actual sales. Instead, we focus on short-term marketing campaigns with (vanity) KPIs. We jump from campaign to campaign. We still do not measure the relationship between the content efforts on the year on year overall sales impact.
There is no common interdepartmental KPI to measure the success of the content efforts, measured in the most important business metric: sales. There is no year on year holistic view of how the content production budget and allocated media budget actually contribute to the business objectives. Not yet.
Jacco continues, ‘there are three differences that hold us back: the split, lack of integration, and suboptimal usage of data.' Just being aware of these differences, is the first step to fix it. Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy plug and play fix. The change is in the mindset and it takes time to process.
Null the online and offline split
In line with the observation that e-commerce still stands alone. This difference is a mindset in the business processes and organizational structure. ‘There still is a split between online and offline. Between digital and non-digital.’ How often do we see a job posting of a ‘Digital Marketeer’? As if not all marketers are digital these days.
I would like to add from my own experience that ‘we, the slightly older generation, invented the internet and ecommerce. Back in the days we embraced ‘online’ as a new exciting and separate channel. Our current generation does not know these pre-internet days, they do not differentiate between online and offline. And they don't care.
We try to bring the ‘offline’ towards the ‘online’ by starting a ‘digital transformation’. Yet as long as we use the term ‘digital’ for this ‘transformation’, we have a long way to go. Using these words, we still make the split between ‘digital’ and ‘non-digital’. And that split is exactly what we want to eliminate to transform into and seamless integration.’
This digital non-digital split is also noticeable in commerce. Having ecommerce as a separate entity from the commerce / offline sales doesn’t help in speeding up the processes nor shifting the mindset.
Integrate content and commerce
Nowadays brands easily can bridge the gap between product research, product design, product content, and the consumer. Using data we have realtime insights into what content they consume and what they buy. Add the feedback loop with their reviews and recommendations and you have a golden circle with the ecommerce platform in the middle.
- Data-driven content from brand to the platform: e.g. branded content at Amazon
- User-generated content from users to the platform: e.g. product reviews
Consumers go to these ecommerce platforms to be inspired and informed first, to buy second. The gap between entertainment and transaction is getting smaller and smaller. Think about Facebook Shops or Instagram commerce as our first gentle steps to integrate content and commerce.
More simply said: as a brand, develop content directly related to your point of sales. Feed the e-commerce platform, help them to close the sale. Develop content for on the e-commerce platforms to inspire the consumer, to explain your product in the benefits for the consumer. Be more creative than boring product pictures and the standard product description.
And use data to feed that creativity: what are the consumers' content needs, what works, what doesn't: first, second and third-party data tell you all if analyzed and interpreted correctly.
Data usage is limited to activation. I don’t get why we do not use that same data for content strategy, defining audiences, and the production of content assets.
Better usage of data
‘Data usage is limited to activation’ Jacco mentions. ‘I don’t get why we (in the west) do not use that same data for content strategy, defining audiences, and the production of content assets.’ ‘Data is information and information provides insights. And you should use those insights in your advantage.’
‘We are not behind in collecting data, we are simply not integrating and combining. Due to scattered ownership and to the costs of analyzing. We should break the silos of the data ownership between brand, agencies, and media to collect the first, second, and third party data. Then analyze to get those insights. And only then write the creative brief for the agency. Not vice versa.’
The costs of analyzing are for the brand. And it ain’t cheap as this is not a one-off and has quite a workload. Yet, if a brand doesn’t operate in the ‘now’ they probably will not be here in a few years. Integrate the customer insights to stay connected to the customer needs. Customer insights based on first second third party data in real-time to define content.
Next to this, I (Fleur) would like to add that using data in the right way, is a skill. Interpretation in the right way, and using these insights for creativity (to solve the problem) is specialized work and should be done by the specialists (at the agency).
As a final nugget, Jacco adds…
Content is still too focused on faster and cheaper
We value quantity over quality. And that is a burden. In 2020 producing content gets easier, faster, and cheaper. Content isn’t that magical rocket science anymore. Simply said, any nitwit can produce content with the current apps and available tutorials. All you need is some (low-end) technology and some guts and you can get yourself out there. As an influencer or as a brand.
And that is the danger. Because it is so easy to develop content, mostly based on vanity KPIs, we over-focus on quantity and not on quality. Resulting in a landfill of content that doesn’t contribute emotionally to your brand, establishes your brand values, or even contributes to the business objectives. Yet another hook for a holiday or an event isn’t working anymore. We have been there and done that.
We need to think about the role of the brand at a specific moment for that specific audience: something with the right message at the right moment. And comes data into play. Again. And strategic seniority at the client-side. Yet this is a completely different topic.
About Publicis Groupe
Under the heading of a little bit of Jacco-marketing and credits where credits due... some more information about Publicis Groupe. For transparency, I am not affiliated with them and there is no financial relationship. I just adore Jacco as a professional, an expert, and as a human being, ever since our first cooperation in 2007. A copy-paste from their www:
'Publicis Groupe believes in the power of creativity, intelligence, and technology to pioneer change and become a driving force in the market.' '8 Disciplines under one roof: Commerce, data, technology, media, digital, creative, PR, and production. Thé place for powerful partnerships. Our modular setup allows our clients to have access to our expertise and tools. This way, we are able to build personalized customer experiences based on an impactful big idea. We combine creativity and intelligence to pioneer change.'
'Publicis Groupe has transformed itself from a holding company to a platform company. With one P&L, one CEO, and from one location. Organized by scalable client teams with one client lead.'