How marketers find the velocity and volume required for campaign orchestration

Key points

  • The challenges of orchestrating campaigns is escalating, but marketers are adapting with skills learned from a pandemic environment that has demanded innovation.
  • The growth of media channels and ‘always on’ media planning has created a huge demand for more content, with a new term emerging: ‘Content Velocity’.
  • Sesimi CEO, Andrew Baker says marketing budgets are contracting despite the need for more. Companies that don’t embrace Martech to fill the gaps will be left behind.

It’s one thing for brand marketers to build a campaign proposition, creative concept, and marketing plan they’re happy with. It’s quite another to orchestrate the work with speed, consistency, and agility. 

Rising volumes of customizable creative and content assets are required for ever-fragmented media channels and to take advantage of programmatic advertising and digital opportunities. Throw in an unprecedented ability to optimize campaigns inflight, growing stakeholder and personalization content requirements, plus the Covid-19 pandemic, and you have a perfect storm of forces transforming brand and campaign management workflows today.  

The very real challenges 12 marketing and media leaders face adapting campaign systems to modern marketing channels and needs was the topic du jour during the latest CMO virtual roundtable, held in partnership with Sesimi. 

From brand asset tools, processes, technologies, and data supporting responsive campaign and creative workflows and complex media outputs, to considerations and compromises marketers are making as they look to improve velocity and volume of content, marketers agree campaign orchestration is getting a shake-up. And thanks to the adaptability they’ve had to exhibit these last 20 months, there’s a desire to keep innovating approaches, too. 

So what does it take to adapt to the new brand and campaign management normal? Here, we highlight elements of the roundtable discussion, including how creative automation solutions can help resolve the orchestration challenge. 

The status quo

Arguably, the biggest disruptor the past 18 months has been the global pandemic. Covid presented all marketers, regardless of category, size, and scope, with the imperative to adapt, pivot, and change campaigns, media channels, programs of work, and brand narratives on the fly. 

Roundtable attendees shared stories of extreme flexibility across ways of working, campaign creative production, management, and activation. Timescales compressed as the need to be flexible grew. Some scenarios marketers tackled included contact-less services and product delivery, quickfire responses to address retail closures, adjusting tourism and travel offers as state and local areas open and shut and consumer travel sentiment fluctuated, and exponential growth in home renovation – when the tradesmen were allowed in.

Broader business growth ambitions didn’t stop either. Even as it launched contact-less pet care services and product delivery and respond to changing retail conditions, PetBarn parent company, Greencross, has been working on an ambitious growth agenda. With that in mind, Chief Marketing Officer, Adriane McDermott, has been shaking up the way the brand portfolio looks and feels.

This creates a ripple effect through every email, digital display ad, piece of collateral, poster and social tile. 

“We’ve just changed our parent company name, repositioning to Greencross Pet Wellness Company for future growth, plus rolled out a rebrand and endorsement mark for our Greencross Vet clinics, Healthy Pets Plus program and Webvet nationally.”

GreenCross wraps all products and services under five ‘pillars of wellness’ – nutrition, health, comfort, training and play. 

“What this has given us is a framework for how we bring customers on a journey both physically and digitally through pet wellness products in retail and services. Everything we do is grounded in data insights about where pet parents are in this journey, depending on the life stage of their pet and how many pillars they engage with,” McDermott continued.

The personalization imperative is most important to us in serving up pet parents the right products and content at the right time in their journey.

Adriane McDermott
GreenCross, Chief Marketing Officer

At payments provider, Tyro, the past 12 months brought with it a partnership with Bendigo Bank to exclusively provide merchant acquiring services, plus the acquisition of health fintech, Medipass Solutions.

“With the Bendigo Bank alliance, we have developed completely new ways of operating to enable them to offer Tyro’s payments products including rethinking the entire customer journey and co-branding experience,” Tyro chief marketing officer, Lisa Vitaris, said. “With Medipass, we are developing new ways to operate across both marketing teams while still being able to deliver at the speed required.”

These changes only add to the volume and variety of content and creative Vitaris’ team needs to produce and manage. 

Lisa Vitaris

“With our business customers, differentiated campaigns acknowledging their differences achieve the most cut-through. Add to that the proliferation of media channels and our requirements could easily escalate for our predominantly in-house creative studio team,” Vitaris said.

Our focus is therefore to deliver creative campaigns and content at scale. All of our creative ladders up to our main ‘innovation’ positioning. 

Lisa Vitaris
Tyro, Chief Marketing Officer 

Many attendees also shared efforts to find more suitable operating models for marketing team management or better cope with unique industry needs. In a globally networked context, for instance, marketing teams need to operate in a certain way – just think of organizations like Austrade or tourism bodies as examples. 

Yet this presents challenges when looking to find efficiencies and agility around campaign and workflow management, as well as push through necessary changes at a higher velocity than ever before. Attendees identified pros and cons of operating both decentralized and centralized models and, in many cases, are building shared services to unite geographically distinct teams with unique local market needs. 

Velocity and volume

Velocity and volume of content is the overriding reality. One retail marketer cited exponential demand from internal stakeholders for more content assets. 

We activate in so many channels, let alone with paid media.

The request from other teams in the business – such as onsite and personalization teams – has resulted in a proliferation of content required,” the retail marketer said. “Stakeholders are wanting more. While we have the data, how do you make a decision based on that, then optimize it? It’s one thing to request assets to go out, but do they drive value? 

“We’re starting to look at it from a resource point of view, and in terms of the effort, value and time to do it, as well as content management of it.”

Personalizing creative to suit nuanced customer segments and needs is another must. The rise of TikTok, along with digital video, are further opportunities many marketers are trying to navigate. 

Every high-performing team wants to be able to smash through campaigns with messaging and creative that cuts through the clutter, fast.

Adriane McDermott

“Since the mainstay of our media plans are ‘always-on’, we have a need to be constantly optimizing for effectiveness, stated McDermott.

“Our new GM digital and ecommerce, Sandra Sinclair, uses the term ‘content velocity’, which I love and I’ve adopted. It really means: How do we keep pace with the campaign material required without driving people crazy with new iterations of creative?”  

Then you have Covid-19’s unique communication and customer impact. 

“Let’s face it, Covid has changed everything over the past 18 months,” Hipages Chief Customer Officer, Stuart Tucker, said. “It’s tested all of us, but also forced the team to adopt new processes and ruthlessly prioritize their efforts.”

Tucker highlighted group recognition of the value measuring results in real time and rapidly adjusting to market dynamics can bring. 

“The marketing team is empowered to move fast, make changes and get work to market as soon as possible. They have access to data via our BI tool and can generally understand the impact of campaign activity in close to real time,” he said. “This has been particularly important during the recent lockdowns, as activity was developed in response to the rapidly changing environment for tradies and homeowners. I genuinely believe our ability to respond at pace was a competitive advantage. At times, the team was able to get critical communications to our customers within hours.” 

Of particular importance for Tyro has been getting the tone of voice right, responding to constantly changing conditions across each area it operates in. These were apparent before Covid, but more recently required teams to adapt to state-by-state lockdowns and retailers opening and closing their doors or going online. 

Providing the right content at the right time is critical

Lisa Vitaris

Campaign compromises

With all these demands, marketers inevitably have to compromise. A common compromise is brand consistency, positioning, and messaging. 

“In an organization like ours, with large-scale digital advertising, CRM and social content channels, our internal design team deals with 200 active briefs with 20 new ones coming in daily,” McDermott pointed out.

There will never be enough time in a day to get through the backlog. We are constantly looking for ways to improve.

Truthfully, we need content faster than we can physically make it, to be truly optimized and ahead of the pack.”

The result is work too often undertaken in a tactical, responsive way. This, in turn, makes it harder to ensure creative and campaign work ladders up to an overarching brand value proposition. This has only been exacerbated by pandemic conditions. 

“It’s fair to say the team feels like this has come at the cost of longer-term strategic alignment,” Tucker said.

“Our messaging has been clear and brand consistent, but it’s been short-term focused. The team is looking forward to returning to ‘normal’ so they can continue to focus on delivering to our purpose and supporting the needs of our customers in the long term.”  

Some attendees also perceived gaps in marketing automation and technology systems supporting processes and team ways of working. Remote working conditions only compounded challenges around connecting teams to achieve alignment and rapidly adapt and pivot marketing efforts. 

“The hipages Covid response required tight coordination and a fresh approach to go-to-market practices. While we were able to move fast, it probably exposed the limitations in our martech stack to orchestrate and collaborate our efforts,” Tucker said.

“Better access to shared assets, tighter approval practices and transparent campaign planning could all be improved. We got there in the end, but perhaps there may have been less blood, sweat and tears with the support of better systems.”

In some cases, disconnects prevented teams from orchestrating significant changes in the name of growth and innovation, or to bed down sustainable operating flows. As one attendee put it, the sacrifice became precision.

It’s equally clear that less-than-optimal management of assets, from access to approvals, adds complexity and manual labour. With highly regulated industries such as financial services, there’s a high onus on compliance, which again factors into creative and content velocity and can create bottlenecks. 

In response, several attendees are centralising assets and brand guidelines through digital asset management (DAM) platforms, as well as overhauling marketing resource management solutions and automation. Tyro, for example, is onboarding a new DAM in an attempt to free up hours of creative studio team’s time and ensure easier assets maintenance. 

Vitaris said the ambition is to set up team members and its 300+ partners for self-service. “This will be a great step forward and will free up our creative studio for more strategic and important things,” she said. 

The silver lining

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining, and positive campaign orchestration outcomes have come out of Covid-19 necessities. For one, many marketers gained permission to remove red tape. 

At one gym chain, the need for quick action enabled the marketing team to test dynamic creative in an out-of-home campaign that would usually take months to get approval for due to the potential for error. The personalized, geographic-based messaging proved overwhelmingly positive. 

“That’s been one of the upsides of the crisis: We have been able to remove a lot of stakeholder approvals in the name of speed and agility, and by showing the board if they want a campaign in market quickly, they are going to have to let go a bit of the controls,” said the gym chain’s marketing leader. 

For Greencross, innovating delivery options, ensuring product availability, launching telehealth services and shifting vet teams to contact-less service models proved critical decisions during the pandemic. 

“We’re glad we pivoted so quickly because these propositions are becoming even more relevant for customers moving forward, and are now a source of competitive advantage,” McDermott said. 

Other attendees also pointed to more responsive and personalized campaign mechanisms in play. And with this precedent achieved, all agree it’s important to keep it that way. This paves the way for further advancements to campaign orchestration. 

“It seems the campaign planning critical path has been shortened quite a bit with many more quick turnarounds and same-day pivots than ever before. There’s a muscle memory for this kind of work that didn’t exist previously,” McDermott said. 

Having worked with thousands of brands from Toyota, Audi and Volkswagen to Scenic Tours, Elders and Quest Apartments, brand management platform provider, Sesimi, has had a front row seat on how different marketers have worked to adapt to modern marketing needs. Marketing budgets continue to be squeezed and businesses are looking to do more with less, Sesimi CEO, Andrew Baker, said. The result is both winners and losers looking for ways to campaign differently.

“For example, the travel sector will look to come back strong, but their teams will look very different with less resource than before,” Baker predicted. “The retail sector looks to protect the online audience that was their lifeline during lockdowns. This will require different solutions to those needed in the bricks and mortar game. 

“Remote and hybrid working has forced new ways of working and this alone has pushed tech and martech investment forward five or more years. Those not applying these trends to their campaigning will be left behind.”

Creative automation

This is where creative automation provides potential to solve many issues hindering campaign workflows today. At its core, a creative automation platform is a toolkit for managing and orchestrating a high velocity of campaign work while still retaining brand consistency, integrity, and compliance. 

“With ever increasing demand for content across exploding channels, it doesn’t make sense to fulfill these demands with a manual process.”

Creative automation gives a brand speed to market at scale with reduced error and significant product cost savings.

Andrew Baker
Sesimi, CEO

Key elements of a creative automation platform include digital asset management and a place to store, share and organize all brand and marketing assets; smart, templated design systems allowing teams to roll campaigns across all channels and formats without the need for designers and developers; workflow management including sharing profile and approval processes; and integrations such as single sign-on and through to social media channels. 

With compliance and oversight of approval key parts of the process for marketing teams, Baker said Sesimi has worked to build appropriate compliance, regulatory and creative checks and balances into its platform. 

“Designers and developers don’t have error checking built-in,” Baker said. “With any new technology there does have to be some optimization of process.”

With creative automation, compliance, brand rules, and error checking can all be built-in. 

“For example, you can lock a price point to a car image or specific terms and conditions to a rate offer. On top of that, there are approval workflows that allow brands to build their legal and compliance teams into the process.”

Quest Apartment Hotels

Sesimi’s offering has been of clear benefit to Quest Apartments. The apartment hotel group has 170 locations regionally, with more than 90 per cent operated under a franchise model. 

Quest’s approach provides franchise owners with the strategic framework, tools and resources they need, including the development of national marketing campaigns that can be brought to life at a local level. The commitment to developing the brand is led by a dedicated marketing team that has invested in systems and technology such as Sesimi.

The big benefit from creative automation has been managing the brand and rolling out marketing campaigns seamlessly at scale.

It provides a vast number of asset templates that franchisees can access instantly, wherever they are, to build content within guidelines.

Andrew Baker

As Quest chief marketing and digital officer, Jess Barrs, put it, partnering with Sesimi ensures his team manages the brand while rolling out campaigns seamlessly and in a cost-efficient way. A vast number of asset templates can be accessed instantly by franchisees to build content within brand guidelines for TV and social through to digital and outdoor media.

“If each of our business owners activates a particular campaign, our reach is going to be far greater and more impactful than we can create at a national level,” Barrs added.