Matt Walsh isn't an ad guy. As VP and executive experience director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, he focuses on solving business challenges for clients including Domino's, Old Navy, Best Buy, Volkswagen and others. At Responsys' Interact 2012 Conference Wednesday, Walsh spoke about the need to move beyond "matching luggage" for deeper integration within multi-channel campaigns.
The goal: no dead ends, that is, no touchpoints that don't encourage a consumer to journey down the funnel. The key, he said, is providing immediate engagement opportunities at every touch point, creating what he called strategic pathing through the journey toward the desired result, with shared intelligence among all points on that journey.
CP+B has been working with Domino's Pizza on this concept, and Walsh used that client to illustrate it. For example, Domino's wanted to move customers from phone orders to digital. So, instead of putting a coupon on the box, the company added an invitation to rate the pizza online. Reviews and comments gathered through this channel fed TV spots, while a Times Square digital billboard displayed unedited reviews in real time.
He told the conference audience, "Any touchpoint you have can link to anything else, and a sale can be one click or pic away."
ClickZ sat down with Walsh following his keynote to discuss how marketers can put these concepts into action.
ClickZ: Can you explain the shared intelligence concept?
Matt Walsh: It's about how do the consumer touchpoints communicate with each other. How do they understand the journey that the consumer has already been on and customize the experience based on that?
CZ: That's easy to say and hard to do.
MW: Yes, as in no dead ends. When you're on the frontier of something, it's never easy. We're trying to bring something new to the world. Even though it's a bit of a complex nightmare, we love big puzzles. And the rewards are worth trying to do it.
CZ: How do you achieve this? Build technology, work with vendors or what?
MW: It's the orchestration of a lot of touchpoints managed by different business units and sometimes different agencies, trying to find ways of having a universal vision of where you'd like the customer relationship to go - and then rallying people around that vision. We do create technology to help with that; a lot of times, we can leverage existing technologies like Domino's Pizza Tracker. That was an existing system that Domino's already had. So technology discovery is a big part of it: Understanding the tools needed to solve a problem and leveraging those tools as needed to solve that problem.
CZ: You said we need to move past the division between the traditional and digital divide. How well are companies and agencies doing this?
MW: Many in the agency world still see it as a way of differentiating themselves. We all have to take a cue from consumers who have already moved beyond that conversation.
CZ: It seems like a lot of agencies still are gaining digital expertise through acquisition.
MW: At Crispin Porter Bogusky, we have specialty of approach but not of ideation. Even though we have specialties in execution for specific verticals, we think that ideation should not recognize those boundaries. We have engineers coming up with TV spots and industrial designers coming up with ideas for websites. Long term, it would be about the details of the toolkit an individual can use to execute on the agreed-upon idea. It's dangerous to pigeonhole ideation from one specialty to another.
CZ: Should we not have creative directors?
MW: Oh, no, no. At Crispin Porter Bogusky, we have found success in complementing the creative director's perspective with experience design. I'd never say that in any way should we sacrifice the emotional connection that creative directors are so good at doing. But we have to balance that big culture changing narrative of the creative directors with a bit more of the scientific approach that experience design can be. If you have both of those halves of the whole firing, it will lead to integration far beyond what we've been able to enjoy over the past five years.
CZ: When you walked us through it, all the elements of the Domino's example make sense. What are the barriers to creating this kind of strategic pathing and shared intelligence more often?
MW: The biggest challenge on the client side is creating incentive structures for those departments that need to achieve the desired results in terms of integration. Often because this line of thinking necessitates coordination of so many business units, aligning the goals of those business units toward this vision is a challenge. It's also in shifting clients' focus from acquisition and transaction volume to what I believe is another goal of marketing, to make it so that price is not the primary factor of why you buy. The challenge with some of our clients is that their incentive structures are very much focused on short term sales instead of relationships that take longer to build.
CZ: What about attribution? I've heard a lot of agency folks complain that tools for this are still lacking. Should they just get over that?
MW: We do a lot of engagement mapping that tracks volume and the conversion rates of paths through our clients' journeys to get a sense of the relative importance and success of each of those. We are beyond the days, for some verticals, of saying that one thing did it. It has to be about the sum of the parts, not just the individual parts. We're more focused on the performance of the whole system.
CZ: What's exciting to you about your work right now?
MW: I'm most excited about the opportunity to change the conversation from digital versus traditional to something more evolved and user-centric. That is, finding the convergence of behavior and emotion, the best of both worlds. It goes from intelligent product design to and through the product, and then, how do you have that resonant and tension filled and culturally relevant emotional narrative layer on top. That is the marriage I think we all should be focusing on and not just battling for turf anymore.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014