Dx3 Canada Spotlight Part 1: The Great Debates

Monday, March 11, 2013
SStein

Note: This is the first of two posts about Dx3 Canada 2013, which took place on March 6th and 7th in Toronto.

This year’s Dx3 Canada conference featured a lot of great questions. It was a conference about where things are going, about challenging conventional thinking and looking ahead. But it was also about debating some of the thorny questions.

The Engagement Debate

Is there value in consumer engagement? Or is it just another overused buzzword? Presenters were pretty clearly on one side of the fence or the other on this question throughout the conference.

In the engagement camp, Chris Knoch of IgnitionOne argued in favour of “engagement optimization”, claiming that marketers were losing too much valuable data by focusing on the converting members of the audience and ignoring the potential of those who hadn’t yet converted. Andrew McCartney of Tribal/DDB argued in favour of driving engagement via brand authenticity. He presented his agency’s recent campaign for McDonald’s Canada in which the company answered questions from the public about its food quality and products via social media. Despite enormously successful engagement and brand perception metrics, McCarthy admitted that no corresponding increase in sales has been seen as of yet. And in his first-day opening keynote address, Benjamin Palmer of the Barbarian Group argued that the single most valuable metric in his opinion was brand sentiment – a position that clearly supports his agency’s storytelling approach. He urged companies to appoint a “brand editor-in-chief” to manage the production of unique content that would tell interesting brand stories and engage with audiences.

On the other side of the fence, Ian Cruickshank of Wishpond presented results of a retail study that showed that marketers have a skewed perception of why consumers connect with them in social media: While over 60% of marketers believe that consumers want to “engage” with their brands in, only 22% of consumers feel this way; most are there for the deals, contests and promotions. And Renny Monaghan of Salesforce Canada claimed that the c-level executives he talks to are all looking for ways to optimize the ROI of their social marketing efforts, calling it “the biggest change to marketing in half a decade”.  Engagement is not the end but the means, he claimed, pointing to a 15% average increase in customer churn among companies who fail to respond to customers via social media channels.

Multi-Channel or Omni-Channel?

Of the many buzzwords that were featured at Dx3, “omni-channel” was perhaps the most prominent. In his closing keynote address, Alan Huggins of Lowe’s Canada took a stab at defining it as “a seamless experience across all brand channels”.

This concept may sound simple, but for most brands, execution has been anything but. From search to display, from email to mobile, from tablet to video, the multi-channel approach is still very much the norm when media planning. Ali Shah from Bubblefinder presented his company’s application concept, arguing in the process that “no one has found the recipe for mobile marketing”. Plenty of brands may dispute that claim, but there were no definitive answers either; everyone is figuring it out as they go.

The attribution wars wage on.

Attribution is another key challenge for marketers and media companies alike. David Labistour freely admitted that, while sales have increased dramatically since MEC implemented its new digital strategy, he is unable to trace the sales back to the channels that drove them. Alan Higgins expressed a similar sentiment, saying that the launch of the new Lowe’s Canada e-commerce website was accompanied by a robust media plan, but it has been difficult to know which pieces of it worked and what didn’t.

Rick Malhotra of Facebook Canada presented a model for attribution measurement that urged marketers to consider impressions over clicks and to weigh first-touch and multi-channel more heavily than last-click attribution when calculating cost-per-conversion.

What was clear from all of this is that the debate over metrics isn’t going away anytime soon. Media companies will each favour formulas that make their particular form of media look more attractive. Siloed marketing departments and corporate structures will result in political motivations for attribution, whereby everyone claims all of the credit for successful campaigns.

As for the magic formula to measure ROI in digital? That is still very much of a work in progress.

Continue Reading for Dx3 Canada Spotlight Part 2…

Interested in finding out more? Contact us today!

Sari Stein, Digital Strategic Planner