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Getting consumer insights becoming difficult because of lack of data and investment, says Brian Wieser of GroupM

In an interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, the Global President, Business Intelligence, GroupM, shares how getting consumer insights is becoming harder in absence of relevant data. He says marketers, who are still focused on traditional mediums, have failed to set up enough alternatives to reach their marketing goals

Brian Wieser

Businesses globally are struggling to get more consumers insights, especially at a time when the fast-changing consumer behaviour has made the entire landscape very dynamic.

In an interview with BestMediaiInfo.com, Brian Wieser, Global President, Business Intelligence, GroupM, said both brands and agencies haven’t invested enough in consumer insight as a business.

“The existing approaches to understand consumers may have been incomplete till now. And now with consumers having more devices and ways to consume information, they are exposed to different messages in different ways. So getting consumer insights has become even harder. There is absence of the data because of absence of sufficient investment,” Wieser told BestMediaInfo.com.

Weiser, who joined GroupM four months ago, talked about how agencies should develop business intelligence practices in-house. “We have been putting out weekly reports and a lot of high quality analysis and content to work on the business intelligence aspect,” he added.

He shared how GroupM would focus more on and around marketing tech, supply management, and creative destruction for the agency's thought leadership credentials.

Highlighting why marketers are struggling to get a high reach among their TG, Wieser said, “When it comes to marketing in general, not enough marketers have established credible alternatives. One of the solutions is that we should be thinking about totally different alternatives to help marketers satisfy their marketing goals.”

Excerpts:

While joining GroupM earlier this year, you had said there is no better opportunity to help shape the future of marketing and advertising than this role. Five months down the line, what has been your assessment from within the agency?

I always used to think of GroupM as having the best geographic positioning, with a lot of intellectual leadership in the industry, even when I was at Pivotal Research as an Analyst covering the industry. We are just really well-positioned to try to lead. You will see me write about topics that are not necessarily things we do today. But things that we may be or should be doing. And so the question is, where can we apply scale around those ideas.

My colleagues in GroupM are more receptive to looking at ways to aggressively invest internally in terms of what we prioritise and how we try to go to market. We're already playing in data but can we be doing more that relates to marketing tech? I think there's a lot of openness to finding ways to tie that into media in a deeper way. Another example of a topic you'll see me write about is procurement, including ways to apply concepts from procurement theory and supply management theory into the work that we do. We have a platform and a collection of executives who are open to thinking about new ways of doing things in that regard.

Has the fast-changing consumer behaviour made gathering of insights very challenging for agencies?

I think that the consumer insight as a business has struggled. And yet, it's never been more important. However, a part of the problem is because existing approaches to understand consumers may have been incomplete till now. And now with consumers having more devices and ways to consume information, they are exposed to different messages in different ways. So getting consumer insights has become even harder. There is absence of data because of absence of sufficient investment.

How are you progressing on building the agency's thought leadership credentials?

Well, we're publishing a fair amount. Externally, you may have seen the POVs we've published approximately weekly. They are hitting on topics, typically that you don't see from agencies and trying to focus on marketing tech, supply management and procurement. We have published our global forecasts for advertising spending recently. There are a lot of internal initiatives as well.

But I think the right vehicle to publish the high frequency commentary is wholly internal, and for clients ultimately. So we are starting to build some tools and approaches to do that. We just have to figure out what the right product is. And in terms of what's the voice: snacky, analytical, non-judgmental, or opinionated?

What changes are we going to see in business intelligence practices of agencies?

We've had the thought leadership, historically. There's a pretty robust list of reports that we've been producing and will continue to produce. The main change and the main difference is adding this weekly content that I'm producing. It is interesting, because it's a different kind of velocity of information. You could argue, one could publish even more, even faster. But here's an interesting difference. In the old job, because it was a one-man operation, I worked for a company and produced everything related to my sector on my own. I now come to a company with 130,000 experts on any given topic. Why wouldn't I want to ask people internally about a given topic that I might want to opine on? Producing weekly content that's hopefully perceived as high quality and original thinking is still a lot by most global standards.

A growing section of consumers, largely youth, has started moving away from advertising, especially intrusive. Brands have been forced to be subtle in their communication. What equips an agency to effectively and successfully tackle this change?

It is difficult to quantify with a lot of certainty to the extent what is accurate. There are things that we have difficulty measuring. If you say, we're exposed to less ad-supported premium video content that might be true. Even then, it's hard to know, hard to quantify. It would be interesting to do a cross country study of this.

So how are the agencies tackling with this problem?

The real issue is can you accomplish your goal with the medium available to you. I think we focus too much on the reduction of consumption. And we should be focusing more looking at large advertisers who are reach-focused. Often we're focusing on the wrong metrics, because that is what is available, not what we need. But as long as reach is holding up relatively better than the next best alternative, advertisers will want to spend money in that medium.

Question is what is the next best alternative available? Now, at some point, let's just say it's no longer possible to reach 60% of your target audience over the course of campaign flight, even if you bought every available unit, and I think this is increasingly the case for younger audiences. I think then it comes back to first, do you have the right goal, is reach the right metric to begin with? Second, what are the other ways to build your brand? Are there other ways they can think of investing in their products? It doesn't need to include paid advertising. It should be up to individual brands, and the people working on those brands.

Maybe you've got the wrong units to start with. So maybe the whole premise of buying a bunch of gross rating points, or buying TV impressions, is that necessarily the right thing? Should you be optimising your campaigns for that? Or should you be rethinking the whole thing? When it comes to marketing in general, not enough marketers have established credible alternatives. One of the solutions is that we should be thinking about totally different alternatives to help marketers satisfy their marketing goals.

Is the growth of content marketing satisfactory? What kind of growth do you predict over the next five years?

Content marketing is a tactic. It should grow faster. There will always be brands who find a benefit to developing content to reinforce what their brand is trying to accomplish. It is not necessary that every brand should do. And therefore, what's the right rate of growth? It's almost a function of fashion. Objectively, there clearly are more and more brands that are looking at it. Defining number is hard and quantifying is even harder.

Digital video consumption is at its peak but it lacks a credible, unified measurement system.  Will we see a solution to this?

There will always be incremental improvement, I don't think measurement only gets harder and harder. What we define as being part of the medium moves faster than the tools and the systems and the agreements between all the different industry participants can find solutions.

How much focus do you have on the India market?

A fair amount of focus would be there on India since it's now a top-10 market. It's still growing pretty rapidly. It's one of the countries I try to familiarise myself with. India is a market where I plan to spend time thinking about the data and making sure that I understand the underlying trends going on in depth.

How different would your approach be for India, given that it is the most diverse demographic?

It's not that the diversity of the market that makes it challenging. I think it’s fragmentation that can always make it hard to assess markets. I think every company's data presents different problems. For example, if you have a really fragmented market but if you have a great census or a great source of truth of data such as a government Census Bureau, all problems are solved.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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