This globally relevant piece was originally published on Think with Google US.
It’s that time of year again — time to reflect and refresh. As global editor for Think with Google, I’ve been privileged to work with editors and contributors across 21 different markets this year. While each Think with Google site surfaces local insights for a particular region or country, there are some pieces that travel well and are worth sharing.
Below are 10 marketing pearls of wisdom we’ve heard from Think with Google contributors around the world this past year. We hope they’ll inspire your work in 2020, whether that means rethinking a long-held approach, launching a new campaign, or encouraging you and your team to take a new risk.
1. We all have a lot to learn from pirates (yes, really)
From Think with Google UK, where one creative agency leader shares a template for rule-breaking and encourages decision-makers to look to pirates for inspiration on pushing boundaries:
“We recognized that the intersection of naiveté and wisdom is a really good place. Naiveté on its own means you end up making lots of cat videos, and wisdom on its own means you end up with purely data-based decisions. Good creativity comes from both, together.”
2. Balance global, one-size-fits-all assets with local nuances
From Think with Google MENA, where Mercedes-Benz Middle East partnered with Google’s Unskippable Labs to test the effects of calling out price in a luxury category across different markets:
“What was surprising were the nuances and differences between how Saudis and people in the United Arab Emirates reacted to the experiment, which teaches us that, more and more, we have to push back against the notion that one single global asset will work everywhere. It’s simply not true.”
3. Use data to break stereotypes
From Think with Google Brazil, where analysts dug into what Brazilian women are watching on YouTube and painted a far more nuanced picture than marketers often consider when building media plans:
“Data is the way to break stereotypes. What are the most important topics for women? Anyone who thinks of clichés, like makeup, decorating tips, or cooking, is wrong. Gender equality, women’s rights, and health are among the most popular topics, as are internet privacy, religion, new family formats, entrepreneurship, and the creative economy.”
4. Inclusive storytelling is not just the right thing to do — it gets more attention
From Think with Google United States, where the largest global study of advertising content analyzed 2.7 million YouTube ads to assess the state of gender diversity:
“Audiences respond to inclusive storytelling. We found that YouTube videos uploaded by advertisers featuring at least as many female characters as male ones yielded 30% more views than other videos, telling us that when advertisers make their creative more inclusive, people watch.”
5. Measuring effectiveness deserves more attention at the briefing stage
From Think with Google Northern Europe, where industry leaders weighed in on how they make strategic, effective creative for YouTube:
“Don’t be late. Discussions about effectiveness come much too late, often when evaluating campaigns and ads. Brands need to understand and communicate business goals more specifically in the briefings, then add metrics, and then add world-class creativity sprung from the platform and audience. These three steps are key.”
6. The steps to digital maturity aren’t always clear, but it’s important to keep moving
From Think with Google France, where the topic of how to reach digital maturity is on the minds of many marketers:
“The vast majority of companies are moving forward in the fog. Among the 1,800 managers surveyed by Bpifrance, 34% cite complexity as the number one obstacle to the digital transformation of their company, 32% the lack of internal skills, 28% a lack of resources. So, should we continue to talk about digital transformation? Maybe transformation is not about aiming for the final step, but about continually identifying the next one.”
7. Allocate time and money to take calculated risks with new approaches and technologies
From Think with Google APAC, where the CMO of L’Oréal Hong Kong shared his team’s test-and-learn marketing approach to tailoring creative messaging with new technology:
“Taking a leap of faith with new technology can be daunting, especially on a tight budget. But allocating even a small portion of your budget to a riskier approach can make a world of difference. … There’s nothing wrong with tried-and-true methods. But you’ll never discover more effective or efficient approaches if you don’t set aside the time (and money) to find them.”
8. Context and relevance are what keep ads from being an annoying interruption
From Think with Google Canada, where industry leaders shared how personalization is changing the future of content:
“Even though we know more about consumers than ever before, the nature of advertising sometimes is still an interruption. So it’s absolutely critical to acknowledge that — and to make it worth the intrusion. Create with care, remember who is watching, and I cannot stress enough the need for relevance and context to ensure the interruption is meaningful.”
9. Mobile page design is just as critical as fast mobile page speed
From Think with Google Germany, where mobile specialists offered four tips for delivering a mobile UX that drives business results:
“Mobile users have two main needs: They want simplicity, and they want to use mobile pages as intuitively as they are accustomed to on desktop. … But desktop webpages cannot and should not simply be recreated one to one for mobile devices. Desktop works very differently — whether with forms, questionnaires, the number of fields, or buttons.”
10. Acknowledge that retention is a driver of growth
From Think with Google Latin America, where brands mastering the mobile web are sharing their strategies:
“Companies that adopt the mobile web experience in a serious way, in an effective way, in a personalized way, will be able to retain customers. As marketers, we always think of growth. And the main growth factor is retention."