Grant Keller is global CEO of WPP's Google technology and data consultancy, Acceleration, and Ekapat Chareonlarp is GroupM’s global VP of media innovation and marketing. Here they share their top advice on digital transformation.
When it comes to digital transformation, we use a simple analogy with our clients. You wouldn’t run a marathon right off the bat — you’d start with shorter runs and build up to the long one over time. The same applies to modernising a business. At Acceleration, GroupM’s certified Google marketing specialist, this means working with clients to create the right foundation for a sustained, multistep transformation journey.
Our approach is based on everything we’ve learned over 20 years of helping brands drive growth and transformation with the latest marketing technology. And recent research suggests this type of approach pays off. The latest Google-commissioned study by Boston Consulting Group revealed that implementing scaled digital solutions can drive up to 3X more near-term revenue gains for businesses.
As we’ve all seen, the pace of change is only increasing, and clients need the support and expertise of their agencies more than ever. Here are three essential healthy marketing habits we help our clients develop to ensure they stay ahead.
1. Set collective goals
In many companies, it’s long been the CMO’s job to represent customer needs to the C-suite. But in a digital-first world, one executive is not enough. While the CMO may be the coordinating force for different business functions, we’ve seen from our clients that the entire C-suite must galvanise and align to transform the company from the top down. And, as an extension of the marketing team, agency partners are perfectly positioned to help the CMO unite corporate leadership and establish common goals.
An example of this is how we worked with Volvo to improve its campaign measurement and expand its reliance on first-party data across the organisation. By tapping into the past performance of Volvo’s marketing campaigns, brand lift studies, and attribution models, Acceleration helped the company create a custom marketing mix model that gave insight into the full customer journey, including the effectiveness of each digital touchpoint, like paid search, video ads, and social. Volvo then applied this information to better optimise its marketing spend. Now, teams trust data and rely on it across the company, from marketing to finance to the CEO and his management team.
Agency partners are perfectly positioned to help the CMO unite corporate leadership and establish common goals.
2. Embrace agility
The digital transformation journey often requires that brands get comfortable being in a state of perpetual change to keep up with consumer behaviour and technology, and to stay ahead of competitors. For many, this can be challenging. Because agencies work with the latest insights and tech solutions, we’re well placed to help brands experiment, learn, and make incremental changes over time.
At Acceleration, we’ve learned it’s almost always quicker to launch a minimal viable solution than it is to write pitch after pitch. It won’t be perfect, but once you’ve got something in place, you can improve it based on what’s working or not.
Another client, pharmaceutical company Perrigo, wanted to implement a more agile, integrated marketing model. Working alongside its global media agency, Wavemaker, Acceleration created a new operating framework, including a blueprint for successful ad campaigns and 12 training modules to upskill teams. These solutions helped to ensure that Perrigo could respond to insights with speed and consistency across dozens of markets. By scaling digital marketing expertise globally, Perrigo was able to bring its digital campaigns in-house within three months. And now the team is positioned to test, learn, and evolve their approach.
3. Demonstrate value often
Agencies play a crucial role in showing the ongoing value of transformation, particularly when it comes to measurement and attribution. Rather than waiting a year for a big reveal, we’ve learned it’s better to play results back to clients on a regular basis to help secure ongoing investment. For Acceleration, this means using the Google Marketing Platform and tools like Google Analytics 360 to ensure insights from our clients’ media strategies can be used in real time to maximise performance.
Digital transformation is a long-term commitment and an ongoing cycle, full of learnings and course corrections.
When a U.S.-based, multinational tech company client of ours began preparing for a cookieless future, we worked with its media agency, MediaCom, to implement Google Analytics 360’s cookieless measurement capabilities. As part of the implementation, we developed a framework that showed the impact of cookieless digital media on an ongoing basis. This meant the client could see results and apply its findings much faster than would have been possible in a large, one-off campaign. The value was clear: an integration with Google Marketing Platform, a lightweight deployment, and the development of strategic segmentation.
Digital transformation is not a one-time action plan. It’s a long-term commitment and an ongoing cycle, full of learnings and course corrections. But by helping your clients implement the right goals, organisational structure, tools, and technology, you’ll ensure they’re prepared for a successful journey.