Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Media transformation isn’t really about the media or transformation

By Tom Johnson, Chief Digital Officer, Mindshare

Yes, I know, catchy headline to suck you in, but I promise this isn’t like one of those weird LinkedIn posts about people being nice and it resulting in success.

Transformation, the buzzword of the last few years, made its way to digital media when the IT community were finished with it or got bored. Or both. It has become a key focus for not just us at agencies or our clients but for the consultants too.

I am not about to downplay the work done or that focus, we invest significant sums of money on behalf of our clients and the execution, operations / strategy / technology to support that effort constantly needs to evolve to keep everyone moving forward. It is crucial and I try and do it every day but…the last thing we all need is another buzzword to get bored of and that gives you the wrong focus or that promises the undeliverable.

I will try and not use it anymore. I’m going to focus on a different word, that should be better understood in terms of delivery and less ‘buzzy’.


Ironic I know, this being written by a thirty something that still plays computer games, the joy of the digital age I suppose.

Media in general has long suffered with that word – maturity. One minute we are too ‘analogue’, the next we are too focused on ‘digital’ and other shiny objects. Some of it is justified, some of it has been addressed and in the case of digital media, something we are still all trying to solve.

Because digital media is still growing, technology continues to evolve and consumers are becoming more mature in the digital space themselves, so we need to keep our eyes open and always look to innovate. You can’t therefore deliver maturity by trying to create three-year plans now.

Digital maturity needs to be about incremental change and concurrent workstreams, not long term plans or lofty fluffy goals.

It isn’t about changing everything you do. Hence my reluctance to use the word associated with that.

What I have said so far probably isn’t that much of a revelation to a lot of you, as many people have spent many hours testing new formats, searching for new audiences and who doesn’t love a beta?

But campaign innovation isn’t enough alone. We have to focus on digital operating maturity at the same time as deployment. If we focus on a mature operation as well, deployment is always going to benefit and we will be more ready for the next change or the new thing.

So what do I mean by addressing operating maturity?

  • Is your digital structure (the people) ready to support investment growth and change?
  • Do you have the skillsets, (either your own or paid for) to test, to question, to try innovative approaches or work with the technology you have across the entire digital media landscape?
  • Are your processes enabling speed to market, creative pivots or channel integration?
  • Does your data strategy align across CRM & Media?
  • Do you silo focus and responsibility to the specialists that activate?

If you are addressing all those, great, stop reading. If not, here is how I think can you start.

  • Assess what you are doing currently, not through the lens of does it hit my KPI (I know that’s good!!) but does it deliver digital maturity and use focuses we all know – automation, channel integration, data strategy, CX, audience centricity, to judge that and plan out how you can address it.
  • Stop being selfish and focus on your consumer experience. No one cares how good your match rate is if you don’t create seamless experiences; it doesn’t matter. Start with your site, not the media and work back from the last action a consumer takes. If you aren’t optimising what you own, there isn’t much point in optimising what you spend.
  • Train people. Pick three people in your marketing organisation that don’t deliver digital media but can impact it (Site Technicians, Artworkers, CIO’s, Exec’s, etc) and create a training program for them to have the knowledge to input smartly.
  • Make it happen – don’t focus on one massive goal or delivering something designed to pay off in 3 years; it won’t work. Develop a micro goals roadmap, ones that are delivered every 60/90 days that focus on four maturity areas. People, Process, Platforms & Data.

Everyone has the opportunity to improve their maturity if you look into each of those properly. Because it isn’t about getting to a point of completion.

I hope the above helps you focus on the ones that could help move you along.

Try to ignore the noise, avoid big promises, disbelieve that technology alone will save you.

Start with what really matters – how you enhance your operation gradually based on more than a measurement framework. It’s the more mature approach.


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