Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Meet the Revolutionaries: Nic Travis of Lloyds Banking Group

New Digital Age (NDA), in association with Liveramp, is spotlighting the men and women championing a data-led revolution in the marketing industry. The ‘Meet the Revolutionaries’ interviews focus on the efforts of the marketing professionals navigating the new era of data collaboration.

Here, Nic Travis, Head of Paid Digital Marketing at Lloyds Banking Group,  shares his tips for encouraging innovation in your organisation…

Describe your current role.

My role covers all of our brands (including Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Scottish Widows and MBNA among others), across all of our retail product offerings, whether that be paid activations, social, programmatic, digital video, or Connected TV (CTV). I also look after our team that covers ad tech, SEO and content, so it’s a very mixed bag!

Can you give an example of a time when you personally have helped to drive innovation? 

I’ve been driving the adoption of first party data for the past few years, coming at it from a couple of angles. Firstly, how do we create an alternative CRM channel to contact more of our customers in high impact, high engagement media channels? Secondly, how do we deal with the impacts of third-party cookie deprecation in a way that is transparent and ethical? 

We’re a highly risk averse organisation that believes doing the right thing for our customers and following the letter of the law in regards to personal data.  It’s been a really interesting journey dealing with the complexities of doing that inside a banking organisation and dealing with such a dynamic environment where there’s lots of technological and regulatory changes happening all the time.

In your experience, what are the most common challenges to innovation? 

Different organisations stumble at different points. In a large, complex, heavily regulated business like ours, the big question is how do we do the right things within the legal parameters that govern us?

From a pure ‘digital marketing’ perspective, a lot of people make mistakes in relation to measurement and data. Some marketers are too trusting about the data they are being fed, without interrogating it properly. That’s a situation that’s actually getting worse, as so much of the data inside the platforms we use is being modelled and manipulated. 

Another big challenge is people’s understanding of consent and data flows. It’s really important to do regular audits of your approach to measurement, audits of your data flows and audits of the third-party suppliers you choose to work with. It’s also crucial to establish the ‘data ethics’ of your own organisation. Once you ground yourself in that way, it becomes easier to hold a mirror up to the vendors and platforms you are working with.

Finally, I see lots of people tying themselves up in knots around the subject of ‘consent’? How do we get consent from customers and what can we do with their data based on the consent that we have? 

What tips can you offer others hoping to drive innovation? 

Whenever you’re trying to advance any sort of innovation, it’s important to stand back and try to understand not just the business benefits, but also the benefits to the customer.  Ad tech and digital marketing folks sometimes concentrate on the technology and the things it can enable, but you can end up speaking a different language from the rest of your organisation. If you focus on explaining the benefits for the business and the customer it becomes much easier to take people on the journey with you. 

It’s really important that you audit your full end-to-end customer journey from a marketing technology point of view and understand exactly where your measurement strong points and measurement blind spots are. That process lets you know where your attention is most needed.

How do you think digital marketing might evolve over the next few years?

Making AV assets is costly and complicated. Sooner or later, AI models are going to be able produce high quality ad content, allowing small-to-medium sized enterprises to do much more than they could before. 

I’ve been working in digital marketing now for 20 plus years, and the one constant is that the industry never really stands still. One of the big, meaty problems for the industry at large is explaining that ‘data value exchange’ to customers. Advertising funds the free internet. It’s incumbent on advertisers and the marketing industry to do a better job at explaining that. 

I also think digital marketers are starting to understand the role and importance of great creative. Rather than focusing on the volume of impressions we’re generating, it’s time to get back to basics and recognise that the creative quality of the ads is hugely important. 

Do you think ‘data collaboration’ will become more important to marketers?

The short answer is ‘yes’ as long as you collect the proper consents to do it. I see the proliferation of first-party data as having essentially six use cases: targeting; excluding existing or non-eligible customers; building lookalike audiences; data enrichment via collaboration; data as a media planning tool; and measurement.