The Smartest Marketing Strategy: Agile Marketing

Opinion: There is no longer a beginning and an end to a campaign

Marketers must become agile. But, how? AndreyPopov/iStock

One of the most popular digital marketing buzzwords of 2018 is agility. Considering how fragmented the social media landscape has become and the rapid pace of ad product innovation, it’s no wonder marketers extol the strategy of thinking and acting quickly as the way to win. Being able to react fast in unpredictable situations is a logical aspiration for brands.

Never before have marketing conditions been so fluid. Just a few years ago, media plans were developed with a focus around broadcast TV. Creative production was concentrated on a few 30-second and 60-second spots, and the common practice was (and in large part, still is) to produce derivative cut-downs for frequency or other (often digital and frequently mobile) formats.

In contrast, today’s marketers are faced with a dizzying array of social media platforms that offer unique consumer experiences, ad products, policies, targeting options and analytics.

Facebook, with more than 2.2 billion users globally and 6 million advertisers, leads the pack with the most diverse ad catalog and sophisticated targeting and insights.

Additionally, Instagram and its 800 million monthly users has become alluring to brands looking to share immersive stories and guide consumers through the path to purchase. According to Instagram, 60 percent of consumers say they discover new products on the platform, and 75 percent of Instagrammers take action after being inspired by a post.

Consequently, as TV viewership wanes and social gets “stickier,” marketers must adapt. Marketers must become agile. But, how?

To answer the question, let’s revisit the underlying theory of agility. In 2001, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published by an alliance of 17 engineers and operations experts. It suggested that a series of small, calculated experiments could be used to solve big problems. Insights gleaned from each experiment would allow for quick learning, rapid iteration and innovation.

This framework gave rise to the Manifesto for Agile Marketing, which favors validated learning, adaptive campaign planning and small-scale experimentation. Simply put, marketers should test and iterate until the optimal execution is revealed. Consumers are fickle and trending topics turn on a dime.

Therefore, the smartest (some would say only) way to market on social media is to develop a large array of assets and see what sticks. As a campaign takes flight with “prequalified” assets, creative fatigue often sets in after a period of time and/or market conditions may change, so new assets must be at the ready to test, optimize and rotate in.

There is no longer a beginning and an end to a campaign. Agile marketers are in a constant loop of producing new creative, learning and optimizing. This is in stark contrast to what broadcast advertisers are accustomed to doing—betting the bank on informed guesses and letting it ride.

The upside of agile marketing is hard to refute—invest media dollars against top performing creative. But the financial cost and human capital needed to create dozens (sometimes hundreds) of unique assets in a matter of days can be prohibitive.

As social advertising becomes dominated by video, this appears even more daunting. But marketers of all stripes are leaning in. According to a recent study by Magisto, more than one-half of the 545 small, midsized and global businesses surveyed reported creating new video content at least once per week, and 26 percent say they create new video content daily.

But video can be costly, creatively challenging and time consuming to produce. The Magisto study found that speed of creation is of greatest concern, far more than price. After all, when marketing at the “speed of social,” it all comes down to relevancy. Speaking of which, marketers need to match video assets to each audience segment. What is the point of building unique customer segments if everyone gets served the same ad?

Retailers and department stores are leading the way in agile marketing, scaling up their assets to allow for more flexibility and personalization. By the last quarter of 2017, large retailers and department stores were partnering with VidMob to create, on average, 20 video assets per quarter to provide them with more assets to market at the speed of social.

Many marketers that aspire to become agile invest in building sizable in-house teams of social creative experts. Producing large volumes of optimized video across the social landscape is not something one or two dedicated resources can generally handle. To assess your capabilities and needs, here is a list of important considerations:

  • Deep knowledge (and ability to stay apprised) of ad catalogs across the social landscape.
  • Creative operations infrastructure to support scaled video production.
  • Editorial resources trained to produce video quickly (hours and days, not weeks).
  • Approval process capable of making decisions at the pace of today’s rapid needs.
  • Language localization expertise to support multiple territories.
  • Expertise interpreting real-time performance data and creative insights, and the ability to react immediately.
  • Access to workflow tools (draft review, asset storage, social application-programming-interface integrations).
  • Understanding of agile marketing theory.

Brands need video—a lot of video—to tell the right story to the right customer at the right time. With 2.5 billion social media users around the world, one size will never fit all for ad creative. The brands that prevail will be those that produce a lot, test a lot and learn a lot—over and over again. Becoming agile—truly agile—is the smartest social media marketing strategy.

Stephanie Bohn is chief marketing officer at video-creation platform VidMob.