Brands Navigate a Changing Media Landscape


In an increasingly complex media environment, advertisers continue looking for opportunities to meet the right customers in the right context

Today, consumer brands tend to face a fragmented media landscape that includes traditional options like TV and print as well as search engines, social platforms, and other digital channels. Some major retailers are even selling ads themselves, using first-party customer data to help brands reach logged-in, self-identified customers, either on the retailer’s owned channels or on other online platforms.

This rapidly changing environment can create new challenges and opportunities for players in the ecosystem. Consumer brands may face the challenge of choosing the right platforms to reach their audiences, while retailers may seek to drive value for both their businesses and their partners. Meanwhile, legacy media players may be redefining advertiser relationships while striving to innovate longtime publications.

“Even as the number of media channels explodes, marketing budgets aren’t necessarily keeping pace,” Stacy Kemp, executive lead of Deloitte’s CMO Program and a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, said to a group gathered at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “In this environment, marketing and advertising leaders should be strategic when choosing partners, identifying where customers expect them to be, and determining the best avenues for growth.”

During the conversation, participants discussed their approach to building brand value and connecting with audiences.   

Amid Complexity, Partnerships Matter

At General Mills, measurement is top of mind when the marketer chooses media partners, according to Doug Martin, the chief brand and disruptive growth officer. “We know our core consumer and value proposition, but it can still be hard to determine whether we have reached our target customers across platforms,” he said. “We are looking for partnerships that can help us interact with enriched audiences to drive not only overall awareness but also lower-funnel conversion.”

Relevance is another important consideration for advertisers, said William White, the senior VP and CMO of Walmart U.S., which operates its own media network. “Ultimately, any brand wants to drive commerce to where the customer is,” he explained. “Take, for example, a shoppable recipe with one-click purchase. When there’s inspiration and an opportunity to move from inspiration to purchase, that’s where brands want to be.”

For Walmart, data and technology partnerships are also an important piece of the puzzle, according to Seth Dallaire, the executive VP and chief revenue officer for Walmart U.S. “Media networks require huge amounts of data; it’s expensive to store it, and privacy considerations can be complex,” he said. “Many retailers with media networks are looking for partners when it comes to data clean rooms or marketing clouds.”

The same qualities brands look for in traditional media partners may also be relevant as they choose retail media channels, observed Josh Stinchcomb, the executive VP and chief revenue officer for The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s Group at Dow Jones. For advertisers, those priorities typically include trust and audience knowledge, he said. 

“Traditional media outlets and retailers with a media network face the common challenge of being thoughtful about how they use customer data,” Stinchcomb said. “They also have a unique value proposition when it comes to offering powerful customer signals.”

C-Suite Collaboration Can Be Key

Just as external partnerships can be important in today’s media landscape, internal collaboration may be equally fundamental. Among other relationships, the connection between CMO and chief revenue officer can be crucial. “William’s team and my team are complementary,” Dallaire said. “He finds customers, brings them in, and engages with them. Then my team helps brands to speak to those customers. The larger the audience he can bring in, the more obvious the advertising components become for Walmart.”

As they try to build one-to-one relationships with consumers and enrich audience data, marketers like General Mills face numerous technology choices, Martin said, and as a result, the relationship between marketing and technology leaders has become increasingly important. “The leadership team—not just the CMO and chief technology officer—has to continually communicate,” he said. “Ultimately, the goal is for the sum total of your efforts to be better than each individual swimming in their own lane.”

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