“Programmatic Champions” with Albert Thompson from Walton Isaacson

Albert Thompson
Managing Director, Digital at Walton Isaacson
Website Address: www.waltonisaacson.com


How are you, sir? How’s a full service agency life here in 2020?

I’m doing well. Thanks for having me on the show, first and foremost. And look, particularly when you’re full service, the re-planning stages is almost endless because your client will say, “Well what are all the things we could possibly consider in your wheelhouse?” and I’m like, “That’s a lot.” We were just doing one function for them, but for us it’s literally looking at every facet of how consumer journeys have been disrupted or are changing or just consumer psychology related to buy or not buy. It’s a lot to synthesize. So yeah that’s life for a full service agency.

In terms of keeping your current clients happy and re-strategizing and everything that you do with them, I wanted to touch on the RFP process. Has that changed for you guys too? How are those questions? What is that like for you guys right now?

I think the biggest difference that I see is you get to the return on ad spending or revenue return compensation questions almost immediately. Look most businesses are in business to make money, and they should be, but now once you get through, “Ok great. You can do all that, perfect. How would you approach making us money?” I think that’s the conversation that comes up much faster. Companies try to synthesize and detect and understand what you’d be good at, and now they’re just blatantly asking you for a game plan. What’s your approach? What are the key indicators to let us know that, in fact, we can mak money with this? Look at this day and age, all spending is being scrutinized beyond C-level executives, so you get board members. So the level of prudence and diligence has gone way up in this immediate versus an evolution of.

You said something about consumer truth. And that sounds a little x y z but dig on that for a sec for me because I’m completely interested.

Absolutely. I mean first of all, new consumer psychology emerged sort of post-COVID outbreak; we’re not even over it yet. And person patterns are very different. There’s almost a new lens of how you feel sentiment overlaid on what was the normal purchase behaviors you had. Financially, are we stable and are things now really really essential? There is the, “Hey we’re juust going to turn off our retail footprint behaviors and just click Amazon buttons all day long.” Is it that we’re going to wait this baby out and see where it’s like three months so we don’t look stupid for making purchases now that we wish we could sell back on, let go, or something? Because we now have to let it go. So when you think about that, it’s just a far greater diligence needed to use all the tools to understand your new normal. I think the thing is the path of purchase. Most brands have a dedicated path they want you to do, but now it’s very much the consumer saying, I “don’t know if that’s safe anymore.” So when you have to overlay public health concerns on the notion of path to purchase which you’ve spent years maybe decades constructing and now they’re out the window, what does that essentially mean?

Another interesting term that you that you touched on in terms of measuring the KPIs, you call it signal data. Is that even more important now than it has been to you even pre-COVID because of the signals that you’re able to see or is it still kind of status quo there?

No, it’s dialed up. If it was at 10 or should have been 10, it’s at 11. That goes without saying. Look you need to synthesize as many data signals as possible whether there are revenue indicators or not. You just need to understand where the average consumer’s at. Let’s be clear, we as human beings don’t declare all our sentiment around why we do what we do. After that, the brain just sort of does automatically. But you need to have location data to know how people are moving or if they’re not moving from home at all or where they’re willing to move or better yet, because stores aren’t as safe, how long they’re willing to stay there. You have to look at conversation. You have to be synthesizing social data because most people in this day and age, we tend to post how we feel on social media. Does that track to purchase patterns we may have had? Maybe not anymore. Maybe sometimes it doesn’t track with what we’re actually physically doing. You need to look at transaction data, you need to look at average size of a shopping cart getting smaller or bigger, then you need to just look at based on the fact that people are stressed, what is escapism now mean? Is escapism going to retail or is escapism picking up new hobbies, which means everybody is out teaching their kids to ride a bike for the first time in American history since maybe the 80s. I mean all those things you need to have a better understanding and unfortunately, the world is getting a first class lesson in supply chain management. What it means is when the product can’t show up ay retail to be sold, it does not exist and neither does your marketing budget for it.

 

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