Our first installment in the “SxSW Replacement Series” featured James Gregson, Head of LEGO Social Studio, who shared his take on topics ranging from purpose-driven marketing to sustainability and inclusivity. Next up, Day TWO from not-Austin!
Tiffany Curry, who leads the Strategy and Brand Partnerships team in the Midwest for DoubleVerify. Curry spoke to us about what she was excited to bring to the stage during this year’s SxSW conference in Austin, Texas. Here are some topics and themes that Curry would have addressed, from the importance of using data to create value… to the significance of prioritizing your time during times of uncertainty.
“What I Was Most Excited to See and Experience at SxSW This Year…”
While this was the first time that Tiffany Curry was planning attend SxSW and visit Austin, Texas, she was looking forward to the opportunity to actually experience “all of the positive hype that surrounds the event” first-hand. Rather than listen to her colleagues boast about their experience at the event, this was supposed to be the year that she would connect with, and learn from various industry leaders with different backgrounds and perspectives.
The Chicago, Illinois resident was especially looking forward to participating in and hosting a panel with the Brand Innovators team at Lamberts BBQ restaurant. The panel was going to be made up of a number of brand marketing leads across a variety of verticals, all ready to discuss their outlook on the new year. The importance of prioritization and maximizing value are two topics that are certainly on Curry’s 2020 radar as well. In this particular panel, Curry would have been given the opportunity to do what she does best: digging in and learning more about each specific brand and how they are thinking about new opportunities and challenges in 2020, which would be of great value to the audience.
A Transitioning Digital Landscape
Exactly how Curry, a longtime agency veteran, has a poignant perspective on the dynamic and changing digital marketing landscape, especially with how it related to individual consumers’ lives. Having worked with CPG and retail brands for the better part of the last decade, Curry knows that paid media spends are critical for driving offline sales and conversion.
“No brand owner will deny that knowing where their dollars are being spent is important,” she tells us. “But it often becomes an operational check box in an MSA, as opposed to an active, engaged conversation – to partner on how to best use the data that we get from verification to drive even better business outcomes. And that opportunity isn’t exactly obvious to everyone yet.”
One thing Curry enjoys doing for large global brands is developing custom verification playbooks, based on the brand’s unique needs and values, which help them establish and manage media quality standards across global markets. She added, as an example, “What’s considered brand suitable for one brand may not be for another brand. And global brands need the flexibility from their verification provider to account for market-specific differences.”
However, given the current state of the world, she believes that it is too early to predict exactly how strategies and tactics will shift and change. On a macro level, however, she knows that increased investments that boost a digital strategy to remain competitive in a digital landscape is fundamental to business. As brand marketing strategies evolve during the coming weeks and months (thanks to Coronavirus and changing consumer behaviors), she does expect a decline in retail brick-and-mortar business, but also believes that digital media investments will ultimately increase as well.
How Business Strategies are Shifting
Transitions, transitions and more transitions. They are infiltrating all parts of our lives these days. While it might be easier to practice “being more human” in your personal life, infusing your marketing strategy with content, tones or messages that are, perhaps, more sensitive and empathetic can also make for better business. According to Curry, there is a “sense of humanity” in marketing that we must be responsible for unlocking and tapping into. Economic instability, concerns about health and inconsistent routines make consumers more sensitive to all kinds of triggers.
Considering humanity not as statistics, data points or followers who can boost conversion rates or website traffic must be an essential component within brand marketing and planning. Curry also believes that now is the right time for marketers to shift their priorities and assess the content that they publish. When emotions run high, consumers crave feelings of comfort, reassurance and connection. Overall, Curry believes that shifting our priorities to serve the technological needs of the changing digital landscape is secondary to a genuine focus on how we, as marketers, can use our platform to connect with, give comfort to, and reassure our human markets.
“What is going to be most important for companies right now is to have, and show, empathy – to be human, essentially. Even if you do work in a conversion-focused or sales-driven organization, humanity matters. Lulu Lemon isn’t emailing me to buy a new product. They are emailing me to let me know that they are closing stores at different hours of the day to respect social distancing. There are cues we can all take from these types of companies, knowing that consumers have other things on their minds right now. We are all just trying to figure out this temporary new normal.”
How Personal Decisions and Work/Life Balance will Change
As part of the SxSW panel in which Curry would have played emcee and moderator, she would have been given the chance to hear a diverse range of perspectives on exactly how marketers are prioritizing their own time, effort and energy during this today’s tumult. In this time of universal uncertainty and panic, understanding how people are using and managing their time in their professional and personal lives is especially relevant.
While it is no secret that we, as marketers, must be resilient, flexible and ready to adapt, exactly HOW each of us adjusts to new ways of working and living will vary greatly. Her company, DoubleVerify, has a clearly-defined set of values, and these values are built into the company’s approach to marketing. What is the single most important value that Curry recognized during our discussion? The health and well-being of DoubleVerify employees. As a working super-mom, Curry is especially thankful for the family-oriented approach that DoubleVerify takes in its daily operations.
Looking more holistically, Curry also acknowledged that our changing daily schedules in this uncertainty will create greater opportunities for self- and social-improvement. The routine that was once a commuter-book-ended 9 to 5 office schedule is no longer a thing. At least for now. And those who work retail, at restaurants or in the hospitality industry face even greater questions. Curry says she is looking forward to seeing how she, and others, prioritize time.
In doing so, she encourages people to optimize other things beyond work that truly matter, such as spending more meaningful time with family, help others, or even something as simple as organizing the one drawer in your kitchen that would constantly be ignored once returning to work. Curry (and her admirable optimism) believe that if we prioritize and transition our time in a more well-balanced and healthier way, “we will all come out of this as better people.”
The Significance of Data Insights
Marketing with a sense of humanity is certainly one side of the equation, but understanding what type of people to target in the most efficient and effective way requires a technological, data-driven solution. Insights certainly improve the ways in which we connect with, reach and understand target consumers, their preferences, behaviors, expectations and dislikes. Although data can provide powerful benefits, it is not always easy to understand, readily accessible, and is often wrought with skepticism.
“It is going to be important for brands to have the best brand safety plan in place because protecting everything – assets, employees, time and value – is so important,” Curry says. “Especially as digital becomes an ever bigger part of their spend, from a paid media perspective. There may not have been a more critical time than there is right now for brands to measure and prevent fraud, as budgets may get tighter.”
For these reasons, brands and companies are looking to Curry and DoubleVerify for ways to help verify, guide and optimize their data-related media decisions. When it comes to optimizing value, Curry likes to ask herself and her clients how she can we plug data into different models to make better strategic decisions. Educating companies on how they can leverage data in the most valuable way possible is always the objective. According to Curry, this requires building a trusted relationship with clients
The refreshing optimism and perspective that Tiffany Curry would have brought for her SxSW audiences are certainly important, especially as brands grapple for certainty and clarity around measurement, verification and security in a state of change. Stay tuned all week long for more perspectives.