The latest Q&A welcomes Rebekah Kennedy, Marketing Technology Manager at Heineken, who talks to Ryan Kangisser about the role of the in-house Marketing Technologist, and what our industry can learn from this critical capability which is becoming more pronounced within certain brands.
Ryan: Marketing technologist isn’t a job that has been codified until recent times, has it been a steep learning curve even with your technology background?
Rebekah: It has been a learning curve – when looking at the Marketing Technology Landscape (the graphic that probably is more overwhelming than helpful!), the technology that I’ve come across in previous roles doesn’t even make up half of the page. However, it does become palatable once you have established the objectives that you want to achieve, as you then brief out and select the technology that will make that happen. We have chosen seven new technology partners to work with in the seven months since I’ve joined, which gives you an idea of the pace that the industry is moving.
Ryan: Do you expect to see the Marketing Technologist role become more prevalent within brands over the next 12 months? If so, what are the main driving factors?
Rebekah: Yes – digital marketing is transforming the way we understand consumers, as data is pushed into technology that enables brands to close the loop when it comes to measurement and attribution. There needs to be resource internally to bridge marketing departments with those that have historically set very separate such as IT & legal, and then align these systems with business goals.
“We have chosen seven new technology partners to work with in the seven months since I’ve joined, which gives you an idea of the pace that the industry is moving.”
Additionally, with the increasing prevalence of consolidation in the martech space, there will need to be increased in-house resource and/or capability to facilitate the management and measurement of these platforms and other tools.
Ryan: Marketing Technology is a broad and continually expanding category – how do you keep up with all the developments going on in the industry?
Rebekah: Subscribe to lots of articles, attend as many conferences as I can and lean on others within the industry! Industry bodies such as ISBA and the WFA are great opportunities to share learnings.
Ryan: In your experience, are the technology companies equipped to deal directly with brands or do they still feel more comfortable going through agencies?
Rebekah: At Heineken, we continually seek technology partners who are going to educate us in regards to our digital transformation agenda. Shortly we will be bringing MediaVest and all of our data/technology partners together to share our ambition with all parties, and unlock the full potential of investment in our digital stack. There are many advantages of technology companies dealing directly with brands, however there is still a huge role for media agencies as they add the crucial overall strategic planning and activation element.
“There needs to be resource internally to bridge marketing departments with those that have historically set very separate such as IT & legal.”
Ryan: What can technology companies do differently to improve the connection they have with brands?
Rebekah: There are 3 main things:
1. Lose the jargon and acronyms – or explain them in a way that makes them easy to understand!
2. Truly understand the brand’s challenges – the digital marketing landscape is fragmented so teams who understand the wider media perspective of what the brand is trying to achieve are valuable.
3. Technology companies who act on a Software as a Service model can sometimes be too quick to try and ‘do everything’ without necessarily the right resource – it will be interesting to see if the trend of acquisitions changes this.
“There are many advantages of technology companies dealing directly with brands, however there is still a huge role for media agencies as they add the crucial overall strategic planning and activation element.”
Ryan: What do you look for from your agency in terms of the support/guidance you need to do your job?
Rebekah: Agencies still have such a depth of talent that we rely on – from day to day technical expertise such as tagging and integration, to wider long term strategy around market understanding and innovation.
Rebekah joined Heineken in 2016, from Adobe with the objective of ensuring Heineken has the leading competitive edge in digital marketing, by identifying and implementing a cutting edge data-driven marketing strategy, driven through relevant technologies.