Outside Insight: Debbie Morrison of ISBA tells us what's keeping clients awake at night


The communications world continues to evolve rapidly – and agencies and brands need to navigate their way through these twists and turns with agility. As part of our Outside Insight series, we asked Debbie Morrison, Director of Consultancy and Best Practice at ISBA, to gaze into her crystal ball and tell us what the future may hold.

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Everything has changed and everything is changing. Change is the only certainty in this real time marketing world. How to market in this environment is quite challenging. It’s made CMOs question whether their marcoms strategies are right both internally and externally. Do they have the right marketing org, the right talent, are they really getting omni-channel planning? Is the way they work agile enough? Are their agencies agile enough?

There’s a massive amount of questioning of the role of marketing at the moment and the way it operates. It’s a really interesting time but it’s never been more challenging. People are asking ‘where is my customer? Where are my new customers coming from? How do we engage with them? Are we in charge? Are they in charge? How much do we lead and how much do we follow?'

What are marketers worrying about?

Are their budgets going to be cut? How much money should I be putting into digital? How do we measure the return? What about content, what about social – how do we engage in a meaningful way that delivers for our brands?

Even though the economy is picking up, organisations are still having to manage finances very tightly. CMOs are telling us ‘don’t be lulled into a false sense of security’. Yes, the economy may be picking up but we’re still being asked to manage things down. That recession mentality is not going to go away. It’s always going to be about smarter management of funds, smarter ways to communicate.

What is keeping clients awake at night?

Naturally how to grow their brands must be top of the list! But there’s also a lot of debate in the media area about transparency, viewability, brand safety on-line and programmatic and the shift in the way media is bought – many clients are moving rapidly towards 50% or more of their spend in digital and want to be assured that the way it’s bought is transparent, that their ads are being seen by real humans and do not appear on illegal sites.

A recent research study estimates that $6.3bn globally is being wasted by advertisers whose on-line ads have only been seen by bots, that’s a mega worry!!! They’re worrying about access to data. They’re looking for agencies who can talk to them openly and honestly about how they operate and explain how the digital buying ecosystem works. They want true omni-channel planning not influenced by bias!

Clients are also fretting about content, who should be creating it, creative agencies, media agencies, content specialists, in-house, they are trying many different models for more effect, speed and costs effect! We have a lot of people talking to us about search and SEO, how to optimize spend. They complain that a lot of junior agency people seem to be managing this and they’re looking for people with a real understanding of data.

They worry about the proliferation of data and working with the best analytical talent to drive insight both at their agencies and internally. In a complex digital, data-rich environment they know that those who can mine the smart insight win.

It is hard to generalize when you talk about what people are looking for. But they want to work with the smartest people, the best and most agile talent, and an honest agency with real vision.

marketing content marketing isba Debbie Morrison media future
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