Our polarized world has become less theoretical and more of a practical challenge for marketers. The turbulence seems to be everywhere, and a growing consideration for both B2B and B2C marketing teams.
I recently asked Peter Sheldon, senior director of strategy for Adobe’s commerce business for his take on how brand safety is best planned for and executed.
Paul Talbot: As you look forward to 2020, what strikes you about brand safety?
Peter Sheldon: The reality is, we are going into a new year with a highly charged environment. Beyond the obvious American political divide, brands must navigate an ever-expanding list of sensitive topics, from Hong Kong and democracy to privacy and beyond.
Consumers overwhelmingly expect brands to take part in these conversations—whether they want to or not—and associating with controversial topics, regardless of how inadvertent it might be, continues to be extremely risky to businesses.
I’m particularly interested in the impact of technology on brand safety. As my focus is on innovation in retail and e-commerce, I’m often exposed to the cutting-edge ways retailers are leveraging technology to create all-new buying experiences which deeply personalize the customer journey. Within retail we are already seeing the maturation of tech like AI and AR/VR to create successful use-cases.
Yet all this also means that retailers will be at the forefront of encountering the brand safety issues of the next era, where digital is always on and always around us, regardless of where we are.
Going into 2020 I think it’s extremely important for retailers to take a fresh look at their brand safety policies and how they are ensuring that the content they are creating and sharing is authentic and ethical, regardless of channel.
Talbot: To what extent are brand safety crises preventable?
Sheldon: Technology changes how we can monitor for brand safety risks and take action in an evolving landscape, but the fact is that we live in a society and these issues will always be challenging.
The best solution will be to adopt real-time, always-on analytics and AI to identify potential and breaking issues. Given the range of opinions in society, and the increasingly complexity of our interactions online and in the digitally-enhanced “real” world, there will always be crises to worry about.
Talbot: Over the past year, did anything noteworthy take place in terms of how purchasing decisions are made by both B2B and B2C buyers?
Sheldon: A major trend in shopper behavior in general, but in B2B shoppers in particular, has been the generational shift towards Millennials. These buyers operate very differently than their predecessors, being much more apt to make purchase decisions after working hours and via smartphone.
As younger buyers, they have much higher expectations when it comes to digital experiences, which puts the onus on merchants to adopt a mobile-first commerce strategy—as well as technology and staff to be more responsive, and personalize, customer service experiences.
We’re also seeing purchasing decisions becoming increasingly driven by personalization.
Shoppers receiving relevant recommendations tailored to their unique needs has become the norm in B2C, and B2B buyers now increasingly expect it as well. As a result, merchants on both sides are prioritizing tech to help manage data and provide customized, authentic experiences.
Talbot: Of all the different ways the brand impacts a purchasing decision, are any on the rise? Are any in decline?
Sheldon: Brand is very much central to purchasing decisions in the modern world. Experience has the deciding factor in how a buyer perceives a brand. Hence modern e-commerce and retail has to be optimized to provide a positive experience at every step of the way, from initial marketing and consideration to the payment process itself.
How data is used to reinforce and create a brand experience through digital interactions is exponentially on the rise. As marketing becomes increasingly B2E (business to everyone), CRM is falling by the wayside as companies adopt CXM, Customer Experience Management.
CXM is built around a tech approach, such as the Adobe Experience Platform, which leverages data regardless of where it is throughout an organization and stitches it together, in real-time, to create real-time insights and on the fly personalization.