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Big Questions: Scott Marsden on Marketing Strategy

3 MINUTE READ | June 10, 2024

Big Questions: Scott Marsden on Marketing Strategy

Big Questions: Scott Marsden on Marketing Strategy

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Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

In our latest Big Questions interview, we connected with Scott Marsden, VP of Client Strategy at PMG, to discuss the art and science of driving business impact with integrated marketing strategies. With over two decades of experience working on both the brand and agency side, Scott brings a wealth of expertise across multiple industries, including financial services, CPG, enterprise software, alcohol, travel, ecommerce, and B2B.

Scott's journey has taken him through leadership roles at major agencies like DigitasLBi, True Action Network, OMD, and Ogilvy, where he spearheaded innovative digital strategies and creative media programs for iconic brands such as Frito-Lay, Absolut Vodka, GE, Lowe's, the NFL, Bank of America, Visa, Yahoo!, Motorola, and IBM. Before joining PMG, Scott held pivotal positions at Parachute Home and Spotify, leading their brand and performance marketing solutions and driving record growth. 

At PMG, Scott oversees the B2B and Tech pod, focusing on delivering holistic media solutions grounded in data and insights. His unique background enables him to guide clients in overcoming complex marketing challenges and developing integrated campaigns that resonate with audiences. In this interview, Scott shares his perspective on the biggest shifts impacting our industry and how advertisers can best respond to these changes. 

The advertising landscape is undoubtedly evolving, as recent technological advancements, particularly advanced media buying algorithms, have revolutionized our industry in some truly remarkable ways. We can now target audiences with unprecedented precision, bid more strategically, and tailor our campaigns to achieve specific objectives, whether it’s maximizing impressions, views, or conversions. However, this newfound power also brings complexities. While we can deliver unprecedented frequency, there’s a risk of over-saturating audiences or under-delivering,‌ potentially limiting the impact of our advertising dollars. 

Three core innovations are driving the advertising industry today: Artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms, cookies, and measurement and attribution. These advancements have redefined how we approach advertising, presenting both challenges and opportunities that demand our attention.

The rising cost of driving true impact is the single biggest challenge marketers face today. Yes, we have algorithms driving last-click platform impact, which will keep the lights on, but this approach is short-term-minded. Brands need to think in both the short and the long term. The media marketplace is more cluttered and fragmented than ever before. Brands are attention-starved as consumers are constantly distracted by ‌the endless scroll and an influx of irrelevant ads. How can brands succeed when we're all chasing the same consumers who are constantly battling attention deficits?

It comes down to two critical factors: investment and value. Brands must invest smarter over time, focused on finding the right audience in the most relevant environments – be it the habitual scroll-based platforms or contextually relevant spaces. Simultaneously, brands must have an arsenal of messaging focused on their value proposition, ready to truly break through and create resonance.

This requires time, reach, and frequency; more ad frequency than our historical models have directed. There's a reason we all know the Geico gecko, Flo, and Mayhem—frequency. When we're in the market for insurance, which brands come to mind first? (Translation: Which are in the consideration set?) As stated, it's getting harder to drive impact in marketing, and ultimately, it's getting more costly.

One thing I wish today's business leaders could take full advantage of is the objectivity of their marketing agencies. This may sound self-serving, but I truly believe a brand's agency is one of its greatest assets in delivering success.

Having worked on both the brand side and the agency side, I can attest that I couldn't have achieved what we did on the brand side without our agency's support. And, aside from the strategic and activation benefits, agencies represent a truly objective perspective in the marketing space—well, the good agencies do, anyway. We see all sides of the industry and work hard to make unbiased decisions, balancing opportunity costs against objectives. I like to say that we see around the corners and truly investigate the trade-offs and rationales.

That objectivity is hard to find once you step into the brand side. You have an immediate bias, no matter the circumstances. Yes, bias often translates into responsibility, but it can also mean blinders and losing sight of true consumer insights that will inform the right strategy for success.

One thing I know for certain is that the people at our agency wake up every single day and work hard to hit those goals and win. Talk to your agency and ask them what motivates them. My guess is it's the brief and the long-term goals set by your marketing organization.

What's old is new again in marketing and media. We have more tools and technology than ever before, yet I spend more time discussing reach and frequency, marketing mix modeling, and creative strategies than I have in a long time—and it's fantastic!

Reach and frequency have been the backbone of our industry for many years, and I'm thrilled to see them making a comeback. Admittedly, it's not as straightforward an equation as it used to be, but it's an important strategic consideration as we build marketing plans for our brands. And now that we're starting to look at attention as a metric, we can begin to measure delivery with engagement and impact over time.

Marketing mix modeling is also back in a big way. Meta, Google, and The Trade Desk—all the major platforms, really—are offering their own versions of MMM as the latest way to measure impact. These models are more sophisticated, marrying deterministic incrementality measurement with more informed probabilistic modeling delivered in weeks instead of several months. It's shaping a smarter, more informed attribution solution as well as our long-term marketing planning and allocation strategies.

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And then there's AI. While not necessarily old in the context of marketing, it will truly shape our future. We will inevitably have many false starts with AI over the next few years, but soon enough, it will become the true foundation of our marketing efforts, accurately making decisions for the better of our brands that will allow us to truly build relationships with customers, not just transactions. It's going to be amazing, and we will trial and error our way to finding the right equation as we go. Then we'll do it again after everything changes—in three to six months.

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