Jim DeLash is Director, Multi Channel Marketing Execution, at GlaxoSmithKline US, and a judge on the channel integration panel for Warc's Media Awards.
The following interview was undertaken by Lucy Aitken, who is case study editor at Warc.com.
What is your take on the role of comms planning versus creative planning?
In the US, a lot of media agencies split from creative agencies and they are more disparate than ever. The media agency has its own role and the creative team have their own role and they have to be connected. Yet more than ever, it's up to the client more to make sure they actually are connected. You need the right creative message but context is coming up more in conversation: what exactly is the recipient's state of mind when they're viewing content? For instance, I commute on the train every day and see ads that people cannot see unless they are sitting in the first row. Clearly they are ads that have been designed for another channel which have been turned into ads for the train. But even if an ad gets my attention, I won't be able to see the shortcode or the web address to put it into my phone when there's a herd of people getting out. That's inefficient because that's a captive audience.
What criteria do you use to assess an emerging platform? Who makes the decision to use an emerging platform, your organisation or your agency?
Me or someone on my team. In the pharma market, there are a lot of limitations when considering new platforms - for instance, being able to present our safety information in a visible way. We will try a lot of different things because we are marketing to physicians who are very busy yet digitally savvy and use a lot of different channels. We will test and measure campaigns, although we're trying to get away from individual channel ROIs because media is so intertwined.
Should comms planning adapt to become mobile first?
Definitely, although we are not there yet. We haven't figured out the best way to communicate with our audience mobile first. 82% of physicians have smartphones and they're on them constantly, but they also don't want ads from us on there all the time. We haven't figured out the right way yet - how you advertise on different channels needs to change.
What will future media agencies look like? How do they need to adapt?
Customer segmentation is going to become more critical than ever. I remember from my experience on the consumer side that you get these catchy definitions of "dabblers" or "hardcore enthusiasts". Media can be so much more targeted now so we are looking to identify people much more specifically. That means a campaign might have multiple approaches because particular segments are going to be so reachable. In the past there was much more inefficiency but the way the media world is going you can do more segmentation than ever and media plans should be more segmented.
How does 'moment marketing' change the nature of comms planning?
My analogy here is stock market investments. Sometimes the best success is riding it out, not selling too fast. In media, if you over-react too quickly to a day of bad response you won't learn anything. The challenge is: how long do you let something build up? Within a medium, you've got to get some frequency and build up some awareness before you can start seeing clicks or opens. Leave it a couple of weeks as opposed to a couple of days and it's going to be different.
Do you think that real time comms planning presents too much of a temptation to change campaigns?
There's a definite risk. Say if, on Monday, you noticed that your search performance is below what it normally is. Maybe there was some event over the weekend that caused that - perhaps a TV programme broadcast an exposé on your category. There might be a slight decrease, a blip that you have to wait out or something else that has distracted the audience. You need to smooth out any of the false positives or false negatives. Timing is important. If you change stuff every day what are you really learning except that when your clicks are down you change something?
What is your organisation's content strategy?
I keep saying context, that's the word of the day! We try to use all the different channels in a campaign to almost stand on their own in terms of what content is in there. For instance, if we're going to market to a physician on their smartphone, that email shouldn't be as comprehensive as it is today - it would be about 10-15 screens long on their phone! So we want to start developing shorter bits of information and then let the website do the work in terms of featuring safety information and so on. So email or mobile gets the doctor interested and, if they want to find out more, they can go to the website.
Can you cite an example of how data helped you or your agency uncover a surprising insight that informed future comms planning?
The biggest thing we've seen over the last few years - which the data has shown and which we would not have guessed - is that our audience of physicians can absorb a much higher frequency of messaging than we had previously thought. So we have made a trade-off, reducing our reach to get frequency. We will trade off not reaching 40% of that market and support the frequency that we need because with less frequency we don't have the input that we need. That has been corroborated by multiple GSK brands. I continue to be amazed at that. We send out a lot of emails in a campaign and the open rates don't decline as much as I would have expected. Every time we test it, it's double the email and double the print and direct mail and significant changes in frequency. It is more effective to do more for us - our response rates go up but the cost per engagement goes down. 90% of the audiences we go to we still haven't hit peak frequency numbers and all these markets are very crowded. But if you think about it: if you were in a crowded restaurant trying to get the attention of the maître d', if you pull back you're going to be lost in the crowd. Two years ago, there's no way anyone in the company would have thought of tripling the amount of content that we put out but that's where we are right now, developing more content.