Working the Core.

Working the Core.

Freaking out a little? You’re not alone. Lots of macro-economic uncertainty – Will there be a full-blown recession? How long will it last? – combined with news of calculated layoffs and cost-cutting right here in our digital marketing and ad-tech world. And all this when we were just starting to figure out which days we’d all be in the office!

In my career I’ve seen about eight of these economic pullbacks, six of them in the digital era. No one can say exactly how long, precisely how deep, or specifically which companies come out better. But I’m confident in offering one blanket prediction and one bit of universal advice.

Blanket Prediction: The future is still up and to the right. This is not some kind of end, or permanent resizing of this thing of ours. People are still going to engage in more digital behavior, marketers are still going to want more of the precision and control we create, and there are still many years of growth ahead. Don’t mistake a financial correction for a crash.

Universal Advice: Work on your core. Whether you’re an individual, a manager or a CEO, it’s a moment to focus on what is central and defensible…on what marketers will care even more deeply about in the coming years. There are a million things that are interesting (hello Metaverse, NFTs, Blockchain et al) but not that many that are essential.

  • Data that’s real. Whether it’s first or second party, marketers have made it clear that they want signals that are accurate, meaningful and recent. If you’re wondering why retail media is such a thing, wonder no more.
  • Video that’s relevant, accessible and actionable. It was never about TV; it was always about sight/sound/motion. Have a point of view and a position here. And don’t overcomplicate it. There’s a huge immediate need here and it’s not going away.
  • Be a headcount and braincount provider. What was already a challenge – short staffing – just got worse. Instead of giving clients multiple options and choices and more and more complexity, help them to do more with fewer of their own people.
  • Don’t be in the ad business: be in their business. If you are “selling advertising” you are a cost to be managed and negotiated down. If you are aligned with the success of a sale or a key customer promotion or a product launch, you are essential infrastructure to be relied upon.

There's more, but for now let’s all get back to work. Every minute spent at the virtual water cooler talking about how worried we are (I’m talking to you Slack!) is a minute we’re not creating essential value for marketers. And that’s not a minute any of us can afford to waste.