The Intersection of Information Technology and Marketing

On Friday, October 16, your Cincinnati AMA is partnering with The Circuit, Cincinnati’s premier information technology association, to bring you a panel of leading CMOs and CIOs to talk conflict, collaboration, and what the future looks like as marketing and technology advance. Moderating the event will be Matt Nitzberg, Chief Growth Officer at ThinkVine, a marketing attribution and optimization firm based in Cincinnati.  At ThinkVine, Matt leads marketing and sales and is responsible for commercial strategy. Over his career, Matt has driven insight-led growth for brands and retailers across a wide range of categories, sectors, and countries. His expertise spans marketing, media, sales, digital, big data, analysis, and path-to-purchase understanding.

With his background, we wanted to get his insights on the blending of marketing and information technology. His input is given here.

Tell us a little about your career. We understand you’ve worked in marketing leadership for large organizations like P&G and dunnhumby — how did you find yourself there and what key learnings have you picked up along the way?

Matt: I attended the MBA program at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC Chapel Hill, and P&G recruited there. I was thrilled to receive an offer and loved the five years I spent at P&G in Brand Management. After P&G, I became a Marketing Director at Borden Foods in Columbus. During my years at P&G and Borden, I was increasingly pulled toward a specific intersection: Where a deeper understanding of consumers, shoppers, and audiences led to more effective and competitive strategies. In turn, this led me to IRI and then to dunnhumby.

My key learnings — which have been reinforced many times — are:

  1. The most consistently successful businesses have a culture which puts the consumer, shopper, and audience at the center of their thinking
  2. They rely heavily on data and insight, and
  3. They follow the data and make strategic and tactical changes to more effectively reach, engage, and activate their audience.

You’ve just recently become a part of ThinkVine. What prompted you to get on board and what kinds of things are you working on?

Matt: I left dunnhumby in June and launched a consultancy to help early-stage businesses strengthen their value propositions. I had been working with a few local start-ups when I met Damon Ragusa, ThinkVine’s CEO. I’ve always been passionate about leveraging audience insights to improve marketing results, and that’s ThinkVine’s core focus. Damon was ready to take on a full-time Chief Growth Officer to lead commercial strategy, as well as Marketing and Sales, and soon, I was on board!

ThinkVine uses a very effective, audience-based approach to help clients optimize B2C marketing effectiveness. I’m focused on getting the word out to the right people in the right way, and on creating value for clients. B2C marketing is a fast-changing space. Marketers need to ensure their strategies and tactics are effective enough to address upward pressure on growth, downward pressure on budgets, an increasingly complex media ecosystem, constant competitive jockeying, and evolving audience expectations. That’s where we come in.

We’ll get to hear from the panelists quite a bit on October 16, but what is your take on the following questions?

1. What are the key trends that are driving the closer linkage between marketing and information technology, and what kinds of challenges are those trends creating for businesses? Why is it important to address these issues now?

Matt: Larger and larger portions of marketing planning, activation, and evaluation are being driven or supported by information technology. Key drivers include the development and analysis of big data, automation in the marketing ecosystem, and technology-enabled marketing attribution and optimization.
This reliance is already in full force, and it’s going to continue. The results include both significant disruption and new opportunities. A key challenge is making sure your marketing strategies and plans remain absolutely focused on winning with your audience, while leveraging the best your technology can offer. Sometimes, marketing can become technology led, as people get carried away by apparent efficiencies offered by technology’s scale and speed.

2. How are the roles changing for CMOs and CIOs? What are the new competencies required for CMOs and CIOs and their respective organizations as marketing becomes more technology-enabled and information technology becomes more integrated with marketing? Will this mean an evolution of existing C-level roles or will new C-level roles emerge, and if so, what would those responsibilities include?

Matt: The roles of the CMO and CIO have been getting more complex and intertwined for years. This round is a bit different, due to the quantum leap in the ways technology in enabling new analytical and marketing efforts. In a rapidly changing environment, the first key competency is collaboration. The CIO needs to understand where the future of marketing is headed, and the CMO needs to understand how technology may help create additional competitive advantage. Over time, the functions will become even more integrated and additional competencies and capabilities will become required for leaders and staff.

3. What are the most critical areas of collaboration between CMOs and CIOs, and how is that collaboration managed? How is trust built in order to create a true partnership?

Matt: Collaborating to create an aligned future vision and winning strategies will set the proper foundation for effective planning and execution at all levels in their organizations. This should be an explicit aspect of each company’s long-term and annual planning, with additional periodic updates. Trust is built by spending time to consider options and implications, having open and honest conversations on trade-offs, agreeing together on the way forward, and sharing responsibility for future decisions and outcomes.

4. What does the future look like for marketing and technology? What about for CMOs and CIOs?

Matt: Consumer, shopper, and audience data will become more granular, diverse, and scaled. Marketing activation will become more addressable, for example, via targeted TV advertising. There will also be more barriers, such as the recent rise in ad blocking. All of these call for an increase in technology-supported marketing capabilities. Successful CMOs will become more expert about technology, and successful CIOs will become more expert about marketing.

As a marketer in Cincinnati, what do you think are the greatest things about working in the area?

Matt: Cincinnati is the center of the universe for consumer-, shopper-, and audience-driven marketing. Initially inspired by the CPG prowess of P&G and the retailing smarts of Kroger, a rich ecosystem of marketing services firms has flourished here, drawing top talent from all over the world. More recently, Cincinnati has become a globally-acknowledged hub for consumer-oriented start-ups, thanks to the combination of visionary entrepreneurs, savvy investors, world-class accelerators, and forward-looking clients. The people, passion, and contributions are unmatched.