Marketing execs, industry experts, and technology providers convened for 2-day executive summit to explore the strategies and technologies advancing branded content and audience acquisition.
It’s not news that a cornucopia of digital technologies are required to drive marketing today. That doesn’t mean that pulling all these technologies together into a well-oiled machine and providing seamless customer experiences is an easy task. In fact, it’s quite hard. Add in the nuanced challenges that content marketing introduces to the equation – from artful and scalable storytelling to savvy use of customer analytics – and you have a pretty good overview of the MarTech opportunity/conundrum many marketers are grappling with.
At the end of November, Target Marketing and Publishing Executive held the first ever FUSE Enterprise: The Convergence of Technology & Branded Content to address this topic. Hosted in Philadelphia, marketing executives from major brands, such as SAP, 3M, and American Medical Association, convened with top technology providers to share knowledge and make sense the ever-evolving MarTech stack.
The ultimate goal of the summit was to help marketers to identify the most relevant technologies to their branded content – and wider marketing — objectives in order to grow audience and drive commerce. That was accomplished through general sessions led by marketing executives and experts, boardroom discussions that explored use cases for specific technologies, and in-depth, one-on-one meetings between technologists and marketers.
Attendees responded enthusiastically to the event programming, as well as the unique format, which encouraged significant interaction between technology providers and marketers.
“I found the event to be a valuable use of time as I was able to get the final pieces I needed to move forward with several marketing projects.” — Larry Kaiser, VP of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT
“I was pleasantly surprised to find that several of the presenters/vendors had unique ways of looking at how to target content in a digital world. I had expected to come away with one or two nuggets, but I wound up with double that.” — Ginger Shimp, Senior Marketing Director, SAP
“Very informative. Great place to meet really smart folks with similar interests.” — Cathy Heckler, Vice President, Republic Bank
The conference kicked off with a keynote presentation from Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at the Content Marketing Institute and co-chair of FUSE Enterprise. Rose outlined the technology challenge all marketers face — the need to be nimble in content creation and distribution while balancing IT concerns of security and scalability of new technologies. Rose said that the need to iterate and test out new tactics is critical for modern marketers, but once a test proves successful, marketers must work with IT to formalize that technology solution and release it to the entire organization. Rose described this as a layered approach, in which marketing and IT teams collaborate differently at different stages of technology implementation.
Next, attendees heard from the keynote panel, moderated by FUSE Enterprise co-chair Ginger Conlon, which explored how marketers can work with technology vendors more effectively to overcome content marketing challenges. Leaders from BlueConic, Omeda, and Workfront advised marketers not to get distracted by the latest and greatest technologies, but deeply analyze what they need today and what they want to accomplish in the future. Panelists suggested that marketers build out specific use cases so vendors can demonstrate a proof of concept that is applicable to their businesses. This level of vetting ensures that a big-ticket technology does exactly what a publisher needs.
Day one general sessions culminated with a presentation from Bay Arinze, Ph.D, professor of management information systems at Drexel LeBow College of Business. He shared why data analytics and cognitive computing are becoming essential parts of brands’ marketing strategies. Cognitive computing incorporates machine learning, big data, data mining, and natural language processing to solve problems and gain insights about consumers. For example, cognitive computing allows brands to deliver more personalized messages to consumers. Arinze said this goes beyond merely targeting a market segment of one, but a “fraction of one” because consumers behave differently and have different needs depending on context. Cognitive computing can help marketers anticipate these different behaviors and serve up the experience a consumer is looking for, said Arinze.
Marketer Spotlights and Q&As with Peers
In the following day of programming, attendees had a chance to learn from their peers in two marketer spotlight presentations and two Q&A sessions. The marketer spotlights presented case studies on how their companies implemented a new strategy or technology to advance branded content. Nicolas Heling from Red Hat shared how the software company is using agile development methods to create content quickly and more efficiently. Red Hat implemented a workflow management tool that visualizes the content process and helps marketers stay on track. Brande Martin, head of digital standards at the American Medical Association, discussed how the AMA narrowed down its search for a new CMS and decided on a tool the fit the company’s fast redesign timeframe. The goal, said Martin, was to select a CMS that empowered AMA to roll out webpage templates more quickly and allow for greater flexibility in content creation.
Next Target Marketing editor-in-chief Thorin McGee led two Q&A sessions with SAP senior marketing director Ginger Shimp and Oracle director of CMO content & strategy Steve Olenski. Shimp shared how SAP turned a single whitepaper into over 600 pieces of content optimized for a variety of industries. The snippets led massive traffic back to the original whitepaper, allowing SAP to capture a slew of new leads. Olenski discussed how he launched a column for CMOs on Forbes and built a valuable network of marketing executives. Olenski explained how effective marketing ultimately comes down to relationships and provided tips for engaging busy c-suite audiences.
On day two, FUSE Enterprise hosted its first annual Startup Derby, which pitted emerging marketing tech startups against each other to determine who offers the most value and opportunity to marketers. The FUSE audience crowned NaviStone the startup derby champion. NaviStone tracks consumers’ on site behavior and uses those insights to retarget these consumers offline through direct mail campaigns. NaviStone personalizes the direct mail piece based on the products or content a consumer has viewed, thereby improving conversion rates.
Throughout FUSE Enterprise, attendees participated in several boardroom case studies. The case studies invited attendees and sponsors to engage in candid discussions about the sponsors’ solution and the biggest issues marketers face today. These sessions featured lively discussions and introduced attendees to new technology solutions. Attendees and sponsors were not afraid to challenge one another and the sessions spurred a slew of thoughtful side conversations about the future of branded content.
FUSE featured over one hundred pre-scheduled, one-on-one meetings between attendees and sponsors and gave both buyers and sellers the opportunity to have constructive, deep dive discussions about how a technology might be a fit for their company. Some attendees remarked that they met potential technology partners they’d otherwise been unaware of; likewise, sponsors had meaningful conversations with qualified executives possessing a real interest or need for their tech.
Ultimately, the aim of FUSE Enterprise was to connect decision makers across marketing and technology roles to generate new ideas and relationships that can spur more impactful branded content strategies. Attendees were able to conduct months’ worth of fact-finding and research in just 2 days and lay the foundation for the future of their branded content.
To learn more about sponsoring FUSE in the future, contact Matt Steinmetz (firstname.lastname@example.org).