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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

62 Thriving Through Marketing Changes - Greg Stuart

This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Greg Stuart of MMA Global joins Tim and Erik to discuss how organizations can not only survive but thrive through the ever-changing and challenging marketing landscape.

Studies that MMA Global has conducted show that marketers aren’t very satisfied with marketing within organizations and that there are so many difficulties facing the field today. Greg explains, “So, we in marketing don't even really like marketing, or don't like the marketing that we're either made to do, forced to do, or are doing. There are so many challenges. I don't know. Boy, I mean, better incrementally, but not nearly as far as I think we need to be or I'd want to be to be a real profession, to be predictable, to be trusted by the rest of the C-Suite, to get bigger budgets because we're having more influence on the impact of the organization. That we're no longer using things like likes to explain how well we're doing in marketing, you know, all the other metrics that we kind of get into. We've got a long way to go.”

Data continues to be one of the best indicators of whether or not marketing strategies are improving brand success and marketers must rely more on those numbers. Greg says, “As an individual marketer, I would strongly urge you to take a little bit less on your hunch, a little bit less on your intuition, if you can, and try to study the data and the insights and the facts and the research that makes sense.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how businesses can productively navigate the constantly changing marketing environment.

About the Guest:

Greg Stuart is the CEO of the MMA Global (MMA), the leading global media trade group focused on architecting the future of marketing, which is increasingly spearheaded by mobile. Over the past 7+ years, Greg has transformed the once-bankrupt association, attracting major marketers and media/tech company leaders to lock arms and advance the marketing industry.

Greg and team have tripled the organization’s revenues, energized its 800+ member companies globally, and there are now nearly 60 MMA team members in 15 countries. His Board includes CMO’s from Marriott, Uber, Dunkin Brands, Walmart, Samsung, Chobani, and dozen and half others, plus senior execs from Facebook, Google, Twitter, SNAP and more.

Greg is a long-standing marketing industry thought-leader on the future of marketing that is either mobile dominant or influenced by mobile’s new connected dynamics. Two of his three decades in marketing have focused purely on digital and emerging technology. He has served as CMO, CRO in addition to CEO at companies across the media landscape such as Y&R, Sony Online Ventures, and Flycast Ad Network (IPO’d 1999) and more. He also turned around and built the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the trade group for interactive advertising. There are IABs in more than three dozen countries. Also, in the last ten years, Greg has invested in and advised CEOs of two dozen venture-backed businesses, which have now transacted for well over $2.5 billion.

In addition to being a sought-after international speaker (Jakarta to London to Buenos Aires to Shanghai) and a member of the National Speakers Association, Greg is the co-author of What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds, which was recognized by AdAge as the as the No. 1 book of the “10 books you should have read”.

Industry authorities have awarded Greg for his work as a pioneer in emerging media. In 2006, AdAge selected Greg as part of the “10 Who Made Their Mark” alongside Jay-Z and Chad Hurley (YouTube) and he is a regular contributor to leading publications for his views on the future of marketing.


Tim Curtis: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to this edition of The Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm your co-host, Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

Erik Martinez: And I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: Today on the show, we're welcoming Greg Stuart, the CEO of MMA Global. That's a non-profit trade association that's redefined the global media trade landscape. They're championing a mobile-centric approach to marketing. Under his stewardship, MMA has witnessed a tripling in revenue, expanded its global presence now with over 800 member companies, and attracted a high-profile board from major corporations and tech giants.

Greg's extensive three-decade [00:01:00] career in marketing with a deep focus on digital and emerging technology includes significant growth achievement at entities like the Interactive Advertising Bureau and strategic guidance over two dozen venture-backed firms. An esteemed international speaker and coauthor of What Sticks, his pioneering contributions to emerging media have garnered him the notable recognition, including a spot in AdAge's "10 Who Made Their Mark." Welcome on, Greg. Good to have you.

Greg Stuart: Hey, Tim. Hey, Erik. Nice to be here.

Tim Curtis: We'll start out here, kind of like to get just a little snapshot of your history before we jump into some of those questions. So, if you want to kind of give the listeners a little sense of who you are and your story.

Greg Stuart: Sure. Sure. Sure. And if I can, Tim, I'm going to pivot the MMA just a little bit, so people know where I come from. MMA Global is the organization, it was called the Mobile Marketing Association when I took it over. That was a failing trade group. We have since dropped mobile though completely. But I'll tell you, it's interesting what happened.

I was in trying to advance the application by marketers of mobile, right? That was the mission. We started to realize that mobile wasn't the problem or even [00:02:00] really the challenge. It was integrating almost anything new into the marketing mix. It was getting to respond in some regards to the speed at which consumers were adopting technologies, mobile phone apps in this case, and it led us to a bunch of bigger issues.

So, what MMA does now is that we are really heavy in areas of measurement. We have the most advanced thinking in marketing measurement there is in the world. I guarantee it. I'll tell you about that if you want. We can tie marketing organizational decisions down to actual financial performance of the company. I can tell you what changes are good and what changes are bad. We do a lot of work in data customer experience. Just in the last year, we launched the AI Leadership Coalition. It's the largest collection of marketers working to advance AI applications.

So, that's just the organization. We're here to make marketers and CMOs stronger. At the end of the day, I side with the marketers. I work for the marketers. I have nothing to sell. I don't sell consulting service or anything else. I'm just trying to help the industry be better. Most of my career was out of either New York or San Francisco, 10, 12, some odd years or so in agencies as an agency media [00:03:00] guy, mostly working like a P&G business.

And then I got to run the interactive group for Young & Rubicam, which kind of launched me into digital. I've been digital the last 25 years. I was part of the team that launched I've launched other businesses. I have a big history in angel investing, as you mentioned. And three decades is a little light on how long I've been doing it, but I don't have to cover that off.

Tim Curtis: It's all numbers, right?

Greg Stuart: It's just numbers, exactly. Thank you. Good. But no, it's good to be here with you guys.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, good. Well, kind of stating off, one of the things you've kind of alluded to and kind of talked around but is that marketing evolution. Obviously, you've got extensive experience in that digital to mobile emergent technologies. What do you see next as either a platform or a technology that you believe will be transforming the landscape and impacting marketers, and then how do they prepare for that?

Greg Stuart: Listen, the greatest revolution is gonna be AI. There's just no question about it. That's the most important thing that ever happened, and I'll give it just a small bit of context of that. So, I actually am old enough that I started in business and in the agency world in New York when there [00:04:00] were only a couple of PCs in all floors of all offices.

But here's the thing, PCs started in 1981. Thirteen years later, the web is introduced by Mark Andreessen and Mosaic at the time. Thirteen years after that, 2007, it was a smartphone. Everything runs in 13-year cycles and the 13-year cycle in 2020 is AI. So, although we're all lit up, I mean, you know, MMA has been looking at AI since the twenties. Most of my people have been around it much longer than that, the people we brought on board. But until 2033 AI is the most important thing we're going to see and probably more changing than anything we've ever seen. Just, it's unbelievable what's going to happen there.

Tim Curtis: It's unbelievable how fast it's iterating.

Greg Stuart: I agree.

Tim Curtis: Erik and I go to MAICON, the marketing AI conference that's held every year in Cleveland. It's just astonishing to me the changes that occur between one conference to the next.

Greg Stuart: Yeah. It almost feels like even from one couple of weeks to the next, that the whole world kind of shifts in the landscape. We really got so much to sort out. Listen, I think in part two, that's a little bit kind of the evolution is just how fast things are coming at us in the world. [00:05:00] But the people I talk to, most of my board believe that the area of the business that would be most affected by AI is gonna be marketing and or sales.

Marketing needs to remake. I mean, that's kinda the point of the MMA. So, we're happy for it, but boy, it's a little intense how much is going on out there.

Erik Martinez: Greg, let's dig into AI for a few more minutes. What are the areas that you think AI will have the most impact? I have clients asking me every day, how do we deploy AI? We're still learning, right? We're still learning how to deploy AI. You know, everybody's like, use it for writing and use it for all these basic use cases. And over the last six or seven months, you know, I'm hearing a change in the tone, at least in people I talked to.

We really need to think about it, what do we want this thing to do from a marketing perspective? What do we really want to be able to accomplish? Because I think one of the points that you make in your podcast, and, you know, I've been reading a little bit of your book, kind of connect what we do [00:06:00] to the performance of the company. Where does AI help us bring those connections together? What's your current thinking on that?

Greg Stuart: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a good question. My job is, in part, is to sort of help kind of framework some of this stuff so that markers can kind of quickly, my members can get a quicker handle on things, just to your point there. And I do agree, we really don't know the answers yet. I was talking to my board the other day and I said, what revolutionized mobile at some level was certainly the app store, but it was things like Uber that just transformed everything and nobody could see that coming. I don't think we've seen the Uber for AI yet. I'm not sure that ChatGPT is. I think it's an early indicator, but it doesn't have the practicality yet. But back to your question.

So, we tend to classify AI, just to keep it manageable, into three different areas of advantage. One is where it produces efficiency, which I think we're all starting to understand if you like me have written a press release using AI or done copy or any other things. We're doing a little bit of repositioning thinkwork on MMA, and we were able to take 12 one-hour conversations, just distill them down through AI just in a couple of minutes. I mean, that's amazing. I mean, I got good [00:07:00] research people, but that would have been hard to do.

So, one is around efficiency. The second one is around stuff that boosts performance of marketing, and the third are game-changing ideas. And I don't know that we have the game-changing yet. We see some of it. There's one that we're doing now, we have a thing called consortium for AI personalization. And it started as a product to say, well, what would be the impact? A lot of what MMA does, a lot of experiments and tests, and research to validate things.

So, what would happen if we were to personalize ads, but just using contextual signals? So, it's kind of in light of the deprecation of cookies. Is there a way to get around? Could we still personalize ads? Could we still deliver the value that we think we're aiming for as marketers?

The very first study we did came back and said that we could boost the performance and I'll tell you it was for Kroger's, I can tell you that. That boosted campaign performance plus 259 percent. I mean, I remember when the research guy did it. He's a pretty famous research guy. He's just brilliant. And he called me. He says, Greg, he goes, it's really unbelievable. It's plus 259%. I go, that's not, I go, that's not believable. He [00:08:00] goes, no, that's what I said. It's unbelievable because I don't believe it. I did the research. So, I think we're still trying to fingure that out.

Next study, by the way, was plus 137%. The next study was plus 188. The other study was zero, by the way. That was because, that one was for GM, it's because they didn't personalize the ads sufficiently. They did red car, blue car, didn't matter. Nobody cared. So, we're still learning a bunch of ways. I think it's revolutionary. I've never seen those kinds of gains on it. So, I think that's the beginning.

And some people know some people don't pay attention, Facebook, took a bit of a dive in their stock price over the last couple of years. We all saw it. It was all around sort of when Apple took away their ability to track people in the way that they were used to. Well, Facebook, if you haven't noticed is back at their original stock price. They've made the claims that they did it through AI. They basically rethought how they were personalizing.

And so, the cookie thing doesn't really matter. There's a much better way for us to be doing this than just data and personalization. So, I think it's things like that that we're just now, I think, just starting to understand. And I can give a bunch of other examples, but that gives you some sense of it, Erik. I'd be curious what you guys see out there though for AI, Erik. It sounds like you've been [00:09:00] really paying attention.

Erik Martinez: Yes. We have a pretty good focus in the paid search industry, so running paid search accounts and as you know, Google has rolled out their version of AI.

Greg Stuart: Google has been doing AI forever in search. I mean, that's like not new information, right? Yeah.

Erik Martinez: Right. But what's different today is three years ago, the practitioners, us, right? We still pulled a lot of the levers and dials and stuff. And Google, to a certain extent, has pulled that away and given us a new set of levers and dials. And that new set, we were just talking about it in an earlier meeting today is about what signals, what tools, what can you feed the AI to do a better job of connecting the dots to deliver better ad performance?

As our team has been experimenting and trying and doing this, what we're seeing is significant gains in performance over the way we were doing it before. And it might be as simple thing as feeding better [00:10:00] images to the campaign. Giving better assets, better creative, adding more content to pages is helping us with performance.

So, that's kind of one of the things that we're seeing in terms of data. One of my team members said the other day but, you know, Erik, one of the challenges that we still run into, and this is something I think you talk about a lot too is data cleanliness. When I graduated from college, one of my first jobs was working on an AI, early AI project on a neural network.

The idea was that they wanted to predict which ads to use, but they had the dirtiest data in the world. We could never get the data organized from a system that was built in the 1960s, right? We could never get enough good, clean data out of it to feed the AI enough so that it could learn basic patterns. You're working with some really, really large brands. Are they still running into that same basic problem? Is it a data cleanliness problem, or is it that we can't connect enough [00:11:00] data points together to drive AI performance in marketing?

Greg Stuart: It's a good question. MMA runs a survey, last couple of years around data maturity. What's interesting about one of the big takeaways from the most recent version of that is that we realized that, I'm a little from memory on this one, but I think there's like 13 different measures of what constitute roll up to data privacy, only one of which is privacy. The rest of them are really around sort of the ingestation, cleanliness of data, and a whole series of other things at a corporate level.

And what we notice is that in the second wave that we did this study, there had been no improvements to the study we had done amongst marketers two years prior. So, I don't know that I can explain to you why we're stymied around that and why we're not doubling down, especially now, like, I think, Erik, what you're saying, right? It's like in the age of AI, right? We have to be better at that because our output's only gonna be as good as that input. I don't have a magic answer.

We just added a company to the board, Ampurity, Barry Paget, and company [00:12:00] there. And I think we're really hopeful that they can help us work with marketers to figure out how we accelerate some of that because it's so important to the kind of work that marketers have to, it was important before AI, right? It's the backbone of customer experience. It's the backbone of more effective advertising, search, as you mentioned too, you know?

So, I don't have a good answer for it yet. I guess I'd even ask your listeners, if somebody out there thinks they have the answer about how we help markers get better at this, I'm open ears. Write me, get ahold of me, and let's see what we can do to kind of come up with some industry initiatives because it's going to slow our role here in marketing completely if we don't get that fixed.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. We gotta get out in front of it. It does sort of go back to the data. You know, the data's the foundation. I chair a privacy committee in Washington and the focus is on getting a federal privacy bill. One of the things that with the degradation of the cookies and all that rich data that's been used to do ad targeting, with that going away, AI is coming at the point in time where it's not going to have access to [00:13:00] the kind of data that it needs to refine itself and to refine the algorithms.

So, when folks are engaging in AI algorithmic pay-per-click targeting, it's not what it was. Facebook, for example, it's no longer a targeting tool. It just doesn't have the mechanisms anymore to do that. It doesn't have those insights that are tracking everything. So, we'll have to adjust our role. But again, we're gonna have to find other sources of data. You mentioned that earlier.

Data, data-driven strategies, those are things that have always been there, and you were just mentioning that. Back in the day when we were dealing with database marketing, and we were really looking to refine and target. It was all about those strategies and you all have to be focusing on that. It's constant throughout your site. It's in the podcast, et cetera.

So, what I'm always intrigued with is there's the main elements of data strategy, right? It's the transactional history. Let's take an E-commerce brand. It's a transactional history. It's maybe the channel activity, et cetera.

One of the things that I think would be interesting for the listening [00:14:00] audience is, is there an area of data, data-driven strategy that maybe they're not thinking about, something that could be very key in terms of unlocking propensity to buy, you know, do some kind of a next step?

Greg Stuart: It's a good question. And I'll be quite frank with you. I don't have the answer and I don't know that my members have the answer on this yet. And it's along the lines, I think part of the tone that Erik took. Which is, you know, we're ingesting so much data, but are we doing it the right way?

You know, it's very funny. There was a dumb project we did a few years ago. It was kind of an interesting reaction we got from the industry. We did a MTA multi-touch attribution, MTA data map. I'll go one step back on what happened to that project. So, we were trying to help marketers ingest MTA. I'm a big fan of MTA. It was me and a guy named Rex Briggs, Rex did the mechanics of that, the research around, you know, created the methodology and I, and I helped popularize it in the marketplace.

We were trying to help understand, like, what analytical techniques all these MTA companies using. Funny story to that, we interviewed 19, got into real details of 19 MTA providers. They used 25 different analytical techniques. We can't even [00:15:00] agree on, is it single propensity modeling? There's a bunch of different statistical techniques you could use. They didn't agree. So, that was problematic.

But what we found is that people didn't really even know just how to pull the data together to do that. This is about six years ago. If you search for it in Google, you'd find it, MMA's MTA data map, you'll see these. But it was just a wheel that we put together to say this is where data comes from.

What makes that interesting is that I've talked to a bunch of people who are running MTA, set up of multi-touch attribution, or their maintenance of multi-touch attribution technologies in their shop. They say, I have it on my wall in my office and it's the main diagram we use to talk about how we're going to make things better. But it's still not good and all those data linkages break all the time and they don't get the data fast enough. They don't get the results. I mean, it feels so gargantuan.

I appreciate you guys asking me for the answer and you're right, I am the group who should have the answer to that. I just think we're realizing that it's bigger than we could have imagined where we're going to go. And I do have a data think tank that is tackling this and other issues like it. But we're just not that far along.[00:16:00] I don't have a magic answer on the thing is what do we do except to just continue to plug away at it.

Erik Martinez: You know, I've been part of some attribution projects in the past, probably smaller scale than some of the things that you've done. But one of the things that frustrates me about that process is that Tim likes to use a phrase, you lead with your own bias. Every attribution project I've ever been in leads with somebody's bias. Whoever's leading the project has a set of opinions about what's important or not, and there doesn't seem to be any scientific mechanism for coming up with the rules of attribution. It's a thorny problem that you're right, at some point we have to solve.

Greg Stuart: I think we have gotten pretty far along on the attribution. I don't know if we've validated against real market results. I'd like to see us do more of that as an industry to be sure, but I do feel like we've gotten pretty good. By the way, we run another survey that we've been doing now for eight years on attribution. When we started it, 24% of marketers of large scale [00:17:00] marketers, large enterprise marketers had multi-touch attribution in-house, right?

Everybody uses MMM, which I have a lot of questions about whether or not it's validity, and so do the marketers I talked to, but whatever. The problem was that the net promoter score for MTA solutions, on average, over all of them, negative 35%. Ouch. Now, the semi-good news is that we know in the most recent survey we did, it was probably a year old at this point, that MTA is 52% of large-scale marketers. The marketers move forward. And the really good news is the net promoter score has gone down to just a negative 10%. So, hey, hurrah, hurrah, we're better.

But I think it gets to the issue you're saying is that we're just not good at creating these linkages and pulling it together in a way that we can get a holistic view. And I think we also run into trouble is too, because then we don't agree on where it really needs to be measured. I'm gonna say something that's probably iffy if you have a real strong search background, which I don't, so I'm gonna respect you may have a different point of view here.

But using things like last-click attribution, really bad. Really bad. I mean, I still hear too many marketers, they'll say things like they don't use it, but when you look deeper, they all are. [00:18:00] The research is on, I've done a lot of this research, is there was no relationship between last click and sales.

Now in search, I wanna be a little careful 'cause they're sometimes doing sort of immediacy to a purchase. So, there are cases in E-commerce where I think there is a good linkage, but as a general rule, there's no relationship. And yet it's still the number one thing we do. And by the way, I wrote the global click guidelines for the entire industry. Those technical guidelines came from me in 2004 we've released that. What a shame.

Erik Martinez: Yeah, last-click attribution is definitely fraught with a lot of pitfalls. Right. We make assumptions based on it. It is totally misleading. And for brands that don't have large budgets, it may be all they're left with. Right?

Greg Stuart: Yeah, yeah, exactly. They really do need to find some better metrics deeper into the funnel that they can sort of, you know, figure out, I would just be really cautious about calling success there or thinking that you've really built a business.

Tim Curtis: I think we have to build awareness around the attribution. Having spent some time in the SaaS world, SaaS organizations like the last click attribution because it boosts their revenue [00:19:00] allocation. So, it looks like they're driving a larger share of it. So, what we have is we have a conflicting interest.

Marketers need to know, if I have a dollar to spend, where am I going to spend it? Where's that return coming from? What's the true lifetime value of this? What's the incremental value between channels or combination of set channels? So, until we can push back on those SaaS organizations to not use that as a measurement or to just flatly deny, you know, we're going to recognize that as a KPI, I just don't think we can.

Greg Stuart: It's amazing. You guys want to hear a really good story. So, I had a major retailer. The first letter starts with B. I'll give you that. Major retailer, big, big, big, big. CMO called me about a year and a half ago, and he said, Greg, is there a quality standard for marketing measurement?

I says, I'm a marketing measurement and I actually don't know if I know right off the top of my head the answer to that, and I know there's no standard. But I said, but why do you ask? He said, my CFO and my head of merchandising are telling me that I must use the last click attribution. And I said, well, [00:20:00] you can tell him from me, I'm a qualified expert. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That's bad. That's bad, bad, bad for the business. Don't do it.

But, you know, we didn't have another answer. Now, MMA, by the way, has developed, I wouldn't call it a standard. I want to be a little careful because we've not pushed it to a standard level, but in some regards, it sort of gets that. And the answer is incrementality to that question, and we've now documented that in a whole series of papers on MMA's website. To your guys' point, I think what you're saying, right, that we've got to move the whole industry to be better for our own credentialization and credibility, right?

Erik Martinez: I'm a data geek. So this conversation is right up my alley, but let's pivot a little bit. Back in the early two thousands, you wrote well, I guess it was mid-thousands, a book called What Sticks. I haven't read the whole book yet, but I have a hunch that some of the learnings from then still apply today. Pre-show, we were talking about the idea that MMA believes that marketing is failing. So, let's dive into that topic a little bit. Why is marketing failing today? And we just talked about the measurement piece. What other [00:21:00] areas is marketing failing and what can we do to improve?

Greg Stuart: Okay. MMA does a big event now in Miami in April called Possible. We wanted to consolidate the whole of the marketing industry, kind of to the point you guys are making interesting enough, which is that my job is to improve all of marketing and all marketers. And so, we needed to create a big event that we could invite the entire marketing industry to join us then. So, I opened that event last year with a statement, one's the statement position, one's a point of view, and the other one is a fact.

I opened that and said, I believe, and I'm a marketer for, as you mentioned, over three decades, so I think I've seen it at all. I've worked with very big marketers, some of the most sophisticated markers out there. And I opened it with saying that I believe the marketing industry is no further along, no better off than where the medical profession was in the mid-1800s when they thought bloodletting was a good idea when they thought that the thing that cured you was bloodletting. Now you don't know George Washington and our own president, first president, died of bloodletting. You know, it was killing people.

So, in regards, maybe the problem with marketing is we're [00:22:00] not killing enough people to know that we've got to change. We'll leave that up to the listeners to kind of assess if that's the issue.

Erik Martinez: A little morbid, Greg.

Greg Stuart: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Sorry. Well here, it's not going to get more morbid, but I'm going to give you a worse data point. The way in part I backed up that data point too, is that we've done a lot of work in marketing in Oregon. It's a whole nother story here, but. One of the data points we've collected in that work around marketing work from now upwards of 15, 1600 people, we've come up with a marketing department NPS.

Okay, would you recommend your marketing department to a friend or colleague, right? That's basic for what an NPS gets at, right? Now, you can't tell if that's the company, the marketing department, the CMO, or marketing itself in the way that question could ask, you couldn't hear there, right? But you know. The net promoter score for marketing departments, as I mentioned, then was negative 2%.

So, we in marketing don't even really like marketing, or don't like the marketing that we're either made to do, forced to do, or are doing. There's so many challenges. So, to your core question there, you know, where are we? I don't know. Boy, I mean, better incrementally, but not nearly as far as I think we need to be or [00:23:00] I'd want to be to be a real profession, to be predictable, to be trusted by the rest of the C-Suite, to get bigger budgets because we're having more influence on the impact of the organization. That we're no longer using things like likes to explain how well we're doing in marketing, you know, all the other metrics that we kind of get into. We've got a long ways to go.

Erik Martinez: I think some of that might be a confluence of too many interests, different interests, different objectives in organizations. We work with some smaller organizations and we work with some midsize organizations. The one thing I can see within that client base where there's smaller teams and stuff, and you think you'd have more alignment. The reality is we don't see alignment, an agreement on what success looks like in many, many cases.

My opinion is that until clients and businesses agree and align on what their core mission is and what they're really trying to accomplish, the marketing departments[00:24:00] are really, really getting tossed and turned by all the different competing interests. Because the CFO wants them to do things this way. The merchandising team wants them to do this way. The creative team has their own thoughts.

I feel like IT is also like this, right? You have a couple of departments in the company that get all the scrutiny because all the competing interests and everything we do is customer-facing, so everybody has an opinion. I feel like that's one of the challenges that we're facing as a profession and that we have to a certain extent, realize all these other parts of the business are constituents. But we need to bring them to alignment so that we can actually accomplish the mission that we're setting out to do.

Greg Stuart: In our marketing org work, we have said, I think a variation of that is that marketing is no longer managing a function, it's managing a coalition. And we do have a big challenge in that many others in this C-Suite or beyond all do, your listeners can't see, but I'm putting up a little air quotes here, they're doing marketing as a side hustle. Because you're right, [00:25:00] everybody's got an opinion about marketing. It's not often helpful to the process.

When we wrote What Sticks, What Sticks was basically on Rex Briggs and my experience in founding multitouch attribution and trying to push that new measurement technology through the industry. That's where the book came from. And one of our conclusions we made at the time, and it's not a scientific number, we could do the math. We calculated the advertising business about 300 billion in the US at a time, and we assumed that about 115 billion of it was wasted. There's still a problem. I don't know that we've gotten much better.

And I think marketing, I will say in marketers' defense, I think the business has gotten so much more complicated today. It's so complicated. I mean, how you assess a TikTok? experience ad from, you know, just in the simplest way from Pinterest, from Facebook, from, you know, Google search and how you pull all that together. Then you throw on streaming with, you know, I mean, there's just so much going on with data and not without data.

It has gotten, I think, really hard. I do think though, if you were to ask me today, I would say that there's two main problems that I see. Again, we do a lot of research. I work with a team of academics. We [00:26:00] go in to try to realign their org for improved sales, which we can do now. We can tell you what improvements in organizational design or what change in organization design will improve sales. That's a revolutionary idea, but we can measure that and account for it.

Fit of capabilities to marketing strategy, that's what you're looking for. You can measure that. Okay. What we find though, is that the marketers they don't agree on the mission. We never even get to this sort of measurement idea because we never get alignment on mission first.

So, that's part of where we are. I do think that also too, back to my comment about the medical profession, if you read the Hippocratic Oath, it says a variation of that, you know, we will focus on science standing on the shoulders who built science before us. I'm not articulating that right, but it's, it's close enough for a concept here. And I don't know that we in marketing really have that kind of professionalism yet.

And so, I am concerned that we as marketers, myself included, we're not properly trained or schooled. Like I usually like to ask people this, I go, can you articulate the three main growth strategies in the [00:27:00] world today? Most marketers don't know them. We've done surveys, we know that those at the top of the organization see this marketing strategy, different than what the middle tier sees, like we've been able to measure that within the same organization. I don't know. Boy, if my organization is out to fix marketing, I think I'm going to be very busy for a very long time. we're just not as good as market as we should be. There we go. I'll use that.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. Yeah. You've talked about, you know, your mission is really focused around improving marketing, you know, improving that productivity, that output, the impact of that marketing. You know, you mentioned an org redesign as one particular process that you can engage in to boost, whether it's productivity, the impact, et cetera.

You can either expand on that and maybe help the listener understand a little bit more about what you mean by that or org redesign or there could be other things that maybe are equally as important or maybe they need to be the precedent of a reorganization, has to be done before maybe you can engage some of these just. Talk a little bit about what that looks like when you're [00:28:00] engaging these companies on improvements.

Greg Stuart: So, just to kind of frame that, Tim, a good question is just, the MMA is kind of on a constant hunt for areas that we can collectively do work with a body of marketers to do experiments often to try to build our knowledge and opportunity to find new things. We're constantly looking for new. Most everything we do has never been done before. Now, I think what you kind of just asked me is if we were to do one thing or you know, what's the hierarchy of the things that we should go fix in order to make marketing better.

Tim Curtis: It's really not so much, looking for that one silver bullet, but is there a hierarchy, and is that hierarchy you can't fix B until you get A working properly?

Greg Stuart: Listen, that's a brilliant question and I do think the MMA probably should do some work to try to figure that out and map out the hierarchy of how change is going to happen. I think that'd be a good idea. I've just not gotten to that sort of level yet. We're doing some pretty interesting work in a bunch of areas. We now understand the relationship between brand and performance marketing. I'm starting to get data in that tells me if you invest into brand campaigns today, what that will [00:29:00] deliver in sales over time. That question has never been known.

And I will tell you the number one question I get from CMOs, the number one issue I hear from them, a hundred percent of CMOs tell me there's an issue internally. What's the relationship between long and short-term, between performance and brand marketing? How do I optimize against those? And there has to date been no methodology. We built a methodology about four years ago. We raised two and a half million dollars and we were in field now getting insights.

And by the way, the answer is, is that investment in a hundred dollars gained in sales today from brand, we see two different data points. One is Kroger's and one is a Ally Bank. We're seeing sales, additional sales over time that we can track in the way we do that either plus a hundred. So a hundred dollars today, 150 plus dollars, $140 actually is what the number was over nine to 12 months, or plus $550 in incremental sales over time from that brand one brand campaign. That's kind of cool. Now, we never knew that that's the information in the CFO needs to know.

 You mentioned the marketing org work, you know, that we've done. I think the marketing org work that we're doing will be the most revolutionary thing that I'll ever be involved in. The MMA global board has worked with a team of professors, Dr. Omar [00:30:00] Rodriguez at Emory University, Dr. Neil Morgan at, he moved to university, I think it's Wisconsin now, and then Sundar Begawatch at Georgia University have been sort of the key professors working on trying to understand, what changes in org will best reduce financial performance.

Greg Stuart: And by the way, it's not the thing that most marketing orgs are about. It's not the decentralized decision question that many marketers focus on their orgs doesn't make any difference. Insourcing, outsourcing, it makes no difference to the financial performance. They've now run the quantitative metrics on that and know that for a fact. What does drive most of that is capability fit to strategy, which they've now built a measurement tool to go do.

It's kind of what you guys are saying, there's just a bit of a crisis going on with the marketing. It's gotten so hard. It's changed so radically from where it was before and now we've got more change with AI. I don't know how we sort of keep up and get to solve that, except to try to chunk off little pieces of that. So, I don't have a magic answer, Tim.

Tim Curtis: There's really not one. I really don't think there is. And I think, [00:31:00] what you do tend to see are brands that are searching for something and they almost find themselves in a silver bullet or unicorn hunt, unintentionally. They're looking for one particular thing, a piece of technology, that's going to close the gap, and that may improve what they're doing, but that's usually just a small incremental step, and they're not really tackling things that are larger focus areas for the brands. And you talked about a little earlier, and I can't remember the exact phrasing you use, but, you know, marketing is now like leading a coalition, right?

Greg Stuart: Marketing is no longer leading a function, it's leading a coalition.

Tim Curtis: What we've always said is that marketing has become a field of vocational specialties. Now, because the marketing has gotten so complex, there's so many platforms, nuances to those platforms, just the strategy alone to keep up with that, not to mention running the platform, troubleshooting the platform, any place you have data coming in and out, you're going to have to keep up time on those and there's going to be those kinds of things that pop in.

So, marketing is [00:32:00] fractured in a way that it just hasn't been historically, and when you throw AI onto that, now the question is, given all this challenge that we have with the diversity and the silos that exist, sometimes there's data that's not siloed and it's flowing, but then the individuals are still siloed because they're focusing on their little piece of the pie.

One of the things that was so interesting coming out of MAICON this last year was the talk about that reorganization structure, but what does an AI marketing department look like? And so, it was that evolution, if you will, of traditional reorgs now with recognizing, like when the Internet, you know, was first starting out and companies were adopting web pages and they were getting really deep into email. That's where we are. AI will become like the Internet, pervasive everywhere, and it's going to have an impact on how marketing functions.

Greg Stuart: And Tim, if I can give you a little bit of hope on that too, by the way, and since you asked that question, follow up there. So, Dr. Omar Rodriguez and his [00:33:00] team, Omar's over at Emory University, they have now taken on the task, in fact, I don't think my board fully knows this. They have taken on the task to create the frameworks and the thinking around how to best ingest AI into the marketing org.

We'll probably be releasing some of that at the possible event in middle April in Miami. So, that will probably be the first place, and then we'll be bringing more of that out to the market. But you're right, we have to answer how to do new. Which by the way, where our marketing org came from, Coca-Cola called me about 7, 8 years ago and says, wow, we suck. We can't make any change. We're just really out of control. We don't know what to do. And you've seen their marketing department gets sort of decimated over the last few years.

But that was the thing they said, we don't know what to do. And we think it requires somebody like an MMA, sit in the middle to go figure this out for us. So, here's money and go talk to Dr. Omar. That was basically what they did. These are some pretty big questions. You're right. We just don't have answers to.

Tim Curtis: Just trying to get your head around it. I understand and I'm very empathetic for those that are leading those teams because the pressure they're under sometimes from the CEO or from the board level to figure those things out and to bring instant clarity. It's not like it [00:34:00] was,

Greg Stuart: I see it with my members, you see it with your clients and your partners, and so on. Right. It's kind of never been a more exciting time to be in marketing. It's so interesting. And I do think we're getting better and I think we're getting some of the right orientation, but I feel like we're years away from really mastering this or turning it into what I'd call a real profession. I often say that the mission of MMA is to help raise the stature and gravitas of CMOs. We got to do our jobs better with more predictability, to be more clear, to be able to interact with the rest of the organization, to have better measurement, to have better data, better insight.

By the way, not to take any of this sort of crazy creative out of the thing. I come from that, you know, New York City advertising agency. I mean, I've worked with some of the best creative people in the world at one point, and I love that and I saw the power of it, but it's not enough for the money we spend, I think. We've got to be better at the rest of the elements.

Erik Martinez: Greg, you know, as we move to close out our conversation, one more question for you. With all the things going on in marketing, it's an exciting time. It's also a frustrating time, as you [00:35:00] described. What advice would you give future marketers so that as they progress in their careers, they can get better at what they do?

Greg Stuart: Yeah. Well, listen, I certainly would suggest they listen to Digital Velocity Podcast. First order of business, right?

Tim Curtis: Absolutely.

Greg Stuart: I'm tasked with trying to fix some of these problems. You guys are very good at identifying some of the areas of vulnerability we have as an industry and what we need to go do. I don't know that I have the answer completely. As an individual marketer, I would strongly urge you to take a little bit less on your hunch, a little bit less on your intuition, if you can, and try to study the data and the insights and the facts and the research that makes sense.

There's a lot of BS research in our industry unfotunately too. It's really too bad. So, it gives a mistrust. But do your best to find the people who are trying to be honest and integrity to try to get to the right answer, to make us better, and to really learn from that. I don't know, if I'd started doing that 30-plus years ago, then maybe I'd [00:36:00] have all the knowledge today that we're talking about having.

So, at the end of the day, we've got to be more professional. You know, we've got to be more like doctors with some more predictability and knowledge and frameworks and process to what we're doing. That's part of what I think the answer lies in the long term, for over a career.

Erik Martinez: I think you're absolutely right. You know, Tim and I talk about this a lot where we certainly don't want to lead with our own virus. We need as an industry to be a little more scientific and think about the outcomes that we're trying to accomplish.

Greg Stuart: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Less bloodletting.

Erik Martinez: Quite frankly, sometimes that's hard when you're in the fray, right? Sometimes it's hard to pull yourself out of it and realize, hey, we're off course. We need to course correct right now. Thank you so much for all that valuable information. If somebody wanted to reach out, what's the best way to get in touch?

Greg Stuart: Yeah. You can reach out to me directly, my email So, just my first name, It's easy enough to find. Maybe don't reach out to me on LinkedIn. As a trade assistant, I get a lot of comments there. I'm not really good at [00:37:00] keeping up to speed on some of that. Probably just go to me direct.

Happy to connect with people and happy to help. And look at You know, we're a public entitiy. Some of it's behind a firewall for the members, but for the most part, a lot of our stuff is out there publicly. So, join the fight to do good marketing. You know, let's try to be better at this, everybody.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. Love that. Greg, thank you so much for your time today and your insights and knowledge. We really appreciate it. That's it for today's episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: And I'm Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

Erik Martinez: Have a great day, folks. [00:38:00]

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