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“VivaKi Enables Empowered Marketing for an Empowered Age”

VivaKi CEO Frank Voris

VivaKi CEO Frank Voris

Marketers know that digital media is all set to steal the show in today’s always-on business world and digital technologies will soon ring the death knell for traditional ways of marketing.

Still, most don’t have a grip on the subtleties of digital marketing and continue to live in a confused hybrid domain where they’re trying to apply traditional marketing techniques in the modern, digitally driven world. That won’t work. Change is required.

And VivaKi (a global digital communications organization set up by the Publicis Groupe) is driving that change – the change that will redefine the ways brands talk to the buyers, the change that will usher in a seismic shift in the marketing paradigm, and the change that is supposed to be led by fresh mindsets.

To know more about this imminent change, RMN Digital invited VivaKi CEO Frank Voris to discuss the finer nuances of digital brand communications and marketing. Here he discusses an array of relevant aspects in an exclusive interview with Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Digital.

Here’s the interview.

1. In today’s technology-driven business world, is digital marketing inevitable for brands that want to grow. If yes, why?

Yes. It is not just inevitable, it is essential. We live in an empowered age where people are expressing, transacting, sharing, entertaining, discovering and using the connection engine—which is how we refer to the internet—to do so.

They are interacting with content across glass devices (Google glasses, iWatches, Xbox, phones, TV, tablet). Channels like video, audio, social, mobile and display are collapsing as people integrate and link behaviors across glass. What they really seek is seamless inclusion, simplicity, value, utility and services.

Our empowered age is also global, with emerging markets making up for an enormous amount of the industry’s future growth. In fact, the next two billion customers will come from these emerging markets and they’ll be interested in utilities and services, not just advertising.

2. Do marketers possess sufficient skills to handle all aspects of digital media – Web and mobile? Or are there some emerging areas where they need to learn?

Marketers are very digitally savvy, but technology is a perpetual accelerator so we have to keep pace. We have to constantly test and incubate new skills. We need to partner with co-inventors and pioneers. No one agency can do this alone. At VivaKi we partner with other Groupe agencies, with tech companies, and also with pioneers and start-ups so we can stay ahead of the change.

3. What’s the role of big data to understand consumer behavior and chalk out marketing strategies for a brand?

Big Data does little to help us understand consumer behavior. We need to sort the meaningful data from the Big Data to mine the actionable insights that drive client value. Those insights allow us to tell more powerful stories.

Yes Big Data is a repository of 1st, 2nd and 3rd party intelligence, but more than anything, it is a wealth of information and insights people share with us as they move through their daily lives.

4. Are existing digital analytic tools reliable enough to measure the consumer engagement with a brand or do they need improvement?

Understanding consumer engagement is equal parts science and art: IQ (Intelligence Quotient) + TQ (Technology Quotient) + EQ (Emotional Quotient).

Yes we need to improve the tools so they can help us better measure multi-channel engagement and impact, and we need to solve the attribution challenge so we know which interactions are truly driving behavior along the consumer journey. But this won’t be accomplished by machines and dashboards and algorithms alone. The best analytic tool is still the human brain.

5. What will be your message to mobile marketers who are stuck on text messages – mostly sending mobile spam to consumers? Which are the other mobile marketing methods that they should explore?

Mobile is not a channel. It is a lifestyle. It is all about participation and engagement. Historically marketing has been advertising. With mobility, it is increasingly going to be about utilities and services—delivering value to people who are on the go.

Mobile also demands what we call next generation storytelling, which is connecting to people through technology enabled platforms and delivering something they need or want, like a piece of content, a coupon, or information they can use in the moment.

Mobile is a different experience for consumers than desktop browsing. Through their mobile devices people seek snack-size, on-the-go information. The interruption model of texting and spamming will ultimately encourage consumers to opt out. This is particularly acute in places like India, where people are bypassing the PC entirely and engaging with the “connection engine” via smartphone.

6. Is social media still an enigma for marketers or do they understand it fully to leverage its benefits for a brand? What should be the right strategy to use social media for brand communications?

We have learned that people like to talk about brands in their social conversations, but we are still learning how best to participate from a marketing perspective. The social media companies (Facebook, Twitter) are also in a test-and-learn phase to better understand how people want to interact with brand messages and content in the social space.

What we know is that powerful stories still matter, and we need to deliver value to consumers if we want them to engage with us. We continue to see instances of failed attempts and brilliant risks, so the list of best practices is certainly growing and improving.

7. While all traditional ad agencies claim that they can fully handle digital technologies, how does VivaKi stand out in the clutter? In other words, what’s VivaKi’s USP in the new-media market?

VivaKi enables empowered marketing for an empowered age by delivering addressability and dynamic interaction at scale, all of which is made possible by world-class data.

Addressability is the ability to find the right person at the right time, on the right device in the right place and mindset – in real time. Through Audience on Demand (AOD), our addressable media solution, we can deliver relevant messages to audiences that matter across thousands and thousands of screens.

AOD is an industry-leading platform and the most trusted programmatic media buying solution in the world. It is scaling globally at a rapid pace and we are currently laying the groundwork to be live in India with AOD during the first quarter of 2014.

Dynamic interaction is the correct, customized interaction – be it content, entertainment or experiences – that is relevant, salient and resonant, at scale. We achieve this via our Ventures network, which helps to identify emerging companies that have products or tools that allow for agile and cost-effective interactions at scale.

And finally, data. Delivering greater addressability and dynamic interaction at scale, rests squarely on our ability to capture and manage robust data set and then mine actionable insights.

Our enterprise data solution is called SkySkraper. It is a scalable, single-source data solution that captures, cleans and harmonizes Big Data. It stores and processes 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data sources (a time-intensive task that typically weighs down agency teams) so our agencies (and the AOD team) can focus on the analytical work that drives client value.

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Frank Voris (pictured above) was named CEO of VivaKi in November of 2012. Prior to that, he served as VivaKi’s Chief Financial Officer, responsible for all VivaKi operations, including technology, product development and the integration of acquisition targets. He was named to the CFO position when VivaKi first launched in 2008.

Prior to VivaKi, Voris served as CFO for Publicis Groupe Media (PGM), which was created to oversee and guide the two media networks SMG and ZenithOptimedia.

Voris joined Leo Burnett in 1989 as manager of international operations and, by 1997, was appointed US finance manager. He was named CFO of Starcom in 1999 and in May 2000, he became CFO of Starcom MediaVest Group.

This interview is published under the RMN Digital’s “Thought Leaders” series in which top tech market leaders of the world express their views on different burning issues and market trends.

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