In this exclusive “Masters of Media” series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the APAC advertising industry, on all matters digital.
Tim Whitfield is the General Manager of Technology at WooliesX. He is an integral part of the technology team that is involved in streamlining tech-based processes that deliver a great digital experience to everyday Australians when it comes to food and groceries. In 2016, Tim was also selected to the AdNews Power 50 List, where the most powerful people in the Australian ad industry are recognised. A graduate of Macquarie University, Tim has held senior strategic roles directing operations and technology for GroupM, Xaxis and Sizmek.
IAS: Please tell us about your digital advertising journey and your current role at Woolworths Group (WooliesX)
Tim: To me, working for a purpose-driven organisation like WooliesX means that every day at work I’m trying to solve problems that will make a difference to everyday Australians. Using technology to streamline the processes which bring food and groceries to our customers gives me a buzz. At WooliesX we listen to our customers every step of the way through our digital experiences and we continuously iterate over our applications to make them better and easier to use. These improvements could be from many different aspects such as improved personalisation, better offers, streamlined app or website experience – it all triggers a deep sense of purpose of why we work here.
IAS: According to you, what should marketers prioritise in their digital advertising campaigns?
Tim: The new acronym could be “BBB” which stands for Back to Brilliant Basics. This would mean overlaying the evolution of digital advertising campaigns with the first principles of media advertising. For instance, how does the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) sales funnel which has existed since the 1800s relate to a modern world of Search, Social Media, Connected TV, DOOH (Digital out-of-Home) and fragmented attention metrics?
Marketers should use tools like MMA (Media Marketing Analytics) that uses media mix modelling, and MTA (Multi-Touch Attribution) to build their own internal proprietary algorithm to assign value to each part of the sales funnel. This algorithm should have a deep resolve to knit together each of these digital platforms into this model. It’s all about getting access to the atomic data units and stitching them together in a meaningful way. The era for siloed data is over.
IAS: Which key changes do you anticipate taking shape in 2023 with regard to digital advertising?
Tim: Let’s consider a few things. There are two groups of marketers: those that have a solid first-party data set and those that are scrambling. For those marketers that are still scrambling, the key is to realise that the cookie has already crumbled and it’s time to move to a unified dataset. Double down on a unified ID for all advertising and cross reference if your media channels support that ID. Once that is done, the task for 2023 will be to build the integrations between these media channels.
IAS: If there’s one myth related to programmatic you’d like squashed, what would that be?
Tim: Programmatic is not cheap, there is a difference between inexpensive media and cheap media.
IAS: In your opinion, is the industry doing enough to combat the trust and transparency challenges in the digital supply chain?
Tim: The industry will always continue to drive initiatives which promote transparency in all aspects of digital media. The depreciation of the cookie and the subsequent migration to first-party data is a key unlock for being able to see an end-to-end transaction ID in the digital supply chain. Specifically, it will enable us to have personalised and meaningful digital interactions with our customers. This will not only help drive a tangible and quantifiable result but also understand the cost breakdown of each step in the interaction rather than just dealing with a bunch of random IDs and cookies.
IAS: Any advice for leaders on talent retention and supporting a hybrid workforce?
Tim: Hybrid is here to stay — work from anywhere is table stakes for any company — the goal now is to look at the type of work being performed and match the environment to the work. For instance, working from home is perfectly acceptable for individual contributor activities whilst group activities continue to have a performance lift when facilitated by face-to-face meetings.
IAS: What’s your favourite book/podcast/movie and why?
Tim: My recent favourite book is Reinventing Organisations: A Guide to Creating Organisations
Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness. My take on it is that we have all heard
about Unicorn Talent and this book talks about the sense of purpose, achievement, clarity
and belonging that comes from working for a Unicorn Company.
IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?
Tim: There is lots of good conversation going on about the contents of a Specialist versus a
Generalist. There is a good book called Range that looks at leaders who start their life as an
SME (Subject Matter Expert) and also leaders who move around inside a business. The
advice to fresh talent is that it’s okay to have a fluid career pathway. Don’t be afraid to take a
sideways look at a new role as a career pathway is seldom linear.