Marni Edelhart: Hi, this is Marni Edelhart, Director of Content and Experience with the Pivot Conference on the line with Jason Cohen, Global Technical lead at Google. Jason is an entrepreneurial, energetic self-motivated and award winning digital marketing and technology leader with 17 years consumer and 7 years B2B experience working with Fortune 500 and tech companies within the entertainment, tech, manufacturing, finance and health industries to acquire and retain millions of customers generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Good morning, Jason.
Jason Cohen: Good morning Marni. Thank you for the great welcome. It’s great to be here.
Marni Edelhart: Well thank you for being here. I am always excited to speak with you and learn a little bit more about the work you do. So I wanted to start by asking about your role at Google. Your current title is Global Technical Lead at Google. Could you explain the types of projects you undertake and the clients whom you serve?
Jason Cohen: Sure. So generally I work cross functionally between Google, Google’s global clients and our agencies to solve global digital marketing challenges, and also to find opportunities that impact our global clients’ business. And that’s usually at a global scale. I focus currently on one client, the client is GM. And I work with the team to help develop solutions that enable our client to be more effective with their digital marketing across the globe. So whether it’s being better at the co-op advertising online or improving efficiencies with search engine marketing on a global scale, I am here to help the team make that happen.
Marni Edelhart: Great that makes a lot of sense. If you had to pick a single technology that has transformed marketing in the last year, what would it be and why?
Jason Cohen: That’s a very interesting question. Technology is changing so quickly and it’s greatly impacting marketing. It’s been widely reported that people feel that CMOs overall are going to be spending more on technologies than actually CTOs. So if I have to pick one thing that maybe more behind the scenes and may not be talked about as much but may be facilitating a lot of the technology, I’m going to have to say machine learning. So that’s the ability of a computer to learn, and to experience, and to improve just like a human would, and being able to apply that at a scale that a human may not be able to, to in the advertising world, in the marketing world to improve campaign performance, improve advertising performance. I feel that that’s where that’s going to be one of the technologies that’s really going to change things.
Marni Edelhart: Yes it’s also the technology that seems like it’s coming to life, right from all the movies we used to watch as kids for better or for wors.
Jason Cohen: Yes, it’s an interesting technology. It has many different facets. It sparks a lot of conversation. And I remember those movies as well growing up.
Marni Edelhart: Where do you see the roles for humans in advertising as it becomes increasingly programmatic?
Jason Cohen: So that’s another great question. Programmatic is essentially in my opinion is essentially a subset of machine learning. With programmatic, a computer can optimize your campaign based upon performance in a way that a human cannot do because of the scale. A machine can do it so quickly and across so many different placements. I really think for us human beings as machine learning becomes more and more part of the marketing and the advertising world, we may have a little bit more of a zoomed-out perspective. So we may be looking more at return on investment patterns in the data.
We may be more focused on the measurements, understanding the media mix modeling better, and looking for patterns within the information that would be defined by an analyst. So overall at a strategy level, I think that’s where we would come into play in the future. And also another aspect, an important one in which we would play is defining the goals. So a machine can learn, but what are you ultimately asking it to learn and to accomplish, and humans need to set those goals.
Marni Edelhart: Well at least there’s something for humans still to do. It sounds like plenty for now, which is good.
Jason Cohen: Well, I believe we’re always going to be there. So it’s just going to change. And everything’s always evolving and so do we.
Marni Edelhart: What do you see as the primary value differentiators between traditional TV advertising and digital advertising?
Jason Cohen: This is the question that seems to come up a lot in the digital marketing space within advertising, it’s something that’s come up a lot. From my experience, from my previous career experience and also now while I’m at Google, and this is my personal opinion. It’s not necessarily always TV versus digital. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.
The benefits with digital is you can measure engagement. You can truly see the different types of engagements. You know the interaction, you know if somebody viewed your digital video advertising. You know how long maybe that you know they click through, if they interacted, if they left a comment. You know where they dropped off as they drop off, and that is extremely hard to measure with TV.
Another important difference between the two is that you know TV viewing is often measured by households and targeted by households. Whereas in digital video online you can target by individual and it’s measured by individual. You can also really focus on the targeting in terms of reach and the frequency and the recency of your targeting. You can be very specific.
It’s scalable in terms of programmatic buying. You’re able to purchase a video online at a small scale initially to test, and to validate. And if it works, you can scale it up.
Back to our question about machine learning that comes in as well with the programmatic. You can optimize with programmatic and video and video in general in ways that you can’t do with TV. But I really see both as being equal at this point. You know you see a television commercial and then you come into the store, and online you see the ad, you visit the website and you come into the store. Those are two example of customer journey.
So it’s very similar outcomes. I just feel digital advertising is more measurable. It allows you to scale. It better allows you to start smaller if you figure out what works with less of an investment and to ultimately make your ROI more effective. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s necessarily right and this is my own personal thing. And that you know it’s not TV or digital video or digital advertising, it’s how you mix them together.
Marni Edelhart: Got it, got it. So when you are working with a new client, how do you demonstrate to stakeholders the possibilities of taking a more digital and/or programmatic approach to their media strategy?
Jason Cohen: So I covered a little bit of that in the last question, and I can definitely expand on it in this one. You know it’s challenging. How do you, you know if you’re working in digital marketing, if you’re focused in digital advertising, it’s a lot of it is — it’s fairly new compared to more traditional means of advertising and explaining the benefits. And you know it’s a completely different terminology, but you know demonstrating the possibilities to stakeholders. You know one of the key things is the return on investment. As I mentioned earlier you can start campaigns with you know as low as hundreds of dollars.
And you can test small and you can really understand that and see which things work and then scale up based upon the performance. So in general it allows you to be smart at a small scale so that you can scale up quickly. So you perform better when you are spending more money, and that ultimately results in smarter spending.
And another key component for demonstrating the possibilities is really measurement. And you can really understand the engagement. You can understand the viewability which is viewed as how much of the screen can be viewed, how long the person viewed the ad.
These are things that are difficult to track outside of digital, and they’re very important in determining brand recall, in determining performance metrics, how these ads perform if you’re doing more of a direct marketing campaign. And those are just harder things to do in TV. And this is where a lot of the value comes from in digital and the possibilities, and things that I think stakeholders are interested in.
Marni Edelhart: Well thank you, Jason. That’s incredibly informative, detailed answers and I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us and share all that information today.
Jason Cohen: Thank you, Marni. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you today.