Decisions about marketing tech are never easy, but they're harder when you're part of a much larger and somewhat decentralized global organization. That's one issue that Seona Skwara, director-brand digital media and communications of Nestle Waters, faces and the perspective she'll bring to the panel discussion "The Art of the Stack: Piecing Together Your Marketing Technology" at Ad Age's IQ Conference Jan. 17. In this interview she discusses what's important in marketing tech decisions, and her outlook on what programmatic buying to keep in house vs. outside.
Ad Age: From a marketer's perspective, what do you see as the key to successfully piecing together the marketing stack?
Seona Skwara: It sounds really simple, but going back and being really clear on what the net objectives are. Then I think it's understanding what the options are and how they differ. And then the most important one for me is having the internal communication and alignment within the organization.
This is no longer an IT question. It's not just a marketer question. It's got to be something discussed across all stakeholders. You don't want to pick a solution and find out six months later that someone else in the organization has moved on with a different one.
We're a U.S. business. But we need to know if there are other global stakeholders who need to be involved? Are there other local stakeholders facing the same business challenges, or maybe moving faster than you are? You'll spend more time and money later fixing stuff if you don't have the collaboration up front.
Ad Age: What's the role of marketing tech specialists?
Ms. Skwara: I think it's an evolving role and function, and I think it's important. We're seeing it internally at Nestle as well. It ties IT and marketing together. It's not about a title, and it's going to be different across organizations depending on how they're structured. But if you don't have a marketing tech specialist than you really need IT folks who understand marketing objectives. And you're going to need marketing people who understand, or can stretch to understand, the IT perspective of the decisions.
Ad Age: One thing that has a bearing on the marketing tech you need is how much programmatic buying you do in-house. Do you have a preference for doing it in-house, having a dedicated agency operation or fully outsourcing it to an agency or ad-tech company?
Ms. Skwara: I don't think there's any easy answer to that right now or we'd all be doing it. I think there are pros and cons. I don't think we have yet determined what is the perfect solution. As programmatic continues to unfold, you've got to see what's going to work for your organization. There are definite benefits of going internal – speed, costs. But you really need to be prepared to take that on, and resources are a huge part of it. You need the right talent. It's not just an add on to someone's job. Before jumping in with both feet, a wise approach is probably to pilot with a chunk of the media spend.
Ad Age: Where is Nestle Waters in that process at this point?
Ms. Skwara: We're weighing our options.