Leaders’ Thirst for Answers Dominates Q4 and Into 2021

October 23, 2020

What happened, Eklund?! You were doing so well on these regular comms. Then you go dark? I know, I know. I suddenly became worried that the Internet was running out of information, so I’m back!

Needless to say, the past couple of months have been somewhat of a whirlwind. Quite frankly, the agency has been very busy, and for that I am eternally grateful. With all things 2020, the crystal ball seems to be covered in a thick film of dust so being able to predict from one day to the next has been a real treat.

I’m going to try and make it up to you by sharing a series of useful and applicable content, and I have a major announcement which I’ve saved for the bottom of this post. 

CMOs Thirsty for Insights

This week I attended the Mirren Summit where agency and brand leaders congregated to talk about how to work together better, especially now. Yesterday, I listened to a fascinating panel of the CMOs for Walmart (William White), NFL (Tim Ellis) and Heineken (Jonnie Cahill). All of them were unified in their absolute need for actionable insights from which they can move quickly into market. William White compared his work to running an “election polling” operation, where qual and quant data are shared daily with his leadership teams. That’s daily, as in each day. Each of the others agreed. Second, each CMO agreed that planning has become enormously difficult, so they essentially devise a rolling series of scenarios. For example, in the case of Heineken, which as you can imagine is rather dependent upon bars being open, they have a whole series of scenarios based upon geographies and cultures, and then focus messaging and advertising to those geos and segments. Digital is the thing for them that has given them the maximum flexibility to be responsive to the market conditions.

Here was a great synopsis as well from dentsu and their survey of over 1000 CMOs. I hope you find these nuggets inspirational.

“Our report identifies a cohort of “Frontier CMOs,” who are well prepared for the future and deploying a handful of key characteristics and strategies:

Hyper-empathy: Understanding consumers more deeply and updating knowledge in real-time (e.g. using first party data) to create helpful experiences.

Hyper-agility: Acting like a start-up by using consumer insight to rapidly develop new and relevant messaging, products and services.

Hyper-collaboration: Integrating across the C-suite and internal departments such as finance, operations and product development, as well as external partners/suppliers.”

Nielsen: How Streaming Enablement in 2020 Has Changed The Media Landscape

Over a year ago, we made the prediction that something was going to take down the US economy, but of course we didn’t predict a global pandemic. And, if that happened, we predicted that streaming video would be the big gainer. But that’s just lil ol’ us saying that. What about Nielsen? Lo and behold, it’s true, and according to Nielsen (and our own in market experience) older demographics are growing at a strong clip. It’s not just young people as one would expect. Here’s a great clip of an interview with Nielsen that outlines their reporting. 

Takeaway: The revolution for advertising isn’t that streaming is displacing traditional media channels. Rather, we can target specific people watching that content rather than buying specific shows or content. Revolutionary!

The Election’s Impact on Advertising Costs in October

Ciceron is a major Trade Desk agency, and we receive regular updates from them on market dynamics across the media spectrum. Late last week, they shared the following with us on a conference call.

Comparing all of October 2019 CPMs to the first week of October 2020 CPMs:

  • CTV: 12% increase
  • Audio: 17% increase
  • Display: 54% increase
  • Standard Video: 1.7% decrease
  • Native Display: 4% decrease
  • Native Video: 33% increase

There are three root causes for the increases: political spending, audience growth in streaming channels, and migrating budgets from traditional to digital. Once again, purchasing audiences rather than content, while increasing in price, is still going to be a much smarter investment due to the relevancy of your advertising to the right people. Plus, even with price increases, many of these channels continue to be underfunded compared to audience growth.

Political Geeks Unite! Resonate Publishes Behavioral Data on American Voter Sentiments (DOWNLOAD)

I’m a long suffering political science major. That means elections are both sufferable and unavoidable car accidents that you just can’t look away from. Our friends at Resonate have published an excellent report that outlines the disparate worldviews and motivators for American voters. It’s a fascinating read, and I believe there are tons of takeaways for any brand leader working through messaging challenges for the remainder of the year.


Ciceron Ranked #24 on the Fast 50 from the Business Journal

Sure, it’s true I may not have changed out of this sweatshirt and these sweatpants in a few days. It’s also quite possible I haven’t been out of the house since it snowed the other day. But what I am doing is accepting an award for being ranked #24 on the Business Journal’s FAST 50 privately held companies for 2020. I may not look the part, but I couldn’t be more thrilled and honored. I’m so proud of the Ciceron team for getting us to this point. And finally, I am thankful to all of you for putting your trust in us to help you get to your digital potential.

I’m not going to lie. This award is the only one I’ve sort of coveted over the years. Since we’re an agency pretty much dedicated to finding and acting on the truth, receiving an award for financial performance where CPAs are in charge of vetting your numbers seems appropriately truthful. We work very hard at Ciceron, and to have that hard work recognized is truly a wonderful thing. 

In the past year, the agency has earned similar honors from AdWeek’s Fast Growing Agencies and, most recently, the prestigious Inc. 5000 award (with a wonderful write-up on the agency).