This month, Spotlight goes behind the scenes of our busy, growing digital media department to sit down with Khristi Irwin, VP of Digital Media, and talk about where she thinks the market, industry tech and the agency itself are headed.
You have a very full plate, Khristi. What are you helping clients with right now?
CMOs and their organizations are dealing with a lot. Inflation — especially across the CPG sector — is pinching the consumer and affecting purchasing (and marketing) behavior. Then consider what’s going on in the ad spectrum: linear versus digital TV, the shifts in first-party data and privacy concerns, the continued fragmentation of the social media landscape, and the explosion of retail media networks and measurement currencies.
It’s a complex and exciting time to be in digital brand marketing, and it’s going to continue as technology and major consumer behavioral continue to shift. We’re working side by side with our clients to help them understand and navigate these challenges and take advantage of opportunities as they unfold in real-time.
What’s top of mind for clients from your perspective?
The “on again, off again threat” of recession ranks high for most marketers. Some companies and brands are almost too focused on every up and down tick the pundits report. They overcorrect or overcompensate for the business challenges they anticipate in an uncertain economy. But just because inflation is up doesn’t mean you suddenly have to become a value brand to retain consumer loyalty.
My team works closely with clients to help them stay true to their brand and business. That means helping them avoid adopting temporary, knee-jerk messaging that can complicate digital media strategies, confuse the consumer and hurt the brand in the long term. It’s important to stay focused on the end goal while monitoring what needs attention along the way.
How can businesses avoid knee-jerk reactions to the economy and other factors?
Just as with your financial portfolio, you have to say, “I’m in it for the long term.” Sidestep the immediate alarm over inflation and recession, and stay focused on the path you believe will bring business success and reward your people. It also helps to have an agency like Media Bridge constantly working to remove short-term stress from your day-to-day ups and downs.
In tougher economic conditions, it might mean helping brands go low in the funnel and be everywhere consumers are, and continuing to help clients understand where last-click attribution happens. My team brings balance to client programs: long-term strategic path building, combined with short-term visibility, to help brands react in real time to shifts in digital media and take advantage of new opportunities.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to clients and their agencies today?
1,000% be aware of shiny new objects. In this case, that’s Generative AI. ChatGPT has grown faster than any technology since the launch of the internet, and its upending — or at least aggressively challenging — a lot of communications, advertising and digital technologies. Proceed with interest, but also caution. As the AI landscape unfolds in the coming months, brands and their agencies have a lot to track, understand and think through: ethical considerations, usage and copyright, accuracy and attribution, etc.
Yes, AI will bring efficiencies to the digital landscape and open some new doors. But as strategists and marketers, we need to incorporate these new possibilities into our media plans, digital footprints and work practices in ways that make sense — not just because they’re new.
What makes Media Bridge different? What do you hear from partners?
We say we out-care our competition in everything we do, from strategy to digital implementation. And our clients agree, which is incredibly rewarding. That means doing the right thing with client programs and their budgets. Every dollar goes to media buys without platform markup. And we pace spending daily to create the best possible value for clients. That same level of care extends to our people and teams. We find potential in unusual places and put support tools, advice, mentorship and learning opportunities in place to grow true talent.
What’s next for you and your team?
How long do you have? The plate is never empty!