What Does The Year Ahead Hold For Digital Marketing At Country Outfitter?

We talk to Lela Davidson V.P. Media & Entertainment, Acumen Brands


Lela Davidson is an award-winning author and essayist, with titles including Blacklisted from the PTA, 2011, and Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?, 2012. She is now VP of Media and Entertainment at Acumen Brands, where she is responsible for content strategy, earned and owned brand media, audience development, artist partnerships and advertising revenue for the Country Outfitter brand, whose social media presence has drawn plaudits from across the media.

How do you think digital marketing is going to change in 2016?

Ad Blocking will compel publishers and advertisers to work together to create better, more integrated digital ads. While following consumers around the web with targeted ads has its place, those type of ads will start to become more sophisticated and will be served in more relevant contexts. We've got to stop interrupting, and get better at engaging, informing, and entertaining. That’s the only way we will earn any attention. To really engage our customers and audiences, and build real relationships, publishers and advertisers will need to collaborate on concepts and execution, as well as share data where that is possible.

Do you think personalized campaigns will become even more important this year?

Yes, and not just personalized, but predictive too. We will get even better at showing people what they want, where, when and how they want it.

In order to get a comprehensive view of the customer, do you need to market across all platforms?

Platform choices depend on what you are trying to learn or accomplish. You can’t be everywhere all the time and be great at it. Choices must be made. The goal should never be marketing for marketing sake, or because there’s a shiny new platform. The goal should be results, and we always want to work from the results backward, and figure out what platforms are critical and where we have a competitive advantage, versus those that are simply fun to play with and talk about.

Do you think publishers will deal with adblockers more aggressively in 2016?

As both an advertiser and a publisher, our company has a unique perspective. As an advertiser, we certainly don’t want to spend money on impressions or false clicks by readers who are not truly interested in what we’re selling. As a publisher, short-term ad revenue is important, but not nearly as important as the long term relationship with our readers. We can only cultivate that bond through a premium user experience that includes well-executed ads with partners whose messages reflect the shared values of our audience.

How has the way you use data to develop your digital marketing campaigns developed over the last couple of years?

On the publishing side of our business, we are continuously adjusting the stories we offer to individuals based on two things: 1.) pieces that have proven popular for our audience overall, and 2.) the history of the particular reader. We’ve also been able to augment our retail consumer profiles with content consumption data. So for example, if you’ve looked at jeans and news about Miranda Lambert, and you live in the vicinity of a tour stop, we can send you targeted messaging that encourages you to treat yourself to a new outfit and go to the concert or download the album. Multiple data points give us more opportunities to connect in ways that are most likely to be relevant.

Is there a particular medium that you’ve found most useful?

Email is not the shiniest toy in the box, but it still works extremely well, especially when combined with predictive analytics and behavioral triggers. As we continue to evolve our approach to Millennial and GenZ shoppers and readers, we can’t ignore the tremendous power that still resides in the generations that live and breathe through the inbox. 

You can hear more from Lela at the Digital Marketing Innovation Summit, taking place in New York this March 10 and 11. 

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