Joy Castillo talks influencer marketing in SEA and bridging the world of social and e-commerce
Data crunching and running analytics to churn out the best market insights is what defines Joy Castillo’s forte. Innovations and Culture Director at Omnicom Media Group in the Philippines, Castillo has nearly 15 years of experience in the marketing and advertising industry. She believes in innovation, which, she sees, can be a transformative force in brand communication if used strategically.
Castillo speaks candidly with Archana Mishra about her experiences over the years, including selecting the right marketing and technology tools to evolve in the changing business landscape, the growing trend of influencer marketing in the Southeast Asia (SEA) region, and her first-hand experience with AI-driven influencer platforms.
Hello Joy, welcome to the Marketer Profile series. Tell us about your path to the position of Innovations and Culture Director at Omnicom Media Group. Do you have any important lessons to share with our readers about this journey?
I see my current post as a serendipitous culmination of my professional journey and what it has taught me thus far.
I can’t count the times that people’s eyes would glaze over when I described what I do. Developing measurement tools, crunching numbers, running analytics and dashboards using a myriad of data sets isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But when I tell them how it affects them, why it can change the neighborhood store’s offering, why their favorite QSR may offer more options for fries or why there’s a new dance craze again, then I see sparks of interest.
They become fascinated by what I do, more, they share their POV, their experiences and how they will see the world moving forward. Thus the “serendipitous culmination”. This is because, for me, the essence of innovation is the humanization of analytics and technology. And when utilized and strategically and creatively, we can find ourselves at the forefront of transforming culture through communication.
For OMG PH, this is not just part of our service to clients but something that we are embracing internally. Because ultimately, it is only by embracing data, technology and analytics as the norm, not as a specialized competency but as a norm will be able to realize its full potential.
You’re so involved in data and technology, what advice would you give to brands as they reevaluate their business, marketing, and technology operations?
I’d tell brands two things.
First, find partners that are committed to innovation and that have a healthy respect for local culture. Keep in mind that innovation doesn’t necessarily involve pivoting and discarding what you have been doing. And real innovation must be able to account for culture. It’s the only way that you can build long-term engagement, which allows brands to cultivate loyalists and advocates.
Lastly, be obsessive about building first-party data and your organization’s ability to maximize it. Marketing and technology tools with bells and whistles are great, but be sure that the insights you extract have the right context and will evolve as your market changes.
Choose marketing and technology operations, who or why this is important to you and support you. Better yet, they should be able to help you not just build your 1 PD but also to complement it with the tools or experts that will allow you to maximize and activate it in campaigns.
Given the importance of marketing technology tools today, what trends and innovations do you see having a significant impact on the consumer marketing space in SEA in particular?
I think influencer marketing remains the key trend to watch for SEA. I don’t think we have grasped yet its full potential or to be honest, how it’s changing the current media landscape. Its impact is not anymore limited to the upper consumer funnel but is now changing what brand or product advocacy means. IM also allows us to bridge marketing efforts across social and ecommerce and could be used as a barometer to measure health on both platforms.
As we are discussing consumer funnels, any brand(s) that come to mind when you think, “what a great way to market to consumers”?
McDonald’s is always a top-of-mind for this. Recently, the brand launched the Carabao Ride-Thru campaign. The effort was a recognition of the brand’s expansion to rural areas. It recognized farmers as part of the community that the brand wants to connect in a way that celebrates them. It generated very positive (and organic) responses surprisingly enough, even in urban areas.
Your company, too, has received accolades for campaigns. OMG received the highest scores in multiple categories in the recently released Forrester Agency assessment, including automated marketing, intelligence, and insights. Tell us, how important is it for communications companies to automate their entire campaign marketing infrastructure?
It's a form of liberation, allowing marketers to do our most important work, connecting to audiences and consumers. This is not to say that everything has to be automated, it depends on the market and competitive landscape and the technologies available. Automation should be seen as a tool to elevate and transform rather than an end-game solution.
For example, Omni, our end-to-end platform, can help organizations more easily navigate changes in data privacy policies, intelligence and measurement technologies. At the same time, it allows stakeholders a means of better connection which in turn has the benefit of improving executions and activations. It’s designed to be open, agnostic and modular so that clients can customize their experience based on what their brands currently need.
Since you have been using multiple tools for marketing data mining, what is your take on automated platforms for influencer campaigns?
It has worked for us, particularly in influencers' discovery and selection process. Working closely with affable.ai was critical to our success in maximizing the platform, especially in the early days. Though we cannot use the full automation features, what we have been able to use so far has helped our operations, performance reporting and reporting.
Your top tips for businesses running influencer campaigns for the first time.
When running campaigns for the first time, organization is key. Get your influencers enrolled as early as possible to check the data pulls. Then really use the management tools to organize the roster of influencers. This was a lifesaver in the long run. This could also be used in the establishment of performance benchmarks which was so important with the clients that we were working with.
Because influencer marketing is constantly evolving in the SEA region, can you think of any recent trends that brands should be aware of?
The future of influencer marketing has to be data-driven. Making sense of data and performance in some dependence on social media platforms will allow it to stand on its own or, better yet, be the measure of social campaign success. The holy grail is in being able not to provide unique reach across platforms but also content analysis/optimization.
With so many advantages, how do you see the future of influencer marketing for the consumer marketing industry?
Their influence will be felt at both ends of the consumer funnel depending on how involved decision-making is for a brand or product.
Influencer marketing can really be critical in sustaining buzz and amplifying top-funnel campaigns, and on the other end of it, it is able to leverage loyalists and advocates to support brand equity. More on more, we will see influencer marketing become more integrated into consumer marketing. This is not to say that traditional advertising would lose ground but that influencer marketing will be a critical direct line for media efforts to better connect with consumers.