by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the industry expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2020? A panel of key agency and marketing execs discusses the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for in the year ahead. Next up is Hoorah Digital‘s Shaune Jordaan.

Shaune Jordaan

Shaune JordaanShaune Jordaan, CEO of Hoorah Digital, is passionate about delivering world-class results to brands and building a digital culture that drives change. He’s the former co-founder/CEO of an award-winning performance digital agency with an extensive global client list and has worked extensively across the globe, growing digital portfolios and leading digital transformation. He is one of Africa’s most-experienced digital leaders.

Personal, visual and always visible — these are the ingredients for connecting with customers in 2020.

Since long before we knew to call it “personalisation”, this form of marketing has worked to make customers feel seen, heard, understood and appreciated. Back in the day, if the person at the corner shop knew your name, or asked after your family, this was seen as good customer service, and ultimately made one feel part of a particular community. It’s thus fair to say that personalisation isn’t a new thing but, in the digital age, it’s certainly a necessary thing — giving those who employ it smartly, discreetly and efficiently an edge in an ever more crowded online space.

Personalisation uses the insights garnered from customer data to inform creative and communication plans that place the customer at the centre of the strategy.

Every touchpoint

Gone are the days when inserting an individual’s name into an emailer was the extent of the personalisation. Today, tomorrow, and every day in 2020, that will be the bare minimum that customers expect in communication from brands. Personalisation at the micro level, where it makes the most-significant impression, relies on mining and interpreting data to enhance the customer experience (CX) at every touchpoint in the digital journey.

A brilliant example of personalisation done right was the April 2019 Puppo campaign by Colenso BBDO Auckland, which saw a bespoke ad created for every registered dog in New York. An algorithm extracted information on each of the 100 729 dogs registered on the New York City Dog Licensing Dataset. This data was then linked to a Puppo health benefit which, through the use of modular copy and an art direction system, saw the creation of a unique ad for every dog. Dog owners were targeted, via their postal codes, in campaigns that included posters, digital display and digital out-of-home ads. The agency reported that, in just one week, website users increased by 68%, of which 28% visited as a result of the posters. A further result of the personalised ads was that organic search for “puppo” went up by 144%.

What’s clear here is that the combination of creative personalisation and media tech is a key attribute in helping to drive meaningful results in the online space. As such, first-party data, which refers to the information a brand has collected about its audience, is vital as it helps to inform strategies aimed at upselling and cross-selling. Brands that have multiple products, such as banks, insurers and retailers, in particular may benefit from an approach that personally targets the customer at various points in the sales lifecycle.


Research suggests that customers today not only expect personalisation by brands but are often disappointed and frustrated by those who don’t customise their messaging down to the individual level. The brands most likely to thrive in the era of hyper-personalisation are those which leverage “micro-moments” as additional opportunities to deliver relevant, creative content personalised to the needs of the individual.

Micro-moments refer to the reflexive act of turning to a smart device in order to do something, know something, watch something, buy something or go somewhere. These moments are characterised by intent and it pays for brand to be visible at the moment of intent.

Being visible (and accessible) at the moment of intent is what matters most. Ensuring that each customer has the most-relevant experience is crucial to the success of the micro-moment experience. Nestlé Waters is a case in point. The brand’s challenge was that retailers owned the relationship with customers because it was in-store that customers tended to interact with the brand’s products. It realised that search is the digital marketing equivalent of prominent shelf space in store. Nestlé Waters worked to ensure it was visible at the moment of intent, and further cemented the burgeoning relationship with content that drives relevance.

Visual revolution

Visuals are one of the earliest ways humans used to communicate. They precede the written word and have the ability to convey context, content, emotion and more. Seen from that viewpoint, and considering the ubiquity of smartphones with cutting-edge visual capability, it’s little wonder that we find ourselves in what may be called a “visual revolution”.

We’ve known since the days of Ernest Hemmingway that showing matters more than telling. Though his advice was literary in nature, we know today that people want to see things. As we become ever more visually literate, we want to be reached with powerful visuals, quirky emojis, memorable videos and the like to communicate what we think, feel and want.

For brands, it’s crucial to understand visual storytelling and to know how to strategically leverage and apply it in a way that resonates with people at the right time, in the right place and for the right reason. While data offers the insights, visuals give the edge. Being visible, in the moment, matters greatly. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that there’s a person at the receiving end.

See also


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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