6 minutes read

 

What is a digital strategy? How does it feel working for one of the best agencies in the world? Or how is like to work with brands like L’Oréal, Swarovski, TeamSCA @ Volvo Ocean Race?

To find out more about this, we talked with Andreea Nastase in an interview that you can read bellow.

Also, you will find out what’s the relationship between design and advertising in a digital marketing strategy and what’s more important in a campaign from a digital strategist perspective.

Website: andreeanastase.co.uk

Twitter: @diemkay

 

What do you enjoy the most about your career? 

The fact that I have one – that luck and hard work allowed me to define a career path that feels under my control.

I look around and realise that most people my age have jobs, not careers.

What is your definition of a creative person?

I believe in the notion that every person is creative.

I think a lot of people wrongly understand “being creative” with “being a visionary”, which discounts a lot of other types of creative thinking. You can be creative with how you organise your company processes, with how you conduct research, with the ambition you have for your projects, etc. – so in my mind creativity is a mindset or ethos that can be cultivated.

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A creative person is someone who can do three things well: firstly, manage and master their own time and the conditions they require in order to be productive and come up with thoughts. Secondly, manage their inspiration sources and leverage the intelligence of their network; no one person can do it alone, and you can’t know it all, so how will you access other disciplines and points of view to enhance your own creativity? Lastly, a creative is someone who can present and sell their thoughts to others in a clear and compelling way.

What does brand strategy involve?

The short answer: being able to explain what a brand will be known for in people’s minds and what it should do in order to become famous.

In practice it involves the ability to juggle a lot of information about people, behaviours, organisational readiness, other products and brands with an intuition about where the world is heading in order to come up with a culturally aware and relevant expression of what a brand should be and how it can come to life.

What kind of background do you need to become a digital strategist?

Given time, anyone can become a digital strategist if they’re presented with the right opportunities and bring a desire to learn new things to the table.

One thing I’d like to see in digital strategists that can’t easily be learnt in the classroom (like metrics and analytics) is an intimate knowledge of the internet as a medium: where it came from, how it evolved, how it’s regulated, how people have accessed and embraced it, its various subcultures and expressions, etc.

We can’t have a very meaningful conversation about how digital can help transform a business if you’re not aware of how people relate to it and interact with it and some of the more subtle nuances.

Describe the relationship between design and advertising in a digital marketing strategy.

My answer is largely influenced by the fact that at work we create and define products and services, which means not only designing assets, but also the way people will interact with a digital experience from beginning to end.

So in my world it depends what you’re designing or what you mean by design. You could well be designing a product or service or an overall experience and how people are supposed to interact with it.

Usually the way it works is that advertising creates awareness at scale and points you to some focal point for marketing activity – call it a ‘destination’ where most of the design effort is employed.

If advertising is successful and makes you both look and click—remember that funny anecdote that suggested it’s more likely to die in an avalanche on Everest than click on a banner ad—then the end destination had better be worth your time.

The internet is too big and attention very fragmented, so digital works on this ‘build it and they won’t come’ principle: bad advertising will let down a great destination as it won’t be on enough people’s radars. The opposite can also be true: the advertising whets your appetite and the destination is a let-down.

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From a digital strategist perspective, what’s more important in a campaign: banner design, message, targeting, landing page or tracking?

I would say it’s something a step removed from all those things: it starts with your objective and ambition. None of those things listed make sense if you can’t explain in a simple way why you’re doing the things you’re doing.

You can only determine what’s important, i.e. a priority, if you think about how people behave versus how you’d like them to behave.

In a recent campaign I worked on we had some very, very pared back banners: black text on a white background (I kid you not; the message was pretty powerful though). User testing helped us realise that the most important step for people, having clicked on a banner and landed somewhere, was to reassure them that the page they were looking at was indeed connected to the hard-hitting message on the banner. In practice that simply meant repeating the text from the banner in a headline on the page.

[Tweet “Repeat the text from the banner ad in a headline on the landing page by @diemkay”]

You might say “huh?” or “really?” On paper this sounds almost crazy obvious or trivial but it made all the difference in that particular scenario.

Take away that link and people switch off and never bother to read the rest of the carefully laid out site you laboured so much over.

How does display advertising fit in with content marketing?

I think I’ve alluded to it in principle already when I said “build it and they won’t come”.

I’ve also alluded to it when I mentioned designing an experience. Bogdana, whom I work with, made a similar point on this very same blog that it really depends what kind of display advertising you’re talking about – but generally we see it as something close to an awareness generator.

So by all means go ahead and tell people something exists if it’s out there, it’s objectively good or addresses a need, you’re confident in it and you can demonstrate it will have an impact on your endeavour if more people see it. In other words, if you can justify the expense. As mentioned earlier, the end ‘content’ had better be worth the trouble.

There’s a glut of ‘content’ out there: we’ve had enough bad ads and bad content that wasn’t what we were promised it would be, so being smarter about both is a good place to start.

A simple way of doing that is asking two big questions: “then what?” and “so what?”.

When you click on it, then what? Where does that take you? And when you see the content, so what? How does it make a difference to your life?

Can you name 3 best practices for advertising for 2016?

It’s hard to speak for advertising as a whole so these 3 will probably be very content-related to fit in with the rest of the blog:

Follow your own journeys through. This is the ‘then what’ and ‘so what’ mentioned earlier: where does someone come into contact with you, what’s the journey they go on and how can you make that the best it can be – whether it’s offline or online, or a combination of the two.

Don’t mislead people in terms of what they’re about to see or experience.

That means avoiding clickbait-type experiences where possible and being transparent about value exchange that’s about to happen. Case in point: come to our website, but before you can see or download anything you have to give us your entire life history through a form. We will then harass you with sales messages every day for the foreseeable future until you cave in.

Don’t do advertising launches ‘empty handed’.

It used to be that people would launch and promote brand new sites, content series, etc. into the world with a big bang, thinking all the hard work is done once something has gone live. The destination looks daunting, empty, and you might be the first one to see it.

That model has changed a bit: you need to do a lot of work – 80% of it ahead of a launch, not after. You do a soft launch and gain some initial momentum, smooth out inconsistencies once the work makes contact with reality, and only then go out with the proper bigger message.

Can you recommend one or two resources for advertising professionals reading our blog? 

A recent one I can think of: The Marketplace of Attention – How Audiences Take Shape in a Digital Age

Platform Scale

& More in-depth and probably less for advertising people but more for the business-minded ones: Platform Economics: Essays on multi-sided-businesses

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee! Though I rarely drink more than one coffee a day now.

Bad work gives me enough palpitations :)

Andrei Florea

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