Willem-Albert Bol – DPG Media

Willem-Albert Bol – DPG Media

Willem-Albert Bol is Director Business Development at DPG Media, a Belgium/Dutch media group. Brands include tv, radio, news, magazines, online services, and telecom. In this role, Willem-Albert keeps the outside focus of the company. The goal is to stimulate clients, other media owners and agencies to join forces. To create large scale, structural and high impact cooperation’s.

Main KPIs for growth

Market share should always be the most important KPI. Willem-Albert: “It represents relative performance versus your competitors. It is the purest measure, and provides a lot of direction for your brand, as you can determine which investments and budgets have affected your market share. A focus on market share ensures that everyone in the company looks towards the same, external goal.”

“There are a lot of drivers contributing to market share”, Willem-Albert continues. “One that is often overlooked, is share of voice. Some consider it an old-school metric. It is not. It is a good representation of how dominant your brand is. The second driver is channel dominance. How strong is your grip on those channels? Take comparison websites for instance, how dominantly do you rise to the top of the search bar? It is also about minimising churn; retaining customers. Client value is also very relevant in this, client value times the number of customers. Of course, in some markets you can grow faster by increasing your client value, instead of the number of customers. Just think of automotive where the patterns are very different, and a repurchase can be 5, 10 years away. However, the principle remains the same; secure what you have, and attract new customers. Many marketers seem to forget that above the line communication also adds effect by reconfirming your existing customers. Marketers may think; ‘I already have those customers; they are already loyal’. But your customers aren’t loyal at all. You need to keep reconfirming their choice to make them loyal. The role of communication also revolves around that process.”

“Marketers may think; ‘I already have those customers; they are already loyal’. But customers aren’t loyal at all. You need to keep reconfirming their choice to make them loyal.”

Creatives and creativity

Willem-Albert underlines the difference between creativity and creatives: “You can be creative in your proposition, product, price. But creatives revolve around just one P: promotion. Creatives are often overrated. Yes, you need to be creative, but you also need to be consistent. Marketers want to be creative, introduce new things, be different. Whilst the target group isn’t interested in that. In true Byron Sharp fashion; you need to know what your associations are. And reconfirm them, every single time. And that is challenging. Reconfirming your associations is a returning, and perhaps boring process. I enjoy being creative, and think creatives are very important. But it is also just applying your yearlong lessons. We have an Advertising Impact Monitor at DPG Media, where we gather important lessons. For instance, you need to have a dominant visual, not have too many triggers; a maximum of 3, and the logo in the top left corner of your ad helps in recognition. As marketers, we know all these things. Still, we keep reinventing the wheel. We know from years of research, eye tracking and neuroscience, that less is more. Creatives often have so much to say. It is about the art of omission.”

“Next to that, every medium type has its own attention curve”, Willem-Albert continues. “Often, the media is determined after the concept, and marketers need to jam that creative into a channel. Ideal creatives start with the medium, followed by the type of attention, and the customer journey. Does it need to improve awareness? Trigger purchase? You often see that the media approach, the customer journey, and the role of the creative aren’t aligned. Resulting in in-effective creatives.”

Creative process

Willem-Albert shares the 4 steps of DPG Media’s process when it comes to a new campaign, based on 4 B’s (in Dutch). “First, we Understand (Begrijpen); what is going on, and what is the objective? Next comes Reach (Bereik), we must get that message to people. Followed by Moving (Beweging); can we get the target group to move towards the set objective? And lastly, Proving (Bewijzen). Continuously measuring, building cases. So, when the next campaign comes around, we can prove it, and therefore understand better. As a market, we need a more systematic approach. If we don’t, you won’t learn anything, and therefore won’t improve.”

When it comes to their creative inspiration, Willem-Albert tells us they come from many sources. Willem-Albert: “You need to be jealous; Salvador Dali once said, ‘creativity is hiding your sources’. There are a lot of discussions among musicians whether songs are copied. And, every song does originate from something, as everything has been done before. You need to be curious. Next to that, you need the best creative people and agencies. If I spend millions on media deployment, but the graphic designer isn’t the best in the business, you won’t win. A striker needs a good midfield to score. The last source has to do with stubbornness: you need to test. For a lot of campaigns, it is such a loss if you don’t pre-test before launch. Our process revolves around reviewing, and being critical. Before launch, during, and after. And it can be challenging, as you need to be vulnerable. You can only improve by drawing conclusions based on insights, facts, or estimates. And competitors are also moving, just like your consumer. You can throw in the ball, but if the consumer isn’t looking, you will lose possession. There are many links you need to take into account. It is not easy. So many stakeholder, so many people and parties are involved. So, you require strict direction. Sometimes even dictatorship. One person must hold control, and that is the client. Not the agencies and not the media, but a strong-minded client is the only one that can demand consistency.”

All about results

The success of creatives relies on whether your commercial KPIs are impacted positively because of your effort. Willem-Albert: “If you can do that, you are on the right track. We once did a branded content campaign for McDonald’s. The briefing stated that mothers distrust the quality of the food. So, we created a campaign where we emphasised that the meat for the burger, and the potatoes for the fries, originate from Dutch farmers. The campaign resulted in an increase of positive associations around quality perception by 50% among the exposed group. With this information, you can track how many Happy Meals were sold before and after the campaign. These are demonstratable connections between the effort and the effect. If you don’t have that, and can’t prove it, you need to steer on conviction and belief, and that’s a dangerous thing. Marketing isn’t a belief or a hope, marketing is about getting business results. Whichever effect you wish to realise, you need to steer towards results.”

A magical thing

According to Willem-Albert, the biggest challenge in creatives is standing out. “We all want attention from the consumer. Like football, media is the midfield and gives the assist, and the creative needs to be the scoring striker. Sometimes, media can be so strong that it can score on pure force. So, marketing is about winning the game, and you can only win by scoring goals. Not all creatives are great to look at, but you need to make sure you stand out and are distinctive, so you can demand that attention. There are many roads leading to Rome, the greatest creative doesn’t always win. Some creatives are driven by power, but they do the job just the same. I sometimes wonder if our market spends enough time and love on what makes creatives really work. We have a lot of awards, but do we have that deeper understanding of what makes the magic of creatives and creativity? We can learn so much more from each other, measure, and read.”

Willem-Albert looks ahead to what the future of creatives might hold: “Creatives will continue to be important. In the end, creatives are the magic that make a campaign work. But it needs to be consistent. Creatives are more than just their design, it is the positioning, the right pay-off, a consistent look and feel, triggers, consumer insights. It can be magic if done right. The commercial clutter won’t decrease, it will only get bigger. And only the best creatives can break through that clutter.”