Last week, I flew to Frankfurt, Germany to attend and speak at the Marketing and Innovation Forum Europe, a wonderful event that is fast becoming one of the hottest conferences for Chief Marketing Officers of Europe’s biggest companies.

The event was held at the lovely Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten (translated as the Society House Palm Garden) which stars a magnificent greenhouse with a tropical palm tree garden. You can see the greenhouse in the background of this picture of the main event hall.


The content was definitely geared skywards, with presentations focused for executives overseeing top-level market strategies versus practitioner-level information. Presenters looked to inspire marketers to think innovatively and globally with both eyes on the digital future. Regardless of the actual topic of each session, there was a central theme expressed by all speakers to keep the customer at the center of every conversation, decision, and advertising activity.

Staying customer-centric is a great message that can never be stressed enough to marketers!


My session was on social advertising and, as I was building the content in the weeks leading up to the event, I wanted to make sure I gave the busy executives a lot of information, but also one high-level takeaway they could remember.

The problem with trying to focus on just one thing about social advertising is that there is so much you can do. Although a relatively new channel to digital marketers, it is growing quickly, and there are many ways to best utilize it for both branding and direct response objectives. There are opportunities to leverage demand signals, retargeting, and look-alike targeting to drive optimization insights. Mobile and and cross-device social strategy can be a huge component. There’s also an aspect to social advertising that can make it very complimentary to other ad channels just as search, email, display, etc.

My message to the CMO audience was that the one thing you need to know about social advertising is to treat it as a program to be managed, not as just a media channel. That’s the key.

If you simply run ads as you would with standard display, it will be hard to achieve eye-popping results. However, if you treat it as a full media program versus just an advertising channel, you will always be able to find new creative formats and interesting ways to leverage the data.

The feedback from the session was great as many of the attendees asked me questions afterwards about how they could improve their current social advertising strategy based on the information I presented.

Just remember. The one thing you have to do to be successful at social advertising is EVERYTHING.

Photos courtesy of Dominik Marx, PRO/STYLE