Deutsch’s Chief Digital Officer on How to “Kill It” in Mobile

As Chief Digital Officer of Deutsch North America, Winston Binch has transformed the company from an ad agency to a digital innovator. He’s won at Cannes 30 times, including two Titanium Lions, three Grand Prix awards, and Interactive Agency of the Year three times. 

Some of the most innovative digital in advertising can be credited to Winston. He helped bring customization to Nike by way of Nike iD, Whopper Sacrifice to Burger King, and the Pizza Tracker to Domino’s. Most recently, he reinvented Volkswagen’s approach to online car shopping and is currently helping Taco Bell reimagine mobile ordering. In 2015, Deutsch was #2 on Ad Age’s Agency A-List. Check out his full bio in the speakers section of our website.

Winston will be talking mobile video at Mobile Media Summit New York During Ad Week on September 28 and recently chatted with Mobile Media Summit CEO & Founder Paran Johar. 

Paran: You are very deeply engaged with the concept of advertising agencies as inventors, building ideas into prototypes and actual products. Can you give a deeper explanation of what you mean by that, and how mobile fits into this concept?

Winston: The best ads aren’t always ads. Sometimes the right answer is a new product or service. Great marketing starts with the product experience itself. In terms of how mobile fits in, since the launch of the iPhone and rise of the app economy, we’ve increasingly taken a mobile-centered approach. With U.S. smartphone penetration at 77%, if mobile’s not at the center of your thinking you’re nowhere.
Paran: Digital marketing is now a mature industry. Is the “mobile “part of digital marketing mature?  Is there any meaningful difference between digital and mobile marketing?
Winston: Mobile marketing has made strides, but it’s still figuring out what it wants to be when it grows up. Display has had challenges since the beginning based on the small size of the units. People also don’t like banners. It’s not a model we should be replicating. Search works because at their core, smartphones are amazingly powerful discovery and way-finding devices. Native apps were attractive for a few years, but unless you’ve got a truly remarkable idea that’s core to your business, it can be challenging to get downloads and sustained engagement.

The one thing we do know is that social and video are and will be a very big part of the future equation. As of last winter, 65% of Facebook video views happened on mobile. That number will continue to increase. In addition to smarter mobile content, a big opportunity for brands is more contextual, personal, and location-aware advertising. Platforms like Facebook enable you to do some amazing hyper-targeting, yet most ads aren’t as intelligent or personal as they could be.

My advice to brands looking to kill it in mobile is to shift more of your spend to platforms like Facebook and experiment/make a lot of content with a focus on personalization and entertainment. Also, find creative ways to partner with emerging platforms that your target customers are using with high frequency. Investing in this type of creative experimentation is critical to mobile marketing innovation.

We’re seeing a lot of blurring between brand, digital/social, and mobile marketing. That’s to be expected as things mature. The blurring will continue. But right now, I see social and mobile as vital components of digital marketing. And if you want to make ads that matter in a mobile world, you need people who specialize in these areas leading your business.
Paran: If you could change one thing about how brands and agencies approach mobile, what would that be?
Winston: Brands and agencies need to get better at creating advertising designed for the medium. Too many are simply re-appropriating TV spots. That doesn’t work. Mobile isn’t just another screen. It’s an entirely different context.
Paran: The iPhone has been with us since 2007 which means those graduating from college in 2015 have had access to smart phones since they were freshmen in high school. How have these “mobile natives” changed marketing? What’s the best way to reach them?
Winston: Internet kids are the future and now. Hire as many as you can if you want to create marketing that resonates with them. That’s not to say that digital can’t be learned — there are no experts. Things move too quickly. I know people in their fifties who are smarter digitally than some kids coming right out of school. But having more of them in your company ups your odds of success. They not only approach marketing problems from more of a digital first and user-centric perspective, but also aren’t burdened by the rules of old advertising. They’re more likely to bring you ideas that a fan (not a corporation) would make. Ideas that are Internet-smart and don’t look like traditional ads. Ads that may scare you but will get attention.

The best way to reach them is on a platform that a lot of people over 34 years of age don’t know what to do with. SnapChat. It’s valued at between $10 and 20 billion and is the definitive social network for young people. The ad products are new and not yet totally proven, but it’s a really important platform to get good at. It represents a significant paradigm shift in how people connect with each other and share things. Unlike the previous generation of social networks, it’s impermanent, highly intimate, surprising, a low judgment and anxiety zone, and was born and remains mobile-only. Brands, if you’re not here, change that.
Paran: What can we expect to see from Deutsch in the coming year? How will your mobile marketing efforts evolve?
Winston: We’re doing a lot of interesting things in mobile and beyond in both NY and LA. A couple of things I’m particularly excited about are helping Taco Bell re-imagine mobile food ordering as well as the work we’re doing with Anthem to make shopping for insurance a more calming experience. In terms of how our mobile efforts evolve, product development and commerce will remain priorities, as will smarter content creation and production. We already live in a “skip ad” culture but with iOS 9 coming, we all have even more pressure on us to make original and shareable advertising.

It’s an exciting time to be in the business. The rules keep changing, the expectations keep getting bigger, and the advertisers aren’t in charge anymore. It’s time to level up our game, put customers first, and make work that leads (not chases) culture. “Innovate or die” has never been truer.