COVID-19 And Digitisation: Sir Martin Sorrell Forecasts Seismic Change

The “digital acceleration” stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic will transform business models, consumer behaviours and data collection.

These are the views of industry veteran and S4 Capital boss Sir Martin Sorrell, who spoke this week on a podcast with IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg.

“By and large there’s a switch more and more to digital and again we’re seeing acceleration,” he said.

Sorrell gave insight into how the current climate has impacted his digital-first business S4 Capital.

“C19 has fused content and programmatic and our data and analytics offer far more quickly than I though possible,” he said.

With consumers taking to ecommerce despite economic uncertainty and the volume of online activity continuing to surge, S4 Capital has sharpened its focus on data like never before.

“We’re building a strategic layer – which is enterprise driven – between content and programmatic and data,” Sorrell explained.

“Then we’re building three verticals; an enterprise offer around content, an enterprise offer around media and an SMB/independent agency model around media.

“Then underlying that is data and analytics, it’s coming together as one.”

invest in people 

Sir Martin also revealed that when it comes to S4 Capital’s $400M in annual revenue, he is hoping to invest less in property and more in people.

“We’re already terminating leases with WeWorks and elsewhere, as people are working at home,” he said. “We will consolidate our leases and our offices.”

And with many of the staff at S4 Capital’s agencies aged below 30, working from home has the potential to be an optimal model, he explained.

“A lot of people have said to me ‘we don’t want to come back to the office, we want to do more working from home’.

“And in a 24/7 environment where our people are not digital first, they’re digital natives… working from home is not a problem.”

Tiktok is winning 

The “digital acceleration” that has been brought on by COVID-19 puts tech companies in a strong position.

One company in particular Sorrell believes is well-placed to navigate the current climate – alongside the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon – is video sharing app TikTok.

“TikTok for me is the [platform] that is really making progress,” he said.

“The data that they have captured in this recession puts them in an immensely powerful position, particularly when we remember Google is nixing third-party cookies in two years, Apple has already nixed [third-party cookies].”

With such initiatives removing the proposition of third-party data for many, it is now first-party data that marketers seek.

“I’ve already had clients say to me that they’re extremely concerned that they will have to be forced back to the platforms who control the data anyway,” he said.

Both Sorrell and Rothenberg agreed COVID-19 will see brands conducting more in-housing as they seek to create Direct to Consumer (DTC) relationships.

“Marketeers are taking back control,” Sorrell said.

He also argued that while large brand campaigns can be problematic at the moment – a point echoed by Mark Ritson earlier this week – personalisation presents an opportunity for marketers.

“If you personalisation at scale now and you get it right, it will be immensely productive,” Sorrell said.

“Prices have gone down quite steeply if you evaluate it on a CPM basis. And if you evaluate it on a performance basis it’s very cheap. And you can monitor it much more easily.”

 




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