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Get To Know Elise James-Decruise, VP Of Multicultural Marketing & Inclusion At MediaMath

Helping MediaMath instil a strong sense of inclusivity and cultural understanding across its services and offerings, as well as better position diversity within the wider marketing ecosystem.

Elise, I am very interested, and I am sure our readers are too. Can you walk us through – what is your role as MediaMath’s Head of Multicultural Marketing & Inclusion?

As Vice President and Head of Multicultural Marketing and Inclusion at MediaMath, my main aim is helping MediaMath instil a strong sense of inclusivity and cultural understanding across its services and offerings, as well as better position diversity within the wider marketing ecosystem.

When I first joined MediaMath in 2012, I helped to launch the New Marketing Institute (NMI), MediaMath’s educational arm that equips and empowers the new generation of digital marketing professionals. I passionately sowed into that for a good seven years before recently leaving it in the very capable hands of Laura Rodriguez-Costacamps, a long-standing NMI team member who brings incredible skill, passion and warmth to the role.

Now, I am working much closer to the source of driving diversity and inclusion (D&I) within the industry, by advising MediaMath and its clients and partners on solutions to best reach multicultural audiences and engage them right where they are.

I’m really passionate about putting D&I as a focal point in the workforce and marketplace. Under my current remit, I assess and grow current D&I programmes and work on strengthening external partnerships with clients, trade associations and the wider ecosystem. My aim is to cultivate deeper multicultural awareness, drive growth initiatives and provide thought leadership in line with advances in technology and the growth of our world’s multicultural population.

I also hope to encourage marketers to be more flexible in exploring new ways of reaching consumers as the market diversifies. It’s going to be crucial for companies to establish authentic connections if they want to remain relevant in today’s context!

To put it simply, MediaMath provides digital advertising and data management solutions for brands and agencies. Of course, that is just in a nutshell. Can you tell us what MediaMath is all about, Elise?

At MediaMath, our vision is to rebuild a media ecosystem that is accountable, effective and trustworthy for consumers, marketers and publishers – helping brands and marketers from various industries connect with customers across all digital touchpoints. Our consultancy expertise covers emerging channels such as connected TV, digital and programmatic out-of-home.

As an industry leader in the programmatic space, we also pride ourselves on being vocal on pertinent issues such as ad fraud, user identity, brand safety, and the transparency of supply chains. Over the past year alone, we have taken steps to deliver a more transparent and accountable programmatic ecosystem – alongside partners such as WhiteOps and Rubicon Project.

We believe that it takes a mix of both technology and talent to create a more accountable, addressable supply chain. With the work I have done with NMI, in addition to my new role as VP, Head of Multicultural Marketing & Inclusion, it helps MediaMath to fill the talent pipeline with the next generation of new, diverse talent. These are individuals who can help the industry stay accountable both from an internal standpoint (how people of all backgrounds are treated in the workplace) and also externally (in terms of how we market to different populations and cultural backgrounds). So, really, it is work from both the inside out and the outside in. 

Now, here is a very exciting part. Tell us about Multicultural Marketing.

Multicultural Marketing used to be an afterthought to many companies’ core marketing efforts. However, in today’s digital age, consumers’ needs and wants are often ephemeral, and engagements between brands and international audiences are now the norm. As the consumer market continues to expand in diversity, brands need to work towards establishing real connections with audiences across borders and cultures, especially if they want to remain relevant to them.

In recent years, we’ve seen racial and cultural divides cause heated debate across mainstream media and in the digital advertising space. The backlash felt by global brands such as Nike, Prada, H&M and Dolce & Gabbana highlight that marketers should strongly consider the multicultural dimensions of their offerings to effectively serve their relationships with people across borders and groups.

Marketers are starting to find themselves rather hard-pressed in coordinating an effective strategy that targets consumer preferences on a local level while spreading resources efficiently. This is where multicultural marketing comes in. The challenge now is growing an increased awareness and placing more value on cultural understanding across the region. We need to integrate multicultural nuances into overall marketing strategies, and multicultural marketing is going to be imperative for success.

Why is Multicultural Marketing crucial amongst Asian marketers?

In a region as diverse and vast as Asia, marketers are dealing with consumers hailing from a multitude of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. As such, it is more crucial than ever for brands to focus on understanding and addressing the unique background and sensitivities of the communities they are targeting.

Today, brands and marketers hold great responsibility when it comes to crafting culturally appropriate messages. Particularly so in Asia, where marketers can find themselves at wit’s end attempting to reach out to the diverse cultures and ethnicities present across the region.

This is where programmatic can help spearhead marketers’ efforts. As part of the wider multichannel, multicultural marketing efforts, programmatic enables marketers to personalise advertising campaigns for multicultural audiences in a manner of seconds, not hours or days.

Furthermore, programmatic is by far the most sustainable model for brands looking to reach out across diverse audiences and scale accordingly – a key consideration as more people and more markets enter the picture. With data-driven digital marketing, it is the organisations with agility, flexibility and accurate insights who will succeed in reaching audiences with zero compromises on cultural relevance.

In recent times, we have seen how brands suffer when some layer of communications and offerings are not thought about thoroughly; and I mean in terms of sensitivity of race or ethnicity. That said, in your opinion, what key principles and practical steps should brand consider?

I have five tips for this:

1. Know what your customers want

Understand the features, functions and benefits that are most important to your target audience is key. Investing in market research analytics will go a long way in helping you decide on the product attributes to emphasise, and which to play down, in driving product choice.

2. Allocate resources wisely

Conducting marketing segmentation analyses will help you determine how to split campaign budgets optimally. By identifying and grouping specific consumer groups together according to distinct similarities, you can then speak their language to satisfy their unique needs and desires. This way, you’ll be able to plan resources more effectively and eventually, bolster your return of investment.

3. Leverage contextual targeting

All marketers should be using contextual targeting, which allows relevant ads to be shown alongside content that users have an existing interest in. This helps to align brand messaging with the consumer experience and maximises the chances of reaching someone with high potential of purchase.

4. Consider behavioural nuances

We cannot think of Asia as one regional market, but instead as separate countries with distinct consumer characteristics. There are also hundreds of ethnic holidays across Asia. Campaigns need to be set up end-to-end with cultural and lifestyle nuances in mind and use relevant imagery and messaging to resonate with different cultural groups.

5. Optimise budget based on log data

We can also optimise campaign budgets further by checking the browser language data through user logs and event logs. For example, when running a multicultural campaign in two languages (say, Vietnamese and English) and the data shows that 80% of traffic is on a Vietnamese browser language, you should re-calibrate the budget to meet the skew.

Through these five practical ways, brands can truly demonstrate cultural understanding and authentic representation as they engage with audiences, in a way that is diverse and inclusive. In turn, brand experiences will also make sense for consumers and be remembered for being “real”.

So Elise, having discussed the above, how is MediaMath approaching multicultural marketing?

In the past decade, multicultural audiences are not only growing in population but also sharing in the celebration of their cultural uniqueness – through their connection and loyalty to brands both online and offline. MediaMath is approaching multicultural marketing in a thoughtful, holistic and intentional way.

We are taking the time to listen to our clients, partners and the ecosystem at large to understand their multicultural marketing business goals and discover ways to integrate them seamlessly into overall marketing goals.

Through those client conversations, there is a big opportunity to collaborate and share best practices on ways to reach consumers across diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, regardless of their device, location, time of day. 

It is indeed fascinating; however, why now?

Multicultural marketing has evolved over the past few years, from a mostly language-based discipline, working in parallel to a brand’s campaigns, to one that takes into consideration the different cultural backgrounds of consumers and integrates it with the brand’s overall marketing efforts across channels.

Today, we see a marketplace that is moving from a fragmented approach towards targeting and segmentation, which tends to increase the opportunity for culture to become a differentiator for brands and their strategies. It’s definitely an exciting time as we stand at the intersection of Programmatic and Multicultural Marketing. I love working at a company like MediaMath, who cares about “meeting their clients where they are” in order to deliver results for their Multicultural Marketing efforts and Programmatic needs more broadly. 

For Marketing In Asia readers who wish to know more about Multicultural Marketing, MediaMath or get in touch with you, how can they do so? 

Readers who wish to learn more about Multicultural Marketing and MediaMath’s approach to Multicultural Marketing through our proprietary technology platform can visit our MCM webpage.

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Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen

Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen is the Marketing In Asia's Editor for Singapore. She is also a certified Image Branding & Lifestyle Consultant. Born in Singapore and blessed to have lived in a couple of other amazing cities in the world, Anjalika is currently expatriating in Kuala Lumpur. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram. You may also reach her by email at anjalika@marketinginasia.com.

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