David Dombrosky – CMO of InstantEncore.com
PA.O: What led you to becoming the CMO of Instant Encore, a mobile app development platform?
D. Dombrosky: It was actually serendipitous. I got out of school in the late ‘90s, in a market where everything “Internet” started being forced onto me. I had to learn in order to succeed. I started by simply learning Microsoft Office and doing administrative work. I got a job with an African-American theater company in Atlanta back when they were still doing all of their box office ticket sales by hand. I taught myself Microsoft Access and started creating databases, so they could at least start tracking clientele. This started me down a path of learning ever-changing technological tools to make arts management efforts more effective.
PA.O: How is programmatic advertising evolving in your particular space?
D. Dombrosky: Retargeting has really taken off in the arts marketing space.
PA.O: Would you say that there is a sizeable market of ad serving companies geared toward retargeting in the performing arts?
D. Dombrosky: There are a couple, but I would definitely say it is a niche market. There are more service providers helping people better utilize the power of programmatic in ad networks. Basically, they are serving as consultants in the area of digital ad campaigns and retargeting.
PA.O: What are some issues in applying programmatic advertising in the arts?
D. Dombrosky: A lot of people talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in the type of experience that people in the arts and culture provide. We are not serving the base level hierarchy, food, environment and shelter. The arts and entertainment industry is all about self-affirmation and self-actualization. Because it is about self, you have to show audiences the best version of themselves to be successful as an advertiser.
The challenge is in the creative. The question becomes, how can the advertiser craft content in such a way that it seems unique, even if it is not?
PA.O: How do you quantify marketing that is self-actualized, such as the level of enjoyment of your creative media, productions, shows, etc.?
D. Dombrosky: There is research coming out of a consulting group called Wolf Brown; they are doing an entire study around intrinsic impact of the arts where they are quantifying the intrinsic as opposed to the extrinsic. For a long time in the arts, we have been focused on economic impact of the arts and how they impact standardized testing scores. We are really trying to measure how arts change people – the internal benefits.
We are developing a system for measuring intrinsic impact. Once we have this system in place, we can craft campaigns to measure that data and determine what levers we can pull in our campaigns.
Let’s say you have a theater company that opens a new show in a week. A lot of their display ads should focus on visuals from the show. Give your audience images people having an amazing experience at your event because no matter who they are, they want that too. That kind of communication is often more valuable than listing cast names and titles.
PA.O: I have heard you refer to the performing arts organizations as “late adopters.”
D. Dombrosky: Arts organizations are slower to accept new marketing technology, but when they familiarize themselves with the concept, product or service, they quickly grow to love it. You could say that they are late to the party, but when they arrive they definitely party hard!
Right now, performing arts consumers are in a period of sensitivity that has really heightened their awareness of being tracked and followed. Given all of the identity theft and recent cybercrime, they are concerned that their data is being hijacked by advertisers.
Those organizations that decide to use programmatic advertising need to do so in a way that preserves the integrity of their brands and assuages the fears of their audience.
PA.O: What do you envision to be the future of advertising for the performing arts?
D. Dombrosky: Twenty years from now who knows where we will be, but wearables have definitely made the marketing world more interesting. The idea that we have for wearables now will go even deeper and become integrated in our clothing and our accessories. With all of these digital channels connecting, marketers will be able to track and zone in on audiences with the right message at the right time and place.
PA.O: How do you see performing arts organizations integrating into the framework?
D. Dombrosky: They can do this in many different ways. There is a company called Figaro Systems that developed a platform called MobiTxt that delivers supertitles to mobile devices. It is being developed for translating opera lyrics on phones in real time. Now, rather than reading an in-seat prompter, you can see the lyrics going across your mobile device. Last year they experimented with having supertitles appear across your lens via Google Glass. Can you imagine when that might happen on a contact lens?
We are not yet in the best place to measure self-actualization in the arts, but I think we are headed that way.
PA.O: How do arts organizations utilize big data?
D. Dombrosky: It varies based on the size of organization and budget access . For instance, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s resources and budget allow them to access data on a much larger level than a small organization. They won’t call themselves business analysts at any measure, but you would see that their marketing team is definitely looking at data and Google Analytics. You can bet that they are doing retargeting campaigns to see how data is changing for the audience. They are using data to make informed decisions on how to spend their resources, targeting and messaging audiences with the right message for the right behavioral segment.
For smaller organizations, generally if the action is not about pushing direct sales, they have less interest. They have fewer resources, and their workforce is already burdened with the numerous tasks they have to do.
Arts and entertainment organizations could benefit from working together in aggregating behavioral and segment data.
PA.O: How can arts and entertainment organizations do digital marketing better?
D. Dombrosky: A lot of people treat everyone they market to as if they are in the same level of investment with the organization. I joke that marketers need to stop trying to make out with everyone on their email list. Some people you message have never heard of you or your brand before – they are just on the handshake level and should be communicated with differently. Don’t send them the same creative and messages as the people who already have a deeply involved relationship with your organization.
Overall, there is too much pray and spray in the arts. People are not segmenting as deeply as they should. We are using the same language to market the arts in 2015 as we did in the 1970s.