Gary J. Nix is an entrepreneurial and experienced marketing strategist who has a penchant for learning.
He’s worked in multiple segments of the world of marketing to gain a deeper, more complete understanding of how the various pieces can fit together into strategy. By learning retail inside-and-out as a Macy’s merchandising manager, to helping create digital strategy for companies like Condé Nast Publications and Nike, Gary has developed a knack for recognizing and generating marketing best practices.
Given he has 16 years of experience and counting, Gary has decided to turn his attention building an up and coming branding agency, bdot, where he will operate as chief strategy officer.
Gary is is ever-present on Twitter conversations concerning branding and marketing, so we had to hear what this moderator of #brandchat had to say about the future of advertising and programmatic:
PA.O: A character called programmatic advertising just showed up on the set of Mad Men. What do they look like? What do they say? What are they doing and with whom?
Gary J. Nix: As much as I would like to say programmatic would be Bob Benson, the character would probably be played by the part of the IBM System/360-30 Mainframe computer. It was very new and began to show its efficiencies quickly. We’ll just leave the parts out regarding what it did to Ginsberg.
PA.O: In your opinion, how is programmatic advertising – the growing prevalence of marketing automation, data mining and the cloud – changing the world?
Gary J. Nix: All comparisons to the Terminator’s SkyNet notwithstanding, programmatic advertising is a great help right now in the way we use technology to advertise. Automating and speeding up targeting, managing where the ads go and real-time bidding free up time for the humans to analyze data and gain real-person insights. The world of digital advertising has changed, but there is plenty more change to come.
PA.O: What systems and ways of thinking do you think are being completely disrupted by the emergence of programmatic buying? What about by digital advertising in general?
Gary J. Nix: To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the word “disruption.” What programmatic advertising is doing is finding a more efficient way to do a job. It’s a way for machines and humans to work together in a better way. Knowing that there’s a better way to do a job is more calming than disruptive.
PA.O: How is this affecting our culture? And is this for better or worse?
Gary J. Nix: Some people are fearing the machines again, which is funny because we work with machines all of the time. There is no need to be afraid – at least not yet. The ability to use technology to perform analytic tasks, ones that require no emotion, is a good thing. We as humans are still needed for everything else.
PA.O: We’ve often heard it said that “man is only limited by his imagination.” What might be the biggest growth areas for advertising?
Gary J. Nix: The biggest area of growth is and has always been in figuring out how to be more effective. Granted, we all have responsibilities to our clients or brands to maximize their revenue and thus, their profits. However, our concentration needs to be focused on finding better ways to connect to our customers in the way they want with the type of content they want when they’re ready. That’s where the imagination comes into play.
PA.O: In your opinion, what are some significant trends emblematic of today’s advertising philosophy? Does it align with your own opinion of what’s the most effective?
Gary J. Nix: We’re still, for the most part, using a reach-based system. Don’t get me wrong; reach is important, but we need to give the people what they want. If what “we” want matches what the people want, fine. However, “they” are more important because they hold the power. Without them, there is no us.
Programmatic Advertising.org: Can you tell us about any campaigns over the past year that have caught your attention in a good or bad way? Why did they stand out to you?
Gary J. Nix: I’ve seen MasterCard do some really big things this year. Putting the spotlight on Priceless all around the world since the beginning of the year was and is a big deal. Brand affinity is very important in the world of credit cards with multiple cardholders having so many cards and so many choices.
PA.O: We’re looking at the cover of Advertising Age 50 years from now. What would the headline be? What do you think the ad industry might be like? What about our consumer culture?
Gary J. Nix: I think the headline will be “Back to the Future,” and I’m not saying that because of my Twitter handle. Everything is cyclical. We will be looking at more person to person, real life communication instead of talking about using technology to facilitate the conversation.
PA.O: Let’s play devil’s advocate. What are some of your concerns about the future? What keeps you up at night?
Gary J. Nix: My biggest concern is the “sell, sell, sell” mentality, and brands that look inward when trying communicating their offerings instead of looking outward. This is a battle marketing people have been fighting since the dawn of time. But the answer to sales is so simple. Let people know you have a great product that can help them. Provide this value, and they will make the purchase. Yes, we have to let them know what we have and sell to a certain extent, but if consumers already know your product can really help them, you don’t have to “hard sell” the product quite so much.
PA.O: Every generation has its game changers – those people like the Steve Jobs’ of the world. What would you like to tell our next generation of innovators?
Gary J. Nix: Don’t be afraid to go against the flow. Apple’s motto was “Think different” for a reason.