KBR's Grant Hyland on communication, collaboration and the customer-first approach
KBR has announced a new exclusive partnership with an Aussie mobile marketing company Geronimo. We talked to managing director Grant Hyland to get the inside skinny on the deal, what it means for KBR's capabilities and what's next on the ambitious company's agenda.
StopPress: You’ve recently cut a deal with Geronimo. Who are they?
Grant Hyland: Geronimo is a Sydney based business that specialises in providing mobile marketing solutions for brands and agencies. There are strong synergies between us and we’re a very similar company to them. Like us, they partner with agencies and businesses to provide a full end-to-end solution. They differ from us in that they help companies improve the way they connect with their customers on mobile platforms, they call this ‘mobile customer experience or ‘MCX’. For us, that represents an opportunity to both extend our capabilities and to access the Australian market through them and vice versa.
Similar to us, except in mobile, they pride themselves on supporting businesses through their customers’ digital journey.
Mobile became the dominant form of digital display advertising for the first time in the 2017 calendar year. These days it is the first device or channel that consumers use. In April this year, publisher giant Facebook reported that over 90 percent of its advertising revenue now comes from mobile and that over 1 billion people only use Facebook on mobile. When we talk to publishers and take a look at their device breakdowns, in every case, more than 50 percent of their traffic is coming from mobile devices, so it is a logical next step for us and the timing is perfect.
What parts of the mobile experience do they specialise in?
Geronimo specialise in five areas. Mobile strategy, design, UX, tech and media. We were really keen to build KBR’s design capability and with Geronimo we get that. Now we can design and build mobile responsive apps, IOS apps, Android apps, web apps, rich media units, banner ads - anything. We can also offer the user experience and user interface experience required to make these digital items truly effective.
The second thing we really like is their technology. Geronimo acquired Tapit Media last year, which specialises in near-field communication marketing, so we’re looking at ways we can take that capability and plug it into our overall offering. Basically it’s the same Tap & Go technology people use to pay for things but instead you can now tap your phone on things to get a digital experience.
And finally we like that Geronimo is really strong in mobile media. This is obviously a big focus for us. Now we have access to the Geronimo Dynamic mobile media solution, a planning process that helps us plan across the multitude of mobile suppliers and technology companies in the mobile media ecosystem.
Wait, planning process? What does that mean in regard to mobile advertising?
There are lot of different mobile providers out there and they all do different things. Geronimo Dynamic provides us with the best mobile media players in market in a simple and straightforward way.
We’re also working in the programmatic space with Geronimo’s mobile exchange, a market-leading mobile supply platform for agencies and advertisers that want to connect to premium mobile inventory through their own DSPs. The larger agencies and brands in market have their own trading desks managing their programmatic campaigns, so what this does is it actually opens us up to having conversations with these larger agencies and brands, so they can connect to our SSP and have access to the full range of our supply-side relationships.
So that sounds like a huge boost to your capabilities...
Yeah, it is. It’s an exclusive partnership - they are not in the New Zealand market and we are not in the Australian market, so we've created this partnership to gain access to each other’s audience and to complement our own services.
But more importantly, we chose this path because their ethos runs parallel to ours. It’s a great opportunity to extend our consultative approach to working with agencies while bolstering our capabilities to provide a full mobile journey. It’s very comprehensive. At the end of the day, our desire is to provide a fully rounded solution to our agencies.
We have recently launched our blog, KBR Digitales. It further expands on this thought, it’s designed to provide our agencies facts and commentary around the evolving digital landscape and for us to provide our view of the trends influencing the market and to ultimately help educate the market one post at a time.
So is this a case of KBR answering demand? Are your clients demanding better mobile capabilities from KBR?
They are. When we first launched five years ago we were quite one dimensional in our offering. As digital advertising has grown in importance, KBR has had to find a way to evolve with it. It’s about offering a diverse set of solutions to our agencies that add value and help answer their client’s challenges.
We are very proud of our brand - and also very protective of it. To partner with someone we needed to ensure they were an appropriate partner. We enjoy working with them, they've got a great reputation and what we do fits nicely alongside what they do, so it's a very complimentary arrangement.
So from a marketing perspective, do you think that we are now entering ‘the age of mobile’?
It was going to be the ‘year of the mobile’ for ages, finally the time is now. As the Mary Meeker report revealed the other week, time spent on mobile devices is now disproportionate to the ad spend on mobile. This means there is now a serious opportunity as the ad money will flow to where consumers are spending the most time.
It all really began when the Apples and Samsungs of the world started building faster and more complex devices that consumers valued. Mobile is now a core part of everyone's lives, and most importantly to us, it's a far richer experience than we’ve ever had before. Building engagement is a hugely important factor with digital campaigns and we feel our current suite of tools helps our agencies deliver this desired engagement.
Want to know more? In the previous piece, Hyland talks programmatic advertising and why it's the future
This story is part of a paid partnership with KBR Digital.