We recently spoke with Emanuela Recalcati, Client Solutions Director EMEA at Xaxis, to find out more about her day-to-day role, and how it has been affected by Covid-19.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m Client Solutions Director EMEA at Xaxis, focused on delivering innovative and creative answers to the challenges faced by our brand clients.
My mission is to connect creativity and data in the programmatic space and build a more engaging advertising experience that brings brands closer to consumers and generates the best outcomes for our clients.
To put this in context, the rise of programmatic media buying resulted in a focus on reaching the right people with sophisticated data, however, good quality creative was increasingly being overlooked, and that’s what Xaxis is addressing.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
The pandemic has been an interesting time for me. Usually I concentrate on work during the week and dedicate weekends to my two-year old and the rest of my family, using the time for activities, trips, and social events. The pandemic and resulting lockdown completely disrupted this balance.
I created a ‘new normal’ by devising what might be seen as a military schedule for childcare, tag-teaming with my husband to make the most of every meeting I attended, and making sure every single moment I spent in front of my computer was used in the most efficient way.
The military schedule didn’t always work, I had some funny experiences of my daughter popping up on camera and pulling faces to some senior people of a partner agency or throwing a tantrum during an important meeting… the mute button is amazing on a conference call!
I have had less time for those informal chats with colleagues over a coffee, which I miss greatly, but the positive thing is that I learned how and when to reach out for help when I really need it. In a way, the pandemic has brought out the best in people and encouraged a willingness to collaborate more closely than ever.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
Microsoft Teams has been a lifesaver during the pandemic. Not only for video-conferencing and chat functions, but all the innovative features that allowed me to work as efficiently from home as I do in the office.
In terms of techniques, I focused on meetings that matter and made sure I added value in every one I attended.
Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?
Lots of companies did a great job in adapting their working styles and supporting their employees during this tough time, but there are some in particular that really impressed me. Tesla, Dyson, and even Formula 1 stopped their usual production and focused on building things like breathing aids for COVID-19 patients, and all in an extremely short space of time.
It speaks volumes that these companies make an effort to give back to the world while retaining as many employees as possible, even as their sales slip.
What changes are you making to help your brand/clients connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
The internet became more important than ever. Consumers used it as a vital channel for news and entertainment, and an increased means to access essential products and services.
Xaxis built new creative solutions such as conversational ads that helped brands connect more personally with consumers, allowing more meaningful interactions. It enabled retailers to easily answer questions in real-time about things like opening hours, stock availability and the best times to visit a store. And all of this happens within an ad!
What trends have you seen over the last several weeks in your sector?
Some businesses such as ecommerce merchants and consumer goods companies are thriving, as evidenced by Amazon’s Q2 2020 results. A recent GroupM EMEA survey showed that 69% of brands will increase their investment in online display adverting, 62% of brands will increase their investment in online video, and 57% will focus on emotional connections with consumers. It’s all about connecting better with consumers!
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
Understand how demand is changing within your product catalogue and monitor if your target audience might be shifting. We saw this with one of our clients, Ikea, where we leveraged AI to understand changes in consumer behaviour on the company website. It meant creative strategy could be rapidly adapted.
In practice, when lockdown came into force, we noticed changes in the products the users were searching and purchasing, with a focus on ‘home office’ items such as chairs, desks, and items for home organisation and storage. We used this information to quickly adapt communications and showcase the most appropriate products in the ad itself. When restrictions began to be lifted we noticed this trend evolving to encompass more outdoor-oriented products such as garden furniture. As a result, we could again adapt strategy to rapidly meet demand and ensure the best business outcomes for Ikea.
What does long-term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
Ultimately, our clients have become equally focused on both cost-effectiveness and innovative ideas. Fostering innovation is at the core of everything we do at Xaxis and we treat our talent as our main innovative asset. We’re making sure we future proof our business by continuously investing in new ideas and providing an open platform for creativity and collaboration.
We also had to adapt our internal processes to make effective remote working a long-term strategy, which looks set to be in place in one form or another for the foreseeable future.