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An Interview with Amanda Thompson

Global Digital IQ Program Manager, Coca-Cola Co.

Coca-Cola brought on Amanda Thompson in July 2014 to create and run a global digital marketing education program for Coke marketers worldwide. She’s responsible for building a community of connected marketers through digital tools. The main objective for her team is to provide a current understanding of how to do marketing well in today’s constantly in-flux digital world. The team’s audience includes a broad stroke of professionals, from brand marketers, communications and media practitioners to content writers and designers. Instead of working with just “the digital person” on teams, Coke and Thompson’s approach is to connect with all involved because today digital touches everyone.

What are your key business priorities over the next 12 months?

Amanda Thompson: We have to do a lot of internal selling of our education program. Our challenge is to drum up awareness and interest for all our markets and country teams in the field. We want to drive up numbers and the volume of people trained, and have them engaged with the program. This includes taking courses, including live workshops and online e-learning.

Another priority is what we call “raising our digital IQ.” To evaluate this, we do a skills check. It’s like an online quiz where people answer questions. It lets us gauge the team’s knowledge and skills in digital, as well as their confidence. We measure people on a scale, and our business objective is to raise that number. Ultimately, we hope that as they go through the trainings, it will raise those numbers. We want to increase both their knowledge and confidence in the digital space.

How does eMarketer PRO help your team with these priorities?

Thompson: The eMarketer PRO platform is a really great way for our markets and marketers to be able to dive into really understanding the landscape of their particular market. We want them to know their consumers and how they’re spending their time, including how they’re interacting with digital media, as well as just understanding the overarching business landscape.

One of the key principles that we teach is that digital marketing must be grounded in a consumer insight. Marketers need to be informed on the target audience that they’re trying to reach and about their behavior, needs and desires. eMarketer PRO is a great place to gather that information.

For example, eMarketer puts out data about smartphone penetration in a certain age range. Recently, I looked at one on how smartphone penetration is increasing among millennials in Argentina. And that right there is the beginning of a strong consumer insight. It’s valuable information for us to craft our program and reach [the target audience] more effectively.

Can you walk through another recent example of this in action?

Thompson: The education program is global, and so, we have different workshops coming up around the world. For instance, I have both my South Latin folder and I have my China folder on eMarketer PRO. I see the daily emails that come across or the weekly roundup. I’ll scan that list and go through articles and reports. I’ll then save them in my folders. This way, when the China workshop is coming up, I’ll have this group of reports and articles that I’ll be reading before I get there.

We also encourage our marketers to set up alerts set for their own coverage areas on any of the things that they are interested. This way, they too can be consuming that information and have it at hand when they’re crafting their brand plans.

How were you able to get buy-in to move to an open access subscription?

Thompson: I’m actually in a unique position because I’ve been at the company here twice. And both times, I was here with eMarketer as one of my projects. When I was here first, 2008 through 2010, we tried to do an open access subscription, but we just couldn’t get the buy-in internally to spend the money. At that time, we ended up buying individual seats and probably spent about as much money doing that. But, we couldn’t get that cohesion.

But when I came back in 2014, we had a new opportunity with eMarketer, an open access license at a nice introductory rate. And, we were able to sell that.

How does it compare to other resources? What are some of your favorite features?

Thompson: I think eMarketer is unique because there’s a tremendous focus on the digital space, and this is a great match for my particular initiative.

Besides that, we also simply want to make sure that our marketers are thinking more holistically about their marketing initiatives. Another message from our digital IQ program is about digital integration within people’s everyday lives, weaving it in and out of real spaces, while a consumer is watching television or waiting for a bus. It’s not about scrapping TV or out-of-home. And the digital insights that eMarketer PRO offers is a big part of that.

And while part of our efforts in the digital IQ program is education, it’s also about inspiration. In addition to the articles and reports, the interviews in particular are a good foundation for some inspiration.

How has en eMarketer interview helped to encourage inspiration?

Thompson: I recently read an interview with someone from AOL, who talked about some of the work that they had done with Snapchat and how they thought that may have impacted their efforts on being in front of millennial audiences. When I’m reading an article like that, it’s inspiring to think about what are some of the ways we could use Snapchat. In this interview, in particular, it was talking about two different angles. They used Snapchat to recruit talent and also to promote a certain event using a particular filter.

The interviews are really interesting because they give you that unique perspective of someone who is in a job like mine somewhere else and what they were experiencing. And they inspire you to think about new ways to do things. It’s my hope that the markets are feeling that way too, and read the interviews.

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Amanda Thompson

On eMarketer:

“eMarketer PRO is a really great way for our markets and marketers to be able to dive into really understanding the landscape of their particular market.”

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