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Intelligence Briefs

Origin Energy proves partnerships not tech, make digital marketing work

Industry Contributor

Duncan Craig
DC Comms

5 August 2019 3min read

In the face of intense competition and tightening marketing budgets, Origin Energy digital marketing lead Will Murphy told Advertising Week APAC that tight knit relationships between in-house teams, agency and technology partners are key to customer retention and acquisition.

Key points

  • Origin is Australia’s largest energy supplier
  • Highly competitive, digitally-led retail market
  • Uses Adobe’s Ad Cloud, media agency Atomic 212, and ad-server firm Flashtalking to run its display, search and video advertising in Australia
  • “We face a heap of challenges” - Will Murphy, digital marketing lead


My Takeout

Origin Energy has invested a truckload on internal IT systems, but when it comes to digital marketing, it relies on a bunch of outside providers to make sure its online advertising works and helps win new customers.

Competition in the energy retail sector is intense. Origin's rivals are trying to steal marketshare - and its 4 million customers - every day and supplier switching is digitally-driven. The success, or otherwise, of its digital presence and strategy is therefore critical.

The company works with Adobe’s Ad Cloud, media agency Atomic 212, and ad-server firm Flashtalking to run its display, search and video advertising in Australia. It’s a classic new world outsourcing model, where the media agency acts as the key advisor, and everyone pulls together and knows their role. The partnership provides at least one example that the clamour for digital in-housing, with its promised nirvanas of data control and cost efficiencies, may be easing. 

More often than not, ugly turf wars, a lack of a clear brief or strategy, and fuzzy role descriptions, kill or ruin joint projects. Multiparty digital initiatives typically end in recrimination and failure. Murphy, who acknowledges the brutal nature of the energy markets, stressed that tight budgets means that clarity of roles and goal-setting is paramount.

“We face a heap of challenges in our business,” said Origin digital marketing lead, Will Murphy. ”We have taken our time to understand our strategic goals. We know we have to do more with less, or more with the same. Being absolutely clear on the end goal is vital.”

That means carefully selecting partners to deliver key tasks, without duplication of remit.

“It comes down to how many partners you can successfully manage,” said Murphy. “If you aren't able to make the right time for all these partners, you’ve probably got too many.” He added: “It’s key to make sure there is no overlap. You don’t want two search teams, so the question comes down to rights and responsibilities.”

Adobe Ad Cloud APAC MD Phil Cowlishaw pointed to research that showed the top challenges facing CMO’s: protecting customer data, ensuring data analytics led to business insights, inability to trust data and not being able to get easy access to data.

He also pointed out that performance marketing has historically been executed in silos - on one side sits the analytics team who run the platform, monitor the click-through data, and are focused on the “analytics source of truth”. The marketing team was situated in another area, and burdened with running multiple platforms, while their focus was view-through data, and the “media source of truth.” 

Those factors have meant that marketing and technology people don’t speak the same language.

Cowlishaw, a former senior executive at digital agency IKON Communications in Sydney, said the trick is to reduce complexity and get the partnering model right.

A new trend, said Flashtalking Australia country director Georgia Brammer, is the blending of roles in a partnership world. Specialists can no longer survive, and everyone needs to understand a bunch of areas, such as attribution, dynamic creative optimisation, ad ops, or how a DMP works. 

Being the big dog at the table has been expensive for Adobe. As Adobe Ad Cloud APAC MD Phil Cowlishaw pointed out, the company has spent US$10.5 billion on its “Experience Cloud”, and the digital advertising world since 1990, including the US$540m purchase in 2016 of video advertising firm TubeMogul.

With billions of dollars invested in digital technology, Adobe has to make these partnerships work, as the stack wars continue to heat up. 


Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Duncan Craig
DC Comms

Duncan Craig runs specialist adtech PR agency DC Communications. He is a former business and technology journalist. See 
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