Christian Schneider – Outstanding Results Through Digital Personalization at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The Cogniverse Podcast: In this episode we dive deep into digital personalization and digital marketing strategies in the automotive industry.

Attila Tóth

Digital Strategist

“Some people say good things come to those who wait. Truth is, good things come to those who work hard!"
Christian Schneider

Christian Schneider is a digital expert whose passion for cars and automotive industry started early. His childhood dream came true, as he is Currently the head of Digital & Customer Experience at FCA. He has been working for over 10 years for big brands in the automotive industry.

Prior to this era, he worked as a client advisor in such global advertising agencies, as Wunderman PXP and JWT. In addition to this, he is also a lecturer at various specialist conferences and at the University of Vienna for the Department of Advertising.

He always focuses on optimizing the customer journey and his motto is: “Some people say good things come to those who wait. Truth is, good things come to those who work hard!” A true digital achiever with serious commitment. You can find Christian on on Linkedin,

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Podcast transcript:

Attila Tóth: Christian, welcome to the Cogniverse Show. I’m really happy that you could join and I am looking forward to an interesting discussion.

Christian Schneider: Hello again, thanks for having me.

Attila Tóth: Thank you for joining. So let’s start with something really interesting. Is this an urban legend on the web or is it true, that the first word you said as a child was “auto” instead of “mom”?

Christian Schneider: It sounds like a good story, right? It sounds like something you would have as a tagline if you have an article or so. No. To be honest, it is, in fact, true, it is up to this day something that we still don't talk that much about at home. But I'm a car guy and it was obviously from the beginning and I always loved cars even when I was a little child. And so, yeah, my first word was “auto”.

Attila Tóth: That's pretty funny. It could be really strange for your mother to hear “auto”.

Christian Schneider: At the end of the day, I came full circle, so now me working in the automotive industry for a couple of years, it's gratifying, obviously, not only for me but for my mother. So I think it was worthwhile.

Attila Tóth: So it was in your DNA, we can say that.

Christian Schneider: That's for sure.

Attila Tóth: OK. What's interesting that you're one of the few digital leaders who I see walking their talk. And by this I mean that many companies just use digital in the same way as they use traditional media, and they not tap into the power of personalization and specially hyper personalization. Can you tell us a bit about the strategy you adopted for Jeep using content individualization?

Christian Schneider: Sure. I mean, thanks for saying what you just said for walking the talk. I mean, it’s something I try and it is, of course, convenient to pilot new ideas and to try rare things, that's for sure. But at the end of the day, with the limited budget that we have, it's an absolute necessity to pilot a lot of things and to try out new things. And personalization is one of the trends that not only we but the market is following, and in times like these, where everyone is so fed up with advertising, I mean, take ad blockers, for example. Nobody really is listening anymore, so personalization is the way to go, basically or especially for a brand like Jeep. It's benefiting at the end both the user and us as a company. And - I mean – where we are showing them what's relevant for them, and even able to learn something about the users while doing so, that's something we got to adapt for future campaigns, obviously. And in the campaign you just mentioned with Jeep, basically, what we did was - a short summary would be - a big content marketing campaign where we created two different storylines which were on landing pages, that were individualized 100% based on the engagement of the users. So by saying that I mean the first 15-20% of the landing pages were absolutely the same for all the users, but based on what you did in the upper part, based on how you engage with this slide or you looked at the videos or spent time on reading the text into detail, the whole rest of the site was adapting in real time to your needs, or to your engagement, which we see at the end of the day as something that's really unique and something that's going to be a trend. And listening to the user needs and at the end of the day showing them, exactly that.

Attila Tóth: Pretty cool. So basically what you're saying here is that you were using the live data that you were capturing from the landing page engagements, and based on these data each user would see a customized content. If I understand correctly.

Christian Schneider: Absolutely right. That's what we do.

Attila Tóth: Sounds pretty neat. And what were the results? I've read about it on the media, but I would like to know personally from you, what do you think: was it worth the effort to do this personalization campaign?

Christian Schneider: Absolutely. I mean, if you want to have something relevant for the users, that's the way to go. If you want to have insights that are valuable to the company, we achieve that. The thing is, if we, as Jeep - as an international brand - we have many factories all around the globe. And one model especially is built in the U.S. that is pretty common in Austria – the Jeep Compass -, and so you can imagine with logistics and everything it takes quite some time to get the car from the U.S. factory by ship to Europe and then to Austria. And what we learned with the campaign was how the users were reacting to the car and reacting to… or individualizing the car. So now we are able to tell after a couple of months running time of the campaign, which are the configurations, which are the colors the users are more interested in, which are the seats, the trim levels, the wheels and everything. And now, at the end of the day, this is reflecting in our sales planning, and we are ordering more cars that have exactly this configuration that we learned about, and we're ordering them in the factory, and since now don't take five to six months waiting time, they’re actually here in the market. So at the end of the day, if you are interested in a Jeep, you will be able to get the car right on the spot. And this is just because we listen to what the Austrian market wants.

Attila Tóth: It's fabulous. I really like these case studies when the good use of digital strategy and digital marketing have a positive effect on the whole company logistics. Because what you're saying here is that the delivery time of a car definitely became faster as you were already aware of the patterns they would configure, so you could prepare your stocks. Am I correct?

Christian Schneider: Absolutely right.

Attila Tóth: Cool. The automotive industry from the outside, I would say it looks like a typical B2C model, however, who has worked in it knows that there are a lot of B2B aspects in it. Did you use digital to facilitate any B2B engagement?

Christian Schneider: I mean, in medium plans, obviously, we try not to distinguish too much between them. We aim to fit in the needs of the campaign. But for sure, there are different publishers and different environments where you need to take place. And of course we love to have dedicated campaigns for the Fleet of Business part, for the B2B part, and here, as a company the main goal would be to educate, to increase the share of voice in the market, to get on the shopping list. A lot of competitors are well-known in B2B segments, well-known for years and have proven to be there. We as a company have increased our portfolio with the last years and it grew. But we need to make people more aware about that and show them the used piece that we have in our products, and we have awareness campaigns that we have campaigns that are dedicated to user-choosers. So you have maybe a company car and you can choose, the company gives you a certain sum and lets you choose. And that's the people we want to aim for. So maybe with the brands like Alfa Romeo, you will not be having a company that's having a fleet of 200 cars, but you will be the one in the chairman's board where the guys say: “OK, maybe let's not drive a grey car from Germany, maybe let's drive a red car from Italy, and be someone special.” So we established quite some new campaigns and we have a corporation with leases, which is a long term rental company and which is really convenient. So we obviously tried to test new approaches all along. Right now we have a B2B campaign that is called stress-free, and by that we are just basically telling the customers: “OK, you don't need to decide now, the offer we are showing to you is valid for six months. So now you are aware, take your time, think about it.” We’re just in the automotive industry, not that common, normally it’s like: “OK, this is the offer, decided now because it's going to be expired at the end of the month.” So especially in the B2B market that's something we need to do, and digital is the best way to really target customers, and you have, obviously, special interest channels, you have external database that you can buy for newsletters, you have LinkedIn, which has proven to be really valuable to us in B2B campaigns, we have programmatic, obviously, for low CPM and we have content marketing. We - as I mentioned earlier -, we need to tell our story, and we need to show what we are capable of without forcing our features on the target audience. And there is a saying, that you either be the first you cheat or be smart. And at the end of the day - I mean - we tried to be the last one, we tried to be smart.

Attila Tóth: That's a really good strategy. And I'm glad you opened up this topic. It's also showing the braveness of the brand you are representing, because what you were saying is - I would say, a traditional sales tactic - to close the deal as fast as possible. However, in the marketing noise we are living today - and as it's increasing day by day -, these long term offers I see are getting better and better traction and becoming more and more convenient for potential customers, as you are not trying to push contract on a very limited time but you give them the possibility to breathe and to think about it. So I think you need to have a braveness to not to go right away after sales numbers but as you said, be smarter and win on the long term.

Christian Schneider: It's a necessity, I mean, if you really want to be on the market, you've got to listen to what the people, the users, the customers - however you want to call them -, you got to listen to them, and you react to their needs, even if it comes with growing pain in the company, but if you want to be relevant, you've got to do it, man.

Attila Tóth: Absolutely. Absolutely. This brings up the next question on my mind. Most car brands are facing a strategic challenge lately: should you follow the Tesla model to directly sell online or should you keep using the well-established dealership networks? How do you tackle at FCA this question?

Christian Schneider: Well, that's a tough one, and it's obviously something the industry will have a challenge with for the next years to come. I have the absolute opinion of… I mean I'm 100% convinced, dealership network is and will be crucial for a long time to come. At the end of the day our customer satisfaction and we are really happy to be on FCA level, being one of the top markets in EMEA with customer satisfaction, and this only is because of the customers and their relationship with the dealer network. This is proof of that people buy from people. So they need to have a personal interaction. If you have different sales opportunities, obviously you've got a leverage on them, but at the end of the day, people want to have a conversation and want to have someone to explain the car to them. We got to just make the sales more easier. And as I said earlier, at the same time we got to need to adapt to user needs, and these are changing rapidly, and depending on our products, we obviously try to do new things. Two years ago - obviously you know Black Friday, the sales, big sales campaign that a lot of companies are doing every year at the end of November. So two years ago we said to ourselves: “okay, let's try something new, let's do something we've never done, and was never done in the automotive industry in Austria till that day”, and we said: “OK, let's sell 50 cars on the Fiat 500”, the Cinquecento, which is like an icon in the automotive industry and an iconic car for us. So we set ourselves the goal of selling 50 cars online, and it was tough, and we prepared for a long time, we set up a lot of landing page mechanisms and newsletter reminders and timings, and it was really - we had a war room where we prepared everything - and it was really stressful, the days that led up to the Black Friday. Right. And I remember vividly it was… it started at 12 AM, I’m sorry, 12 PM, it was midnight, and it started. And I remember sitting at home, and there was the counter, which just was “OK, 2 minutes, 10 seconds, 4 seconds, 3 seconds”, and then at midnight it changed to how many cars are still available. And I was thinking to myself: “Oh, God, I hope it works. Let's just at least sell some cars.” And I remember it took 32 seconds that… and all the 50 models were gone. And I was as much surprised as anyone in the company that it actually worked, but there is the business model of selling cars directly online, but it is something that although it was unheard of in the Austrian market at that time, we got to use for a special series, which there is a way to further try this in the future, but let's not forget: if you spend 60, 70 K on a product, you want to be treated like it. There is the word liquid expectations, which is just representing you are now so used to have the cost of experience that you have on Amazon, and you have on Facebook, and you have with your cell phone provider. Did you take these standards and put them on your everyday customer journey with all the companies? So if Amazon is that convenient, you expect to be treated with such a convenience in everything you do. That’s liquid expectations and you've got to react to that, and if it serves every touchpoint of the customer journey, which we tried to do, then that's perfectly fine, that's something we got to try more. But to come back to your question, your initial question: selling cars online, it works for some models, for some special series, and it's a great thing to do. And I still love our pilot campaign that we did, but at the end of the day, without our dealer network that is working with us for some dealers of 60 - 70 years. It's something that will be valuable for our long time to come.

Attila Tóth: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for the in depth answer. So what you're saying is a hybrid approach to leverage the potential possibilities which you can use for certain models, but still take care of your long-built dealership network, and you're counting on them in the upcoming years as well. Right?

Christian Schneider: For sure. I mean, these are disruptive times and we all need to adapt, and as we adapt as a company, at the same time our network is adapting and we work as closely as possible with them, we have a lot of trainings and all the new things, and I take this as a pride, that my team and I are really working on how to improve the relationship we have with them, and not just forcing them, some digital products onto them, but showing them what can happen and what is the benefit that we both take out of it at the end of the day. So, yeah, as I said, we just got to listen to the customer and try to adapt as much as possible to be relevant.

Attila Tóth: Yeah, that's a very strong thing you point out here, because FCA is a big corporation, but what I'm hearing from your words that you are using the agile management approach to be able to adapt fast to the market's needs. Right?

Christian Schneider:  Yeah. You've got to do that.

Attila Tóth: Basically, if we dive deep on this a bit, this could also mean that you will be using campaign data to facilitate maybe dealership sales. Is that an option for the future?

Christian Schneider: Yeah, of course. In the five years I've been with the company, I'm happy to say that the trust the dealer have, in addition to their own campaigns, not the national campaigns that we are doing, but on their local campaigns, they're not trusting way more the digital part of the media mix. When I joined the company, 1% of the whole media mix coming from the dealer network was digital. Now we have 41. So together we learned a lot, so we grew a lot, and obviously you got to use the data, you can’t ignore it.

Attila Tóth: True, we hear it now on almost every channel - especially we who are into digital -, that the importance of data is critical. But I would like to split a bit this topic on two points, because actually right now you can collect data almost from anywhere, but what about quality data? Are you on the side who believe that digital leaders should be using data on a daily basis, or do you think this is more a business intelligence topic and you should be only checking the conclusive KPI-s? What's your approach on this?

Christian Schneider: I'm going to sound really strange right now, but I think and I honestly think our digital industry in the last years… the industry tends to hide itself behind numbers. There is a click through ratio here, there’s a cost per click, their view time and so on and so on. But I think, at the end of the day it comes down to what is the real outcome at the end of the day. And is it selling a product, is it creating value for the users and the company in equal measure? I mean, you've got to think about it. So only then, I think if you’re creating value for both, then it is what can be considered successful. So I don't care if the conversion rate at the end of the day is higher than… I don't care if the view time of the video is not showing something that would lead to the conclusion. It's… of course, we love to have control of all the KPI-s, and we optimize them during all our campaigns, and in close corporation with our media agency, and they do a great job to them, together with them we optimize during the campaigns and we make assumptions afterwards based on the data. You need to see the big picture, and nevertheless, we need to attribute the KPI-s to the right part of the customer journey. I mean, a video is supposed to create awareness, to create emotion, to generate reach and views, so it's not meant to generate leads or hard selling KPI-s. At the same time, whereas tactical activities - like we have always on activities, a lot of them in our media plan -, we have programmatic, we have retargeting, we have Google AdWords, we have social ads, we have a corporation with a car marketplace. So those tactical activities are the ones that should deliver the hard KPI-s. And I think digital marketing can deliver all the data, as you said, which is sometimes a blessing and a curse at the same time. So let's check the numbers properly and let's make the best out of it.

Attila Tóth: I like your pragmatic approach. I think it's critical not to get lost in the numbers and to know what are you aiming for at the end of the day. And thanks for pointing out the difference between the tactical KPIs and the awareness KPIs. Because many times what I learned from the market is that people expect sales KPIs from each marketing activity, which is of course not going to happen, because it's a totally different thing. So, thanks for elaborating on that. Let’s move to our next topic. What do you think are the most important digital trends that a digital strategist or a digital marketer should follow and implement nowadays?

Christian Schneider: That's a big one. I think it's going to take me some minutes to tell you about it, because I think we are - as an industry -, are really good at creating trends and having a hype about some topics, but it's not real value as… I have to put it this phrase again. If it's not creating value, then it's just a hype and it's going to come and go. I mean, one of the trends is - and I really love to do so - is test as much as you can. Stay curious and stay naive. Don't say no right away, just because it failed maybe two years ago. I remember I talked to Erin Weigel, who is working with, and we were at a conference two weeks ago, and she said… she had a really nice keynote where she said: “OK, I feel on a daily basis, but just because of them, I can improve and I can learn.” So this is one of the things I want to really copy, that test as much as you can. And we in digital have the possibility with a lot of A-B testing or A, B, C, D, E testings to really see what’s interesting to the customers. And the content marketing campaign that we were talking about earlier is the perfect proof of it. And I think content marketing is really a trend, and it should be something that all of the companies should do. I mean, it's storytelling, it's like, tell the people about your reason why as a company. There is this great guy, he's called Simon Sinek, and he has a concept of the Golden Circle. And the main thing is that he's seeing it's about the reason why you've got to tell the customers, not what you're doing, not what you're selling. They know that, they can do a research on that. But you've got to tell them the reason why you're doing it. And if you believe it, then they will believe it. So tell a story. Be transparent. That's one of the trends I would recommend to every company to follow. Put yourself in the shoes of the users, work with using their perspective, and not just... We always tend to be like a big cult, we are a big company in Austria, we are a big company worldwide, and we are setting our ways, and it's sometimes difficult to steer a big company in a different direction but you get to see the big picture and you get to choose to see the big picture and try to do to work out of the perspective of the user, because that's the only way you can, at the end of the day, improve your customer journey, and your customer experience to the needs of the users. One thing would be leverage on ideas from others that are maybe not in your department and don't have the same skills or the same knowledge on certain topics but take their ideas, let their ideas grow and maybe let their ideas fail. But you got to try, I mean, I've learned so much from trainees that I had in my department, because they have a new perspective and they see things differently and they try out different things, and I get to learn from that, so it's not only a trend, I think, in the industry, but I think it's about having success in what you do, what you're doing. And I've definitely directed records that don't follow trends just for the sake of it. You got to use it if it makes sense to your business needs and if it benefits the users at the same time, likewise then you get to use it, but in the last years in the industry I've seen so many trends come and go, and it was like - there's the phrase that I love to use, is called bullshit bingo. It's a great one. There are so many companies that are trying to sell you something and just drive a hype, and you are like “okay”. And after two questions you ask, you immediately see there is nothing behind it. So you get a, you use the trends that there are in the markets, but just if it makes sense to you as a company. And we have a lot of pilot campaigns that maybe fail, and that's perfectly fine. I mean, at the end of the day, if it works, great, you'll be the first to do so. If not, then you've learned something. But at the same time, I do believe that something good can always be improved. So while it is important to try new stuff, we should not forget to optimize the things that we are already doing properly, because that's the easy way to do, you’re like: “I got a test this year and I got to think of the new campaign there.” And you've got to have this new thing over there, and it's great to do that, but don't forget to keep an eye on the things that you’re already doing great, because if you forget them, maybe they won’t be so great in two weeks time. You were mentioning personalized communication earlier and that thing, as content marketing is, that's a trend as well. We as an automotive industry now - I'm talking about their perspective -, we need to be user centric instead of just purely focus on the products or features we do have. We really, obviously, try to sell a product, and that's perfectly fine, but we are not going to sell the product just by saying this is the new Jeep Renegade starting at 20K, this is not going to do the trick. You get a need. There is the crucial need to focus on the customer perspective and to communicate with the customer. Having this on the table, and not just “OK, the USP is the one, two, three, four, five features that I'm going to tell you”, no, it is the emotion that is going to be transported in the communication that we do have. So this is for me such an important factor, that of thing a lot of the companies are missing, so I would recommend to everyone: put the customer in the center of your communication, not the product. But use the data as a support. The data is not the only truth there is. Numbers can only tell you as much as you wanted to. You got to add the qualitative insights, customer feedbacks to have a real 360 degree approach - and that's what we're trying to do -, but take the best out of the data and not just take any marketing trend that's supposedly sell you something.

Attila Tóth: Yes, that was really detailed. Thank you. And what I really like about your thinking is that the importance of piloting nowadays is critical, and as you said, it's okay to fail a pilot campaign. And actually, one of the purposes of piloting is to find all the ways that are not working too, because then you know that you won't spend in vain a 100 thousand euros to a specific campaign because you piloted it and you know that it is not working. But as time goes on, maybe you should re-pilot some of your ideas, because as trends change and user behavior changes, it can happen that what didn't work two years ago, will work in the next three years. I think a conclusion here is to be open-minded, but most importantly: to put yourself in your customers' shoes, in order to find out what would a customer do in a certain situation and try to map all the relevant necessities.

Attila Tóth: So moving forward in our discussion, I think it's pretty important to also talk about the dark side, if I may call it like that. Many people see just the tip of the iceberg and think every in digital is a huge success, and when they fail, they lose their faith. What were the biggest setbacks and how did you manage to overcome those? What was the strategy that helped you step out from the potholes? Can you tell us some of your failures, some of the stories which were critical in your life?

Christian Schneider: Gladly. I mean, I started in this company and started basically as a one man show. The department was me and that was it, it was me on my own. In the end, the only one believing in me and in my ideas was my boss at that time, Andras Spiegel and I have the utmost respect for this man because he maybe did not understand it, he tried to understand everything I was doing, but it was - I mean - it was new and it was a lot, and he would... he trusted me and he was supportive for 100%, and he told me that it is a matter of persistence to even after you failed to stick with the course tested, stick with it and accept all the consequences that come out of it. There is the saying: some good thing... Some people say good things come to those who wait or to those who believe. I think the truth is, good things come to those who work hard, at the end of the day. And as I said, I was a one man show, and now we are 10 people, and now we can set bigger goals. Obviously, we had a lot of campaigns that failed. We had a lot of ideas that we rolled out in the market, and basically saw it's not going to happen. We started with the lead management, so you register on the website if you want to do a test drive and then your contact is handed over to a call center into the dealer and so on. We started it five years ago and we had a lot of pushbacks, we had a lot of setbacks, and even in 2019 we have a lot of discussions about that topic, now  we already sold more cars through this in the first four months of this year than in the whole last year. So we see it's working, but at the same time I always remember the troubles that we had rolling it out, so it puts a perspective to everything. As I said, I'm really... I'm proud of the failures that we had because you mentioned earlier, it saves you a lot of money because you know what's not working, and you're not gonna do it again, and not going to spend a lot of money and a lot of budget on big campaigns that - at the end of the day - turn out to not work. For example, we had a big campaign for Fiat that was supposed to be a video branding on a lot of web sites at the same time, and I was so convinced that this is the way to go and it was a beautiful video, and it was two and a half minutes, it was really a story and Adrien Brody was staring and then we have thought this is it, this is going to work. But at the end of the day, we saw it was just simply not. People were not interested in watching a video being in this environment, and being at those publisher sites. People do want to watch the video, but they went on YouTube and did that. So the YouTube video had a lot of views and on media level, we had 30 million views on the video, but the view time and the click rates on our video branding was just simply not successful. So it's... it was really interesting to see, it was a big learning, and it was - while it was - a setback at that time and we were  really questioning our planning, at the same time I'm happy that we did it. I'm happy that we had this failure because it made us think and it made us stay curious.

Attila Tóth: Thank you for that. I think it's a pretty bold move, and it's also a good thing to openly discuss about failures as we are all humans at the end of the day, not machines. We cannot foresee every success pattern, of course, by the pilot campaigns and the experience we gather, we are becoming better and better in the specific niche markets, but it can happen that everything looks perfect, but it's not working.

Christian Schneider: And you are allowed to fail. I mean, if you work a lot, then you can fail a lot. That's OK. That's the mentality I tried to establish with my team. You work your ass off, then you're allowed to fail. I mean, if you're doing nothing and you fail, OK, then you have a problem, but as long as you are giving your best and there is room for failure, and only through failure, I think we can benefit in the long run.

Attila Tóth: Absolutely. I had a discussion with a U.S. marketer who said only those people who are not brave enough to fail will live in this ideal comfort until one day they will not have a job anymore. Because if you're always on the safe side and you're always just doing what you are sure is working, and you're not taking any risks, then it might  happen that in six months or maybe two years, but not in a log time for sure, you won’t have a future in that job.

Christian Schneider: Yes, I love that. People are afraid to burst a bubble, but you've got to do that. The boss of IBM recently said in an interview I saw, she said beautiful things, she said: Growth and comfort never coexist, and this is beautiful, I love that.

Attila Tóth: Yeah, absolutely. Totally agree with that. OK, so we've touched on the dark side but now let's go to the bright side. Tell us about your biggest success in digital. The one thing that you are the most proud of.

Christian Schneider: I mean there could be a lot of things, and I don't want to sound too arrogant here, but the Awards that we won just yesterday - actually yesterday evening - we've won an award for a content marketing campaign that we did for Jeep, that we just talked about earlier, we won a local award, so I could talk about these awards or I could talk about Black Friday again, where we sold 50 cars in 32 seconds or some praised local initiatives that we did, some first move projects, some in the best practice, and don't get me wrong, I love to have those and I cherish them and they motivate me, but the fun part is that some success stories are the most boring campaigns that you can imagine. These are campaigns that nobody would give a crap, nobody would listen to you while you talk about it because it's just simply boring, but at the end of the day, if they sell the cars, that's fine, fine to me. I mean, there are campaigns that are... that we have a lot of fun creating the campaigns and watching them come to life, and I love that. When you start with an idea and then you sit together with your team and the agencies, and it grows and you think: "OK this is going to get good." I love that. That would be a real success for me, and combining ATL communication and digital communication have a perfect fit with them, and not just having the divide between, okay, this is AT, this is BTL, no, it's like working together, find a good solution, take the lever… take the learnings that you have based on the data, and then maybe use it for print editorial, so if online the red car works, we're talking about the features about comfort, and then why not use the story and tell it in print or in radio or wherever?

Attila Tóth: Very good. So your mentality is similar to Dave Brailsford’s, former coach of the national British Cycling team, who started to change and improve little things. Things like changing the bed quality, the food quality, to have better sleeping times, to have better massage people, and all these little things ended up that the U.K dominated the Beijing Olympics, and kept growing, forming people like Chris Froome, a 4 time winner of the Tour de France. I remember the coach saying "yeah, it was not one big idea, it was all the little elements that they were building year by year and then having a great result, so I adhere to that 100%. What I really enjoy in discussing with you is that I can feel that you are - again I'm saying - walking the talk as what I've heard from your words and I tried to decompose here is that you are actually enjoying the journey, whether it's with difficulties, whether it's boring, whether it's with bright ideas. It's not about getting from one day to the other, it's about having a great digital journey.

Christian Schneider: Yeah, sure. I mean, you spent too well fifteen hours a day doing your job, so make the most out of it, you've got to love it. Because I think the industry is love it or leave it. And I tend to love it. And that's why I get up every morning and not being pissed about going to work, but being happy for the little things and for improve the daily daily work and improve the customer journey. And at the end of the day, I hope to sell the product.

Attila Tóth: I love that approach. Our listeners are probably thinking: “are we talking about digital or about sentiments?”, but I think perspectives and emotions are critical in this job as well, although we work a lot with the data, and a lot of digital mechanisms are in the background, but yes, at the end of the day, we are also humans and we enjoy what we do. How do you see the openness and - of course - the responsiveness of other marketers, and generally the market accepting and implementing new digital things? Because what you were saying here, and the experiences you shared are not common, I would say. I am working in certain industries in 26 countries and you are one of a kind, and I would like to give our audience and all to the listeners a bit of your inner perspective. How do you see the market in general on being and thinking about digital today?

Christian Schneider: I mean, the Austrian market is - I think - still not as progressive as I would want it to be. There is a lot of CPM - so cost per mille - like, there are a lot of traditional ways of booking, and media buying is not as progressive - as I said - as I would want it to be. In Austria, everything takes time. In life everything takes time, in Austria sometimes it takes even longer. So as I said earlier, until two years ago, programmatic was just as I like to call it: a bullshit bingo a word, and a bullshit bingo a phrase, but it grew. And at that time everyone talked about it, but no one knew what was behind it, and no one knew what would make it successful, and no publishers use it properly, and nor had they the knowledge to deal with it. So, but now it's up and running, and it's getting better, so we're getting there but slowly. So this would be an obstacle that I face on a daily basis, that I would love to have the environment in terms of digital media buying, being on a level that you most probably have in the U.S. or in the U.K. But at the same time I think - as the market is -, I think at the same time the users and the customers are somewhat set in their ways and staying close to their user behavior that they showed five years ago in general. So just because I might or you might think something is working, does not mean that it really does, at the end of the day. There is another failure story that I can share with you now. So, for example, for Abarth, which is the sports car brands for Fiat, we had a really great 60-second online video that we showed on social, and based on the view time, you got retargeting ads from us for lead ads for a test drive. So we said: “OK, if you watched more than 75% of the video, then let's show you lead ads.” And we were sure that they will convert better. Right? So, I mean, if you took time to watch the video, you got to be interested. Yeah. And it was disillusioning that it was -  we did an A-B testing and it was disillusioning - it was exactly the same KPI, and we were really... it was a head scratcher. We were like “okay, how can that be possible?” But again, this is an obstacle that you've got to face, that if the customers are not adapting as the way you wanted to, then they are simply not, then you're the one who needs to adapt, not the user.

Attila Tóth: Absolutely.

Christian Schneider: Another failure story would be for Fiat: We had a famous Austrian actress, and we had her as a testimonial, and she starred at that time in the biggest Austrian TV series. And she was a testimonial for the Fiat 500X, which would be a crossover SUV, and as I said, she was starring in the biggest TV show, and we had an out of home campaign with her, and a big digital campaign with her, so what we tried to do is leveraging on second screen - by second screen I mean people sit in front of the TV, but having their smartphone and are on social next to watching the TV. So we said: “OK. During the airtime of this said show, why not leverage on a second screen and show ads of the actress together with our product?” Because we said: “OK, there's got to be the interest in her, there's got to be the recognition of her to the ad”, but there were no difference in results whatsoever. So these are just two examples that I can tell you about failure and about my obstacles on a daily basis. And you got to stay curious. So I basically can say this: keep trying, keep pushing until you succeed. It's all about persistence. You got to try, you got to fail and you got to try even harder. It's coming full circle to what I said earlier with the trends that I see, but I can only tell you that much, that it's what's working for me. Well, it was what looks like it's going to work for me. So that's  the main thing I can give you, and the listeners in this podcast, it's: Keep pushing until you succeed. Make it work. If it's not working, make it work.

Attila Tóth: Yes, I really like that. And what you said it's pretty interesting because we're following the trends on a global scale, and basically this programmatic - and we call it automatic approach as well - it started in the US in the time when Google started their Google AdSense and AdWords network a couple of years ago, and slowly came to Europe and Asia and then across the globe. However, with what you experienced with the Jeep campaign and with the personalization and specifically the hyper personalization, what we see is it's coming faster and even in some markets where the programmatic media buying and all the market automation is not on the level as what we can experience maybe in the U.S. or in the U.K. Even though the personalization technology is coming stronger and maybe the automation background is not there, but the need for personalization is already here, and we can see it from West Europe to East Europe and even the Middle East, the African and the Asian companies are trying to leverage personalization, with different tactics and approaches, of course. So, Europe and Asia might not be on the level of programmatic media buying as the U.S. but the need for using hyper personalization is already there. This means that it can happen that not all the trends come through, and some trends can get better traction faster in these countries as well.

Christian Schneider: Absolutely, and I think personalization, it's a basic thing to do. It's not like: “OK. This is the hyper trend that you got to follow?” It's like… no, I mean, I always get so angry when I receive a newsletter, and the companies are not able to do a personalized newsletter. I'm like: “okay, how are you leveraging on your database?” These are just simple things. These are the quick wins. And we got to - as I said earlier - we got to use personalization just as a possibility to - at the end of the day - reach to customers, and be relevant to the customers because they hate advertising, they do. Austria's the market where you have the most out of home placements all over the world. Austria is clustered with out of home,  austrian magazines are clustered with advertising. And while I do love advertising and I'm doing it for over 10 years now, I do love it and I do love to work in that field, I do love that the field is changing rapidly, and we've got to adapt with it, and that's a cool thing to do. That's that's a cool thing to be part of.

Attila Tóth: Absolutely, absolutely. I think we have touched on multiple digital layers, and as we are approaching the end of the podcast, I would have a question that's pretty challenging, but I hope we can get an insight from you. What would be the one thing you would recommend for digital strategists and business executives who are working in the enterprise and corporate world to follow through? So what would be one strategic advice that you would give to this audience?

Christian Schneider: If I would have to pin it down to just one, I would have to say: follow every step of the process. Just because you have a good idea it's not enough to make it successful. Follow every small step in the process from the idea to the execution, because only then in the recap you can know what went wrong or what made it successful and then you can use that as a copy for different projects. That would be the one thing. Be consistent, be persistent and think of everything and be involved even in the little things. And because that's where you that's where you learn.

Attila Tóth: Thank you for that. So I think this is a very good takeaway as a closing idea to be persistent, be brave, brave enough to fail, brave enough to pilot. And keep it ongoing until you succeed.

Christian Schneider: Yes, I think that would summarize my personality.

Attila Tóth: I love your personality, and thanks for sharing these great insights, and for joining our show.
Christian Schneider: Thank you my man, really appreciate it.

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