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Innovating in a consumer-to-business economy

July 2016

“We are no longer a business-to-consumer economy or a business-to-business economy,” iCrossing Chief Strategy Officer Anne Bologna says. “We are a consumer-to-business economy.”
With that guiding notion in place, the integrated marketing agency prides itself on being able to craft engaging, tailor-made experiences for the consumer. The days of one-size-fits-all marketing are a thing of the past, and like everything from hubcaps to hamburgers, people expect personalization.
“iCrossing is a 900-person global agency, with operations in the U.S., UK, Germany and Latin America,” David Lau, the company’s head of paid search and programmatic media, says of its meteoric growth alongside the digital space. “Born as a search marketing agency in 1998, we have evolved to become the marketing agency for a modern world with world-class strategy, creative, technology and media expertise.”
Tasked with building practices that connect consumers to brands, Lau amplifies the agency’s performance with the latest innovations in marketing technology. With more than a decade of experience in the industry, he helps iCrossing assist diverse, high-profile clients that include name-brand car companies, vacation destinations, drugstores and more.

Passion and platforms

Employing data and ingenuity, Lau and the iCrossing team are locked in a constant battle to overcome an immutable truth: By nature, ads are intrusive and easily dismissed. So, using an omni-channel mindset, iCrossing creates:

- Efforts that acquire high-value customers at scale through performance media, search and social media.

- Intelligent experiences with adaptive and contextually relevant sites that increase engagement and conversion.

- Personalized platforms that utilize strategic insights and rich content to align with the interests, needs and passions of target consumers.

“We support our clients with data, content and platforms through the power of Hearst,” Lau explains of the company’s unique advantage. “We are the only digitally native agency owned by a global content, media and entertainment company.”

To quote Hearst president David Carey: “We’re a content company with a platform mentality.” What that means is that while content isn’t for sale, brand integrations are a powerful tool. That dexterity is coupled with an awareness of buzzwords like live video, social media algorithms and engagement metrics — as well as how it all fits into a brand’s content marketing plan.

Personalized solutions

Once that plan goes from inception to implementation, iCrossing looks to Bing Ads. “With Bing, we've seen great performance from their recent product enhancements. With one of our retailers, we saw a 29% increase in ROI just from testing Bing Shopping Campaigns,” Lau marvels. “We have a great relationship with Bing, and that's because they're committed to helping us create bespoke solutions for our clients.”
For a cutting-edge company like iCrossing, it’s a perfect partnership. “I ask for something and Bing delivers,” he explains. “With our clients, we do have some challenging needs — sometimes, beyond our means. That’s when we tap Bing for its data sophistication technology.” 

The century ahead

Asked for the most important lesson he’s learned from his years in digital marketing, Lau has an immediate response: There are no teachers. “Adopt a student mindset,” he laughs. “Advancement and progress happens too fast for you to think you’ve mastered it.”

That said, iCrossing is confident in its formula. And with that comes a strong degree of mastery.

“In a C2B economy, we will continue to pioneer ways to create consumer experiences that are more personalized, more relevant and more responsive,” Lau explains. “Our unique experience is using data to create and distribute the most relevant and responsive content to help brands grow by making peoples’ lives better, easier and more enjoyable. That’s a business iCrossing will be in five, ten and a hundred years from now.”