Sitecore Symposium 2022: Meeting Every Moment

Randy Kohl

Meet every moment was the theme for the recently concluded 2022 Sitecore Symposium. Over 2,000 tech industry professionals from around the world participated in four days of content, insights, and networking in Chicago, Illinois. ‘Meet every moment’ is well-suited for today’s commerce challenges, as it reflects a mindset which brands in every industry must adopt in order to effectively connect their customers across increasingly complex hybrid, cross-channel shopping experiences.

While there were dozens of sessions and product announcements at Sitecore Symposium, here we’ll focus on a few key takeaways that may help shape marketer’s thinking in 2023 and beyond.  

  • Brands must think OOO. Aligning with the proliferation of engagement channels, Anne Guichard, Global Head of Digital at L’Oreal believes brand strategy needs to account for engaging with customers online, offline, and on-chain, or OOO. The latter reflects the emergence of new channels tied to the blockchain and Web3 technologies, including the metaverse. While Web3 channels are still in their infancy, the time is ripe for brands to experiment and determine the best strategies to engage their customers. This must be done in ways that are cohesive across all digital and offline channels, adding complexity, but also opportunity.

  • Marketing in The Exponential Age. We live in a time of incredible change. That said, change may be happening faster than you think. Technologist and author Azeem Azhar provided many thought-provoking ideas from his book The Exponential Age. Where groundbreaking technologies of the 20th century like automobiles took more than fifty years to reach mass adoption (70%), modern advances like smartphones and social media have reached that level of usage in less than a decade. And these intervals are continuing to shrink. To adapt, brands and marketers must be nimble, reassess their roadmaps and strategies regularly, and have a constant eye toward what comes next.  

  • Improvement is Innovation. Innovation is an oft-used term in the digital space. As Wunderman Thompson North America CTO Cleve Gibbon explained during a panel with Microsoft on Commerce in the Experience Age: Innovation does not necessarily mean invention. It means driving continual improvement. This dovetailed with Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis’ keynote, which encouraged merchants to find ways to “win the extra 1%”. When compounded, incremental gains can lead to real growth. 

  • AI impacts commerce outcomes. In one of the most insightful sessions at Symposium, Roy Armale, SVP Product and Platform at WPP detailed the multi-year process to create a neuroscience-based machine learning tool that optimizes ads and digital assets at scale. Developed with the use of data gained through long-term clinical studies and the application of behavioral science, the resulting product, which has been integrated into Sitecore ContentHub, has been shown to generate ROAS improvements of 18%-23%. As importantly, the study’s findings challenge a long-held notion of ad targeting and indicate ad (or digital asset) context should be considered before user (or target audience) profiles. While an important new tool for marketers, this advance demonstrates how Artificial Intelligence has already become embedded in the creation of digital experiences and points to numerous future applications.

It may not come as a surprise, but as noted in Steve Tzikakis’ Symposium keynote, 5% of content receives 90% of the attention. To garner their share of engagement, it was later noted that brands must mute the noise, stand out, and build boldly. This is sound advice for those seeking to remain relevant and meet their customers at every moment.