Engage 2017: Creating the future of McDonald's

Emily Somers, Vice President Marketing and Food Development at McDonald's UK, explains how she and McDonald's are creating the future ahead of her appearance at IAB Engage.

Emily Somers

Q. How are you and McDonald's creating the future?

We’re opening up new digital sales channels through the order screens in our restaurants, our ‘click and collect’ mobile ordering app and McDelivery to ensure McDonald’s continues to redefine convenience in our category in a similar way to when we launched in the UK nearly 45 years ago.

We are working through how we use unprecedented levels of permissioned first party data to improve customer experience and convenience through increased relevance. 

We see a future where we will be able to overlay customer preferences, location and context to increase the pertinence and influence of our communications. However, we remain cautious about never over-inflating the role we play in people’s lives and respect the fact that we are a low-interest, impulse-driven category. As such, we will continue to give customers the choice to engage with us how they want, on their terms. 

And we continue to innovate our product pipeline to bring great value food and drink to the masses, as we have done with premium coffee, blended ice and, most recently, gourmet burgers with our Signature launch. 

Q. If it could be invented tomorrow, what one thing would make your job easier?

Modern marketers have unparalleled access to data and measurement, but it is often silo’d, hard to manage and occasionally conflicting. A unified measurement system that linked to sales, brand impact and individual customer segments would be fantastic, particularly in a business that is still predominantly cash-based and in a low interest, impulse-driven category like McDonald’s. The ability to link this out, in real-time to improve communication would be great. Progress is being made in this space, but progress remains slow and expensive.

Q. What one thing would you like the industry to do as a result of Engage as we look ahead to creating the future for digital advertising?

The industry needs to remain focused on improving the customer’s experience of advertising on digital channels. There is a shared responsibility between media owners and brands to ensure that messaging is carefully managed so that it is relevant and welcomed by the customer, whilst positively influencing business outcomes. Failure to do so will simply encourage further ad-blocking. The balance between impact and interruption has never been more important. Creative formats on digital channels have a fine line to tread between being accepted and welcomed by customers and being completely invisible.

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