James Credland

SVP, Client Strategy and Marketing

James Credland, who runs the B2B marketing strategy at The Economist, knows we’re different people at different times of the day. More often than not, our many little worlds clash. “Different messages are required at different times,” he says.

If you’re a CEO at work showing your computer screen to a colleague, for example, you don’t want pop-up programmatic ads about your upcoming vacation to Las Vegas. If you’re watching the World Cup with buddies, you don’t want to be bothered with B2B text ads.

Yet many brands still don’t get this. “Agencies tell clients that as long as it’s your target audience, it doesn’t matter where they see the ad,” Credland says. “This seems completely crazy.”

Credland’s mission is to change this conversation by making it more personalized.

He has the challenging task of reaching the right person at the right time and conveying the right information that helps them in some way—that is, he wants to have a real conversation. And he needs to know a lot about the person beforehand, not just their name and title.

“Let’s say I know you’re a CMO at a midsized IT firm in the U.S. looking at expansion into China, The Economist Group has access to a lot of content that’s very interesting to you,” Credland says. “If I could get to that point, the phones would be ringing hard.”

This calls for connecting dots of data, such as the person’s behavior on websites and social media and interactions with previous content. The goal is to learn what challenges stand in the way to their success and craft the appropriate content.

Then the content needs to be served up in places where the person is most open and in the mood to receive it, such as via work email or in reputable business environments—for example, a luxury watch advertisement in a high-end business magazine.

“Making a much richer persona of their buying interests and feeding them content that is relevant and useful and with a human element, I’m very excited about that,” Credland says.


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