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Baillie Gifford
Updated 05 Apr 2024
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This is a non-independent marketing communication commissioned by Baillie Gifford. The report has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on the dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

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In the digital and social media age, global brands need a marketing approach that is technology and brand-savvy. Few companies excel at both on a global scale.

Brandtech Group does. In Scottish Mortgage’s Invest in Progress podcast, deputy manager Lawrence Burns speaks with David Jones, founder of Brandtech Group, the number-one digital-only marketing group globally.

If content is king, data is queen

Even in the 2010s, Jones recognised the potential for technology to solve the headache created for brands by the rise of mobile phones and tech platforms, which made it harder for companies to retain control of their brand story.

“Suddenly,” says Jones, “brands needed hundreds of thousands of assets for all the digital and social channels”.

At the same time, “You went from a world where you had a real lack of data to an enormous supply of data and an ability to connect that content to make marketing perform better.”

But the challenge was how to. As chief executive of one of the large traditional advertising agencies at the time, clients shared their dilemma with him. The big agencies were great at brand but not tech, and the tech platforms promoted themselves, not the best option for the brand. There was no one who was an expert in both brand and technology.

And yet a deep and holistic understanding of both is essential for brands to succeed in the modern world. As Jones notes, “Humans always completely underestimate how disruptive technology is going to be.”

In a hyper-personalised advertising world, brands must utilise technology to work smarter, because people “no longer want to be followed around the internet by a pair of sneakers or trainers they’ve already bought.”

Jones suggests that “generative AI [artificial intelligence] technology will allow us to remove a lot of the incredibly annoying things that advertising has done historically.” Thereby, getting to “what I call the perfect market, which is, brands are only communicating with people who either are users of that brand or want to be.”

Bringing it all together

“We’ve always believed that investing in really interesting tech would give us expert knowledge, would give us a step up,” says Jones.

That’s why the company continues “to acquire high growth, highly disruptive companies that solve our clients’ biggest pain points.”

These are companies such as Oliver – “the only company in the world that builds in-house content studios for brands” – and Collectively, “one of the world’s top three global influencer marketing companies.”

“We put those companies together end-to-end and integrated them into our platform and were then able to deliver cutting-edge, digitally-enabled marketing solutions.”

Mile one of a marathon

Against this, Brandtech has a proven record of using disruptive technology to activate creative, real-time marketing solutions.

Alluding to the Henry Ford quote – “no one built their reputation on what they said they were going to do” – Jones says, “my mantra is that case studies beat press releases . . . And we’ve got some amazing case studies.”

Take McCain Foods, for example. Brandtech’s marketing campaign created future farms on Roblox to spread the brand’s sustainable, regenerative agriculture message: over 30 million people came and visited, harvesting 25 million virtual potatoes.

He believes generative AI “will change every aspect of everything.”

While Brandtech can create content ten times faster, with twice the performance, and at a lower cost than other marketing agencies, Jones pushes on. “What I am obsessive about . . . is, how do we become and ensure we are the world’s number-one generative AI marketing company?”

“I think we can claim to be it today, but we’re in mile one of the marathon,” he suggests.

Investing in the future

Burns explains that part of what led Scottish Mortgage to support the company back in 2015 is that ‘what Jones was seeing about the challenges of advertising really matched with what we were seeing from some of the big tech platforms that we were investing in’, and he had ‘a clear prescient vision of what the future could look like’

Staying ahead will depend on Brandtech maintaining its reputation as a good partner and investor.

It’s an approach that resonates with Scottish Mortgage, which is also looking to invest in the best companies, those with visionary leaders and an opportunity in large, growing markets.

Global advertising is a $750bn per year industry, and both Jones and Burns think Brandtech could potentially be the first “to build a $100bn valuation company” within it.

That is more likely under Jones, as an “industry insider with a visionary entrepreneurial spirit” who has spotted trends far in advance and has a clear idea of how advertising needs to adapt.

By providing solutions for brands that build on the insights of AI and the creative possibilities of augmented reality, Brandtech looks set to secure its position as a key contributor to the post-advertising world.

Important information

This communication was produced and approved at the time stated and may not have been updated subsequently. It represents views held at the time of production and may not reflect current thinking.

This content does not constitute, and is not subject to the protections afforded to, independent research. Baillie Gifford and its staff may have dealt in the investments concerned. The views expressed are not statements of fact and should not be considered as advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a particular investment.

Baillie Gifford & Co and Baillie Gifford & Co Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The investment trusts managed by Baillie Gifford & Co Limited are listed on the London Stock Exchange and are not authorised or regulated by the FCA.

A Key Information Document is available by visiting scottishmortgage.com.

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