- Barbara Messing, the CMO of Roblox, said tech innovation helps support a company’s mission.
- Messing told Insider that brand partnerships creatively push the envelope in the Roblox “metaverse.”
- Marketers play a key role in vitalizing partnerships by offering consumer insight, Messing said.
- This article is part of the Innovation C-Suite series about business growth and technology shifts.
For global online platform Roblox, creative technology innovation is at the heart of everything the company does, according to Barbara Messing, Roblox’s chief marketing and people experience officer. The company saw its value skyrocket during the pandemic as kids flocked to its “metaverse” filled with digital pets, virtual houses, and millions of games. Messing, who helped helm the advancement, is no stranger to roles at companies with big digital ambitions: She joined the company in September 2020, after serving as the CMO at Walmart and, before that, as the CMO of TripAdvisor.
So it was hardly surprising that over the past couple of years, Roblox’s brand partnerships have become a crucial way to elevate its tech-driven creativity, developing unique experiences for users of all ages. Going far beyond static advertising and branded clothing for avatars, Roblox has become famous for its immersive brand storytelling, which offers an expansive vision for how the newly public company is working to monetize more than 42 million active daily users.
For example, last November Lil Nas X offered a first-of-its-kind virtual concert experience performed entirely within Roblox, which attracted more than 30 million users.
In May, a partnership with Gucci brought to virtual life a version of the fashion house’s multimedia exhibition in Florence, Italy, called Gucci Garden Archetypes. The experience included themed rooms focused on different Gucci collections and personalized textures and patterns for each visitor’s “mannequin.”
And a partnership to promote the film “In the Heights” offered a virtual block party featuring a recreation of the movie’s neighborhood in New York City’s Washington Heights.
Brand partnerships can help drive significant business innovation and success, Messing said, while marketers can play an essential role in building those connections by serving as the voice of the customer across the C-suite.
“Especially at a technology company like Roblox, it’s all about how marketers can bring value by championing customer insights and sharing an outside perspective with the organization,” Messing said. “Then we can think about the technology tools that help accelerate our efforts.”
Messing offered three tips for building partnerships that boost innovation:
1. Stay close to your company’s mission and values.
It’s important to understand what fundamental marketing problems you’re trying to solve and then explore how technology can help generate solutions, Messing said. “I think of it less through a technology lens and more about staying focused on the core mission and values of the company,” she said. “If you remain close to the roots of what you’re doing, and listen to good feedback from others, you can build internal and external partnerships using technology innovation that helps drive the business.”
2. Consider how technology can create a unique customer experience.
To help brand partners break through, marketers need to discover the authentic, interesting, unique experiences that serve the customer. “I think that’s why our partnership team is uniquely creative because they really think about how to help a brand leverage the Roblox platform,” she explained. “This is not a static ad. it’s a way for someone to really engage with their audiences and tell a great story about the brand.”
3. Develop a strong internal partnership with technology teams.
Marketers need to stay close to engineering and product teams to boost creative technology innovation, Messing said. “We need to understand how the product works and what the future possibilities are,” she explained. “Our team spends a lot of time talking and learning about the incredible technological innovations we’re working on and then figuring out how to communicate that so any consumer can understand.”
Everyone at Roblox, Messing said, has a creative bent in thinking deeply about brand partnership opportunities in the “metaverse.” “Everyone is excited to work on these experiences because shared experiences are at the core of everything we do,” she said. “So whenever we can work on a partnership opportunity that helps tell their story and help people play and learn together, everyone is really excited to dive into those.”
But for any organization looking to drive partnerships through technology innovations, it’s all about getting back to marketing basics. “It may require a little more thinking and being super creative about how to use a particular medium, but at the core, it’s about what I want this to be for the audience,” Messing said. “What emotions and memories do I want them to take away from this experience? How do I want them to come back and engage with me again?”