Everyday Innovation with Kristi Argyilan

April 15, 2019

By Marni Gordon, SVP of committees and conferences, ANA


Kristi Argyilan, SVP of marketing at Target, will be speaking at this year's ANA Digital & Social Media Conference. The ANA's Marni Gordon sat down with Argyilan to chat about corporate culture, forging innovative partnerships, and leveraging data.


Q. How is Target organized internally to drive innovation throughout its corporate culture?

Nobody comes to work and thinks "I'm not going to be innovative today." That said, organizations need to create the right conditions so everyone has the opportunity to be innovative within their role.

Over the last few years at Target, that's meant getting flatter as an organization… fewer layers and reviews, and more test-and-learn and iteration.

We've moved away from the relay-race approach, where one team hands off work to the next, which then hands off to the next. Instead, we try and bring the right cross-functional skill sets together much earlier in the process.

And most importantly: innovation is no longer the responsibility of specific teams, it's a core expectation for every team member.


Q. How does Target drive innovative partnerships with TV and digital powerhouses?

A great example is our partnership with NBCU, where we're using our first-party data to make decisions about where and how to show up across NBCU properties. That's allowing us to approach TV in a much more relevant, digital way. The results show our approach is working. For instance, our integrations with The Voice and Superstore — which put Target front-and-center in programming we know our guests love — outperformed traditional TV advertising.

Another example is our work with Google, where we've built a relationship where on the one hand, neither of us is the client — and on the other, both of us are the clients. Target sells Google products. We use Google products. And we advertise through Google.

So we've taken an enterprise-wide approach that considers all aspects of Google's business and how it impacts Target's business. Ultimately, that means a relationship that looks a bit like a joint venture where Target and Google are co-developing solutions for our businesses and our customers.


Q. How does Target leverage data to drive decision-making in its media plans?

Data plays a role in all aspects of our media decision-making. The big challenge is striking the right balance between math and magic so we're creating experiences that are good for our guests. For instance, in our work with NBCU, the data — the math — told us our guests love shows like Superstore. But the magic is how the people at Target and NBCU worked together to create an episode set in one of our stores — something viewers loved.


Q. What are the top technology innovations that Target is using to stay ahead of the curve?

When I think about Target's success over the last couple of years, probably the most important technology is what we're doing behind-the-scenes in our stores to create a better shopping experience for our guests — in store and online.

A big part of that is using our stores as hubs to fulfill digital orders. We have more than 1,800 stores nationwide and more than three-quarters of Americans live within a short drive of a Target. So, we're using stores to ship orders directly to guests — which is faster and cheaper than shipping from regional warehouses. We now have nationwide same-day delivery through our acquisition of Shipt, a start-up app that leverages local networks of shoppers. And through our in-store Order Pickup and curbside Drive Up options, orders are available for guests within two hours.

We've also elevated the in-store experience. The hundreds of store remodels we've completed so far help. But we're winning with service, too — in part by using technology to make basic functions like off-loading delivery trucks a lot more efficient so we're freeing up more team members to be out on the sales floor helping our guests.

Kristi Argyilan (@kristiargyilan) is SVP of marketing at Target. She will speak at the 2019 ANA Digital & Social Media Conference.

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