The intersection of marketing and technology is a really dynamic space right now. The ever-evolving innovations in this industry seem plagued with opportunity, exciting, overwhelming, challenging and confusing all at the same time.
The injection of technological developments such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality into mainstream marketing creates mind boggling and endless opportunities. The digital channels that we now have at our finger tips are prolific. The data and insight that we can collect is actually moving at a faster pace than we can actually harness.
It’s busy. It’s exciting. It’s even quite controversial as us marketing stalwarts encourage our clients to not get too seduced by all of the new wizardry that they forget the foundations of true and effective marketing.
When I attended the Australian Marketing Institutes NSW Marketing Prediction Series last week, I was a little nervous and a tad excited to hear about the latest updates as to how robots and machines would be significantly altering the future of our industry. To my pleasant surprise, the predictions from the presenting panel were almost contradictory to the envisaged fast-paced, digital progressiveness that I was expecting.
Our presenting panel of accomplished marketing heavy weights included Zeina Kohdr; Managing Director of Paper & Spark Digital, Mark Lollback; CEO of GroupM Australia and New Zealand, Kim Portrate; CEO, Think TV, Stewart Gurney; Chief Strategy Officer, PHD Australia and Nicole McInnes; Chief Marketing Officer, OVO.
As can be common with predictive series, the discussion could have easily manifested into a hypothetical talk fest. Instead, the panel projected a flavour of realism and down-to-earth pragmatism into our future marketing industry predictions.
My interpretation of the predictions were as follows:
Sound strategy vs measurable tactics
The panel was unanimous in their concerns about ‘short termism’. There are too many circumstances now where organisations are getting so wrapped up in the brightness of insights and data that tracks ‘return-on-investment’ spends, that they are forgetting to refer to sound marketing strategy and activity that leads to longer term brand sustainability.
This of course is a topic that Adjunct Professor and marketing thought-leader Mark Ritson espouses regularly. I think he would be thrilled to know that there are many senior level marketers out there that agree with him! I know I was.
The prediction: If we continue to focus on the more measurable tactics that drive short term volume, we will neglect the important brand building activity that helps to create differentiation and build brand sustainability.
The topic of data was discussed at length. Marketing Strategist, Stewart Gurney, compared the concept of ‘big data’ to teenage sex.
‘Everyone is talking about it, everyone is getting excited about it, but no-one is actually doing it.’
He is of course referring to the fact that while the ever-popular topic of big data seems to have been fleshed out and flogged for a good many years now, no-one seems to be any closer to solving the issues that big data presents.
Content Marketing Specialist; Zeina Khodr, voiced concerns about the level of data fluency within organisations.
‘We are collecting huge pools of data but very few people within a business actually know what the data means or how to apply it to make better marketing decisions.’
The prediction: Data will forever remain an enigma if we don’t start to work out ways to simplify and integrate this into our business decision making.
Mark Lollback used many examples derived from his time as Chief Marketing Officer at McDonalds to encourage the audience to make brave branding decisions.
He urged the marketers in the room to not settle for mediocre. In fact, Mark issued what I thought was the quote of the night when he referred to conversations, he had had with organisations that had approached him to help them achieve a 2% annual growth.
“Two percent growth? Forget it. I don’t get out of bed for less than double digit growth.”
But such aggressive growth does not come from playing safe. In fact, he recounted a scenario where he near on ‘broke the business’ in order to halt an almost dangerous addiction held by the fast food giant to promotional-based selling. This was a drastic measure to help navigate the marketing back to sound marketing principals and instead of knock-out price based promos, focus on creating a really big idea.
The prediction: Mediocre marketing that is not driven by strategy and exceptional creative will lead to mediocre results.
‘The best thing that brands can do for their consumers is to give them back precious time into their day’ says Kohdr.
Voice is allowing us to do just this. By speaking their requests, including searches, our customers are able to multi-task. They are saved the hassle of typing in search terms or clicking their way through shopping lists.
The prediction: Voice technology is still ironing out a few bumps, but when it has, we had better be ready to integrate this into our strategy. Of particular interest here is the branding considerations – how will our brand sound?
When posed with the question by Moderator Melanie Lindquist; ‘Will content surpass advertising?’, a colourful conversation ensued.
Nicole Innes believes that content will struggle to achieve the same reach and frequency that mass advertising channels can provide.
Khodr believes one of the main problems we are experiencing around content is that,
‘We are awash with really shitty content.’
There are so many brands producing content for the sake of producing content.
Kim Portrate advised that in order to produce magnificent content that marketers should leave the content production to the professionals. Content was often thought to be aligned to unrealistic expectations.
‘I’ll have two serves of viral and a bucket of chips,’
chuckled Portrate on the topic of client content expectations. A quip that most modern marketers will no doubt relate to!
The prediction: Channels will only be able to cope with so much content – only the good stuff will survive.
So as a marketer, I left the event feeling excited. Not about the progression of digital technology within the marketing arena as predicted, but about the sound and smart thought leadership that is being espoused by some of our states marketing mavens.
This is a future I can look forward to.