Investing in digital media might not be a must for brands, but these days it comes pretty close. Need convincing? Listen to Barbarian Group CEO Sophie Kelly. She’ll be at Dx3 Canada to make The Case for Digital Media. Here’s a little preview.
How important is it for companies to invest in digital media?
The only honest answer is ‘it depends.’ Digital isn’t a magic wand. It’s a strategic business tool that needs a lot of thought, care and attention to deliver value. Brands need to figure out the most appropriate channels – sometimes it might just be email marketing, sometimes it might be a full-fledged social strategy – and also have the ability to test new things quickly.
How does digital media help companies grow their brand and foster better brand affinity with consumers?
Through the ability to reach customers contextually where they are increasingly spending most of their time: mobile and social.
“Great content delivered via owned channels gets you more earned media.”
Is it most effective to have paid, earned or owned digital media?
There needs to be harmony between the three. Great content delivered via owned channels gets you more earned media. I think we will see more paid social in the coming years, where brands aren’t relying on EdgeRank to get their messages out. Rather, they will want some sort of impression or engagement guarantee with their best content. This is already starting to happen on Facebook and Twitter.
What are some key trends that you see shaping digital media right now and going forward?
I think we’re going to see a cleave in the agency space – agencies that do all the programmatic, interruptive, robotic ‘messaging’ of old versus the agencies with the marketing AND technology chops to build truly interesting creative solutions that make the Internet a better place for us all. One only has to see AOL calling for the end of pre-roll, Yahoo using Tumblr to power native advertising, and WPP buying a stake in the content marketing technology, Percolate, to see that delivering interesting content, contextually, via mobile and social is the way the world is moving. Brands and agencies need to structure themselves to create that content.
“Digital has moved from being an experimental arena to a critical brand battleground.”
How has the thinking around digital media changed over the last few years?
Digital has moved from being an experimental arena to a critical brand battleground. There’s still lots of disagreement about what actually works and what doesn’t, but it’s virtually impossible for any existing organization NOT to have a some sort of digital footprint. Indeed, digital is very often top of the agenda these days and the starting point for transformational thinking.
How do you see it changing over the next few years?
“Harnessed wisely, digital is a return to common sense”
Hopefully, we can stop talking about digital as a separate thing or an oddity. Everything is digital and, in many ways, that marks a return to marketing normal. One day we’ll look back and realize that the anomaly in the history of marketing is the last 40 odd years of huge television audiences: Paying millions of dollars for 30 seconds of air time? Being so fraught with worry that you pay people to sit in rooms, watch animations of those ads, and waggle joysticks about to show which parts they liked or found funny? And then showing the same 30 seconds of film again and again and again? Harnessed wisely, digital is a return to common sense, of marketing driven by personal connections and growing reputations. In the next few years, I think this nervous system will continue to become much more sophisticated. Data will allow for more seamless targeting, and the best content will continue to propagate widely via word-of-mouth.