The Future of Advertising: Digital Marketing as Game-Changer
A recent Fast Company article on “The Future of Advertising” generated a lot of buzz in industry circles. The article’s thesis – which isn’t exactly 100% original – is that digital marketing represents an entirely foreign concept to most traditional agencies. Obviously, huge shifts are underway – no one disputes that point. And digital channels certainly offer game-changing power to all types of marketers. But the article overstates or misses the mark in a few areas. See below for our two cents:
- The Big Picture: In many ways, clients have realized their “ultimate fantasy,” in that they have “the ability to customize a specific message to a specific person at a specific moment.” Of course, as one industry insider put it, “The irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers … and life is much more confusing for the client. At a time of shrinking budgets, chief marketing officers don’t know where to turn.”
- Rise of the “Best of Breed” Agency: To navigate the new world, brands seek “best of breed providers” for digital production, PR, viral, social media and the like. In a fragmented landscape, it’s no surprise that companies gravitate to firms with proven track records in specific disciplines. However, in reality, this approach presents significant management challenges in ensuring efficiency and creative challenges in ensuring brand and execution consistency. The good news is that specialists in targeted areas can deliver much higher ROI for the reasons we detail below …
- Expertise, Efficiency & Best Practices: The beauty of digital marketing is that is “incremental, experimental, continually optimized – ‘perpetual beta’ –and never, ever finished.” But gaining the optimization capability requires real skills and solid infrastructure, especially in production. Specifically, companies need agile processes, sufficient technology and skilled resources to realize the full promise of results-based optimization. Best practices-based methodologies and proven delivery approaches are necessary to execute and test strong creative, and then deploy and target the messaging (offers, copy and images) based on what works best.
- Coding vs. copywriting: The article asserts that coding should be “prized over copywriting.” We agree that having excellent, detail-oriented developers is important, but copywriting, in many ways, is more important than ever. Great copy and compelling messages are required to break through the digital clutter, and to make offers (or links) irresistible and bring brands to life. But coding in particular (like production in general) is critical to ensuring that the right offer and message gets to the right user at the right time, and that it’s packaged up properly and delivered smoothly. Otherwise, the hard work of copywriting (not to mention design) is lost, or compromised. The point is, coding and copywriting must be appreciated in balance – as two critically important variables in the equation of effective marketing.
The “traditional vs. digital” debate will continue to define the industry outlook for some time. We think high-quality, high-efficiency digital production is an effective means for traditional agencies to translate their unsurpassed branding and storytelling capabilities into this new world.