I had an interesting visit to the UK’s annual Technology for Marketing & Advertising (TFM&A) conference in London just over 3 week ago – which was full of digital marketing trends and predictions. So here are my thoughts to keep up the buzz…
There’s no doubt that people are relishing the opportunity that technology offers to the marketing and communications industry. At TFM&A there were excellent presentations on new platforms for automating marketing activity, the latest CRM programmes, with more advanced software tools to measure leads, conversion ratios. There was also plenty of healthy supplier competition and choice, with companies such as Communicator, Sitecore, Silverpop and Smart Insights all offering great insight, platforms and systems to enlighten a somewhat bewildered marketing world.
Marketers, in turn were hoping to find a few golden nuggets, perhaps from a keynote speaker such as Facebook’s Catherine Flynn (Manager, Global Marketing Solutions (UK) on the future of social media as a marketing platform. One nugget? ‘Make business personal on Facebook, discover what we like, everyday everywhere…. prime time is all the time’.
There was increasing focus on cross-channel marketing, with for example, a seminar from Exact Target (a salesforce.com company), highlighting the serious challenges of audience channel switching and the costs of attention going up e.g the average Superbowl ad now cost 70% more than last year. So we must look at the cheaper alternatives – Twitter, Facebook, Google and Instagram – and understand that these channels are assets for our businesses. They are also ripe for development, since they are where your audience ‘choose to hang out’. An interesting book ‘Audience’ (JRohrs), given out after the seminar, continues to unravel the argument about the value of building proprietary on-line engaged audiences, for the long-term.
Evolving media agencies
With media agencies, sophisticated multichannel creative and media strategies have always been crucial in planning any B2B or B2C campaign. But now do we have another evolving model? A recent piece by Belinda Rowe (Global Managing Partner at Zenith Optimedia) talks about ‘…a new kind of full-service comms company investing in talent in data, analytics, content and digital so we can advise our clients in an even broader sense’ (Marketing, City Am 10.3.2014). The week before Lindsay Pattison (Chief Executive at WPP’s Maxus Global) said …”we’re a different kind of data-driven digital agency….our activation division will also send out social TV ratings, because one of the main things people do on social media is talk about TV!”
But for all the noise at TFM&A, 12 seminar theatres and 180 Seminar sessions, one core truth came shining through. However well planned, measured, analysed, cross-examined any campaign might need to be, ultimately what counts is how strong and impactful your creative idea is – your rich, engaging content! And also how you adapt that core idea, insight or message to fully cut-through the morass of our daily message bombardment, with 90% of consumers looking at least 3 screens per day.
No great discovery, but an eternal truth. It’s fine-tuned digital content execution on web, social, video, email, mobile etc that is fundamental to success.
Excellent campaign approach
And finally, although easy to pick on, there is no better example than John Lewis, whose holistic business strategy and engaging ad ‘story’ campaigns, translate brilliantly to TV or social media, (they’ve now picked up 116,000 twitter followers). The PR, with annual results and staff celebrating bonus awards, is also symbolic of an organisation that is totally in touch with its’ audiences. We go looking for John Lewis, because they have a great trusted product, transparent philosophy, empathetic marketing and innovative creative. The holy grail for any business and consumer campaign strategy.
Ultimately, constantly evolving digital technologies, advancing CRM systems and changing agency structures will be increasingly vital to enable businesses to be successful and build long term trusted relationships with their customers.
Do you have any other insights from TFM&A 2014? We’d love to hear from you in the comments page.