Why it’s time to reframe our thinking about digital marketing

Published March 4, 2019

Today with Google, Facebook and AMAZON dominating the online space,the line between marketing and platform has become totally blurred. The focus has shifted from the customer to the media the customer consumes. Such is the obsession with all things digital, marketeers have overlooked the obvious fact that digital marketing is the optimisation of another channel of communication in the whole mix of media being consumed.

Of course everything today is digital. Consumers habits have not changed that much, we do a lot more of the same sorts of things we’ve always done. We watch more content, read more, are exposed to more ‘billboards’ and consume more audio than ever before, it’s just that now digital makes it all easier to consume.

So, What Happened?

Why did marketing departments spawn a new breed of marketeers AKA ‘digital marketing executives’ and are they now obsolete? Demonstrating the ROI of TV, Radio and OOH has, since the dawn of advertising, been the most frustrating aspect of marketing. The Finance Director wants to know how the budget is being spent and more importantly the ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend). In that environment digital marketers easily became the heroes, for the first time they were able to show more or less a direct correlation between their content and the results (e.g.. run a PPC campaign and you measure the impact of every click – hallelujah digital is king!). Thereafter, each year more and more gets allocated to digital marketing and the core marketing team grows smaller and smaller.

Digital marketers were further empowered by the success of venture backed agile start-ups (Unicorns) who were outsmarting established brands by deploying digital marketing tactics that delivered on ROAS.  And with information on demand, suddenly everyone was a marketeer.

‘OK… Google how can I get 1,000 people to my website in 30 days’

But digital is fundamentally a platform and, in the midst of so much noise, it’s even more critical to understand the principles of developing a brand strategy because, after all, when all the tactics have been exhausted the only thing left standing is the brand.

Last week, the Co-Op Bank announced that they are disbanding digital marketing teams as they realise that digital is simply just how customers now consume media. The tactics and output may differ but essentially the same marketing rules apply. Like Unicorns, digital marketing never existed in the first-place – consumers never really noticed the difference they simply continued with their everyday lives whilst marketing agencies tried to catch up with new technology. In the process much of the advertising industry has been commoditised, businesses (albeit those with bigger budgets) are bringing a lot of the marketing skills they once outsourced, in-house – putting the advertising agency model in dire straits an issue we discussed in a previous article “An end to the Mad Men model”.

But perhaps the most notable change is that we now have a new generation of marketers entering the labour market who are comfortable with new tech and  mass adoption of a plethora of tech, so we no longer need to educate the customer. Moving into the post-digital era of marketing, what businesses need is a better deal from marketing suppliers – meaningful marketing solutions that place the customer, not the channel, at the heart of the campaign.

Mad4digital is a tech marketing company for B2B and B2C businesses that are using and/or developing digital technology in innovative ways. We are brand-focused marketing experts with decades of experience designing and developing some of the world’s leading brands.  We deliver value through smart integration of people, ideas, channels and tools.

Should we forget digital? Absolutely not… we simply need to understand that any channel of communication whether its digital or not requires first and foremost a deep understanding of the customer. We’re mad4digital. What are you mad4?