Digital media have transformed advertising and spawned what seems to be zillions of stand-alone agencies specializing in digital, social, and similar forms of marketing. But according to a May 22 MediaPost report, their days may be numbered.
In a March and April Mediaschool Group survey of 2,000 marketing students across Europe, fully 80 percent predicted that these specialized silos will disappear within ten years.
If true, this may a good thing.
As digital media grew, they grew in complexity; and few, if any, practitioners of advertising had sufficient mastery of all the rapidly evolving technical ins and outs.
So enter an army of technical, coding and other specialists who had little to no mastery of advertising and marketing.
Button-pushers run rampant
While their work produced some great successes, such as Ford’s Explorer Facebook campaign that saw a 104 percent increase in shopping activity, it’s also produced a huge number of blunders whose consequences were anything from laughable to tasteless to downright creepy.
Like the digital marketing specialists who sent out e-mail blasts during Hurricane Sandy inviting recipients to “storm” client Jonathan Adler’s site for free shipping with the code word Sandy.
Or Kenneth Cole’s digital specialists who, paying more attention to trends than common sense, tweeted during the height of the Egyptian riots, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is available online.”
Or O2, the UK’s largest mobile phone service, leaking customers’ phone numbers to every website they visited.
Voices of sanity
But now there are signs that digital disciplines and marketing disciplines are, at last, starting to work together.
This year’s Super Bowl blackout was a case in point. Then, creatives who knew something about advertising created tasteful, interesting and, above all, marketing-related messages that digital experts put up right away and in the right places.
Tide, for example, tweeted, “We can’t get your blackout, but we can get your stain out.” This message worked perfectly with their commercial about a Joe Montana-shaped stain that aired later on.
Volkswagen’s tweet was fully consistent with its “happy Jamaicans” television campaign: “”Lost power during the Big Game…Don’t worry, #GetHappy:voa.us/VDSvjj”
Over on Facebook, Mayhem – Allstate’s living, walking, breathing jinx – posted, “I meant to turn off the scoreboard. Sorry, everybody. Wrong switch.” This reinforced the brand message and got over 39,000 likes.
And Oreo’s tweet and graphic reassured consumers, “Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC YOU CAN STILL DUNK IN THE DARK” This was retweeted over 10,000 times within the following hour.
Some things don’t change
The marketing students surveyed also overwhelmingly agreed with some longstanding advertising truisms.
Nearly 70 percent believe that television will still be a relevant advertising medium ten years from now.
And a similar number, unwittingly repeating a core tenet of the 1960s Creative Revolution, said that in ten years, the role of advertising would be more to “entertain” than to “sell.”
So after a long and sometimes tumultuous courtship, it looks like digital expertise and marketing expertise are now engaged and on the verge of a happy marriage, with both disciplines living together happily ever after.
“The next generation of marketing leaders clearly has a strong point of view on the future they will shape and create,” said Anne Pflimlin, director of the Mediaschool Group. “It’s clear to them that the questions of silos and channels don’t exist.”
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