Digital Media?Why engagement is not really a dirty word
Three days of intense listening, learning, eating, drinking and networking. What did I get from the experience? A lot.
Last year iMedia hosted the Agency Summit, a fantastic event. At this year’s Brand Summit clients were added to the mix. A very different dynamic and in many ways a more complete one.
Immediately obvious was the level of knowledge in the room. Agencies be warned – clients well and truly understand the digital channel. You need to be on top of your game if you are going to add incremental value to their business.
Knowledge yes, but where does it reside? The performance marketing space seems to hold the lion’s share of trust, and therefore spend. Search, CPC, CPA deals are directly quantifiable. The subsequent sell to internal stakeholders is a lot easier. Spend and thou shall receive. No results, no cost.
This share of trust and experience reflects an underlying issue that seems to be affecting most client-side organizations: that is educating those outside the marketing team on the benefits of digital marketing.
While the marketing department now understand the digital space, the marketing spend they allocate is there to drive performance for other parts of the business. And those stakeholders are not necessarily as digitally savvy. Jenny Williams hit the nail on the head in her presentation describing it as a change management issue that organizations need to address. Good news on one hand, frustrating on another – this is an issue well outside the traditional agency sphere of influence.
The obvious follow-on from this conversation is the roles of agencies, and the various agency models that clients choose to implement. Every agency likes to focus on ideas. And every agency wants creative license. But most of them shoot themselves in the foot. Squabbling at the strategic table distracts focus and does not improve the client experience. Agencies need to take a moment to reflect on media landscape. It is fragmenting at a ridiculous speed. This spawns new areas of specialization, and each area needs great ideas. There is nothing wrong with being a specialist. You still have to be strategic. You still have to be creative.
Specialist agencies working in harmony creates the difference between an interlinked campaign (the right way to go) and an integrated campaign (the wrong way).
Agencies be warned – clients well and truly understand the digital channel. You need to be on top of your game.
Interlinking allows a core idea to be iterated and optimized for each channel. Integration translates into replication across the channels. For the specialist model to work it needs a strategic direction. Whether that is created by a ‘lead agency’, or a client’s marketing team, for a strategy to be optimized for today’s media landscape, those responsible have to understand the digital channel. And that requires a sound grasp of the technology that drives the digital world.
While performance marketing fills a valuable role in the current digital landscape, Ed Smith, COO News Digital, reminded us of a very important fact. ?- you cannot replace the power of a great idea. Being told that the days of effective CPC deals are numbered undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows. But it is an undeniable truth. Milking the affiliate and CPC deals can only last so long, and that time is running out – just look at your CPC rates. What does this mean? The long awaited brand revolution in the digital world is nigh.
Ed’s examples from Cannes re-enforced the power of a great idea. For those that haven’t seen it yet, check out “Whopper Freakout” on YouTube. A simple, but very powerful idea.
Ed may as well have been in cahoots with Peter Pynta from Neuro Insights, I doubt it, but what a great pairing of speeches. Peter, a specialist in neuro linguistic programming, explained why we have to re-focus on ideas. The rational brain does not drive behaviour. It is the right side of the brain (emotional) that determines actions. If we want to create an effective interaction through marketing, then we have to engage people. The fattening of broadband pipes have enables the growth of video and rich media, and that is shifting the internet from its ration roots into an emotional territory. A territory historically associated with television and cinema.
Peter then did a great thing. He gave a definition to the (almost dirty) word engagement. It is the measure of personal relevance.
I left the summit feeling re-assured. There is an enormous passion for digital marketing here in Australia. Our clients most certainly understand the channel. They also realise that it cannot operate as a silo; it has to be interlinked with all other communications.
In fact, digital as a channel is no longer the right way to think about it. It’s back to basics of brand versus demand generation. Digital principles apply across channels.
Agencies now need to decide if they are better at acquisition or retention, brand building or demand generation. And every agency needs to understand digital.
Best of all, I finally have a proper definition for the (almost dirty) word engagement.