Mid-March witnessed the annual ad:tech pilgrimage, an event that is rapidly establishing itself as one of the must-attend conferences in the diaries of Australia's marketers.
But this year was different…and it was a better soft of different.
Ad:tech positions itself as the ‘event for digital marketing’ – a big claim, but one backed up with a big schedule and a lot of content. For an event that spans everything from data analytics to creative ideas there was a lot of to be covered.
At this point I should probably disclose that I was one of the speakers at ad:tech. I joined a panel looking at the way marketers can take greater control of their digital strategy. WE all agreed it was something of a moot point – a digital strategy suggests the digital channel operates in isolation. It mustn’t.
And that is why this year’s ad:tech was different – it wasn’t about the technology or the ads (thankfully it wasn’t about social media either).
As interesting as they all are, it was finally recognised that what is far more significant than any tactic or tool, is the way brands are built in an interactive world. It’s a very different kind of approach but it’s really rather obvious when you think about it.
To succeed brands need to stop selling and start servicing. They need to find ways to complement and enhance the lives of their consumers. It’s the messaging that is different and the interplay of the channels. Rather than telling people they are great, brands need to find ways to demonstrate they are great. Not a huge revelation, but a statement with far reaching implications.
The theory manifested itself in a variety of forms – Babs Rangaiah, vice president, global communications planning at Unilever, talked about the need for brands to create value, to be authentic and to do good. Nic Hodges from Clemenger BDDO told us that campaigns are dead – it’s all about platforms he argued, citing ‘Best Job In The World’ (perhaps barely) as a missed opportunity, but his theory was sound.
Drago 5’s Sudeep Gohil made the point that big ideas are really a multiple of ideas – different initiatives living in different places.
Importantly, the debate has shifted away from the tiresome territory of digital media versus traditional media. All the big digital brand plays have been supported with significant traditional media investments. The point of difference is the type of messaging that is succeeding.
The media plays the role of catalyst for an ongoing, often digital, conversation. It is no longer an end in itself.
What is important about ad:tech 2010 was the shared recognition that successful brands will use their marketing dollars to create a positive impact in our lives. Some said it’s not about interruption…I disagree.
Marketing is necessarily interruptive. What matters is creating constructive interruption and this requires different kinds of ideas and different kinds of strategies.
Intimidating? Maybe. Exciting? Definitely. But either way, don’t use the technology as an excuse – it’s not about that anymore. Just like ads.
- Jules Hall