...curious syntax and miscellaneous crimes against grammar
It’s great to be contributing to the structure of the University of Worcester’s marketing degree as part of a study conducted by Antonius Raghubansie, ex. Head of Marketing for Pepsi (DDL Group) and now Head of Subject and Senior Lecturer at Worcester Business School. The study is designed to update the theories and concepts taught to future marketing graduates. The interview I had with Antonius was inspiring and as these things often do, helped me develop some of my own wider views on the future of marketing communications.
Antonius has interviewed creative directors across England about the impact that digital has had on their design and placement of adverts, particularly in the context of viral ads, but our conversation was far wider than that.
We discussed the rise and effects of digital technology in different sectors. For example how catalogue fashion retail has been transformed by asos.com… Without digital marketing communications asos.com would not exist. Asos used ‘digital’ to reinvent fashion retail around modern consumer behaviour. Likewise iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud are platforms that have redefined the economic model of the music industry. ‘Digital’ communications then, for these mainstream industries, has been the necessary catalyst for reinvention and as we have seen in recent months, retailers that have failed to embrace the rise of digital communications have failed as retailers.
Antonius and I were broadly agreed in that whilst the principals of selling remain the same the convergence of digital and traditional marketing is inventible, as marketing inevitably has to mirror peoples behaviour in order to reach them. Traditional theories and concepts are simply conducted on digital platforms. There is however undeniable change to the application of marketing theory. Perhaps the most significant practical change is brought about by the synchronous nature of digital technology, enabling what Bill Gates refereed to back in 1999 as “a digital nervous system” – the real-time feedback of a collective audience, this and the ‘many to many’ communications, or ‘buzz’, we can now inspire on social platforms vs traditional TV broadcast adverting. Social and TV being channels that now need to work hand-in-hand.
In parallel with developing technology, marketing theory and practices are of course driven and should arguably be led by the development of human behaviour. Generation ‘i’ is ever more savvy and selective and, based on smartphone penetration, actually covers the last three generations, not just teenagers. For the majority, an entertaining ad alone no longer cuts the mustard. Almost everyone can easily access too much of everything, so cutting through the noise is paramount when considering campaign execution. As Steve Davis, Econsultancy guest blogger and ex KPMG partner advises, brand value, in the social media context is determind by relevance, contribution to people’s lives and its utility in their relationships. To increase these brands must re-focus on getting people to recommend their product or service to each other. As such, in a world of over-exposure, careful attention to privacy and focus on customer service have the potential to make or break brands in the 20′teens.
Youngsters are increasingly willing to trade with their digital identity, in many cases happily opening up their network of digitally connected friends to a brand in order to get a discount or exclusive offer, fine so long as marketeers build in the the requisite permissions. The ultimate enablers however, the networks, Google, Apple, Facebook etc. have effectively started to commoditise individual human relationships. This is a fundamental change which, in my view, is quite different to the traditional commoditisation of the relationship between a broadcaster or publisher and their audience, and one which raises profound questions about marketing regulation and ethics.
The objectives of Antonius’ study are mainly to re-examine existing principles of advertising design and look at establishing new ones or amend those that are currently used. Industry is well ahead of academic models, theories and principles and this study goes in some small part to address that. So what will future marketing graduates learn? Perhaps how to create and curate connected environments through augmented reality robotic interfaces like Google Glass. Or, as shareholders demand growth from saturated markets and the worlds wealth shifts uneasily across continents, perhaps they should first learn how to negotiate for better human rights. One thing I am sure of is that emerging internationalised legal structures governing the sharing of data between networks, brands and individuals will have a more defining effect on advertising and marketing campaigns than any other single factor.
Once the study is completed, the resulting paper will be posted here and made available to download.
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