The digital marketing industry is reacting to multi-screen and the fragmentation of audiences by focusing more on consumer engagement and experience through relevant content. This was a key trend highlighted during this year’s Digital Downloaded discussions.
The industry is developing a content system that ensures that it is always available through channels such as search and websites, as consumers’ behaviour changes with greater access to information.
“Consumers now consume content from different modes and the old-day single narrative is gone,” said Neil Hudspeth, regional digital director of Leo Burnett. “Content needs to be integrated and to be coordinated to drive consumers to the key goal — which is to drive sales.”
Paul Soon, chief executive of XM, Asia-Pacific, agreed, saying that brands need to be always switched on. “A lot of time, brands don’t have the knowledge,” he said. “With multi-screen being the only way to go, brands have to get agencies that can deliver the experience. Branding has to create larger conversations and key experiences.”
Creating consumer experience also means that brands need to take a more proactive marketing approach, helping to create brand and product experiences that drive relevance. This also means that brands should spend more on owned and earned media, as they need not spend as much media money if they succeed at creating brand and product experiences. “But not all brands know how to have conversations with consumers,” Hudspeth added.
Soon noted that while it is important for agencies to evolve with consumer experience, a lot of planning is needed.
Meanwhile, the fragmentation of audiences is making the industry more interesting, Gareth Mulryan, managing director for Asia-Pacific at Performics, said. “It is what technology gives you. Consumers like messages ready for them and we need to make content more easily found.”
Agencies are generally slower to adapt to new technology than consumers, he said, adding however that media agencies tend to be quicker to adapt than the other agencies as they are closer to their audiences.
“We are changing as an industry. You can’t have siloed the digital to do it. You need the whole agency to harness the wind of change — not only in hiring but also in training internally — then the people can go out and talk to the clients.”
He also noted that all channels will be digitalised in future and the industry needs to have the mindset that from now on everything will work the way it is now for digital.
Jon Slade, commercial director, digital advertising at FT.com, said that the news portal has also seen the fragmentation of its audience and recognise the challenges. It has a total of 2.1 million online users globally, via several platforms.
“We need to be channel-neutral,” he added. “We have a web app that is built on HTML 5. It can be scaled on different screens accordingly to get across easily. The media landscape won’t be the same in the next 12 months and we have to be ready.”
For the Financial Times, iPad constitutes 10 per cent of its total digital revenue. “It is a device you never heard of two-and-a-half years ago. Users are taking content in a more social way and the key is to be prepared for that. It is a more difficult advertising landscape now, it depends on how quickly we can keep it up,” he said.
Patrick Rona, president for Asia-Pacific at Tribal DDB Worldwide, believes traditional media such as television, radio and print are still powerful. “Audiences still watch, read and listen to these media,” he said. “Agencies and clients don’t think that these media work in isolation. [For example] TV can be used to invite users for Facebook engagement.” Digital media often stands out against traditional media due to its measurability. However, the ability to measure return on investment may sometimes confuse marketers as too much data is produced that is not translated into action.
Rona said that while the measurement of digital is similar to other media, the more important thing is to interpret what consumers said. “We are working with media agencies and clients, as well as other technology providers such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, for effectiveness of social marketing. We then interpret data into insights for digital creative output to drive ATL creative products.”
For media owners, Slade said the FT.com news portal allows readers to read up to eight articles for free each month, after it collects data from these readers. The move allows the portal to gather a rich database, with the information of readers’ demographics, to show advertisers.
“Digital provides the opportunity for advertisers to know how their spend goes,” he added. “Publishers should and could have done more to help advertisers to spend better.”
He noted that click-through ads are a poor measurement as they depend heavily on how attractive the creative is most of the time, and seldom take branding effectiveness into account.
With digital pulling together agencies of different disciplines and with marketers seeking the same outcomes, the need for qualified talent has become an issue in the industry. While retention is important, the industry experts agreed that taking raw talent, giving them training and shaping them is equally necessary.
Mulryan said digital talents tend to put a premium on themselves and that this situation needs to be avoided. “There is digital talent in this region and we need to make sure that they have the skill set,” he said. “Technology and consumers have changed the way we work and the skill sets you need for the right campaign for clients. Understand the clients better, and the culture is about improving how we do things.”