Faaez Samadi
Nov 22, 2017

Less can be more, even in digital

At an IPG Mediabrands’ roundtable, experts discussed the pitfalls of choice in the digital space, moving away from campaign-led marketing and getting on board with digital transformation.

Less can be more, even in digital

For all the myriad channels, platforms and services available to brands in the digital space today, delegates at IPG Mediabrands’ MB Talks roundtable in Singapore said doing fewer things better is more useful than being everywhere.

“When it comes to multiple channel selection, the biggest issue isn’t what I should do, it’s what I shouldn’t do,” said Scott McBride, APAC chief digital officer at IPG Mediabrands. “That’s where a lot of clients get quite confused. They think ‘We have to do a bit of everything’. Well why? Why don’t we just do two or three things really well?”

Marketers are in danger of losing sight of what’s been consistently effective in favour of “the shiny stuff” digital constantly offers. For Robert Crockett, managing director of Sony Pictures Singapore, there are times when experimenting with digital is the wrong option.

L-R: Robert Crockett, Simon Talvard and Parminder Singh

“[Digital has] allowed us to experiment with new media for a small art film, which may struggle to find an audience in Singapore in the first place," he said. "That’s where we can play and it’s actually been a lot of fun. But when I have a US$230 million film, I’m not going to do an experiment.”

The overwhelming choice with digital is where marketers can get into trouble, said Parminder Singh, chief commercial and digital officer at Mediacorp.

“Just because you’re doing well on search does not mean you can apply the same fundamentals to social or a video platform,” he said. “Moving your creative from one medium to another is not as simple as just making a media choice. You’ve got to understand that platform, and you have the refresh the creative more online.”

Choosing the right couple of platforms and maximising them is one of the greatest benefits of digital, particularly for Ian Fong, director of marketing and communications at events company SingEx. Whereas engaging people around an event is fairly straightforward, maintaining that engagement afterwards is where digital has changed the game, he said.

“We’re really focused on O2O, but offline to online,” he explained. “Building online communities around events is a big part of what we do now. When people talk among themselves, we get information on the new trends coming, or what they would like in an event.”

L-R: Ian Fong, Faaez Samadi, Scott McBride and Jarno Middelbosch

These types of consumer-led marketing initiatives represent the way marketers need to drive their digital strategies, said Simon Talvard, APAC head of digital solutions at IPG Mediabrands. Moving away from campaign-led marketing to “programmes that follow the digital consumer journey” is where brands can really use digital to gain deep insights into their customers.

But for Jarno Middelbosch, international marketing manager at Harley-Davidson, the biggest challenge is still moving from deep insights to conversions, which remains an issue for the brand. Using precision-based digital marketing tools has definitely improved the brand’s targeting efforts at reduced costs, but the final hurdle remains. 

“How do we keep people tracking down the consumer path, and serve them messages over time to get them from the website, into a dealer, and onto a motorcycle?” he asked. “It’s a tremendous challenge. We’re really good at filling that funnel, collecting leads, but only a small percentage converts.”

Underpinning the discussion of maximising digital opportunities is the requirement that an organisation have deep digital knowledge from the bottom up. Roundtable moderator David Haddad, Singapore managing director at IPG Mediabrands, said for all the talk around transformation, brands and agencies are still grappling with this process.

For Singh, the objective is clear. “I really believe most companies shouldn’t have a digital transformation unit two or three years from now. If I still am running a digital unit, I don’t know if I’ve succeeded in my job, because digital should be everything.”

Crockett said the issue is currently one of structure, rather than resistance to change among marketers and agencies. “I think we’re culturally at the high-end of the transformation spectrum, but structurally not so far along. But eventually the structure will get there.”

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