3 “Non-Dirty” Digital Considerations

I’m currently part of a committee here in Singapore charged with understanding what innovation is and what it means specifically with respect to the area of interactive advertising and digital. It was during these discussions that another member of the committee remarked that his 3-year-old son doesn’t know what digital is. This was a great insight (I think!) and just another thing we can learn from the non-tainted minds of children.

I also saw another deck doing the rounds where “digital” was described as a dirty word. So, on the one hand we’re all trying to ramp up digital because it’s the future, right? And on the other we need to be channel neutral and not discuss it as a specific offering. So how should we think about digital in our everyday work and lives and in our work?

I don’t hope to give a hard and fast answer in this piece, but rather offer some thoughts and considerations in a few areas that I think are important.

It’s Not a Thing We Dip in and Out Of

The word “ubiquity” has been bandied around for some time when it comes to digital. And like so many buzzwords, there comes a point when the buzz becomes a reality and the thing has real meaning for us in practical terms rather than simply being something people talk about in presentations as a nod to being contemporary in their thinking.

While some markets and countries are less developed (and we must be sensitive to that, of course), we can now safely say that the affordability and penetration of 4G has, in many parts of the world, now transformed digital from a touch point into what I describe as a persistent layer that exists between us all and those brands we work with and their consumers.

This means that we need to think about digital in almost a timeless way. We need to think about the digital engagements and experiences we create as being potentially relevant all the time and at any time. The very expression “touch point” has us thinking about digital as a specific point or something happening at a specific time. This is no longer the case. Digital is pervasive, and our experiences we create on behalf of our clients need to be thought of this way, too.

Data Speaks

It just has to be about data now. It just has to be.

Again, talk of “data” is not new and it touches on several areas, ranging from sophisticated ad-tech solutions through to the more pragmatic areas of Google Analytics and EdgeRank to the juicy and fun big data insights, cool predictive algorithms, and all that jazz.

As data becomes increasingly accessible and interpretable, new battlegrounds will emerge. Great ideas supported by spot-on strategy and creativity will remain key, but the really successful campaigns will be those that nod toward what the data is telling them and then, crucially, react to that. This is not data as in the campaign results in the last two slides of the deck – this is hour-by-hour analysis and listening to data and the process of learning, adapting, and changing on a continual basis.

Putting Pictures on Instagram Doesn’t Count as Digital Anymore

As I have mentioned (more than once!) before, we’ve now moved beyond the point where simple amplification of campaigns on social channels constitutes a digital campaign. Clearly, as an activation or amplification channel, social has its valuable role, but digital can and should be so much more than this simple “add-on.”

We should, as good marketers, strive to create experiences and engagement that use digital at the very heart of the proposition and constantly look to acknowledge the new ways we can secure deep and meaningful interaction for our consumers on behalf of our brands.

As I promised above, no answers but, I hope, three important considerations:

  • Digital not as a touch point but as a ubiquitous and timeless layer
  • Data, data, data – not at the end but always – learn and change and get better as we go along
  • Digital as the heart and not as an extra layer

I think bearing the above in mind and tackling digital (whatever it is!) from those perspectives might in some small part be considered innovative.

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