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Webit Istanbul 2015 Says You’re Probably Unprepared for the Future of Marketing

Tine Thygesen, Webit Istanbul 2015
There’s no denying the list of speakers at Webit’s recent event in Istanbul was star-studded.

From the Paul Rossi, President of The Economist Media Group, to Vox’s Global Head of Brand Strategy, the players onstage and the companies represented were both daunting.

But when it came to raw content, there was plenty for the numerous small and medium sized enterprises in attendance. Here’s a synthesis of what you need to know about the future of digital media and marketing from some of the top minds in the industry.

Why Big Data Refuses to Be Ignored

If there’s one big takeaway from the many discussions on big data (and most presentations at least mentioned big data in a nod to its growing importance in business and technology) it’s that it’s soon going to be defining the way you do business.

What does that mean in concrete terms? It means corporate structures are going to have to adapt.

Marketing and media expert Igor Beuker (@igorbeuker) pointed out that if your Chief Marketing Officer doesn’t have time to grapple with the datafication of marketing, then it might be time to merge your Chief Information and Data Officers and give them greater authority to bring big data into your marketing strategy.

Beuker went on to explain just how data will change marketing. It all comes down to shifting from mass market one-size-fits-all approaches to increasingly minute levels of individualization.

With the right data and software, there’s no reason why 10,000 potential customers shouldn’t be targeted in 10,000 unique ways. When that’s done right, the results are stunning. Here’s what data-aligned optimization did for one company’s cost per acquisition:

data aligned optimization slide, webit istanbul

All of this also raises major security questions, as Shane Shevlin, Commercial Director EMEA, discussed. The two major questions every company needs to ask according to him are: “Where does the advertiser’s data reside?” and “How do you ensure it’s under your control?“

No doubt increasing use of data in customer targeting goes hand in hand with greater security concerns and companies need to understand that from the start. With the increase of data usage, we have to consider the changing relationship between customers and advertisers.

Are Consumers Rebelling against Advertising?

It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that in many ways the answer is yes. The President of the Economist Media Group, Paul Rossi, discussed how people are clustering around a smaller and smaller number of media platforms and using adblockers in increasing numbers. Here’s what that looks like:

5 of 96 sites visited get 44% of time spend - economist

This trend doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon. That means the places where users are spending their time can demand greater and greater premiums for advertising. The result is that now, half of all ad dollars are going to Facebook and Google alone. In addition, the total number of ads being sold at higher prices are on the decline.

In fact, marketing professionals of all kinds have so little faith in online display ads that a huge chunk of them are blocking these ads themselves:
everyone now installs ad blockers - the economist

What’s worse, Rossi and The Economist estimate that as much as 30% of all banner ad clicks are fraudulent. It’s a dirty secret in the industry but can’t be ignored forever. In response to this, Rossi suspects more companies will gradually come to realize that they are responsible for creating quality content. For many that will likely mean taking content creation in-house.

For many more, these trends have meant a shift in focus. Often, that shift has been towards native advertising, an industry trend that’s growing by leaps and bounds.

Does Native Advertising Offer a Solution? Yes, But Not for Everything

What sets native advertising apart then? It capitalizes on one of the biggest trends in advertising: the fact that younger consumers judge content differently.

How exactly? Gabe Zichermann, the founder & CEO of Gamification.co, outlined how these new users don’t trust anything corporations or governments tell them, they only listen to what they can do with their own hands and what their friends tell them. You want feedback, friends, and fun; that’s the critical formula.

Native advertising takes advantage of this by piggybacking on trust which has been developed between users and certain media brands.

Granted, there are better and worse ways to go about this. Deceptive faux-journalism is problematic to say the least. Heartfelt podcast endorsements however generally garner rave reviews from advertisers and listeners alike.

New Metrics for a New Era

The last major point made by Rossi was perhaps the most interesting: that the advertising industry needs a new metric to respond to the huge changes occurring in consumer behavior.

In a world where click-fraud is rampant and the term “impression” means less and less each year, the old ways of measuring online advertising success simply aren’t cutting it.

Rossi’s suggested replacement is to craft a metric which accurately measures time and attention given to a piece of content or ad. It’s going to take time and effort to reliably track that kind of information, but the economic pressures to do so are frankly too great to ignore.

What Marketers and Companies Alike Need to Learn

Absent this kind of a sea change, marketers risk watching themselves become less and less relevant to new generations and their new perspectives on how web content should work.

That’s about as appropriate a lesson as any to draw from this event: adapt or die.

Or, as Scot Keith, Founder and CEO of 123w, one of the world’s leading marketing firms, put it: “Create news, not advertising;” and “Don’t think like a marketer, think like a promoter.” Wise words.

123w scot keith takeaways webit

Are the experts spot on or is there something we’re all missing? Let us know in the comments.

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Eric Halsey

Eric is an American, living in Sofia, Bulgaria. A digital marketing enthusiast and creator of the Bulgarian History Podcast, he is currently putting his skills towards a variety of new projects involving creative writing and history. Eric is also a self taught musician and songwriter, playing original songs in the tradition of American Folk Music on the guitar, mandolin, “banjitar” and harmonica.


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