Digital IQ

Are you a savvy browser, but an inhibited marketer?

Stop me when this starts to sound familiar.

You would describe yourself as being fairly confident online. As a consumer you know you’re probably going to find the best deal online and you’ve bookmarked all the price comparison sites for when you need to change your utilities or car insurance.

You have an account for every social network and you have developed good relationships with people all over the world. You share titbits, you’ve built online communities and you enjoy adding your voice to the discussion.

However, this engagement stops the minute you get into work.

Your marketing initiatives are still focused on traditional print media, talking to newspapers and networking face to face.

You have your own blog at home, but no blog in work. Yes, you setup a company Twitter account but no really knew what to say and so the activity, and follower numbers, just dried up. Your firm’s website stays the same week in, week out and yet your own Facebook is updated daily.

Consumers are changing how they engage with the media, and what networks they’re using to stay connected. Marketers are no different. Outside of work we’re spending more and more time using digital methods for media consumption and moving away from traditional formats. Yet once we’re behind our desks, this approach seems to change. We’re still spending our marketing budgets on newspapers, radio and TV, instead of hanging out where the consumer is; online.

There are figures to back it up. In a study of Media Consumption versus Media Spend the largest disconnect was on the internet and mobile. Consumers spent a quarter of their time online, and yet advertisers spent just over 10% of their budget on this space. Consumers spent 14% of their time on mobiles, yet this format represented just 1% of ad spend.

Does that mean we’re wasting our marketing money?

In some ways, yes.  The sales of traditional daily and weekly newspapers, both nationally and locally are dropping. Around 15 million people buy a newspaper every day in the UK. By the end of 2010, for the first time more people said they were consuming their news online, rather than in print. Overtaking newspapers and TV, consuming news online is now second only to TV for 18-24 year olds.

Compare that with where ad spend is going. Online ad spend might have grown by 13% in the same period, with just over $25 billion being spent, yet the majority goes in search advertising, rather than online publication advertising. With more consumers turning to mobile apps and tablet devices the way we’re consuming information is changing, but marketers are failing to keep up. More importantly, the way we’re engaging is out of step. As consumers we’re more focused on asking questions and providing answers. There’s a back and forth which defines the medium and the interaction. Yet as marketers our tendency is to funnel information out statically, rather than interactively. We don’t engage. We become a backdrop to the online experience, instead of a participant. The risk is that the conversation moves on, and marketers get left behind.

If our customers are spending their time in online communities, joining the conversation and driving the discussion then marketers and brands need to keep up. Marketers need to remember that their strength and understanding as consumers first and foremost is what has helped them keep their clients and businesses relevant.

What made the golden age of advertising in Mad Men so inspiring was their ability to engage and understand the audience. Marketers should be the stepping stone between the brand and the consumer. Not only are marketers letting down their clients if they funnel ad spend into avenues consumers have long abandoned, they let down customers as well who want to stay in touch.

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One Response to Digital IQ

  1. Chris L says:

    I live online, I work online for a living and practically online in the evenings on home. Im an internet geek :)

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