My Thoughts on AdTech Sydney, 2012

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the AdTech Sydney – “a gathering of digital marketers across brands, agencies, publishers and service providers”.  We came together to learn about and discuss trends, case studies and predications for the future of Digital Marketing.  It was information overload as is often the case, but some dominant themes emerged over the two days and I thought I’d share them with you below:

1. Evolve or die. This is true not only of your business but of your career. Harsh? Maybe. True? ‘fraid so. If you are resisting the urge to learn, embrace and understand new platforms and technologies you will be out of the job or out of business before you know it. I am not saying you need to be an expert but, you do need to get your hands dirty and be humble enough to get the expert in the room to help you understand how new technologies will enhance, enable and personalise your brand story.

2. A Facebook page does not make it digital.  You can’t tick the digital or social box by creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle. Rob Norman from GroupM summed it up nicely when he said “we have moved from the social web to social as a feature of all communications.” If you want to remain competitive in this rapidly evolving space then you need to think about integrated marketing across the full digital suite – social media, online advertising, gaming and augmented reality, multi device content. Think about how these can work together with traditional approaches and tools, to deliver a fully immersive brand experience.

3. For my agency counterparts – get into bed with your colleagues (virtually speaking). Brand Managers are increasingly demanding integration across all disciplines – marketing, PR, advertising, email, experiential and so on.  To deliver full digital integration, you’re going to have to develop relationships with your colleagues across all departments and skill sets and be able to call on their expertise. Agencies that are digitally department agnostic and present intelligent marcomms solutions offering a variety of touch points to the brand will the ones with the enviable client portfolios.

4. Content is crucial. Content strategy is not about churning out the odd story, video or photo stream but rather, intelligent, relevant and personalised storytelling – the value exchange needs to be there.  What does it mean for ‘me’? The art of ‘personalisation’ really hit home and was all about clever storytelling, in a way that gives your audience enough structure to guide them through the brand story but also allows the space and tools for them to make it their own.

5. Cross platform content consumption matters. To quote Andrew Murrell, General Manager Channel Marketing at at @CommBank - “Think about the person and what they’re using their various devices for then deploy content appropriate for that device”. Content customisation is important on two levels 1. your consumers’ web experiences and 2. the value you (brand) can bring to their current situation. “Know your customers, understand what they’re doing and be ready to interact with them whilst they’re on the go,” suggests Murrell.

And, there’s no denying it. We are on the move constantly, we carry our besties around on Facebook; we research products and services on the laptop from the couch whilst watching TV and checking SMS’; we’re reading the SMH on an iPad on the train on the way to work.

Ask yourself, how does the portability of content impact our story telling? What part of our story is told when? What value can our story add to that situation? How will we tell our story in order to maximize impact across all devices, in an integrated and seamless way? We’ve come a long way from Little Golden Books at bedtime! A final word on content  – the mobile ship has sailed, if you missed it then you’ better start swimming – fast.

6. Put your virtual ear to the ground and listen. Enter the age of the “Expression Economy”. Andy Lark, Chief Marketing and Online Officer also at the Commonwealth Bank gave a passionate address and spoke about the Expression Economy – a shift from marketers being the broadcasters to the age of social where we are suddenly the ones being broadcast to. He said (and I wholeheartedly agree), that it  is time marketers embraced the new paradigm and took it in their stride.  He suggests participating in content transmission by listening closely to what is being said about you and your brand, by inviting feedback on your corporate blogs and allowing comments and posts on your Facebook page. “Transmission is insufficient, you need to participate” he impresses. To read more of what Andy has to say about Digital Marketing (amongst other things) you can check out his blog thedailylark.com.

7. Social ROI is not stand alone. Chillax a little when looking to add a dollar value to a tweet. Measuring the impact of social media is absolutely possible but you must have time (aka patience), money and a commitment to measure it properly by setting baselines, adjusting variables, having a long term vision and commitment. If not, then understand that social ROI should ideally be measured as part of the bigger marcomms strategy (online and offline).  Stop trying to put a dollar value on a Facebook page or Twitter handle and accept that effective use of social tools and platforms is a long term strategy for your business and only then will you see the financial rewards of being active and innovative in this space.

8. Get your A – Game on. Chris Erb the VP of  Brand Marketing at EA Sports presented some staggering statistics on gaming:

- 1.5 billion people worldwide are playing games on multiple tech platforms.

- 55%of gamers spend more on entertainment than non gamers

- 90% video games have stronger opening days than all box office movies

- 63% of all Americans have played a video game in the last 6 months only 53% have been to the movies

The average age of an EA sports gamer is 27. For the industry it is 31 years old.He explained the significance of global connectivity through gaming and the lure of shared experiences.There exists a huge opportunity to tap into the inherent competitive nature of people as a way to connect them with your brand.  Ask yourselves what games exist already that our audience is into? What opportunities for integration can we leverage? What online experiences can we replicate offline? Can we offer something exclusively in the gaming environment? This is an untapped market for most brands with only the big players active in this space (Coca Cola, Doritos, Red Bull to name a few). You don’t need to start from scratch, rather look at existing communities and draw synergies between them and your brand and then work out how you can co create content that allows you to tell your brand story in the trusted, energetic and innovative world of online gaming.

These are just a few key take outs from the two days that really got me thinking. I hope they do the same for you. Did you attend AdTech? What did you think?