Marketers told to prepare for “game changing” digital shifts

Customer engagement through digital channels and platforms such as tablet computers is crucial for advertisers, top marketers have said at a conference on the future of the industry.

The Guardian’s Changing Advertising Summit in London today (12 October) heard that the mobile web will be particularly influential, given recent predictions that it would outstrip desktop internet use by 2014.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed (pictured) indicated a need to treat digital and mobile channels with the same level of commitment as traditional media, pointing out that there are now more mobile phones than toilets in India.

“Companies like ours are all over television. Are we all over the digital space?” he said, adding that increasing digitalisation and globalisation of consumer markets has contributed to a revolution in media advertising.

Ben Hughes, global commercial director and deputy CEO of the Financial Times, told delegates that 10% of new digital subscriptions to the newspaper’s content have come through its iPad app.

The app has had over 400,000 downloads since its launch in May this year, he adds.

“Those that do not yet believe the iPad is a game-changer need to think again,” he says.

The growth of campaigns across multiple marketing channels, he continues, means that integration needs to be “more than a catchphrase”.

Print also plays its part in this, with the FT’s strategy involving new print products as well as extending the reach of existing ones.

“Media owners need to be platform-agnostic and provide content to all channels where their customers consume it,” he says.

Facebook vice president (EMEA) Joanna Shields told the summit that social media will also replace some areas of traditional advertising,

She pointed out that more people are connecting with brands this way than via companies own websites, telling marketers: “With the money you save by not running a campaign on television, you need to hire a few people to take the pulse on Facebook.”

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