Marketers assess digital’s opportunities and threats

Top marketers at some of the world’s biggest brands have warned the rise of digital marketing presents as many threats as opportunities and the marketing community needs to be wary of over-investment in tools that are not appropriate for their business.


At the recent Festival of Media Global event in Switzerland, Colgate-Palmolive chief marketing officer Nigel Burton said marketers must be careful of acting “like kids in a candy store”.

“There are all these bright new toys and if you play with them all, that is quite expensive,” he added.

Christoph Michalski, president of the global hygiene category at Velvet and Bodyform maker SCA, told Marketing Week that marketers who started their careers before the dawn of the digital must work harder to keep abreast of technological advancements or risk being overtaken by younger colleagues.

He questioned how marketers can keep up with rapidly-changing technology when they have “grown up” with the 30-second TV spot.

“How do you ensure that, despite your ageing population of marketers, you keep the freshness and also the drive of wanting to win?” he asked.

PepsiCo chief marketing officer Salman Amin (pictured) said that brand owners faced “troubling” times in the face of digital media.

“It is a very exciting, troubling and uncertain time for brand owners. None of us could have predicted the rise of Facebook or the new means of real-time communication that is Twitter.”

Amin predicted that television will be the “unexpected force that will take the digital world by storm”. He cited US TV viewing figures of 34 hours a week in 2011, up from 32 hours in 2006.

Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels warned that brands must consider how to compete in content creation when software means that “everyone” can do this.

He said: “The whole pipeline of media has got disrupted. We now have software available that enables everyone to be a producer of high quality content. The producer of content will not define how successful it will be. What is the best approach to surviving a world where the success of your products is completely uncertain?”

Five marketing tips from the Festival of Media Global

  • Stick to the basics. David Wheldon, head of brand reputation and citizenship at Barclays, urged marketers to stick to the basics in a changing world. He said they should assess what makes their product better than others, make sure staff know what that is, consider whether the distributors of that brand know why it is special and think about whether they are providing customers with what they want.
  • Set clear objectives for what you expect of your digital spend. Aaron Fetters, associate director global digital strategy and analytics at Kellogg, revealed that for some campaigns only 19% of its online advertising was reaching the right audience. Key performance indicators have now been put in place across its brands, rather than having different ones across different products.
  • Learn from worst practice as well as best. MasterCard group head of global media Ben Jankowski said brands should not be scared of failure. “Everyone wants to celebrate the great ideas but it is about having the courage to say that something failed too.”
  • Rethink how you work with agencies. SCA president of global hygiene Christoph Michalski said he has moved towards the idea of a media agency taking the lead. “It is important to ask ‘Where do I reach the consumer in the best possible way?’ And that is a media planning discussion.”
  • Think about how you use video and stories. TV will “eat the internet”, according to PepsiCo chief marketing officer Salman Amin, who said that video will make up 90% of internet traffic by next year, according to Cisco figures.

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