Getting to grip with the current buzz around digital

Feeling low on marketing inspiration? The old phrase ‘get your thinking cap on’ may not be too far off the mark. An academic study has found that a person’s ability to learn can be enhanced by wearing headgear sending a mild electrical current to the brain.

Using electrodes mounted on a headband, psychologist Robert Reinhart and assistant professor of psychology Geoffrey Woodman from Vanderbilt University found that applying an anodal current produces a significantly higher spike in brain activity, according to their study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Participants made fewer errors and learned more quickly. The extra ability was not noticed by the participants but they could clearly be seen on the electroencephalogram.

It may be some time before thinking caps become available commercially, though, so marketers can’t rely on learning new skills through electrode stimulation or robot hats. Yet the need to learn new skills quickly and thoroughly has never been more urgent.

At last week’s Advertising Week Europe festival, this theme came up again and again. Marketers need to grapple with new skills, media channels and technologies at a fast pace. This is particularly true in the area of digital marketing, where increasing amounts are being spent but senior marketers admit to a knowledge gap.

This year, £19bn will be spent on online advertising, according to the IAB in the US. Yet 36 per cent of all web traffic now is non-human, according to its new chairman Ziff Davis, although others suggest the figure is more like 50 per cent. That means nearly half of those ‘people’ out there on the net that you’re serving ads to are bots.

Marketers may understand the concept of programmatic buying but they need to understand the process in detail. Otherwise the John Wanamaker adage “half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half” will be true of a whole generation of marketers using newer digital services such as programmatic buying.

To help you learn more about the growing digital marketing area, we are featuring a series of expert essays at the back of the magazine this week looking at Performance and Affiliate marketing.

And if you find it easier to learn directly from people (no robots, we promise), then come along to Marketing Week Live at Olympia, London on 25 and 26 June 2014. With speakers from brands such as Telefónica, Lego, Sky, Disney and Camelot tackling issues at the heart of marketing, it’s a good way to learn without turning to robotic hats.

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