26 Feb 2017

The future of marketing is not just digital.

Digital was never meant to disrupt.

What we see with digital is not so much a marketing disruption as it is a complimentary advancement in marketing. Here’s why…

When television advertising was introduced in the early 40s, it was heralded as a disruption in the marketing world. Many viewed the milestone as a fatal blow to radio advertising and other forms of marketing. A few decades down the line, it became clear to the then-advertising experts that television commercials were not birthed to disrupt the marketing world and render the former mediums futile, but instead, they were birthed to compliment.

For the past few years, the word ‘digital’ has been on every marketer’s lips. Everyone has been confabulating about the disruption of digital media in the marketplace and how digital advertising will eventually render most traditional channels obsolete. It appears that, such a narrative has not changed for 2017. Marketing experts are still prompting advertisers to go digital or go home. Perhaps they have a point, but I would argue that the game is much more complex than just digital.

Although the world has drammatically changed, and it is necessary for brands to have a digital strategy, it is even more imperative for those brands to have a solid integrated strategy. It would be a marketing suicide for brand managers to neglect and demean traditional mediums such as TV, billboards or radio as dying methods. In the scheme of all things, digital marketing does wonders in connecting brands with consumers only when it is fused strategically with conventional mediums.

Let me add weight to that thought: A couple of years ago, when Coca-Cola in the US wanted more people to try Coke Zero, they developed a stunning campaign of which its overwhelming success served as a lesson to all marketers. And the lesson is this:

There is no such thing as digital advertising or traditional advertising, there is only ‘Advertising’.

Watch the case study below, to see why:

What the campaign revealed to us is that integration and collaboration of mediums is the future of marketing, not just digital on its own. Therefore, marketers and brand managers will do themselves a favour by recognising an integrated marketing world where digital and conventional advertising are not separate entities but a cohesive and interchangeable ecosystem. A system that works as one holistic unit – without borders.

We have to understand that a television Ad can serve as a digital piece and that a digital Ad can be a mere extension of an outdoor poster. A billboard can link to a live tweet, and a magazine Ad can be a window to buying instantly online. There should be no difference between above-the-line and below-the-line anymore, or between through-the-line and any other line for that matter.

The true service of this digital age is to bring these different spheres of marketing into unison, integrating everything so well that the lines between all marketing channels are removed. By doing this, we would enable consumers to engage with the brand wherever they are, without feeling a gist or a disconnect when they shift from the real world to the virtual one. This is what Coke did exceptionally well, and this is what we, as Petaltheory®, advocate for.

Digital is not the end all and be all, but it is a glue that can fuse all mediums into one seamless communication ecosystem.

Author: M F Petje


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