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Five Trends from AdAge Digital 2013

Published On May 22, 2013 | By mbalogh | Blog

In April I had the good fortune to attend the 2013 AdAge Digital Conference in New York. It was a fantastic and informative event with many thought leaders and lots of great presenters. As they spoke, five important trends describing the new age of marketing became evident. Here they are:

Trend #5: Set Impossible Goals, Then Achieve Them
At a conference like AdAge Digital big thinking is all around you, but this trend is different than that. It’s not just big thinking, but big doing. As Robert Wong, Google Creative Lab’s Chief Creative Officer, put it, “think exponentially, not incrementally. If I tell you that you need to make cars run at 50 mpg you retool your car. If I say 500 miles, you start over.” This is the basis for what Wong dubbed Moonshot Thinking. “You are not bothered by not being able to teleport around the world because there is a part of you that thinks it impossible,” he quipped, “moonshot thinking is bothered by that.” Present at AdAge Digital were three fantastic examples of this: Citi, Delta, and USA today. All historically non-digital organizations down to their very core and, in one case, dating back to over 200 years of tradition. All there to present their story on how they made the seemingly impossible jump.

Trend #4: Content Marketing is HOT
A few years ago content was taken for granted as the job of an intelligent and strategic copywriter. The advent of hundreds or more ways to communicate with consumers changed all that. Today there is an entire discipline dedicated to the art of Content Strategy and it’s being driven by two major factors. First, consumptions habits have changed. With so many channels and massive interconnectedness throughout every aspect of our lives we are consuming content at an unprecedented rate. The advent of mobile consumptions has broken our tether to fixed channels.  Second, the long tail era of context is upon us driving us to search for more applicable. Unfortunately for content generators content is now relative to everything. From state of mind to physical location, time of day to where we are in our brand journey the narrower you target your audience, the more specific your content must become.

Trend #3: Make Documentaries, Not Ads
Just like Big Data can stifle big thinking and paralyze action big productions can paralyze advertising campaigns. David Ogilvy once said, “Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.” This big trend is all about the product and getting out of its way. Your product has a story to tell, so tell it. And do so simply. Not everything has to be highly produced. 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute by ordinary people with something to share. In this long tail age of democratized content consumers have become adept at distinguishing real stories from marketing noise and their message is clear — tell me about it, inspire me to use it, and let me choose; if I like it and it adds value I’ll buy it, don’t try to sell it to me.

Trend #2: Big Data
So much can be said about Big Data, and so much was. In fact, Big Data had its own track at AdAge Digital. With everything going on in this space ranging from President Obama’s National Big Data Research and Development Initiative to Electronic Medical Records and Big Data’s role in organizational and marketing optimization it’s clear that Big Data’s time has arrived. Unfortunately it’s arrived a little too much. Trend #3 is taking a step back to find the right mix of data and inspiration. “Stats are nice,” said Vanessa Colella, Citibank’s N.A. Head of Consumer Marketing and probably one of the most intelligent people in the room, “but obsession with mountains of data leads to paralysis… intuition still makes the difference.”

Trend #1: Your Industry is Digital. You Can’t Ignore That
Across the board, this is the number one theme of AdAge Digital. Citibank’s Journey to Digital, Delta Airlines’ Digital Leadership, and USA Today’s Reinventing USA Today where all premier examples of historic, traditionally non-technical, non-integrated, highly regulated industry leaders completely transforming their organizations to sync up to the new world of consumption. “Digital is no longer a silo,” said Vanessa Colella, “everyone in your organization must be digital,” clearly stating that there’s no such thing as “those tech guys”. “If you’re a marketer, you need to know digital and it’s our individual responsibility to stay up to date and fresh,” she continued.

As Robert Wong stated, referring to Google’s 100,000 Star Chrome experiment which plots the actual three dimensional coordinates of over 100,000 stars in an interactive visualization experience, “geeks and poets make beautiful babies… art should challenge technology and technology should inspire art.”  Cross-discipline collaboration requires more than informing, it necessitates understanding.  While it may seem drastic and you may think it impossible, the absorbs ion of digital across the organization is key to achieving the other major trends.

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