Digital Darwinism – Booz & Co./Strategy + Business


I’m reading a 10 page article over on the fantastic Strategy + Business website of the global consulting company Booz & Co. and thought I’d share my thoughts and some snippets.

The article is in reaction to a global survey conducted across the worlds advertising and marketing agencies and speak authoritatively about the challenges the industry faces as a result of it’s meteoric rise.

As Forrester Research foresaw in 2008 agencies are being forced to shake of their established structure and find new ways of innovating that breeds greater collaboration.

Although the study and the article is now a year old and talks about the rate of change, when you are inside the industry as I am it’s the most challenging aspects of the detail in what we need to do next that seem to drag on.

More than half of our marketer survey participants agreed that advocacy is a more important marketing objective than awareness.

While this fact is now understood as a  brand requirement there has still been no “moment of truth” on the internet creating a universally accepted way of targeting, cultivating, anticipating, and catering to the consumer.

Indeed it is this paradox – the fact that brands and marketers alike are drawn to digital because of it’s measurability and the fact that analytics is still not capable of properly attributing value – that needs to be resolved to some agreed standard before the true internet gold rush can begin.

It’s one thing to collect digital information; it’s quite another to draw intelligence from it. Leading marketers are building partnerships with digital agencies, traditional media agencies, and media companies to track ad placement, versioning, and effectiveness. And marketers, agencies, and media companies alike are hiring “quant jocks.” Nearly a quarter of marketers surveyed are adding positions in marketing and media analysis and fishing from a new talent pool of digitally savvy mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists.

This is why initiatives like Nixon McInness’ founded Measurement Camp are such a great idea. Agencies have always found it hard to share, but collaboration is the only way forward when the need is so great.

However it seems like it is still the biggest agencies that are in with the best chances:

Dell and WPP pursued a different route. Frustrated with the sheer complexity and loss of efficiency associated with coordinating the efforts of some 800 providers of marketing services, Dell put its entire account up for review. It ended up awarding a budget of $4.5 bil lion over three years to a brand-new bespoke agency, Enfatico, that was created, staffed, and fully customized to Dell’s needs by WPP. This agency is devoted to Dell and Dell only for the term of the contract.

The article also touches on divergence in the same context as convergence. It talks about the opportunities publishing are seeking from digital agencies to help shore up failing traditional models. This is also something I have a close interest in with my former agencies sale to Hearst (iCrossing’s Paul Doleman on the Hearst takeover).

Winning marketers, therefore, have shifted their creative and media strategies and aligned their organizations and culture to fully capitalize on the online opportunity. Industry-wide, companies are making digital media a bigger priority in their brand strategies. Mass advertising will continue to perform a role in driving awareness, but marketers will prioritize channels that deliver accountability, relevance, and interactivity.

As we look out on the marketing and media ecosystem and witness its evolution, we will continue to see competitors emerging in new forms and traditional players taking on roles formerly outside their purview when it comes to connecting with consumers. The linear value chain that used to characterize marketing has been replaced with a vast, interconnected commu nity of brands, consumers, and media. Just as no one species is assured success, no one species is necessarily destined to fail. Survival hinges on the ability to adapt. Those companies that convert through conversation, that collaborate in executing and measuring what matters, and that emphasize the medium as much as the message carry a decided advantage.

Never has the opportunity been greater to create new ways to create customer interest in products or services. The chance to generate the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business development is more open than ever. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves. As such the definition of marketing hasn’t changed, but the means and methodology is there for the taking.

Digital Darwinism – by Christopher Vollmer, a partner with Booz & Company in New York

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