Calum Lennon (isn't that the coolest name in the world?) from Smart Business Show asked a Digital and Social marketing group in which I participate to begin a discussion by "explaining the biggest problem facing digital today in one word".
Around the group we went
We were asked to explain why our words represented the challenges
Viral - It is difficult to control how and where your communications or brand will appear and be
ROI - Still difficult to understand true ROI and most campaigns and do it quickly enough to affect all of the outcomes
Strategy - Strategy seems to be getting thrown out because it can be measured
Privacy - We have to understand the real concerns many people have about privacy and address them before they are legislated.
Effectiveness - How do we know what is "effective", are we building brands or just selling products and everything is ephemeral?
Trendy - Trendy was my word and while I general agree with much of what my colleagues said and those specific concerns. I'm mostly concerned with something more general; I'm concerned with our industry's raising Digital to it's new exalted position. I feel that way not because I think Digital isn't an important channel but because I think it is... let me explain.
We in marketing/advertising get hypnotized by our own spin. You can't really blame us we are really good at spin but "Digital" is one of our new spin words along with "Big Data".
Remember Optimizers? Remember Cable versus Network and how nobody would watch network TV anymore? how about Econometric Modeling? 360 degree communications? Salience? Those were the next big things and silver bullet to marketing at one point.
You can't read more than three agencies' websites without them mentioning they have "digital at their core" even if they are the most traditional agencies in the business.
Honestly I don't, and never have, understand the digital divide. The more division the worse for everyone in our industry.
It used to be that "Digital" was pushed out of the conversation and relegated to a percentage, a very small percentage, of the media budget.
Now, it is the opposite. You can't have one conversation without everyone saying they are more "digital-focused" than the next guy and that Television is dead, et cetera and we need to add display, programmatic, search and so on and so on.
Channels have to be thought about holistically as they relate to the consumer
-- Television isn't dead. The way we receive it might be, but not the concept
-- Print isn't dead. The way we receive it might be, but not the concept
-- Radio isn't dead, The way we receive it might be, but not the concept
-- Direct isn't dead. The way we receive it might, but not the concept
-- CRM isn't dead, that way we receive it might be, but not the concept.
"Digital" is a delivery channel that's it. Yes, it is and will continue to change how we communicate. But, anyone who wants to be an asset to their clients' and their company needs has understand and master every communications channel and base their communications palette based on the consumer.
We need to get over thinking about communicating in digital channels and start thinking about how we communicate in a digital world.
It's kind of like standing in front of a machine gun and telling the guy next to you aren't going to get shot because you are wearing purple and he is wearing yellow.
You are both in front of the machine gun. The gunner doesn't care what color you are wearing. you are just in front of his gun and he is about to pull the trigger.
The biggest problem for digital today is that we call it DIGITAL.