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article imageDigital Marketing Summit Wants Businesses to Wake Up and Smell the Web 2.0

By David Silverberg     Feb 21, 2007 in Business
Digital Journal — Marketing experts were treated to a wake-up call today at a Toronto conference extolling the virtues of advertising through digital media. It’s not enough to have an online presence, the speakers said. Innovative companies need to engage customers in their brands.
Verge 2007 — also known as The OgilvyOne Global Digital Summit — amassed advertising gurus, well-known technologists, prolific authors and reps from massive online properties such as MySpace, Yahoo Canada and MTV. It wasn’t just a forum for these businesses to flaunt their online success; rather, the most intriguing talks focused on how the Web 2.0 explosion and user-generated content has transformed the face of advertising.
“Kids breathe technology,” summed up Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.. Today’s cultural climate is the first time in history people under 30 are authorities on something that’s actually important, Tapscott said, citing Internet trends, new media, and gadgets as areas of expertise for the “echo generation.” With a new blog created every second, the baby boomers are re-learning the rules of communication, Tapscott said.
In the face of a digital world, marketers have to adapt or die, he advised. And blasting a commercial in someone’s face isn’t going to work anymore. “You have to be authentic in your brand promise,” he said. “You need integrity, and you can’t use spin to get out of a bad PR move.” He cited Sony’s ill-advised campaign for the PSP, when company-led graffiti of the portable player was globally mocked by the public. Sony not only lost street cred, but wasted an opportunity to connect to its clients.
Consumers are a different breed than in previous years. “They are not dogs, who will come to you whenever you ask them to,” remarked Alan Hallberg, senior director of worldwide advertising for Cisco Global. “They’re cats, who will come to you whenever they feel like it.” He offered a new model for advertising: outside-in, rather than inside-out. “The target audience self-selects information through social networking and relies more on peer-to-peer endorsements,” Hallberg said. For example, user-generated videos on YouTube carry a more effective marketing message than a routine 30-second spot between sitcoms. As the Verge 2007 speakers often reiterated, TV-watching is losing out to Web-surfing, in effect overhauling industries such as marketing, e-commerce, retail, education and government.
Applicable to marketers and digital media trailblazers, the panel discussion allowed the 175-strong audience to get a glimpse into mainstream channels ideal for online promotion. Joshua Bloom of MySpace explained the efficacy behind Crest’s campaign, where the toothpaste company posted a MySpace profile complete with a quiz, contest and an opportunity to chat with actor Nick Cannon.
Ray Newal of Yahoo Canada dropped a factoid bomb at the end of the discussion: Forty-three per cent of streaming video on the Net is user-generated. “We at Yahoo are trying to figure out how to harness this technology,” he admitted. “And marketing professionals should realize they have to keep up with an evolving generation.”
Conventional TV networks are increasingly turning to online content to retain viewers. “Audiences expect shows to be online right after they air,” said Ryan Trotman, director for MTV Digital. “We get phone calls when they’re not.”
Capping off the summit were incredibly useful pointers courtesy of Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne. “Harvest the searchers in your category,” he suggested, stressing how businesses should tailor their search-engine optimization to a consumer’s problems, and not what they’re trying to sell. He also urged advertisers to “put your customers to work,” which means asking for development feedback. “Your customers, the enthusiasts, want you to win,” Fetherstonhaugh said.
In an interview with Digital Journal, Fetherstonhaugh imparted the main reason why advertisers aren’t keeping up with their consumers by pouring money into digital advertising. “It’s uncomfortable for marketers,” he said. “That investment will require them to take funding out of something else. But they should shut up and get over it.”
Full disclosure here: Digital Journal has a vested interest in the rise of online advertising. It will help our business grow, while also giving our members the opportunity to earn more money. But the Verge 2007 summit didn’t just excite us for selfish reasons; digital marketing is just one ripple of an entire paradigm shift into a booming trend of user-empowered technology. People expect more out of websites, online videos and hardware, and it’s not enough to simply bullhorn a message that cries out, “Get with the online program!”
The message echoing from Verge 2007 was simple: Boost your ROI by investing wisely in digital marketing. Broadband ubiquity is only going to spread further across the world, so businesses seeking a competitive edge should join the billions of people surfing the webscape. And what message does Verge 2007 have for those potential consumers? If you’re bored of conventional advertising, get ready for the era where you make commercials, participate actively and decide what you want to see.
More about Verge, Digital marketing, Ogilvy, Advertising