That's the headline verbatim from the ANA, ahead of their annual meeting (which I hope to speak at next year...you'll see why in a moment)
The highlights of a study conducted amongst 250+ of their marketer base revealed the following:
- 90% say they plan to increase their investment in digital
- only 24% of them believe their organizations to be "digitally savvy"
- Barriers preventing them from spending more include: insufficient metrics (62%), lack of organization support (51%) and lack of experience in new media (59%).
The study, which was conducted in association with Booz Allen, the IAB and the AAAA, revealed 5 key themes:
This first part of this survey is not dissimilar from the previous 3 years: digital is on the increase...we need to spend more...our organizations don't get it...we need better metrics for new marketing (because our metrics for traditional marketing are just so advanced and we have such a good read on ROI, don't we!?!?)...we need better training programs
2 things strike me though as unique: Firstly, the number (90%) is overwhelming. It's never been this high and the consensus has never been this pronounced. Secondly, there is the constant unmet need for training, which I can tell you from first hand experience is not being met within the organization.
Now let's segue to the 5 themes and begin with the one which obviously I have the most interest in: Marketing as Conversation. This is in fact, one of the central premises of my new book, Join the Conversation, which is literally due out on October 21st (when we bumrush the charts and hope you will join in as well), namely that Marketing can be a Conversation (an extension of Cluetrain's premise of Markets as Conversations)
What concerns me is the fact this is being directly (and exclusively?) associated with P.R. In conjunction with the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) and TWI Surveys, we piloted our own research on conversational marketing and the consensus was certainly not that P.R. was best positioned to lead this vital effort. I'm not saying that P.R. doesn't have a role...of course it does...but based on some of the efforts to date, I wouldn't exactly say P.R. has hit it out of the park. In addition, I believe the agencies (yes, I said it), consultancies and emerging/specialist boutiques (yes, crayon would be one of them) are well positioning to deliver and fulfill against this mandate.
Media is the New Creative bores me. Simplifying this business to content creation and distribution is too superficial. Holding up communications planning as the bridge between the two is equally limiting. I'd like to believe that there are more evolved forms of planning than comms planning - consider conversation planning, content planning or a discipline which gets into the very core and fiber of the organization, covering off on employee and internal communication, crisis communication, customer service, R&D and innovation. Let's move this process along, shall we? At the end of the day, as the "93 colors" continues to play out, the need for a group of connectors or integrators is going to be that much more critical.
The Network Effect. I am less preoccupied with the bundle, unbundle or rebundle debate. I am more concerned with the blurring of roles between media and creative and more importantly, the role that strategy will play in this evolved model. Certainly, which model or agency-type will be best suited or structured to lead and win is going to continue to be an elusive challenge. I do believe that part of the solution is going to come from "generalists" that come to the table with traditional, interactive, media, creative, direct response, branding, product marketing and P.R. experience to name a few. If there is a new model out there, it doesn't exist today. Sure, I can tell you that that's what we're trying to achieve at crayon, but crayon aside...this is about the ability to dynamically assemble a think tank; a consortium of smart, strategic and creative people, who are balanced from a vision and activation standpoint; who can balance and reconcile brand and business drivers and objectives.
So there you have it...another year; another survey; another bunch of empty resolutions, where marketers come to the table with hopes, dreams and delusions of grandeur of being able to bust out of the insanity echo chamber. Who knows...maybe next year will be different.