The brave new world of digital marketing

It's an interesting time to be working in the world of digital marketing. The past 5 or so years have seen a digital revolution transform the way agencies and in-house marketeers can share the good news of the companies they work with, and social media or digital advertising seemed to be the answer to every squeezed marketing budget. In 2015 spend on online desktop advertising (19.9% of all ad spend) was second only to TV advertising (37.7%).

But there are creeping concerns as to whether this is really money well spent, with some studies suggesting 46% of online adverts are not being viewed due to slow loading time or being placed below the fold of the web page. There are great benefits to online advertising - you can monitor reach, views and click-throughs which will never be possible with TV and print adverts. But the advert must be carefully created and placed to ensure that it is actually seen - otherwise this is just money down the drain.

What about social media? Executives behind social networks did not take long to realise the advertising potential of their platforms as user numbers climbed to enormous proportions. The way Facebook works has changed beyond recognition and it's algorithmic newsfeed greatly limits the reach of posts, pushing businesses towards advertising on the site instead. A recent survey of small business owners found that 2/3 of them found social media marketing had no discernible uplift in their sales. We disagree and know there are still many benefits to having an integrated social media strategy sharing your news, events and product launches, but that it needs to be carefully managed. Social media click-throughs have a high bounce rate so you need to make sure people are beig directed to the right place at the right time.

Many clients ask about using the amazing reach of the internet for brand exposure and recognition... going viral for good reasons is a ticket to the big time for marketing teams The 'Ice Bucket Challenge' is now a distant memory but it raised £115 million for ALS and has inspired many a 'you too can dream up the next viral campaign' marketing blog. But can you keep control of your brand when you open the floodgates to the general public..? The National Environmental Research Council wanted to engage the public with its brand and decided to crowd-source name ideas -with the benefit of hindsight perhaps a rash idea for choosing the name of a £200 million research vessel? The resulting 'Boaty McBoatface' hilarity (even more cringe-worthy when it came out that the name was chosen by the chap in charge of comms for NERC) will have led to the highest public awareness of the NERC ever, no doubt about that - but to what end? Personally, we think it makes the NERC look at little bit naive and silly. The poll closed last weekend with Boaty McBoatface having received four times as many votes as the next choice, and we look forward to seeing if they choose to go with the public vote or take an executive decision!

What is the conclusion of all our pondering? Digital marketing is still key, and it works. But you need an agency that keeps abreast of trends, research and development and leads the field rather than following it. You know who to call...

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