7 things I’ve learned about marketing technology last month (and other ramblings)

  • by helga
  • 02/02/2014
My favourite rainbow from the 80’s

Last month I was reminded of how easy it is to fall behind in technology. Big data, tracking tools, analysis, research, networks, customer management tools, social media, continue ad infinitum.

Inspired by the New Year, I watched two webinars by CIM and The Marketer to hear ‘what’s new’ in digital and social. It’s the full circus: I remember a slide with hundreds (thousands?) of small colourful logos, each one representing an up-and-coming software solution that can help marketers deliver insight, analysis, campaigns, evaluation, follow up, cross-connecting all the thousands (millions?) of different web applications into one stupendous, blow-your-mind-off, single customer marketing view.  I knew quite a few of them already but the exponential rate at which new ones appear is just amazing.

‘Focus on the fundamentals’, one presenter kept repeating, ‘don’t get overwhelmed but allocate at least 20% of the marketing budget to data-informed projects’, another said.  

As a marketer, can you afford not to understand the latest technology?

Personally, I like to strike a balance between ‘up and coming’ technologies and the ‘good old boring stuff’ that doesn’t rely so much in gimmicks. I believe that 80% of the marketing out there is about fundamentals which haven’t changed much in the last few years.

However, the 20% that did indeed change – and is still changing – is so, so important, that you can’t really afford to ‘do’ marketing without trying to understand how it works. Even if you rely on colleagues to take care of the detail, you still need to understand the main developments and options.

What have I learned last month? Here are 7 points as promised:

  1. CES 2014 was here to remind us that ‘frictionless technology’ and the ‘internet of things’ is nigh, but privacy and security concerns may slow down the relentless pace of the future (or not)
  2. Apparently there are 16 years of youtube videos uploaded every day (I knew it was a lot but I didn’t know the exact number; it’s scary)
  3. Native is here to stay but it’s getting harder and harder to turn valuable content into brand value 
  4. I confirmed that talking about ‘mobile’ as a different channel doesn’t really make any sense, it simply needs to be part of what you do anyway (btw www.responsinator.com  shows how your website looks in different mobile devices)
  5. Another great tool – www.appannie.com ranks your app in different app stores and markets
  6. Ad networks and DFA do wonders for CPC budget, ad efficiency and re-targeting, but the changes to your cookie policy won’t win you any kudos with lawyers
  7.  It can be a nightmare dealing with all the legacy technology you gather over the years, but how dull would it be if nothing ever changed?  


A few other ramblings about technology

No, I couldn’t really stick to a list, could I?  Here are a few additional ramblings.

In 1998 Apple launched its iMac G3 but at uni we had only a small ‘computer room’ with a handful of Power MacIntosh and a couple of the ugly MacIntosh Classic. The iMac arrived eventually, a few years later. Desktop publishing was a high tech, heavyweight business for specialised machines and large print houses, and Marketing and Communications curricula included very little IT focus. There were PCs as well of course, for punters and gaming, having taken over from Commodore Amiga and Spectrum (my first and only “programming” adventures: 10 INPUT a, 20 PRINT “Hello isn’t this brilliant”?)  .

I also remember several professors becoming seemingly angry at the suggestion that not being proficient in a certain technology would somehow make them less good as designers, marketers or communicators. Software and computers were merely tools, they were not the gray matter that solved the design, marketing and communication problems.  There were plenty of younger people learning how to use the software but the ideas, the experience – the valuable experience, the pencil-in-pad sketches and subtle workings, those came from elsewhere.

No computer in the world could give you a better creative solution than the ideas you could already capture with tools that were more familiar to you. That’s because concept wasn’t easily mixed with execution. The ability to create brands, products and communications was quite separate from whichever technology allowed for their creative execution, dissemination and evaluation.

Those were the early days of digital marketing and design. Fast forward twenty years and things have slightly changed (spot the euphemism).

Nowadays I would dare say that concept is mixed with execution. The technology is part of the concept and the possibilities. Without understanding it, you won’t get far in the marketplace. Without understanding it, you may also end up designing products that are not fit for purpose.

So happy February and may it bring lots of good, challenging innovations 🙂

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