'Digital marketing' to become just 'marketing' in 2013

Digital is set to lose its prefix and just be referred to as “marketing” this year as all marketers’ output will become “inherently digital” over the coming months, Forrester predicts.


The research company forecasts that digital budgets will become 20 per cent of the total, accounting for about $50bn (£31bn) worldwide.

It predicts the momentum of digital disruption will continue to grow across all verticals in 2013 – such as healthcare providers being challenged by personal tracking devices, broadcasters threatened by the likes of YouTube and banking platforms competing with new services such as Square.

Forrester’s “Trends for the B2C CMO to watch in 2013” report warns these disruptors threaten to challenge all businesses if marketers do not expand the utility and value of the experience their brands deliver.

The report, compiled by Forrester’s CMO and market leadership professionals analyst Corinne Munchbach, advises CMOs to work across departments and with executive peers to assess their digital readiness and identify where messages, actions and products can be improved by digital.

Munchbach advises marketers to use surplus budget at the end of the fiscal year or tie funding for new projects to positive business results to ensure their companies commit funding to innovation projects.

Budget should also be reorganised out of channel silos and into new cross-platform teams organised around consumer segments, with experts on the relevant media, channels and devices for that particular vertical, Muchbach says.

The report also advises marketers to maintain a shared “centre of excellence” for broader campaigns to help achieve scale for overlapping initiatives and to establish a multifunctional group from the marketing, R&D, IT and operations divisions to track how digital elevates their parts of the business to improve the brand experience for consumers.

In the UK, online and mobile ad spend increased 13 per cent to £2.6bn in the first half of 2012, according to the IAB and PwCs advertising expenditure report.

Readers' comments (49)

  • What you your saying is not logical as digital marketing cannot be learned over few months! Actually I disagree, Offline marketing and online marketing should be separated because online has too many thing to give that require a full team attention.

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  • Whether it be online or offline the fact remains that brands need to create an experience for customers and in todays world majority of that experience comes from online initiatives. Offline "push" marketing is becoming obsolete as people are tired of the constant buy my product messages. Tying both online and offline marketing strategies together will be crucial for brands moving forward.

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  • There are three different issues being discussed here, between the headline, article and comments: [i] digital marketing is marketing and always has been, which is why there is only ever one marketing director in a business (unless the CEO is mad); [ii] if you are offline (bricks and mortar) then you can’t survive without a digital marketing strategy as well (but that doesn’t mean you have to sell online - ecommerce is not marketing and the high street/trading estate will always exist); however [iii] the most important issue is that digital threats are likely to blind-side you. Brands fail to see them coming. There is form here – poor old Jessops being another example within the last 24 hours. Are the first two issues insight? Probably not. The third one is the one that Forrester (Munchbach) warns about but what the headline of this article does not talk to – digital allows for new business models, i.e. new markets, aka opportunities. It’s the senior marketer’s job (just as much as the CEO’s) to spot these new markets. That’s marketing strategy, not ‘how shall I split my media between TV and online?’ TV vs. online vs. mobile is about tactics. As for the distinction in the headline (marketing/digital marketing, once the market opportunity has been understood), on the one hand no brand can survive without digital (unless they target solely ‘refuseniks’ or ninety years-olds) but on the other what does an expert TV planner (important) know about SEO (equally important), and vice versa? All marketing should report to one person, and so the real question is whether marketing owns ecommerce (no, it's a P&L i.e. a store) and IT (no, it's a different skills-set, but exists to deliver both ecommerce and marketing) or at minimum has a seat at the top table. Many brands are set-up oddly i.e. in an old-fashioned manner. And what about mobile? Is there nothing special about mobile marketing that requires the use of experts? Do we just lump that in with everything else? If I told you that a major airport in the UK sees 50% of its traffic from mobiles would you give the job of optimising this to a generalist; to someone who has never done it before? Experience is where the value-added comes in. The principles are the same, whether offline, digital or mobile ... but the rules/the detail massively different. There are lots of expensive mistakes to make and no need to make the old ones anymore. Don’t ask me to plan and buy TV – I’d get it wrong – but I wouldn’t tell you to junk it. The marketing director must be neutral, but also must employ experienced tacticians in each of the media that he/she determines is part of the tactical mix. More importantly the marketing director must be a business strategist as well, around the boardroom table advising their colleagues about the threats to their business model that digital changes bring. Are estate agents the next group to become extinct? In this digital age do they do much more than hold your key and let a few people in to look around? Couldn’t that we done by the key-holder at your alarm monitoring company? Strategy is not TV vs. online vs. mobile – it’s about asking (and answering) which market should I be in? “Marketing” is the art of exploiting a market. Wikipedia’s definition is wrong, as a lot of other digital things are. Let’s move this debate to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing!

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  • Enhanced Message experience is the key whether it be online or off-line. My experience is that they complement each other and depending on the client's situation one can be better than the other.

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  • The drive for customer attention to increase sales has led many CMOs’ to panic. Throwing resources and money at the latest digital medium guaranteed to make the “big hit” and boost sales.

    Before making a decision to spend your budget on a particular digital channel it is important to understand the customer, their needs and their touch points with your organisation. If you do not sort out this riddle then CMOs’ will continue to seek the latest fashion in marketing, spending budgets on a fashion trend not knowing if this is the right direction.

    By identifying user needs and the scenarios in which they seek your product or service will help to identify the most suitable medium to invest in and advertise on.

    A unified multi-channel strategy is the only way forward and Foresters' report has merit. If it happens is up to the CMOs’ and their willingness to learn.

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  • I'm with Anonymous #2. marketing is just marketing. Calling it 'digital' only serves to maintain the wall that digital has thrown up to separate itself from 'traditional' channels. Within organizations, this leads to very unproductive results and totally wasteful power struggles. Get the hell over it, and integrate the channels. Digital vs analog is SO over.

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  • As Nigel has implied, marketing is about touchpoints with the consumer. What greater touchpoint than the product itself and the packaging that protects it (at least in packaged goods marketing!)? It must not be forgotten that regardless of the other marketing activity floating around a brand it is the product and its packaging that must be right for a long term relationship with the consumer to be built.

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  • I totally disagree. Digital marketing is completely different than off-line marketing. The two should remain separate because they are two different forms of marketing. Companies are just investing more into digital marketing (as they should), but it has nothing to do with what "marketing" and "digital marketing" should be called.

    If you were to hire a new marketing person to do digital marketing, the job title would be something like "Digital Marketing Manager." That's how you attract the right applicants for the job -- the people who apply will have digital marketing focuses. People with out digital marketing experience are less likely to apply. ... because they're two different things!

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  • Completely agree with Anonymous #2 and Will. Digital is just another channel/part of the mix; all strategies need to be integrated and for that to truly happen, any all-round marketer should be disciplined in 'marketing' and 'digital marketing'.

    Personally, I have never differentiated between the two (except for targeting) and don't understand why companies fragment the disciplines.

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  • I agree with Jonathan Bass. All sound points.

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