Forrester's digital marketing prediction sparks hot debate
A report from global research firm Forrester calling for “digital marketing” to lose its prefix and become just “marketing” in 2013 has sparked a debate between marketers who agree with the forecast and those that believe digital should continue be treated as a separate discipline.
Forrester’s “Trends for the B2C CMO to watch in 2013” report warns new digital disruptors will threaten all businesses– such as YouTube challenging broadcasters and bank platforms competing with services such as Square – if marketers do not expand the utility and value of the experience their brands deliver.
The report suggests marketing budget should be repurposed out of channel silos and into new cross-platform divisions organised around consumer segments, with experts on the relevant media, channels and devices sitting within the new product or services verticals.
Underpinning the call is its forecast digital budgets will become 20 per cent of total marketing budgets in 2013, accounting for $50bn (£31bn) worldwide.
Corinne Munchbach, Forrester’s CMO and market leadership professionals analyst and author of the report told Marketing Week: “Consumers switch from instore, to online, to mobile - sometimes all at once. Having separate budgets for each is counter intuitive to what customers are actually experiencing. Logical brands will be able to join all this together in a functional way to deliver the experiences customers expect from them.”
Munchbach says P&G in the US is an example of a B2C company breaking down channel silos to streamline media costs and show the value across brands – part of the reason its Dawn washing up liquid brand and Olay skincare brand appear together in marketing, which would not have happened before, she suggests.
Shaun Gregory, Telefonica’s global advertising director, says other major brands need to organise themselves in this way going forward.
“Ultimately you have to push your own personal specialisms to one side and think of your consumer – when did you last hear a consumer talking about ‘digital?’, they just see it as a multitude of screens. The [marketing] industry needs to catch up with consumers’ behaviour – even though there may be push back from talent and [specialist] agencies, ” he adds.
Tess Alps, CEO of television marketing body Thinkbox, agrees the idea of “digital” acting as a lone silo away from marketing disciplines is outdated and that integration is an “absolute must”.
She adds: “The idea that everything internet and mobile is one discipline that sits in a silo is crazy. TV is entirely digital, newspapers have digital editions but the technology is pretty invisible to the actual viewer. It’s like having a silo called ‘electricity’ or ‘paper and ink’.”
Jonathan Bass, managing director of mobile marketing agency Incentivated and deputy chairman of the Direct Marketing Association’s mobile marketing council, disagrees with the proposition that the majority of brands will truly integrate digital across marketing this year, due to a lack of understanding at the top of organisations.
He adds: “From an agency point if view, if digital is not understood from a board level you are banging your head against the wall. At companies like Tesco and M&S digital is discussed at board level but we are a long way from this understanding being [common place] at the top – it’s hugely better in the States. In the UK there’s nowhere for a CMO or CEO to go to learn about digital marketing.”
On the other hand, Charles Allen, head of marketing at Arsenal FC, questions whether it is necessary for every brand to fully integrate digital into every element of the business as Forrester suggests.
He adds: “Digital has perhaps had a disproportionate amount of air time because it’s flavour of the month and cool. It’s unhelpful to look at it from a start point of ‘we need a digital strategy’ and then looking at why. You have to first ask the question whether consumers really want you to show up in every area their digital world and [are you actually one of those brands where] will they invite you in?”
The idea that “digital marketing” accounts for spend on search, social, mobile, display and many other areas of the spectrum is confusingly catch-all and does not really reflect the way digital has become an integral part of almost every marketing campaign.
Perhaps if we stopped referring to all these specialisms as one conglomerate discipline, marketers would be keener to reorganise their teams in the way Forrester suggests – focusing on the consumer benefits of each individual element rather than placing “digital” as we know it on a pedestal apart from the rest of the marketing sphere.