The End of Channel Marketing

In this interesting post, Nic Hodges asks why aren’t we creating great digital work. By this, I think he may be referring specifically to the Australian advertising industry (but I could be wrong) — for there are certainly some excellent digitally-driven campaigns and case studies available for other markets. Nic discusses three issues around producing truly integrated work — lack of skills/knowledge, difficulty in convincing/educating clients, and a lack of process surrounding the integration of digital into an overarching campaign. He explains:

The fundamental idea that underpins these issues is that digital is a channel. Radio was a new channel. Television was a new channel. Digital is not a new channel, digital is a new world. It is an evolution of media that has taken with it the advertising industry. It is an evolution that, in the relatively short history of advertising, has not happened before.

This got me thinking. Perhaps the challenge that we are facing is not one of channels, nor of integration. I have a feeling that we are approaching this from the wrong direction — from the agency, or from the brand out — and maybe it would profit us to think in the other direction. I made the comment that:

We need to look at the nuances of the traditional channels and then think about how best we can amplify, enable and transform the experiences that consumers have with brands.

With a clear shift away from passive interaction with brands, messages and advertising and a growing adoption of social networks/media, user generated content and experiences that extend from the second to the third screen, the role of the digital strategist will necessarily move from the margin to the hub of campaign planning. This is not to downplay the role of the traditional or even the channel planner. But, in the near future (ok, now), brands need to be reaching and inviting us all to participate in ways that deprioritise the channels that favour one-way communications — opting instead for digitally-enabled experiences that blur the boundaries, amplify the stories and activate our engagement in polyphonic conversational structures. It’s time to stop looking through the channel and start listening to the conversations that are already ringing in our ears.

13 thoughts on “The End of Channel Marketing

  1. Sorry, but I disagree. Digital is the social context and the story take place within it. Sometimes the stories are about the context.

  2. LOL … you may be right — and this discussion may well become too esoteric for my brain. Digital allows us to “connect the dots” across the channels, extending the experience into the precincts of our personal lives.
    And while I agree that there are some stories that are about the context, this self-referential approach is nihilistic and lazy … which brings us back to the fact that we aren’t creating “great digital work”.

  3. Gavin, again you’ve scripted together a well written post that hits the mark.
    I don’t want to sound nationalist, but I think Australian marketers are making great digital work.
    Our main problem is we don’t celebrate homegrown talent preferring to quote or hightlight oversea’s successes stories.
    Also, I come from simple northern english breeding stock. So…using words like context, nihilistic and esoteric makes my brain hurt.

  4. (*clearing my throat*)
    …and get flowers and chocolates and boss everyone else around…
    …and what’s great digital work? Can I please have a checklist as no one has seen fit to share this guide with me. Or perhaps I lost it. Probably when I was eating chocolates and bossing people around.

  5. Thanks Gordon … you know, I am more than happy to celebrate good, local work. Send me some links 😉
    Katie … my checklist for good digital work is proprietary and available to others only once vast sums of money are deposited into my bank account. Which, of course, makes it subjective. It’s not that I don’t think there isn’t ANY, but that is it vastly overshadowed by … everything else.

  6. Hi Gavin,
    Thanks for the linkage! I think you’re spot on with the idea that the role of marketing has moved into a space that revolves around a consumers experience with brands. I also think that idea is actually key to advertising agencies ‘getting’ integration. In the interest of not posting a huge comment, I’ve made a post here:
    Oh and with regard to the first few comments, and without getting too esoteric, I’d say digital is the platform through which we can create the context in which a brand can be experienced with ease. OK maybe that is too esoteric. I need a brain wipe.

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