A dis­pas­sion­ate dose of dig­i­tal

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

For the last week I have been read­ing and edit­ing our an­nual Dig­i­tal Es­says sup­ple­ment. This means that for the next month or so I can pre­tend to un­der­stand tech­nol­ogy as much as the twenty- plus ex­perts who wrote for us ( as long as I stick to broad as­ser­tions and don’t have to field any fol­low- up ques­tions).

What I find just as in­ter­est­ing as the in­di­vid­ual top­ics cov­ered are the themes that be­gin to emerge each time we ask a lot of peo­ple to write on a given sub­ject.

Sev­eral of our es­say­ists dis­cuss blockchain, and the po­ten­tial it has to pro­vide trans­parency in pro­gram­matic buy­ing and be­yond. And e- com­merce also crops up a lot. I would pre­dict we will see a lot more hap­pen­ing in this space next year.

An­other theme seems to be ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of dig­i­tal hype. For a few years now, data- pow­ered dig­i­tal has been the be- all and end- all of mar­ket­ing talk. From tar­geted buy­ing to on- thenose cre­ative in­sights to reach and dis­cus­sions and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and robots and al­go­rithms and Poké­mons, dig­i­tal has been the fu­ture.

But now the in­dus­try is tak­ing a deep breath, step­ping back and re­think­ing this ob­ses­sion. There is no doubt­ing that dig­i­tal has rev­o­lu­tionised mar­ket­ing, but it is not a re­place­ment for old me­dia so much as a sup­ple­men­tary medium.

This is echoed in the in­ter­view on page 18 of the main sec­tion of the mag­a­zine with Christo­pher Wylie, the whistle­blower who broke the Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica scan­dal. “Data in­forms you, it doesn’t tell you what to do,” he says.

A case in point is the part­ner­ship be­tween Twit­ter and Unilever that lets the FMCG gi­ant make the most of the so­cial plat­form’s live video shows. In the fea­ture on page 14, Twit­ter’s re­gional man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ben­jamin Am­pen ex­plains that ev­ery­thing from sub­ject mat­ter to pro­gram­ming is guided by the con­ver­sa­tions that are hap­pen­ing on Twit­ter and with ad­ver­tis­ers.

So let’s em­brace the pos­si­bil­i­ties of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing with­out be­ing ruled by them any more than we should be ruled by that data. Tele­vi­sion and print and out­door and ra­dio ( and pod­casts – read more on page 8; they are get­ting a sec­ond wind, says Mar­ket­tiers’ Ch­eryl King) are all still alive and kick­ing. Dig­i­tal has trans­formed them and will con­tinue to trans­form them. But it will com­ple­ment more than kill.

And we should learn to look at all the tools and me­dia avail­able to our in­dus­try ra­tio­nally and cre­atively to see what magic we can weave, be that through dig­i­tal or ana­logue means or a mix of the two.

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