The exponential rise of digital marketing over the past ten years has been dizzying for all of us to witness, yet its relevance and importance in the overall marketing mix couldn’t have been more firmly stamped than when Procter & Gamble announced it was now ‘dead’ as a distinct discipline and instead should be viewed as simply ‘marketing’.
Speaking at last month’s massive digital marketing event dmexco, global brand building officer Marc Pritchard sensationally vocalised what many of us have been quietly witnessing for some time. His point being that digital gives us the tools to effectively leverage our brands and is not just one of our routes to market anymore, it is a, “means to reach people and capture consumer imaginations in a way that had been impossible before”.
As an industry, we know digital is pivotal now in campaign planning, and we embrace how its different channels allow us to ingeniously explore and activate creative ideas to engage with customers and build brand awareness. As Pritchard said, businesses should, “start in the Digital world and build your way back to the rest of the marketing mix”.
However, the opportunity that digital represents seems sadly to be lost amongst the millions of small- and medium-sized businesses focused on the local advertising market, and who together make up one of the biggest groups of advertisers in our space.
Local digital advertising remains the largest, yet most complex and fragmented, of our online markets. The advertising sector is actively populated by masses of local businesses, in comparison to the 10% of large brands driving 90% of all advertising activity at national level. Overall spend, however, is stagnating as publishers and advertisers struggle to cope with scaling as well as the technological abilities they require to achieve stand-out results.
Align this with the news that online sales across key European markets are set to top €170bn by 2017 (European Online Retail Forecast 2012 – 2017, Forrester), and we can see that intuitive and strategic digital marketing should be viewed as a key investment for companies focused on achieving significant business growth during this period. Yet recent statistics have revealed that almost a third of SME businesses in the UK alone could be in danger of missing out.
A recent YouGov survey revealed that 31% of SME companies in the UK are still happy to tackle their own online marketing activity and are reticent or unaware of the benefits of acquiring specialist assistance. Top that with another new research finding, this time from Adobe, which found that only 40% of companies felt their marketing was effective, and the opportunity is clear.
Embracing digital is crucial for any advertiser wishing to engage with its customers and to effectively build its business. As Pritchard said, digital needs to be central to any campaign planning, and as the leader in digital marketing technology, 24/7 Media has been working with many large FMCG companies and SME businesses over the years, providing them with the tools and support to ensure their Digital delivery remains spot-on.
Until now, search has been the easiest and most scalable route for SMEs interested in digital, and the market has therefore been dramatically underserved as a result, which is clearly indicated in these recent survey findings.
With ‘control’ fast becoming another new buzzword for our industry, alongside the evolution of the client trading desk proposition and the focus on ownership of data insight, the desire for advertisers to be able to manage their own activity has also never been so strong. 24/7 Media’s new Self-Serve offering ticks all the boxes when it comes to arming this particular group of advertisers with the ability to succeed.
Aimed squarely at simplifying the lives of local advertisers, this new solution provides an automated platform for marketers to build and store their creative, target their audience and book and pay for their advertising space. Effectively reducing the mind-boggling 42 steps it can sometimes take to buy and place an advert, it allows advertisers to simply log into and serve ads themselves, stripping back the process to a few easy and manageable actions:
1. Selection of the desired product to market
2. Selection of the target audience, dates & pricing
3. Build or selection of the ad creative
4. Payment by major credit card
I’m sure that speed to market, plus decreasing costs to scale local activity, will ultimately drive take-up of this new kind of proposition, and I have no doubt that the number of direct and local advertisers already working with us will continue to grow.
Whereas once wrongly labelled as the poor relation within the advertising arena, now’s not the time to underestimate the power and drive that SME advertisers bring to our space. With increased knowledge and expertise, alongside a much simplified ad serving solution, the fall-out can only be greater growth and development for advertisers and publishers in general as we all continue to ‘digitally market’ our brands.