Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 23, 2009 3:47 PM

Marketers Are Behind The Times

As if watching the major label music companies implode and the pending mass destruction of the newspaper and publishing industry were not scary enough, it turns out that Marketers are not all that progressive when it comes to embracing the digital channels.

That was the overall thesis according to some recent research from the IBM Institute for Business Value according to a news item today on AdWeek titled, Marketers Lag in Shift Online:

"IBM found that between 2007 and 2008, the proportion of consumers saying they used social-networking tools soared to 60 percent from 33 percent; for online and portable music services it more than doubled to 46 percent; mobile Internet nearly tripled to 41 percent; and access to mobile music and video quadrupled to 35 percent. In contrast, 80 percent of the ad executives interviewed expect the industry to be at least five years away from being able to deliver cross-platform advertising, encompassing sales, delivery, measurement and analysis."

Five years is a long time. In the Internet age - where things are moving increasingly faster - it could well be an unattainable goal for the advertising industry.

Here's what Saul Berman, IBM global leader and co-author of this research had to say:

"It's very hard to accelerate analog dollars into digital pennies. Where will the money come from? The answer may be, 'You're going to make less money.' The money may be going somewhere else in the value chain. The music industry didn't lose money, the music companies lost money. Companies like Apple, which manufactures devices, make money, as [does] ring tone providers, retailers like Best Buy and concert promoters."

Is Berman suggesting that advertising agencies morph into website design shops or developers of iPhone applications?

One of the main issues with these types of reports and insights is the focus on pure advertising dollars (hence the "digital pennies for analog dollars" comment). A strong Digital Marketing agency is not just about banner ads (err, display ads) and email blasts. It's also a lot more than figuring out your sweet spot for search engine marketing optimization. The brands that will win (and are winning) are the ones that are focusing on creating a great web experience. This includes the website, the ability to be found, and the creation of valuable content (text, images, audio and video) all coupled with an intense focus on web analytics and ongoing optimization based on shifts in the marketplace and the will of the people.

Most brands still fail to realize that their consumers are all online and they're connecting to one another.

Marketers don't have to wait five more years only to realize that they are now twenty years behind. Everyone - both on the agency and client side - can fix this laggard attitude starting right now.

The real questions are: how much longer can you afford to wait? How much longer do you think you can ignore the digital channels? How many of your customers and potential customers are already there, connecting, sharing and building?

By Mitch Joel