Cameron Bryant is a co-founder and partner at independent digital marketing agency Sparro which manages in excess of $120 million in ad spend on behalf of more than 80 clients.
The future of digital marketing is bright - it's creative, progressive and above all it's customer-first. As we say goodbye to cookies and evolve past last click attribution, digital marketing as we know it is taking on a whole new form.
Will this see the end of personalised, targeted marketing? Absolutely not.
Will it mark a new and revived wave of creativity that works harder and smarter to build longer-lasting relationships with customers? You bet.
A new era for digital marketers
We are moving into a new age for digital marketing. Fading reliance on cookies and the rise of data clean rooms presents new opportunities for marketers to redefine how we use data and, more importantly, how we engage with customers to create meaningful experiences that drive impact.
While the concept of data clean rooms (distributed data environments where the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon share aggregated data rather than customer-level data) is nothing new, the changes will see further innovation and collaboration for how brands can make sense of data in a customer-first way.
This also means clients will have a greater need to own their first-party data, rather than relying on platform specific insights. As more brands invest in their own data capability, we’ll see even more collaboration between in-house data teams and agency partners.
The knock-on effect of this will reduce reliance on platforms, forcing digital marketers to have a deeper understanding of core audiences and their need states, clients' strategic business priorities, and traditional marketing theory and principles.
Although this level of business acumen should be a standard prerequisite for a digital agency, the unfortunate reality is that the industry as a whole has rested on its laurels for too long. Many digital marketing agencies solely rely on a ROAS they see from Facebook or Google, rather than taking a strategic view of what’s actually impacting business and how customers are interacting with a brand.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of exceptional digital marketing agencies out there who break this mould. These agencies constantly look to the future, to what’s next, to what could be done better. These agencies have invested in their people and prioritised training development. These are the agencies who will come out on top and shape the new era of digital, as others scramble to stay relevant..
Heightened consumer expectations, changing media habits and data privacy changes are all driving demand for a new wave of creativity - one that requires more collaboration between .digitals and creatives.
Never before has there been such a need for brands to say something, stand for something - to be an active force for good in customers’ lives. This not only allows brands to connect and engage with consumers in real-time, it also has real commercial benefits. A study from Twitter reveals brands that support social issues have the most impact to influence Aussie consumers’ purchasing decisions.
However, building brand resonance in a privacy first-world is no easy feat - especially when the pressure to hit the mark and truly understand and reflect the needs of an audience is at an all time high.
Now is the time to choose long term brand building and loyalty with customers over short sighted tactics.
But you can’t take a strategic, long-term view without insights.
Unfortunately creative agencies are often limited by their ability to see and influence the media performance of their work - meaning inefficiencies are the norm. You can have the best creative, or the best media, but neither can work in isolation; and If either are ineffective, you are going to see a poor performing campaign. But as more marketers begin to marry creative and performance, a new creative process will drive greater efficiency, innovation and growth.
So what does all of this mean for brands and the industry more broadly?
The acceleration of live shopping trends through platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest TV is driving demand for smaller scale, smart creative that is hyper agile and speaks to audiences' need states in real-time.
While there will always be a market for large-scale, blue-sky creative concepts, creative inefficiencies are a big pain point and the process is ripe for disruption.
This will see more collaboration between creative and performance agencies - transforming how creatives and digital media teams work together for the better; driving results that are more aligned to business outcomes, not digital metrics alone.