A new resilience report from Strategy and Business, Digital Darwinism, paints a sweeping picture of what they call the "evolution" of advertising, corporate marketing and media companies in response to "Web 2.0". The changes have only just begun, as new dynamics, new roles and new required competences emerge.
While well-researched in those fields, I believe the article misses a key point: consumer behavior via socal media is a revolution. I don't think the execs interviewed are close to prepared to "engage", as they call it.
Certainly the field is ripe for innovation, as the article points out. One key area will be in new metrics: those slippery consumers are getting harder and harder to predict, and with that, the success measures of marketing are rapidly becoming obsolete. But new ones have not emerged. On the contrary, questions as simple as how many people are using Twitter are unresolved, because digital pathways to it are constantly being re-invented by tech-saavy users.
The article points out that much greater skill at listening and collaboration is demanded:
The five behaviors that all players — marketers, agencies, and media companies — must display to perform at a high level in this ecosystem are now evident. They revolve around getting closer to consumers, engendering conversations, mastering the context of marketing messages, making better use of consumer data and insight, and building new and more collaborative relationships across the value chain.
And much greater flexibility,
Associated with this heightened focus on the media mix is the demand for greater flexibility and speed. In fact, most marketers are already buying and adjusting media on a weekly or even daily basis as needed. More than half of the marketers in our survey said they expect the media buying process to look more like the stock exchange in five years; media will be bought and sold on a real-time, transparent, and continuous basis. Good-bye, upfront. Hello, 24/7 marketplace.
I believe that the article - and most people in the industry - are still missing the extraordinary demand of social media to learn on one's feet. They move fast; creation and re-invention is a daily event. Anyone who wants to believe that he was smart the day before is in jeopardy. And anyone who believes that she is smart on her own has little chance. Web 2.0 demands nimble collaborative elegance, brimming with curiosity and very little room for ego, that I believe is going to shake up marketing much more than the article seems to imagine.
Thirteen years into the online era, only about one-quarter of marketers regard themselves as digitally savvy
Therein lies the problem. 'Marketing experts', using what they learned in B school to 'message' to revolutionaries who are immersed in a democratizing medium that the execs have not experienced (though they've all heard of the book, The Experience Economy, and maybe even read the review.) With all their talk about "consumer insight", they don't know what's going on in social media. (Twittering is not in their job description...) While they're struggling to establish new roles and metrics, the online world boogies on...
Social media fulfill the power to the people that Woz and Jobs dreamed about in the '70s. They're a powerful vehicle for exchange that can only be understood by participating. They breed resilience and ingenuity. Control is not in the cards.