This past week we sent a member of the Passion Digital team to an event we have never attended before – the Digital Pond. The event was held right on the outskirts of the city in Aldgate, within walking distance of the station and hosted in the fantastic facilities of the General Assembly campus.
I arrived slightly late due to finishing off some important client work so the proceedings were almost under way. The room was full to the brim with excited marketers who were thirsting for the extra knowledge and instructive insights that attending such an event can bring. The following talks did not disappoint.
The digital pond and its speakers delivered three exceptional talks. They were all on varying subjects and were intended to educate, enlighten, and decipher the many aspects of digital marketing strategy.
However, the talks all had something in common – looking to the future. The theme of the night was to look ahead and demystify what 2017 will mean not only for digital marketing but also the marketing industry in general. These are exciting times and the talks of the night delivered exactly this message. Let’s not dawdle much longer – here is our rundown of what took place:
The first discussion came from Dan Bluestone and Sylvain Reiter, CEO and CTO respectively of Cyberduck, the digital agency who helped host the evening. Hardly a warm-up for the crowd, we were treated straight away to the exciting trends that they predict for 2017. The first point, that true marketing is like ‘baby steps’ – it should be fearless, curious, break things (conventions, concepts, theories), always tell the brutal truth, and doesn’t grow up fast but takes its time! I very much enjoyed this analogy, since it personifies exactly how marketing should be – an honest, and sometimes brutal, insight. There is no pretence with genuine marketing, only honest answers.
The speakers then went on to outline their predictions of trends for 2017 – a hotly anticipated subject and we were all listening intently. Trend number one is the increase in the use and application of digital assistants. We are already seeing innovations in this area today, with Google Now, Cortana, Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa all competing against one another. Looking to the tech giants of the world for innovation trends is clearly a sensible option and to see such emphasis by the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon will always direct the eager onlooker. How will this affect your digital strategy, then? Sites will have to be tailored to allow this new technology to be able to understand the content. For example, if you are an e-commerce site, your content must be optimised to be read by these assistants if you want to own one of the top organic search positions. Why does this matter? By 2020, Comscore predicts that 50% of all online searches will be done through voice assistants. That’s significant, and means that the importance of site optimisation has never been greater.
The second trend discussed was the increase in communication bots, which will integrate with existing apps that have a strong user-base and are considered ‘essential’ to a phone-owners app repertoire – like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. These are bots that provide automated responses. For example – when you say ‘book me a taxi to the airport,’ the bots will give you options on taxi prices, the ability to choose which one you want, schedule in the ride, and remind you on the day! American Express have a bot that informs you every time you make a transaction, essentially providing an easy tracking system. CNN will serve you news updates on topics of your interest. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘there’ll be an app for that.’ Well, 2017 is different. In 2017, the phrase will go ‘there’s an app for that.’ As marketers, we must be aware of the applications of bots, which will provide a new and exciting avenue for reaching potential customers!
Trend three of 2017 is augmented and virtual reality. Not a shocking revelation – but the importance of this new technology cannot be understated. With augmented reality coming to life most famously through Snapchat and with VR headsets launching on the mass market by companies like Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and Facebook (to name a few) we can expect the technology to take off. In terms of experiences, the shopping industry will see the most tangible benefits. Imagine being able to try on a dress or a jacket, exactly your size, from the comfort of your own living room? The online shopping experience will transform.
The second discussion was given by Camilla Rose, an account director of the London agency Cult LDN. She spoke on a very interesting topic – personalising your brand message and how this creates a more authentic and relatable personality for customers to engage with. Burberry is a good example of a brand with this in mind as they aspire for their website to deliver an equally entrancing experience as walking into the store – a personal experience. When promoting the brand, Camilla spoke passionately that the best brand influencers are brand ambassadors. We’re 92% more likely to trust a friend’s recommendation over a company telling you to buy something. So, focus on a creating a beautiful experience that will attract new people and make them sing your praises, not hounding new potential customers to try you out!
The third and final talk was my favourite of the evening. Tash Walker, founder of the Mix, a research company, delivered a truly demystifying insight – that a huge demographic of the population are effectively ignored by marketers – the baby boomers! Those born between 1946 and 1964 are consistently lumped together into one single demographic category and are considered inactive online. This couldn’t be further from the truth she goes onto say. 50% of people born in this time and older are highly active online and very social. This generation are even said to be more adventurous, sharing and interacting with new people far more than generation Z or millennials. Bottom line of the talk – ignore the baby-boomers at your peril. You’ll be discounting a huge portion of potential customers to reach. So do your research and you’ll be much surprised to find the level of engagement with people of that age!
All in all, the evening was truly excellent and the speakers fantastic. I am not able to fully convey their messages, which were in-depth and informative in the minimum, but I hope you get a glimpse from the above. To all those looking for a fun and educational evening, go to the Digital Pond. You’ll come away a notepad full of awesome ideas and a sense of accomplishment.