Digital Marketing | 18 Min Read
Posted on: Tuesday August 31, 2021Reading Time: 18 minutes
Presently, we are witness to unforeseen advancements on the digital front. In more ways than one, our activities on digital platforms are replacing those in the physical world. For example, among other things, we make quite a lot of purchases on the web.
In this context, digital marketing has assumed a crucial position within the marketing strategies of most, if not all, present-day businesses. And, when it comes to digital marketing, data (of various forms) are highly significant. Indeed, a data-centric approach to digital marketing is often quite profitable.
Yet, without a proper mix of creativity, such marketing strategies lie stillborn, unable to respond to the demands of the potential customers, namely a superior digital experience. For all those who are based out of the UAE and looking for the best SEO agency in Dubai, we are here to help you! We provide affordable SMO, PPC & SEO packages that are designed to increase leads, and ultimately, generate more sales for you taking your company’s marketing strategy to the next level. In this blog, our purpose is to discuss why brand owners and advertisers need to be creative while constructing their digital marketing strategies.
The Origins of Digital Marketing
In October 1994, when the internet was still new and only about 14 million people were online, Wired magazine launched Hotwired. It was the world’s first digital magazine, and, more importantly, the decision was to pay for it through advertisements.
Fourteen advertising giants signed on, with the website simultaneously displaying somewhere between six to twelve ads through the day. Yet, one single ad remains etched in our collective memories, as the first banner ad – a vision in candy pink that read “Have you ever clicked your mouse here?”. In addition, a long arrow pointed to the other side of the screen, enticing the user to click with the words “You will”.
The simple fact drove the creative genius behind this AT&T ad that people are willing to click on a sponsored ad as long as the process is both fun and engaging. The ad was highly successful, and it paved the path for many future ads in the digital space.
Digital Marketing – The Present
In the 2000s, the Digital Marketing industry evolved thoroughly. Digital platforms were cropping up, and digital marketing was beginning to take its shape today.
The advent of social media also made the advertising space even more coveted, with brands competing for the mythical 8-second attention span of the modern web audience.
Presently, 3.48 billion people log into social media. As ad campaigns become increasingly redundant and spammy, tools have been devised to tap into the unlimited data points that users produce.
Moreover, it is now possible to use “targeted ads”, based on the users’ browsing preferences. This process of combining marketing with technology to create data-driven advertisements falls under the purview of what is commonly called MarTech.
Among other things, the innovations in this field have enabled marketers to tailor-make ads to match the ad’s search, preference, and clickability, all of which differ according to the target audience. Brands like Netflix are even employing predictive A.I. to cater to each person based on their usage history.
How to be “that vendor” in the market?
With companies striving to be heard in the crowded marketplace that is digital media, stats have indeed become even more critical now than ever before.
If you’ve ever been to a market, a physical one, you would know who the customers flock to. It’s the vendor who has the best quality products. And, often, this vendor would know a surprising amount of detail about each of his clients and build a rapport around this, thus earning a loyal base of customers.
The scenario with digital marketing is no different. In short, brands that creatively produce helpful content, and employ strategies to heighten engagement, are the ones that succeed. In other words, the detailed data provided by SEO, Analytics or Growth hacking is eye-opening. Still, it is merely a tool that becomes relevant when used to supplement the creative.
Are brands forgetting this?
According to studies conducted by multiple organizations, the answer is yes. Many marketers feel that digital growth is killing creative quality, owing to an increased focus on the bottom line.
One such study, conducted by Sizmek, which surveyed more than 500 brand marketers across Europe and the U.S., suggests that an intense industry focus on data, A.I. and analytics has shaken the relationship between creative and digital.
Around 70% of marketers surveyed believe that digital growth in advertising has come at the expense of creativity. Meanwhile, 84% say A.I. is “useless” without the excellent creativity to support it. For them, data alone is meaningless. Also, more than 50% admitted to finding it difficult to showcase their creativity within specified ad formats.
Another study by digital agency Dotted revealed that almost three-quarters of marketers feel that a culture of measurement is killing creativity. This revelation is worrisome in today’s dynamic market where content is considered king and creativity its loyal queen.
Over the last two decades, advertising has focused on the delivery of ads. As a result, it has begun to resemble a distribution business that focuses on programmatic agility. This is supplemented by the fact that digital marketers focus on “growth hacking” using technology to capture data and push customers down the path to purchase.
Since algorithms, and data-driven tech, work with a direct response or Call to Action approach, this leads to a faulty assumption that buying, and the way consumers make decisions, is a rational process.
The Problems of the Direct Response Approach
The direct response approach, as outlined in the previous section, gives rise to some significant issues.
Digging a Rabbit Hole
Not everyone is in the market for your product, and indeed not at all times. While data helps target the people who are ready or looking for your product, focusing solely on data limits the scope of expanding your audience base. In the long run, this inevitably hampers the business.
Ideally, the objective of advertising is to build awareness among potential customers and those who are not yet ready for the product. Herein, creativity comes into the scene.
An effective advertisement leaves a long-lasting impression on the minds of the audience. And, it’s only through creativity that this can be ensured. Given that your brand achieves this, a potential customer will inevitably remember it, when they are ready for it.
Stripping off the Humane Elements
Focusing solely on numbers and tools to optimize an algorithm, you distance yourself far away from the actual, feeling and thinking humans on the other side. And, once that humanity is taken away, nothing you do will be long-lasting. As a result, users often feel much differently about a product than what the analytics say they do.
To enable brands to refocus, it is necessary to think back to the foundation of advertising. Creativity has always been at the core of advertising. And it is for this reason that the AT&T ad remains iconic.
Creativity – The Lifeblood of Advertisement
AT&T created a clickable ad by taking advantage of creative journalism while ensuring that the user has fun in the process. Indeed, technology enables creative ideas, but without reason for doing what we’re doing, it becomes another operational deliverable.
In times of a growing awareness of the science of marketing, brands need to recognize that while art and science propel marketing together, creativity is still the X-Factor that drives marketing effectiveness.
Burger King’s aggressive marketing campaigns can be a perfect example of the marriage of creative and digital. Their campaigns bet on pure creativity and ideas while also utilizing technology to their benefit.
According to many, their Google Home Super Bowl ad spot was “industry-disrupting”. Using geofencing, they rewarded customers with a 1-cent whopper if they’re within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location. Not only that! They even burned down a Burger king outlet to promote their flaming-burger and one-upped their rivals McDonald’s in the process.
Through these endeavors, Burger King drove their app from number nine to the first position in the free app rankings. Moreover, their 1-cent burger showed 20 times more redemption than any other Burger King app promotion.
Another good example is Spotify. In their 2018 goals campaign, the music streaming platform used data analytics to create hilarious posters inspired by real-life playlists of their users. Their campaigns are aimed to connect with their user base, yet, it stems from their ability to leverage data. Spotify amassed 7 million new subscribers that fiscal quarter.
As these instances evidence, data-driven marketing works best only when supplemented by a solid creative campaign. And, these are only some of the many examples.
The Future is Creative?
At the Cannes Lions 2019, John Wren, the Chairman and CEO of Omnicom (one of the big six in advertising), reiterated that the future must inevitably be creative. He opined that one could have all the knowledge of all the consumers globally, but if the content and ideas are not correct, it won’t have any impact.
He further added that Omnicom believes data and technology should be in service to creativity and content, as creativity will always be the future of the advertising business.
It’s beyond doubt that mature creatives will propel all advertisements in the days to come. The Sizmek study concludes that marketers now want better ways to incorporate the creative aesthetic of their brands into highly personalized, data-driven campaigns.
Also, Nielsen Catalina quantifies this by finding that creative accounts for 47% of sales lift, making it the most critical advertising element. Irrespective of the budget, weak creatives result in weak sales lift. The opposite is equally valid.
Finally, then, it comes down to a matter of value over volume. As marketers in a world where everyone is pressed for time, we can shout out loud and often, hoping that someone hears us. Otherwise, we might actively engage people through quality creative work that appeals to their hearts. The choice, after all, is yours.