The speed with which the digital revolution rocked our worlds has been shocking. 76 percent of marketers surveyed by Adobe agreed that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the past 50. As brand marketers, we were just figuring out social and e-commerce and then mobile hit and we had to start all over again.
We scrambled, letting the dizzying array of devices, jargon, and acronyms intimidate the hell out of us. We were on edge. With digital budgets nearly doubling each year in China, we felt like we were riding the tiger. We hit the panic button. We set up “digital divisions”, hired “digital people”, and charged our chief talent officers to write jargon-filled employment ads for outsider “digital pirates”. We hoped an influx of “digital people” would save us and our campaigns.
In 2014, however, the avalanche of digital change is beginning to abate a bit, making this the year to turn the corner on digital paranoia and begin to do really great work with a significant digital component. First, digital growth rates are coming back to earth. eMarketer forecasts digital growth rates in China will drop another 50% in 2014 and even drop into the single digits by 2017.
These rapidly dropping growth rates give brand marketers breathing room in 2014 to better align their budgets to match the shift of eyeballs to digital.
Second, smartphones and tablets are no longer “future” devices, but instead they have become a familiar and ordinary part of our everyday lives. Like our target demographics, we use smartphones and tablets on a daily basis, and better understand how to harness these platforms for effective brand communication.
Finally, as the digital dust settles, brand marketers are coming to realize that the core of advertising – great content delivered to audiences at scale – has not changed. The few so-called digital specialists we brought onboard are helping us to migrate great content and campaigns onto new platforms and measure results. We have learned, however, that great campaigns cannot be outsourced to “digital pirates”.
2014 is a year for brand marketers to realize the value of their work at the heart of advertising, and put themselves into the digital driver seat.
With the stage set to make 2014 the “catch up” year for digital in China, the aim of this “playbook” is to help brand marketers raise their digital IQs over the course of 2014 in sensible and measured ways. We have created a checklist of 8 “must-dos in digital for 2014” to be spaced out over the course of the year. The playbook can help brand marketers prioritize and become familiar with new tools and opportunities presented by digital, and to inspire and guide, rather than to overwhelm.