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The obsession with digital

Is it just me who believes there is an unhealthy obsession with digital marketing?

I was recently briefed to plan a marketing campaign. The Marketing Director said he was very open about how the campaign was to be communicated but it must focus on digital. When asked ‘why digital’ he wasn’t able to give me a good answer.

So many companies I speak to want to talk about digital marketing. It’s often the ONLY thing they want to talk about. Some companies have split digital off from marketing and created a separate department. It’s almost as though digital is the only marketing that matters – the new marketing. It’s not the ‘latest thing’ and it’s not a ‘fad’. So why the obsession?

I believe there are 4 reasons. The first, and I believe the most significant, reason is herd mentality – “they’re doing it so we have to do it”. The second, and probably most valid, reason for using digital is data collection. The third is value for money, but when you factor in all costs including, for instance, extra head count, it often ceases to compare favourably with other marketing activities. The fourth is effectiveness, but perception is often different to reality because many of the criteria being measured do little for either long-term brand building or the bottom line.

If we stop this crazed obsession we will see digital for what it actually is – one part of the marketing mix, just like the traditional elements. The use of digital should be weighed up and balanced against all the other elements of the marketing mix. It should be led by the overall brand strategy and activities tailored to the digital medium’s audience that crosses over with the brand’s target. And at all times the creative must be consistent with the brand look and feel. The results for each activity must be analysed against what it delivers for the overall health of the brand, not just on how many ‘likes’ it receives!

Digital is a valuable marketing tool which, through using the latest technologies such as AR and AI, will become even more valuable. But it should never be treated as a standalone discipline, always as part of the marketing mix.

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