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Make digital part of your campaigns

South Africa is expected to become one of the cheapest places for internet connectivity in the future, with broadband speed hopefully in place by 2010, “so don't bet against the internet, make it a part of your campaigns”, Google country manager in South Africa, Stafford Masie said last week.

Masie was speaking at Tony Koenderman's Cracking the Digital Code workshop, sponsored by longtail, held at the new conference centre at that former grande dame in the hotel industry, the Sunnyside in Parktown. And very elegant, with good service, the new venue is too.

Masie, a victim of his own belief in his technology (his prepared speech apparently disappeared when he switched his laptop on, and he hadn't a copy…) had to wing it off-the-cuff and still managed to wow the corporate and industry audience with various Google gadgetry online.

Follow your consumers

The strong message from speakers in the digital and youth marketing space is to: ‘follow your consumers'. HDI youth marketers have introduced a special programme for marketers, ‘Summer School' (also held last week) and the ‘Youth University' (an ongoing initiative) to upskill them on trends and the overriding message is how little mainstream media is currently consumed by the youth - who are our future consumers, audiences, readers.

Masie's was strong on this point: “follow your consumer”.

“In the UK for the first time, internet consumption surpassed TV consumption. It's where all the kids are going - they are not watching TV. You have to see where the consumers are going in order to know how to reach them. Media habits are changing… consumers are moving away from traditional media. Online is where they are finding everything.”

He urged marketers to make the internet a part of their campaigns.

In fact, much of the strategy coming from thought leaders in the digital space this year - and digital in this context including new media, the internet, social media and mobile - is that brand thinking must integrate everything digital as a strand running through all marketing campaigns and brand activity. Media and marketing thinking has always been to categorise media in silos: TV, radio, print, cinema, and the internet. And while much has changed, many media planners still think like this to the utter incomprehension of digital media strategists and innovators in the online media space.

Your online strat should be data driven and very analytical, says Masie. Watch where your online spend is - it is a growth strategy, it isn't a ‘budget allocation' strategy. It doesn't work like that. “In the future South Africa is expected to become one of the cheapest places for internet connectivity, so don't bet against the internet - make the internet a part of your campaigns.

Get mobile

Twenty-year-old social media entrepreneur, Tyler Reed, who is living his dream, lets us know that mobile is the big thing - here already with the mobile youth generation. Reed was speaking at the other highlight of my week last week, HDI's Summer School for marketers.

And he has the facts to back it up, apart from his already impressive client list and offices in Joburg and Cape Town advising corporates: “Coca-Cola is looking to spend 50% of its budget on mobile in the near future.” That translates to $11 billion - and Coke is not a brand that has to market itself, as Reed correctly points out.

He rattled off five key mobile trends that marketers need to take cognisance of among the youth and start planning to integrate mobile in their digital strategies:
1. We'll always be connected… it sounds like the first line of a bad 80s love song, but instant messaging is cheap communication (i.e., Mxit). It is already replacing sms, is an info resource, results in instantaneous multimedia transfer and instant social gratification.
2. Location, location, location: mobile is always on - on the consumer and on 24/7. Location based services are coming and becoming more sophisticated - we will be able to find out what is around us wherever we are, in new towns, our local mall, which friends are nearby, where there are advertising specials - even drilling down to which stores have sales and which restaurants have a happy hour - all from our mobile phones. It's all permission-based marketing too, so the consumer decides what he wants to receive, not what you as marketer want to send him.
3. The youth have adapted to the small screen, they think nothing of surfing the internet or watching movies, music video's or mobi-soaps (bite-sized mobile content of soap operas, TV series) on their phones. Reed says it's all about “how I want it, when I want it, bite sized, ad funded, click-to-video, visual education…”
4. We create, we consume is the next big trend. The mobile user generation like generating their own content - through mobile Wikipedia, mobile blogging (mo-blogging), videos and photos, geotagging, user moderated, citizen journalism.
5. Micro content: information is bite size, quick and easy to digest. The limitation of mobile is the scattered attention of the users, they pick and mix the best content and mash it up and regurgitate it, as they want it.

As a marketer used to pushing content and dictating to the consumer how they should receive your message and where - it takes a lot to engage with the consumer on their terms, it requires a whole mindshift.

Reed's last bit of advice this time round: market through social media, be it on the internet or via mobile. Do not advertise, get involved. Everything is made with user generated content.

Get involved

Vincent Maher, portfolio manager for social media at Vodacom and previously the social media whizz at the Mail&Guardian, urges new thinking on how the web will change our lives. There are massive implications for publishers and marketers and indeed, anyone currently making money off the web.

Maher explains: Until 2003 the web didn't look that interesting. Then came social media and user-generated content.... This phase will end soon and be replaced by sematic web - essentially a change to the plumbing under the web. This has massive implications for publishers and marketers as they start embedding info about info inside these pages. That now means that there will now be an intrinsic difference between a recipe and a travel itinerary - both will have Meta data associated with it. Crawlers and artificial intelligence will bring info to the user. This has massive implications from a monetisation point of view as people will be consuming your content outside of your own environment - in their own environment (through RSS feeds, etc).

What will happen then, says Maher is that once this infrastructural process has been ironed out, it will change how people consume content on the web. At some point, your computer will check your calendar for when you are on leave and go out and fetch travel packages for you and present you with an aggregated list.

This is why everyone has to get involved. Because if your current consumers are not currently on the web - your future ones are. If you don't understand digital media and how it is being consumed, how can you hope to market your products and services on it and protect your brands?

And sounding even more far-fetched, Maher says we will at some stage be able to share memories, and that technology is already moving in that direction! Apparently Microsoft patented the human skin as a receptor for information three years ago already.

How's that, Dr Spock…?!

About Louise Marsland

Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is Founder/Content Director: SOURCE Content Marketing Agency. Louise is a Writer, Publisher, Editor, Content Strategist, Content/Media Trainer. She has written about consumer trends, brands, branding, media, marketing and the advertising communications industry in SA and across Africa, for over 20 years, notably, as previous Africa Editor:; Editor: Bizcommunity Media/Marketing SA; Editor-in-Chief: AdVantage magazine; Editor: Marketing Mix magazine; Editor: Progressive Retailing magazine; Editor: BusinessBrief magazine; Editor: FMCG Files newsletter. Web:

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