Where next for digital marketing?

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan May 26, 2013
Imagine a day when the standalone digital agencies of today are a thing of the past and everyone in the next generation of marketing is a digital native. That day isn't that far off according to European marketing high-fliers.

Marketing and strategy
Imagine a day when the standalone digital agencies of today are a thing of the past and everyone in the next generation of marketing is a digital native.

That day isn't that far off according to a recent study by European business school The Mediaschool Group which polled 2,000 marketing students aged 20-25 in the UK, France, Spain and Belgium on five different themes, including digital and the next generation, the future of marcoms, career, ethics and inspiration.

The study - Next Generation of Marcoms - is far reaching and throws up some interesting conclusions and predictions from its audience.

One that catches the eye immediately is that most respondents argue that it is their successors, the next generation of employees, that are the first generation of true digital natives. Some 70% believe the next generation, ten years younger than them, will be the true masters of digital media.

Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, states that the study:

The survey throws up some fascinating insights from young graduates about to enter the industry and underlines just how digital is fast becoming an integral part of everything we do. That they believe it is the generation ten years below them who represent true 'digital natives' is also indicative of how even our new talent should not be complacent when it comes to new, emerging and existing ways to connect with the consumer.

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Scott Wilson, UK CEO and EMEA managing director Cohn and Wolfe, goes further:

For Europe's leading marketing students to concede that the generation behind them will be the true 'digital natives' should send shock-waves through the industry and eradicate any lingering sense of complacency among modern marketers.

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Elsewhere, the standalone digital agency may be fashionable today, but is on borrowed time:
  • 85% think that would lead to the end of standalone agencies over the next ten years.
  • 90% agree or strongly agree that in ten years' time the agency they work for would be full service where practitioners would be comfortable creating strategies in advertising, direct, social, digital and PR.

GolinHarris international MD Matt Neale comments:

Ten years may be too generous. Today we're seeing digital specialists folded into PR and advertising agencies at a rapid pace. The agency of the future will operate across all media channels, in real time.

  • Close to 90% say social media was channel that all marketing practitioners should use and that it was not a 'stand-alone' discipline. 
  • 77% believe Facebook is the most important social media tool a brand can use to communicate to this generation
  • Only 40% agree with a recent statement by Sir Martin Sorrell that Twitter was not an advertising medi
  • Some 70% anticipate that PR thinking would dominate how agencies responded to briefs with a focus on creating brand trust.

Public Relations Consultants Association director-general Francis Ingham says:

The time when digital stood alone is, indeed, drawing to a close –something we should very much welcome. As an industry, we should embrace the fact that PR thinking looks set to be so dominant in the years ahead.

Meanwhile 81% of respondents believe that content marketing will be an essential part of their job in ten years.

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The support for a content marketing dominated future is encouraging, added Clare Hill, managing director of the Content Marketing Association :

Content marketing is one of the fastest growing media channels and the future looks bright for this discipline with 70% of respondents identifying that the landscape will be dominated by content marketing...It is now a far more conversational approach, interactive with a two way dialogue…Content marketing is changing the marketing eco system because content is channel neutral, is multi platform and it needs to be ‘Always on’.

Overall the study provides an interesting insight into next generation thinking and one that might challenge a few assumptions, particularly in relation to the idea that the current batch of marketing tyros are the first digital natives.

It's a label they reject, a situation that might leave older generations wondering what the hell is coming down the track if this generation aren't the digirati that they'd been told to expect?

Anne Pflimlin, director of the Mediaschool Group, concludes:

The next generation of marketing leaders clearly has a strong point of view on the future they will shape and create. It's clear to them that the questions of silos and channels don't exist. Instead trust, word of mouth and content matters so much more. It behoves an industry that is so often transfixed by questions of youth and channel relevance to listen carefully.


Graphics: The Mediaschool Group

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