Digital Media Firsts

My interview process always starts with a 15-20 min chat to make sure the candidate’s values and personality match that if the business and the team they are joining.

In a recent interview I asked the young lady what she wanted to get out of the next role, and the second of three answers, sandwiched in between ‘learning’ and ‘working for a big company on a big client’, was getting a’ media first.’

Whilst this sounds noble, the nature of digital means that it’s nothing more than a personal PR piece for 99% of opportunities.

The beauty of digital is that it’s one to one marketing. In the majority of caelses you know some non-PII personal data on the viewer before they see your ad, so you can adjust yourself accordingly. Combined with the fact that the web was not created for broadcast editorial, but for connecting individuals. It’s like the difference between Ceefax and Google. Old media is monologue, digital is dialogue.

Therefore scale in digital is a mass of personalised ads, not a blanket of messaging. Whether this means digital will ever have the pure brand impact as ATL channels is yet to be seen, but it means digital is more selective and exclusive.

This precision means that digital media firsts are often smart tactics, new formats or clever tech. These will make 10% differences, not the fame and effect of a first live ad break, for example.

In itself this is not a problem, but for it to be one of your primary goals for a new job, it surely means your values are off.

I’m all for personal PR and drive, but in an interview I am looking for your values matching my own, those of my team’s and those of my company. Digital media firsts may not be the best way to show off your ambition.

If you can drive 10% efficiency within the existing structure, then we’re talking.

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What do we need to do to legitimise digital?

We are at an epic crossroads in digital media. Digital as a channel is now far too big for anyone to be a digital expert. We are now generalists with a specialism, be it mobile, data, attribution, affiliates etc.

7 years ago digital was fighting for so called “Above The Line” budgets, where weights are heavy and measurement is loose, and despite all of the incredible innovation and avenues that have been opened in that time, we’re still in that place. 

Digital is not trusted. It’s not. We talk our language, and make up new standards with every week that passes.

Last week saw Facebook launch a video ratings product, and the MRC and the IAB standardised mobile reach with mobile ratings.

Ignoring the fact that digital ratings are a load of bollocks (traditional ratings are potential reach of individual broadcast messages. In digital we can measure actual reach through the fact we buy one to one) it does raise a question – should we dumb down to traditional channel language and ignore the strengths of our channel? 

 We can then align with those channels and languages, unlocking larger budgets and less gimmicky (was “finicky” but auto-correct out worded me) success factors. 

 That said, we ignore the sheer capabilities and pure potential of the tools to hand. It feels like the resistance to digital from the old guard is more to protect the old way of doing things. Those days are dying, as are your target audience, and there will be casualties. 

Digital as a connecting technology is the future, and we need to stop devaluing by clipping its wings chasing “ATL” budgets. 

They’ll come, it’ll all come.

Where next for the Tamagotchi channel?

When I was young, I had a knock off Tamagotchi, those digital keychain pets that caused classrooms to stop in their tracks in order to feed a demanding dragon, or clean up after a defecating dog.

Keeping your digital friend alive was the name of the game, and it was all everyone spoke about for a time.

Eventually however, they stopped being cool. They became hard work and passée, and soon the buzz was gone. Tamagotchis were banished to the time capsules, ready to be brought back into fashion by the ironic residents of East London.

We are facing the same seep in digital. The old challenge of up-skilling traditional marketers has gone as digital has diversified. In digital now we do not deal in specifics about post-impression windows and click through rates- or rather we do, but that’s a smaller activational discussion where as ‘digital’ has become far more than a channel.

Digital covers so many inlets and outlets across the whole marketing piece that it is not possible to be the digital expert. The helicopter view of the generalist is getting so high the details cannot be fathomed. Digital is not a channel, but a  connector of all channels, a data flow and opportunity for one to one marketing at scale.

We are in a world where digital can do anything. It can even predict a pregnancy before you know it. The valuable digital skills are now connectors, people who can work to a target by looking at the whole picture.