Hopefully you found the title a little intriguing, we all like a paradox! I’ll get to that later on and it should make a little more sense.

Our second, London Future of Digital, or ‘FOD’ as we are affectionately calling the series of panel discussions, was hosted at The Hospital Club on April 29. Sponsored by Google, we were lucky enough to have another exceptional panel.


Representing Google we were joined by Biren Kalaria, who heads-up Performance Marketing in the UK. FOD Alumni, Thomas Hoegh of Arts Alliance returned and we also had David Serfaty, Head of Social at Matomy, a performance marketing agency based in Tel Aviv.

The great thing about these panel discussions is that even though the themes are broadly similar (at least when they are only a few months apart), the debate can go in a completely different direction depending on the panel and of course the audience, who can drive the themes based on their own verticals and specific challenges.

Of course digital was top of the agenda but there was definitely a ‘Retail’ flavor to this session. It’s hard to summarise nearly three hours of debate in a blog so I will pick out five opinions from our panel that were particularly interesting… and explain that paradoxical headline.

“If you have to spend £1 on marketing, the product is not good enough!”

This was slightly controversial, particularly as the room was filled with digital marketers, who are passionate about spending budget on acquisition and traffic. The quote came from Thomas Hoegh, who I think likes to be mischievous at times, but is also very good at articulating his perspective. In terms of investing in start-ups and in particular, subscription model pure plays, Thomas has seen and done it all. His business sold LoveFilm to Amazon and he funded brands including LastMinute.com and Made.com.

A member of the audience asked him to elaborate and thankfully, Thomas did not mean ‘If you build they will come’, which is a well-worn analogy for the need to find customers online. Essentially, Thomas believes that many start-ups are too focused on spending budget before the product and more importantly, the service, is ready for volume. Advertisers should spend more time ensuring the brand, product and logistics are absolutely market-ready before sending a customer to the Website to be disappointed. You get one shot when a prospects enters your virtual door and you should be LTV (Lifetime value) focused, not single transaction focused.


Mobile First is not a mantra purely for website developers

Designing websites for mobile first has been the MO for website developers for a number of years. Now it’s time for marketers to design campaigns for audiences across devices and platforms.

What does this mean? Put simply, marketing is no longer in silos limited to individual channels. Marketing is a complex eco-system, mainly because the path to conversion is no longer linear; every single consumer is different and interacts with brands in unique ways. Marketers now have the tools to track customers at every touch point and can attribute the influence each channel has on conversions. This means budgets can be spent in the most effective way and campaigns can be optimised for the most profitable customers, or those prospects with the highest propensity to buy.


Are we ready to move beyond ‘Last Click’?

This is an interesting topic, not least because Kenshoo affords the ability to use sophisticated, dynamic attribution models. With this in mind, of course we see the world’s leading brands leveraging our technology to attribute conversions and forecast where budgets should be spent from first touch to repeat purchase.

That being said, the panel felt that the majority of marketers are not yet ready to move beyond last click, and for now, it’s the best (or at least most objective) indication of which channel is working.


The Internet of Things and Online-Offline Integration

This is actually a combination of a couple of themes and started with a discussion around voice search. Biren provided some interesting insights into the traction that voice activated search is seeing in Google via mobiles. Thomas sees a big future for voice search, particularly when driverless vehicles are a reality. What else are you going to do in the car? Will there come a time when we are talking to our refrigerators?

The discussion moved on to online-offline integration and in particular, in-store offers based on online purchase behavior, and of course the reverse, in-store behavior driving online campaigns and special offers. The resounding sentiment from the panel, is that when done well, personalistion of any kind, whether that is in email, website UX or with beacons and proximity marketing, can be highly effective. The flip side of course is that when executed poorly, it becomes synthetic, fake and intrusive. It’s a fine line and marketers need to tread carefully.


The Future of Digital is…

To close out our FODs, we always ask our panel members to complete this sentence.  I’m actually looking forward to an infographic that tracks all of the answers after running these sessions for 12 months, across all the regions. It should be pretty interesting!

For this session we had the following responses:

Biren: …going to be super quick!

David: …Virtual Reality.

Thomas: …Analog!

Just to qualify those, and in particular, the title of this blog post, Biren talked throughout the session of the pace of digital and how consumers’ behaviours are changing. Even Google were surprised by the dominance and speed of adoption of mobile. Things are only going to get faster and we, as digital marketers, are always playing catch-up but that’s what makes it exciting!

David provided some fascinating insights into where Social and in particular, Facebook is heading in the future, and spoke to some interesting innovations around video content and sequential ads. He also believes that Virtual Reality will have a part to play in the future of Facebook advertising.

Thomas believes that online-offline integration is key and that product and service should be the focus of online businesses before they start investing in digital marketing. Technology should help us form a single customer view, tracking behavior wherever it takes place and that marketers should be focused on lifetime value and customer loyalty and not single clicks or transactions.


All in all, it was a great session and we captured all the insights via graphic illustration. Click here to see the full image.