Top 5 Take- Aways from the Digital Summit in Croke Park.

Croke Park conference center

Always keen to increase the depth of our expertise, two of the IMS team (Maricka and I) were sent along to the Digital Summit in Croke Park last week. Organised by the Sunday Business Post, the day offered a whole series of talks by top experts, as well as an all too rare opportunity to visit HQ.

The conference featured a diverse range of speakers from multinationals like Google, Facebook and Twitter, indigenous companies like Wolfgang Digital, and NGOs like Concern. Here are our top 5 takeaways from the day:

1. Message First, Media Second

With constant innovation in the digital space, it would be easy to forget the bread and butter of marketing. The old rules still apply. Successful marketing is still about hitting the right audience, with the right message, at the right moment.

As Adrian O Flynn from concern worldwide explained, “it used to be that 10% of the budget was spent on producing the content, and 90% on the media, but now people are finding it very easy to ignore the media.” It is important to invest time and effort into shaping your brands message and tone of voice. As social media expert Aoife Rigny explained, social media offers a chance to work out your brands “character, persona, tone, purpose and language.”


2. Google is Evolving

Google is EvolvingWith a number of significant innovations currently in the beta phase, it looks like there may be some game changers on the way for AdWords. As Alan Coleman and Brendan Almack of Wolfgang Digital explained, effective strategies will increasingly involve a mix of PPC (paid search) and SEO (organic search). Three of the most exciting changes (exciting at least to digital marketing nerds like ourselves) are:

a) Image ad extensions; The top ad in AdWords results may soon feature images. This should see the share of clicks weighted more towards the ad in top position and should drive higher competition among advertisers.

b) Form extensions; Ads may soon feature an additional search bar that will help Google refine the relevance of the results offered. For example, in a search for “dresses,” an ad may feature a form extension prompting the user to refine the search to “type of dress,” before directing them to the most appropriate page. Again, higher click through rates should be the reward for early adapters.

c) Google Product Listing; Already rolled out for many international markets, Google product listings may see an increased weighting towards paid search for commercial terms. For example, the term “buy an iPad online” may see up to 80% of the space above the fold in the search results taken up by types of paid advertising and just 20% by organic results.

It remains to be seen if these changes will be permanent fixtures, but if they are, we are glad to say, we are ready to exploit them to our client’s competitive advantage.


3. Math Men are the new Mad Men

shutterstock_186124943The ability to collect and analyse marketing results is the biggest driver of the move to online marketing. If well managed, we can now attribute almost any conversion to the path from which it was generated i.e. how the user found our site, the path to purchase, the time it took and more.

According to Michael Faley, from Google, “where marketing in the 60s was dominated by “Mad Men,” in the coming years, “Math Men,” or, “Math Minds,” will play an integral role in all future marketing success.” Understanding the value of different marketing channels allows us to justify meaningful investment. Marketing will no longer be seen as a cost centre.

Analytics is even coming to the offline world. As Sean O Sullivan of Local Social explained, beacon technology working in conjunction with smart phones can be used to apply analytics to real store situations, producing real world customer data. Using this technology, retailers can track and optimise paths to conversion on their physical premises.


4. Mobile First

shutterstock_171491858The evidence of the growing importance of mobile is all around us and it’s undeniable. Mobile screens are getting larger, tablet sales are far outstripping PCs and smart phone penetration is almost absolute. It’s unsurprising then, that the latest statistics are showing the critical importance of mobile in digital marketing. Maureen O Rourke from Eircom presented some revealing facts:

1. 62% of emails are opened on a phone.

2. 44% of smart phone users have made a purchase on their phone.

3. The average person spends 147 minutes on their smart phone, versus 113 minutes on TV daily.

The email statistic in particular, points to the “mobile first” trend. The most successful emails and websites over the coming years will be ones designed for mobile first, then adjusted to PC as opposed to the other way round.


5. Top Tips

Adam Berkely, Ad Roll : 70% of transactions are started on one device and finished on another. A great mobile web platform is now essential for most businesses.

Change Agents: Work out 1 thing your brand stands for above all else.

Aoife Rigney: You need to produce content that will stop people from scrolling.

Michael Faley, Google: It’s essential to accurately measure the value of search. If marketers can justify investment, they can acquire the prime shelf space and drive conversions.

Wolfgang Digital: Proactively pursue reviews. They are one of the most important trust signals available to us.

Oisin Byrne, Exam Time: Start with search traffic in mind from very early in the marketing process.

Dessie Martin, 3 funnel: For strong customer insights, set up funnels on Google Analytics and monitor customer behaviour and drop off.

Maureen O Rourke, Eircom: We need to start looking at mobile first.

Adrian O Flynn, Concern Worldwide: If you are on more than 2 social media channels, I would seriously question my reasons for this.