'Digital doesn't really mean anything in 2020': Sam Scott talks terminology in marketing

Marketers need to be more mindful of their language when discussing digital, a term which is outdated and misapplied, according to Sam Scott, keynote speaker and B2B columnist.

Speaking as part of The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival about that very topic, first in his sights was the concept of digital itself. Words like online, internet and digital, get “recklessly” thrown around, he said, almost all channels and processes are digital now in 2020.

Instead, we should refer to ‘online’ and ‘offline’ marcom channels. With out-of-home, TV and even radio embracing digital means, the distinction is blurred to the extent it is meaningless.

“It may have meant something 15 years ago [when many processes were still analog], but it doesn’t really mean anything specific today. Digital technology infuses all of the marcom channels.”

The advent of digital technology, for distribution and attribution particular, have inspired new ways of thinking of campaigns.

“Now we can more easily track short-term effects. TV is increasingly becoming programmatic. You can track every click in PPC or sometimes from organic search and Google Webmaster Tools. But that’s a problem for marketers because it’s leading to many people. Focusing on short-term metrics.”

Clicks, shares, likes, views, comments, leads generated and sales near the bottom of the funnel have been given unprecedented weight.

“Few people are talking about top-of-mind awareness, brand sentiment or purchase intent, metrics that are not so easily trackable with digital technology. I would much rather get a focus group or hire a polling company to do a representative survey of people in the flesh and blood.”

He urges marketers not to become obsessed with the more trackable metrics at the bottom. “Digital technology is great for the bottom of the funnel but we still have to remember the importance of the top of the funnel.”

For further reading on this topic, he suggested the works of Binet and Field.

You can watch the full session here on The Drum’s dedicated Digital Transformation Festival microsite.

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