Digital Marketing Requires Fusion of Technology, Creative Vision

By Eric Lundquist

I looked into the future of marketing, and here are the two tasks you need to do right now. Take your techie down to the art museum. Send your leading creative professional to programming school.

After spending a day at a triple-header digital marketing conference in Boston—Inbound Marketing Summit, Digital Pulse and FutureM—the need to converge the creative and technical marketing teams was a consistent theme.

The theme was most forcefully presented by Ray Velez, the global CTO of Razorfish. Velez, who has recently published the appropriately named book "Converge," told the IMS audience in his keynote, "Creativity, technology and media is the new brand experience." Velez expands on this theme in his book's forward, where he states, "Marketing and IT must 'converge' in order to create rich, technologically enabled digital experiences that engage, delight and serve the consumer."

This mandate is driven by fundamental shifts in the digital marketplace, where Twitter, Facebook and social networks have driven out traditional top-down marketing techniques. Velez described past marketing practices such as building funnels to create and nurture sales leads as a "myth." "You are no longer in the business of selling, you are in the business of filling the consumer need," he said.

The speed required to adjust to market conditions and the need to create engaging consumer experiences very different from traditional static advertising are forcing a breakdown of traditional "siloed" operations between creative and IT professionals. The ability to apply big data analysis can drive change, but creative and design executives are needed to understand the data and make brand adjustments.

Velez's comments were echoed at the FutureM conference down the hall in the Boston Hynes conference center by Aman Govil, head of the advertising arts team at Google. "I accidently fell into marketing," said Govil, an engineer by education. He described his current projects as a "fusion of technology and creativity."

The most visible of the Google advertising efforts center around the company's Project Re-Brief. In that project, Google took four of the most iconic ads in advertising history (Coca-Cola, Volvo, Alka-Seltzer and Avis), brought in creative teams from the original ads and reimagined those ads for the digital world.

Govil described the process as art, copy and code. Then the company created a Website to illustrate the concept of taking creative ideas, injecting technology and then rapidly reiterating the process until something new that meshes creativity and technology surfaces. Govil described the process as requiring a "creative technologist" and mentioned "everyone is hiring them."

Moviemaking remains the highest stakes storytelling format around, and the Inbound Marketing Summit brought in Lee Daniels—director of critically acclaimed films "The Butler" and "Precious"—to discuss the creative process for the IMS audience.

"I make movies for me, I never make movies for the masses," Daniels told the audience. In a frank discussion of his troubled childhood and string of setbacks before finding success, Daniels emphasized the need to stick to your creative vision rather than try to appease others.

"The only ego you need are the words and the story you are trying to tell—and the truth," said Daniels. He also described himself as a bit of a perfectionist and someone who had to be kicked out of the editing room in order to ship a movie.

Daniels' message resonated with the marketers in the audience who knew the difficulty of getting a creative idea approved without the concept being filtered into an unrecognizable mess by a committee or senior managers preferring safe, conformist campaigns based on competitors' marketing campaigns.

In truth, the merger of creativity and technology requires more than a trip to the art museum or a one-day coding class, but at least it is a start.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.


This article was originally published on 2013-10-17