…hear me RAWR.
In advertising there is a lot of misconceptions about what a Digital Campaign really is. But how did the digital campaign come to be and how is it evolving now? What does a digital campaign mean today? Find all the answers here.
As microsites continued to be used to launch targeted campaigns, the rise of social media started. Even though MySpace launched in 2003 it took a couple years until it really started to take off. By 2005 MySpace was an overwhelming success and even overtook Google at one point as the most visited site in the US. With the popularity of MySpace advertisers and brands woke up to social media and tried to capitalize on the massive amounts of traffic and users that were now involved in social media. The idea of the “social media campaign” started to circulate and specializations were created in agencies to try to understand this. However, by 2008 and 2009 Facebook overtook MySpace and rapidly grew to be #1 seeing MySpace take a huge plunge. With Facebook being the new King, again advertising agencies were left scrambling to understand and cash in on this new thing. Also around this time a microblogging company called Twitter launched itself into the spotlight. Despite having launched in 2006 it wasn’t until the latter part of 2007 and into 2008 that Twitter really exploded. 2007 also saw the monumental launch of the iPhone which defined a new era in mobile communications and mobile content. Apple’s iOS didn’t support Flash and by 2008 Flash’s monopoly began to wane, while open source technologies like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and other PHP based CMS systems started to rise in popularity. By 2009 when Apple launched the iPhone 3G the apps market and the capabilities of the phone has already started to explode, spawning an entirely new sector in rich applications and games.
With Facebook and Twitter redefining social media, we saw a rapid decline of Flash and Flash heavy websites. Open source technologies really became advanced and agencies as well as brands started to look toward these solutions more and more for their compatibility and ability to integrate new social media functions. As the browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari) all started to support these standards, heavy flash sites with their slow turnaround times began to give way to lighter, nimbler and more compatible websites. With Apple not supporting Flash, and the huge success of the iPhone, developers and technologists began to drive strategies around cross platform, cross device compatibility. Suddenly being compatible with everything and everyone became very important. Integration became the new buzzword in agencies doing digital campaigns. With the iPhone 4 and the iPad launch in 2010, mobile exploded and the first nail in the coffin of laptops was hammered in. Suddenly agencies now had multi-channels within digital to work with. They had websites, social media pages like Facebook, they had social games and apps, as well as mobile websites and mobile apps. The web still remained the central point in the digital campaign but now it was being fed from several different directions. Digital had now become so prevalent in a person’s life that a digital strategy could now hit them at various touch points throughout their daily life. Along with the strong establishment of social media and Twitter, Word of Mouth and Viral content became terms coined to depict an instant byproduct of a good (or bad) communication. By this time YouTube had not only become the #1 source of video content but it began to evolve into a social media content platform used by brands and agencies to push specific content and get feedback as well as become brand platforms.
A digital campaign itself is largely restricted to the available resources. Keep in mind that “digital” is actually a very broad term that encompass these main core areas: smart technology (such as LED billboards, household appliances, wired bus stop shelters, kiosks or vending machines), mobile devices (like iPhone, iPad), and web (like websites, rich internet apps (RIA), social media, online video). A digital campaign may involve all or one of these main core areas and several different media within each core area. But it all depends on how well established or evolved those technologies are in that country. Because the West has led most of the software and web based innovation, many Asian countries are emulating or localizing those technologies for their markets, but only those they feel are relevant. But the adoption rate of those new services and technologies are often hampered by economic factors and physical limitations. In some countries internet speeds limit the ability to communicate using web, but mobile is highly relevant so strategy should use mobile as the driving force and other types to support. So depending on where you’re at will dictate what kind of things you are able to do.
Some parts of our media spectrum are slow to become “smart” or digitized. Digital or LED billboards are still quite expensive and are not that widely used yet. TV’s still remain how they have been for 50 years, but new advancements in Smart TV’s will start to slowly change that. Print is still highly circulated due to the expense, time, and saturation of mobile smart devices like the iPad in other countries. As these devices become more widely used, we will see more and more print being moved to mobile devices. Basically as we see more and more static pieces of technology become “smart” (by smart i mean the ability to send & receive as well as show information) we will see the digital strategy to grow and include those as well. Video itself will not wane, and in fact will increase as more and more people start viewing video between their TVs and mobile devices. But the ability to track and interact with people becomes possible with TV ads and thus should become part of the strategy. But by that time there will be no “digital strategy” as the digital strategy will simply be “the strategy”.
Many global agencies in the west still remain largely siloed as creatives still remain divided by media capability, ATL or Digital. What we’re seeing however in other parts of the world, like Asia, where they are still developing in many areas, the adoption of new technologies is quicker and hence a closer integration of traditional and digital media is happening. The creatives in these offices will need to be able to work across traditional and digital much more. The agencies that have well integrated and well rounded creatives will quickly become leaders in those countries. On the flip side however, there are some Asian countries that still remain relatively new to digital, or are still skeptical about digital, and most media budgets are still allocated mainly TV and print. But with those countries it’s only a matter of time, and what i’m seeing is that a lot of those countries seem to be on the verge of exploding in one or several sectors.