It felt great to return to Technology for Marketing this year!
Our Senior Marketing Executive, Rowan, has attended Technology for Marketing in previous years and was excited to return to ExCeL London in 2023! TFM provides a valuable opportunity to keep up-to-date with the fast-changing industry of marketing, and showcases different MarTech providers to support our activities.
We were particularly excited for the ‘Future of Digital Marketing’ conference theatre! Here’s some of our highlights.
The Cookieless Future
The announcement that Google will phase out third-party cookies from mid-2024 has worried marketers globally. Having already seen this shift from both Apple and Mozilla, we are all having to consider longer term strategies to build internal data inventories.
This decision will have a significant impact on the digital advertising industry, with advertisers no longer able to track users across the web and serve highly targeted ads to them. The extensive targeting options we once had through platforms such as Google and Facebook are likely to be a lot more restricted in near the future.
An engaging panel discussion with Susan Raab (CDP Institute), Paul Brett (Flying Tiger Entertainment), and Biju Mukund (Unilever Plc) explored the concept of zero-party data as a solution. Zero-party data – data which is voluntarily shared with businesses by a user, holds no privacy concerns as it is shared willingly, and would provide businesses with specific information such as topic preferences. For those of us in the UK, the Tesco Clubcard is a great example; while we are aware that we’re sharing our purchase and preference data with Tesco, for most of us the chance to save up to £351 a year (reported by Tesco) is worth it.
Transparency and trust in data is key! Trust in data appears to be scarce in current society, potentially a result of recent big data scandals, such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018 where personal data was extracted from Facebook without legal consent. Unless we are offered something of value, we are unlikely to be willing to share our data. It was a shock to be in a room of marketers and be asked whether we automatically reject all cookies on a website, and the majority of the room said yes!
Marketing and Artificial Intelligence
An emerging area of concern in marketing remains the increased availability of generative AI. The general consensus is still a lack of trust in these tools, and concerns that they will be used to replace individuals.
Reiterated throughout TFM, AI does not yet have the capability to replace marketers. It cannot draft good content, it doesn’t have the human tone of voice, and it is very predictable. Across multiple sessions it was reinforced that AI should be used as an asset to improve productivity.
We really enjoyed the presentations from Stephanie Sosa (Airtable) and Heather Murray (BeeSting) on this. Stephanie explored the idea that AI should be flexible and fit into established marketing workflows. For example, using a campaign management tool that utilises existing data in order to speed up the campaign planning processes. The deliverable will still need to be tweaked, however the bulk of the work has been automatically produced to save hours of manual data input.
Heather Murray presented an amazing way to use ChatGPT and chain-of-thought prompting to help with LinkedIn. ChatGPT can help with identifying your audience and their pain points, suggesting content ideas, and post structure. However, writing the actual copy is still a task best undertaken by a marketer. This reinforces the idea that writing a LinkedIn strategy that may have taken 4 hours before, can be achieved in 1 hour, producing engaging, impactful content quickly.
The Rising Cost of a Website Session
Greg Landon from Leadoo left us all in shock with the following statistic: 98% of your website visitors leave without a conversion. We know the cost of a website session is increasing: digital advertising is becoming more expensive, and the number of sessions fewer and fewer. Some of the influencing factors are:
- Zero-click searches – it is estimated that around 25-70% of website searches end without a single click.
- AI – integration of AI with search engines is underway, and this may change the way we see and use search engines in the near future.
- Search ad competition – spend on search ads has doubled between 2017-2021, and is projected to double again reaching $435 billion in 2027.
- Cookieless future – far less targeting options will be available.
- Rising cost of backlinks – SEO suffering as the value of backlinks has been realised, you are unlikely to get backlinks for free.
The importance of optimising your website to encourage conversions cannot be understated.
The Role of Social Media
Finally, social media is playing an increasingly important role in the journey of the consumer. With $1.3 billion in sales estimated across social media channels in 2023, social media channels cannot be underestimated. On average, an individual will scroll the length of the Eiffel Tower on social media in a day, finding ways to break that scroll is critical.
Utilising social media throughout the customer journey is key to driving brand success and customer loyalty. For example, using social listening to monitor brand perception and sentiment which is increasingly important in this digital age.
In scholarly communications, some of the underutilised areas of social media are influencer marketing and trends. One of the keys to social media success is to engage with your audience on the platform, social media algorithms reward content that is not driving traffic away from their site (e.g., sending them to an author information page). Influencer marketing can be a solution. Gordon Glenister highlighted the importance of understanding your audience (even if it’s very niche) and identifying influential people to collaborate with to provide relevant, insightful content. Examples of collaborations include guest blogging, social media takeovers, research projects, product testing, and more. The importance of employee advocacy is also emphasised. Learn more about advocacy and influencer marketing in our ‘Brands Need Friends’ blog post.
Trends remain an area that is hard to utilise in scholarly communications, we often can’t just jump on TikTok doing a dance in the hopes that we’ll go viral! Sara McCorquodale (CORQ), explained how content trends may be a better approach, for example different video formats such as ‘get ready with me’ videos. These content trends tend to have a longer life cycle and are therefore a more realistic option for organisations with multiple layers of approval.
We’re really excited to put these learnings into action!