Digital marketing’s official starting point is a matter of debate. Some go back to the mid ‘80s. Some point to the early to mid ‘90s. For the purposes of this post, let’s go with 1994. That’s when one of the first banner ads (for AT&T) launched on Hotwired.com, the then-just-launched online version of Wired magazine. Somewhat astonishingly, forty-four percent of the people who saw the ad clicked on it!
Sometimes, the world changes in ways that obsolete everything that came before. Though most people in 1994 were not yet aware, the world was changing in just such a way.
Digital transformation – the rise of the internet and digital technology, and the way people, society and businesses are still morphing in response – has been perhaps the most profound change in our lifetimes. Yet, 25 years since its beginning, digital transformation (and digital marketing transformation) is still only in its infancy.
To wit, IDC says businesses will spend $1.25 trillion on digital transformation technology and services in 2019, climbing to $2 trillion in 2022. WARC says $52 billion will be invested in digital marketing technologies in North America and the UK alone this year.
The hard fact is, when it comes to digital marketing transformation, most organizations have barely scratched the surface. There are many reasons why: the complexities of technology, organizational structure and requisite skill sets; the extent of foundational shift in how people work and collaborate; failure to adequately align technology with business goals; the quality of an organization’s data; and the most human of inhibitors - resistance to change.
Yet, the need for and urgency around transformation is intense. Stein IAS has just completed a global study of senior B2B marketers that strongly demonstrates that urgency. Of the 450 marketers we surveyed, 82% state that digital marketing transformation is important/very important in their prioritized scheme of things. For marketers at larger enterprises ($1 billion in annual revenue or greater), the percentage jumps to 91%.
My point being, 25 years since digital marketing hit mainstream marketers’ radar, we’re still relatively in the early days. Said another way, there’s a whole lot of transforming yet to be done.
I’ll be posting more about our study and this subject in the weeks ahead. For the time being, I invite you to read the latest chapter of our forthcoming book, “Paradox: Feeling Machines and the Rise of Post-Modern Marketing.”
The chapter is titled Digital Marketing Transformation: Post-Modern Marketing’s Endgame. Importantly, it introduces a Digital Marketing Transformation Framework (DMTF) we’ve developed to help marketers create digital transformation plans uniquely suited to their own organizations’ needs, objectives and aspirations.
In the decades since AT&T launched its pioneering digital display ad into the unknown and unknowable, brands continue to transition through the constantly changing digital- and tech-enabled landscape, mastering Modern Marketing technologies and combining them with emotionally driven, Post-Modern creative and content experiences. Our DMTF is intended to help connect all the necessary digital marketing transformation dots…to connect strategy to creativity to content to marketing technologies to processes and frameworks. Please, check it out!
I believe that marketing organizations with the will and rigor to navigate digital transformation will increasingly leave the rest behind. While there’s still a long road to travel, the destination surely is worth the journey.