Home News Opinion: COVID-19 Will See the End of Digital. Here’s Why.

Opinion: COVID-19 Will See the End of Digital. Here’s Why.

As societies lurch into this new epoch, digital marketing will be gone, but replaced by a different industry term defined by the ‘new’ normal, writes Geoff Barker, head of digital creative at TBWA\Dublin.

By the time this crisis is over our industry will have lost many things. Clients could stop operating, agencies may go under, revenue will go down, some employees will inevitably lose jobs.

But another less obvious casualty will be digital marketing.

We’ve seen the world economy rocked and global structures questioned and yet the picture is still very unclear of what is yet to come.

What is clear is that innovation has been a cornerstone in all of our efforts to keep humanity safe. So many of the solutions we now rely on in just about every area of our lives are provided by digital innovation companies.

So, while we see stocks in so many digital first companies like Amazon, Netflix, Zoom, Apple, Google, Adobe and Microsoft, surging during the crisis, you’re probably wondering why an ad man like me – with a ‘digital’ title – thinks that digital marketing would disappear?

Surely that’s career suicide?

According to Google’s most recent research, 77% of people surveyed think ads should address how a brand can be helpful in the ‘new’ normal.

We also know from our own qualitative research in TBWA\Dublin that there are very clear ways brands should be engaging with consumers at this moment too:

1) Make sure your content or channel innovation actually provides a valued or valuable service.

2) Appreciate that digital must enable and not distract from authentic connection.

3) Discipline your content along lines of usefulness both practically and emotionally.

With these fresh audience insights in mind, let’s take look at ways that our industry has already been developing in this space recently.

Content along lines of usefulness is now ever-present among brands in Ireland today. Social Media has thrust countless brands into the content space. Easy, one-handed cocktails from Jameson, convenient mid-week recipes from SuperValu and entertaining and informative campaigns such as ‘Love Dairy and it loves you back’ from the Dairy council. Just a handful of Irish brands living the old adage that content is king.

Last year saw Three Mobile’s connected restaurant campaign bringing families together at Christmas. Separated by distance and circumstances, the family members were brought together over a virtual Christmas dinner table. Such a familiar and important experience was made possible with technology that was truly enabling, not distracting from authentic connections.

TBWA\Dublin worked as part of a wider team with Jameson to launch a valued or valuable service to consumers here in Ireland. Jameson Connects puts hidden technology into all bottles of Jameson original, allowing consumers to access a brand-new channel of exclusive benefits through tapping the cap with their phone. Bringing together a complex system of NFC technology, CRM systems, content management, UX and IT, Jameson defined a new way to engage modern whiskey drinkers that’s all about adding value

We see insurance companies like LAYA, diversifying and innovating with customer health services such as GP Live, allowing members to access consultations direct from their phones.

So, with all that in mind, how will digital marketing be a thing of the past in the post-pandemic world? As we see changing behaviours and attitudes towards technology and online services, the last barriers of digital acceptance and adoption are breaking down.

We’ve seen online food shopping become an essential service. Social media has become a mass, live broadcasting channel. Online video conferencing is connecting almost every part of society from babies to business to boomers. The world has been forced into a mature, mass adoption phase of digital technologies and thus a mature digital marketing environment. As societies lurch into this new epoch, digital marketing will be gone, but replaced by a different industry term defined by the ‘new’ normal.

That term will simply be… marketing.

As TBWA\Dublin moves to a more human centred and holistic approach to solving our clients’ problems, we are constantly developing our capabilities and processes to include new ways of thinking about audiences – where and how they consume, their needs and  what they trust. Working with the intersections of marketing with data, technology, utility, entertainment and engagement is already our new normal.

Because the businesses that can make meaningful organisational change in these areas will be the success stories of our new epoch. Brands that adapt to the ‘new’ normal will emerge out of these difficult and uncertain times, stronger and more equipped to engage ever more savvy, digitally mature audiences.

Geoff Barker is Head of digital creative at TBWA\Dublin


Previous articleLidl Partners With RollerCoaster.ie & Aoibhin Garrihy to Promote LupiLu Range
Next articleNow Near Next: The Latest Views from the OOH World