Do executives care about digital marketing?

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Despite digital and mobile being pervasive elements of our lives, they still seem lip serviced in most companies. Oftentimes they’re somewhere within the marketing silo, but usually don’t have the clout of the legacy products. We never really talk about this, of course, because almost every article about work now is about Silicon Valley, and that’s a digital-first place. At most companies, though, this is the real deal: legacy products are all anyone cares about. See, making money on digital is hard, change is also terrifying to people, and most people are ultimately judged on their ability to make money. So why wouldn’t you cling to what you know?

Just how much, though?

Boom goes this dynamite

From an article on HBR about companies lacking digital skills (not surprising):

Ten years ago the PwC survey found that emerging technology constituted 17% of a company’s digital technology budget. Jump ahead to 2017, and that same metric is just 18%. That’s a pretty minuscule shift, considering how rapidly the digital landscape is changing.

Ha. HA. LOL. ROFL. In a decade we’ve seen millions of new technologies, ad systems, digital marketing thought leadership, and all this other crap. How many people these days are selling you some “amazing digital marketing solution?” Thousands. But essentially, any emergent technology within digital is constituting about a 1% increase in spend over the last decade. OK then.

Why is this?

Many reasons, including:

  • People clinging to what they know (see above)
  • Not understanding what the emerging tech could do because it’s all a sales process and no one is discussing value
  • Legacy approaches like trade shows and print advertising have a more immediately palatable ROI to execs
  • At many companies, the people running digital are only loosely respected by those with the real authority
  • General deification of cost-cutting measures as a strategy
  • Executives tend to lip service most concepts at the end of the day (see also: employee engagement)

Can we fix this?

Easiest answer: The companies investing in tech and emergent tech now will ultimately outpace those who aren’t, meaning others will need to even more.

Harder answer: No, not until the current generation passing as leadership gets out of the way. That would have happened already, but thank you 2008 recession.

Hardest answer: So long as we keep hiring “crack digital marketing managers with a millennial background!” instead of thinking about what we actually need, no, none of this is going anywhere.

Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money:

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