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The Digital Identity Crisis and the Rise of the Super (Digital) Brand

Last night I went to the presentation of the PRCA’s Digital PR Report 2013 and the findings were interesting.

Here’s a quick insight:

70% of brands use social media as a customer service platform

46% of organisations spend between 1 and 10% of their budgets on social media/digital

60% of agencies predict that revenue from digital will increase in the next 12 months

Most money in ‘digital’ is spent on: web design and build, monitoring, SEO and content creation

The biggest agency demands are: content creation, influencer outreach, strategy and community management

I’m sure we’d all agree that these are interesting findings, but what the session really started to bring to light is the ‘digital identity crisis’; who ‘owns’ digital and which department looks after it in brand organisations?

This was a key element to the panel discussion after the presentation. The problem, it seems, is that people aren't quite sure what ‘digital’ covers and therefore, no one person/department can ‘own’ it. So instead people are doing their own ‘bits’ in their own ways…so it never links and fits together.

Before digital activity became such a key element of comms, things were relatively clear. Everyone rubbed happily along together knowing their place in the BTL/ATL ecosystem.

The problem/opportunity for brands now is that digital has started to combine all of these elements together into one big melting pot: content creation, web design, SEO, online ads, PPC, are all becoming part of one big integrated strategy…which we can track, monitor and evolve in real time. Fantastic!

The panel discussion evolved to discuss this and refreshingly moved towards a more collaborative approach. Specifically, David Gallagher CEO of Ketchum, outlined the PESO model, highlighting that previously paid media would generate the most traction with customers while earned, shared and owned would be used to shine a spotlight on this.

The prevalence of digital now means we’re seeing earned media becoming the most popular, resonating with consumers sometimes far beyond the paid or owned. Hence the supposition that we’re seeing a shift towards earned media taking centre stage and paid media shining the proverbial spotlight on elements of this.

In fact, we've already started to see this with brands like Ben and Jerry’s asking fans to name its latest ice cream and most recently Dunkin’ Donuts using its top Twitter fans in its advert.

There’s no doubt that digital media has brought about a change in the way we behave as consumers and as marketers. The reality is that the lines between ATL and BTL have now become a bit more blurred.

There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s a huge opportunity for brands who understand this to have a massive impact and see significant results.

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