Is digital interactivity changing marketing

When I was first introduced to social media marketing, I felt like I’ve been blown away, not only by the tons of different opportunities that it will bring to marketers, but mainly by the fact that it appeared to me truly revolutionary in comparison of old-style direct marketing approach. What I found innovative was the possibility to interact with the consumers. But, as I was reading on social media marketing, I’ve realised that the digital interactivity has brought, until recently, everything except what we were expecting. Then I started wonder why all of the digital progress hasn’t mutated the whole perspective of marketing.

While surfing the net in order to get further information, I went through a paper published few weeks ago by the Harvard Business School on digital marketing. The authors (Deighton and Kornfeld) base their analysis on the identification of five discrete roles for interactive technology in contemporary life, and five ways that firms interpose themselves into these lives in response. The article revealed that not only marketing firms have failed to exploit digital technology but they sometimes directly compete with social medias, pursuing their marketing goals instead of using them.

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The authors state five emerging marketing paradigms (thought tracing, ubiquitous connectivity, property exchanges, social exchanges and cultural exchanges) in addition of the broadcast paradigm and the direct paradigm that have traditionally interested marketers. Even if I find the study very interesting I can’t agree with Deighton and Kornfeld, feeling that these paradigms were always part of the marketing. The thought tracing paradigm looks probably more obvious since a whole searche engine market has emerged from people searching via Google and Yahoo, but remember that we use to rely on focus groups and interviews to find out what people were thinking in their purchasing process. We also use to have communities in the non-digital wolrd (societies, clubs, assocications,…) as well as people were participating in anonymous exchanges of good and services. I find that all of these paradigms were as important before as they are today, but not enough considered into traditional marketing strategy.

I finally came with the idea that marketing, even if firms failed to embrace the digital interactivity, hasn’t changed that much from its theoretical basses. In fact, it has been a matter of interact with consumers and then positioning itself regarding the received feedback. The main difference nowadays is more about the speed of this interaction. When the process of distributing a good, service or idea, use to take months, it could easily be done in days see hours in 2007. While the branding process took years, it could now take minutes. This whole concept of speediness is not only a consequence of the quickness and efficiency of the digital technology but it is also supported by what historians call change acceleration. Hopefully if we, as marketers, will have to have better reflexes, we will also gain as much information as we are willing to consider. So be prepared to communicate and interact !

To read :Digital interactivity : Unanticipated Consequences for Markets, Marketing, and Consumers, by John A. Deighton and Leora Kornfeld

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