Scottish Marketing Association on the digital future

Mark GormanStewart writes: To Denholm Associates in Leith, courtesy of the Scottish Marketing Association, there to scoff and quaff free food and wine. After a while its chairman Mark Gorman was good enough to point out that I was there to take part in a discussion on the future of digital marketing and not to break gluttony records. (I would like to take this opportunity to thank the security staff for being so restrained in removing me from the crisp bowl.)

The panel, Mike Coulter, Eliza Dashwood, Scott Howard and me, were led by John Campbell up a spiral staircase to the lurking audience as the theme from Rocky blared out from loudspeakers. (Might have been the music from Question Time but I’m not sure, having been mixing my own brand “Leith rosé” from the drinks cabinet.)

The standard of debate was very high and I think the audience of 30 marketing types were interested, judging by the fact that the stayed put instead of stampeding for the exit.

Needless to say, I emphasised the centrality of online content to the future of marketing. Aside from a lively debate about whether what was happening online now was the biggest upheaval we’d ever see, the panel agreed on some key points:

  • Digital agencies need to give better service to clients, learning from their “offline” antecedents.
  • The agencies of the future need to be nimble so they can, in Mike’s memorable phrase, “dance on the waterbed” that is the changing landscape.
  • The barriers between marketing, advertising, PR and SEO are shifting.
  • Analysis and measurability are key, especially in these straitened times.
  • Content is crucial (yay!).
  • The users are in charge in a way we’ve never seen before.
  • The iPhone means incredible things for the mobile market.

We all agreed that that last point is an entire discussion on its own.

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Why the iPhone will change the world

iPhoneWe are now even more convinced the iPhone will change the world.

This is not because we have been seduced by its good looks and supereasy user interface- though we have.

Nor is it because of the recent unveiling of the 3G iPhone. It was an expensive flawed device before its new features were announced. After them it will be a slightly less flawed, slightly less expensive device.

But we were never wowed by the iPhone because of its technology. We predicted that it would change mobile because of Apple’s marketing clout and the effect that would have on Apple’s competitors. If you disagree, try to remember how many people owned MP3 players pre the iPod.

What’s got us buzzing now is the news that the iPhone is changing how users behave.

According to no less a source than Google, 50 times more search requests come from Apple iPhones than any other mobile handset.

If other mobiles also make web access a common feature (and they are), Vic Gundotra, head of Google’s mobile operations, believes the number of mobile searches could soon be greater than the number of web searches.

User behaviour is changing again. We had Web 2.0, now mobile becomes a major platform. Search will be a major driver. And search engine optimisation is moving towards “natural search”, ie looking at the words on the page.

Is your content ready. Would you like it to be?