Another year, another Future of Digital Marketing completed, and after 17 talks, some great soundbites and a few well deserved Coronas, we are ‘back from the future’. As tradition dictates, after the event, comes the round-up!  In this post, I will be giving my key take-aways and notes from the day, and credit goes to all of the speakers and to Econsultancy for putting on a great show.


There was a lot of time dedicated to conversation about robots, bots and computers, and their place in our future.

It’s a hotly debated topic; what role should technology play, is it a supporter or a detractor of marketing, and is it a blessing or is it a concern to us humans?

The underlying opinion is that technology must be embraced, or you risk being left behind, but it should be used to enhance your teams, and not replace them.  Technology can dramatically increase the power available to your marketing teams, while also being more efficient in completing routine processes.

“People need to become more human and not more intelligent, machines will always be more intelligent, but can never be more human” – Gerd Leonhard

The conclusion – Embrace technology, don’t become it. ‘Team Human’ is the future of marketing! (Phew…)



Another interesting, bot/technology based area of discussion, was around whether in the future there will be times when talking to a bot would be more appropriate.

A slightly controversial point raised was ‘Would you trust a computer over a human?’. There are already lots of examples in society when people believe a computer over humans, trying to identify if a human is lying is an obvious one.  Would a computer/bot be more suited to certain tasks as they are incapable of manipulation and lying?

Another questions asked ‘Would you rather phone a human call centre or a computer to fix an issue’.  There are already examples of automated systems being more efficient at fixing the issue rather than being left on hold for an hour.  Although I accept that there are a lot of frustrating automated systems currently, too!

An interesting area of debate, are bots/computers better suited to some process and actions than humans already?  In the future might we actually want to turn to a bot/computer to help us complete a task instead of a human?



Mobile first, I am sure you will have heard it being said many times of late.  With mobile traffic overtaking desktop traffic, your marketing strategies need to be ‘mobile-first’, your website needs to be ‘mobile-first’, in fact everything just needs to be ‘mobile-first’.

Well interestingly, Gerd Leonhard also discussed about how businesses need to be AI, or more tellingly IA (Intelligence Amplification) first.  Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai’s, has been discussing how he feels people are going to ‘move from mobile-first to an AI first world’.

What he means is, people are going to be less concerned about the ‘device’ and the device may fade away altogether.  Instead they are going to be interested in having an intelligent assistant to help us through our day, regardless of what form it may come in.

We may be a long way away from a device-less world, but it does help emphasise the importance of having useful content, tools and assets, so they can assist the user in an intelligent manor.



Keeping with the theme of ‘futuristic’ topics, a very interesting, and potentially alarming situation was discussed, again by Gerd Leonhard! – What effect on society may Virtual Reality have, once it becomes more commonly accessible, if it’s actually better than real life?

An example being, if you are a surgeon that uses virtual reality to learn and practise challenging operations, and then in real life are restricted to the less challenging, and less interesting operations.

Could the increased exposure to a virtu-real world increase consumers expectations of what is real, and in turn how will this affect how products are marketed and sold?  Also if increasing time is spent in a virtu-real world, does this create a new world for products to be marketed and sold?



Moving to a less ‘futuristic’ topic area, but one that’s very relevant today, personalisation, and how you should be embracing it.

Lisa Wood, CMO at Atom Bank, talked in detail about their experiences of personalisation and how Atom Bank personalise, with some real interesting areas considered.

It was however three comments that resonated with me, which I think are great soundbites for the talk, and ones that everyone should embrace when looking to market, but also to personalise.

  • ‘Every time your customers interact with your brand it should make you smile.’
  • ‘You need to build an uncomplicated customer experience before you can start to personalise.’
  • ‘One size for personalisation does not fit all, you need to celebrate the individualisation of everyone.’ (and we have a Silverbean workbook to help you do just this, coming very soon!

These thoughts were echoed by Russell Loarridge, VP EMEA at Janrain, when he stated that ‘Almost half your database will abandon your brand with just two mis-targeted communications’, meaning that marketers need to get first person data about customers before they can start to personalise, as identity drives personality.



My final key round-up from the day goes to Nic Newman, Editor and Lead Author of Reuters Institute Digital Report, who discussed the challenge (and opportunity) social video is presenting the news industry as a whole.

The downturn of print based news due to the internet is well documented and well-known, but what is less well-known is the affect it is also having on television, and in particular the format people are accessing their news information.

We all know the consumer has never had some much power (and choice) and they are starting to choose to consume their news based content online, which is not only affecting traditional print media, but equally TV.

This is emphasised with 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44 age groups all claiming online was their main source of news.  With only 12% of 18-24 year olds saying the TV was their main source, which is lower than social media, with 20% of people saying this their main source.

Nic also went on to stress the importance of embracing social networks when creating and distributing video, but video of the future needs to be adaptive, so it needs to be shot in a way that looks great on a variety of screen sizes and channels.

He also gave some great advice on what makes a successful social video, the videos should be:

  • Short, less than 1 minute: Although highly engaging videos can be longer and perform well, keep it succinct when you can.
  • Overlaid with text: Videos that have text overlaid onto the video for those without sound perform better than those relying on users to have sound activated.
  • Attention grabbing: A no-brainer! People scroll quickly and amidst lots of distractions, so the video (or caption) needs to be snappy and grab the users’ attention in the first 3 seconds.
  • Drive emotion: For a video to be shared to reach wider audiences, it needs to drive some form of emotion. That can be any emotion from happiness, to sadness even to anger, but it needs to connect emotionally.

A great, practical note to end this year’s round-up on, don’t you agree? I hope like me, you are excited to take some of the questions and topics discussed on Tuesday and see how they can influence your marketing strategies.

The final note, like the opening one, is to congratulate the speakers, the hosts and Econsultancy on another great event, and I look forward to doing it all again next year.