Brands urged to use digital approach

Brands need to offer consumers increasingly innovative digital experiences when selling their products, according to a host of digital experts convening next week to discuss the state of the sector as digital advertising revenues drop.

‘People are not interested in marketing messages. Brands need to give out experiences as well as raise awareness,’ says Petri Lattu, strategic planner at Finnish digital consultancy FWD Helsinki.

Lattu wants to ‘evangelise’ the importance to companies and consultancies of ‘behaving like their customers’, and advocates technology to play a role in this.

He suggests that via trans-media storytelling across different digital channels, people can be given fragments of content that lead them into other channels, in much the same way as peer recommendations on social networking sites.

This is one of the issues that will be discussed at Elmwood Design’s Digital Picnic, a series of workshops and talks that will take place at the group’s offices in Melbourne, London, Leeds and Edinburgh.

The peer recommendation business model was used by digital branding group Matmi in its campaigns for Children in Need and singer Lily Allen.

Jeff Coghlan, chief executive of Matmi, calls the model ‘brand entertainment’. In the Allen campaign, a computer game – Escape The Fear – was used to promote her single The Fear. Links were shared among fans on social networking sites and traffic was driven to sites that host the game.

‘Kids aren’t watching television or using the radio. They’re just using the Internet,’ Coghlan says, suggesting a correlation between Allen’s chart success and the global popularity of the game.

Played for an average time of 4.37 minutes, a minute longer than the single, the game has received more than one million plays per month in more than 70 countries.

‘Websites aren’t brochures any more. Companies need to think about how people can engage with their brand and give them something to take away,’ says Coghlan.

Another of the key issues to be raised at Digital Picnic is the decline of television advertising and digital advertising on traditional computer platforms.

Coghlan says that television is losing its audience, and that ‘even the computer as we know it will soon be redundant’ as digital initiatives move over to hand-held devices. His talk will focus on how to reach this audience and think globally.

‘These people will now have a platform to talk about their own ways of working and the digital innovation they have come across,’ says Simon Robson, group digital director at Elmwood Design.

Videos of the talks will be streamed live from the Digital Picnic on digitalpicnic, and will be made available after the event.

Digital Picnic Diary

• New York – 4 May

• Melbourne – 5 May

• London – 6 May

• Leeds – 7 May

• Edinburgh – 8 May

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