Digital marketing shifts coming out of AdTech 2014

adtech 2014

My friend Jonathan Barrick had the unique opportunity to cover the AdTech 2014 conference in New York City last week and collect digital trends, ideas, and opportunities from some of the biggest the companies in the business. He told me that there was a “distinct attitude shift about digital marketing” compared to other years and we are fortunate to have some of these observations today.

Many thanks to Jonathan, Claude Ricks and Krista LaRiviere of gShift for gathering these insights from the floor of AdTech for our community!

Blurring lines between channels

The lines we’ve previously drawn between owned, earned, and paid media are constantly getting blurrier. Each one is inextricably linked to the others, and if they are not aligned and working towards the same end then marketers are not maximizing their investments in content, social engagement, and paid efforts.

Content confusion

Marketers KNOW they need to be creating content, but they don’t know how to effectively inform the entire content marketing process. What methods and strategies should be deployed to gather and analyze the right data to determine WHAT content should be created, WHERE the content should be distributed, and HOW they should measure its performance.

Digital brand discovery strategies

Most brands haven’t wrapped their head around learning what questions their prospects are asking in order to find them, and how/where do they/should they answer those questions in their digital content. Understanding the sequence of events that their customers follow throughout the sales process and which questions apply to each stage is crucial to a strategic content plan.

If a brand has answered those questions, how are they actually measuring the uptake/engagement of their prospects on the content that has those answers? If a brand is not measuring the impact of content, how it affects a prospect throughout the cycle, and what stages of the cycle benefit from certain types of content, how can they ever expect to truly measure content performance?

The data and analytics gap

CMOs investing primarily in a content marketing to drive their overall paid, owned and earned digital efforts were shocked to learn about the importance of data in the overall content creation process. Content creation that takes place without timely, accurate data as its foundation results in a ‘dumb’ content strategy with minimal impact, engagement and sales conversions. ‘Smart’ content marketing makes use of information such as keyword data from current, relevant conversations in social media and competitive content intelligence from search.

Growing importance of content distribution

Marketers are missing the boat when it comes to content distribution. Investments are being made in content, however marketers are not being tactical, strategic and thoughtful enough about where and when to distribute content.

Writing a blog and publishing it solely to a website is short-sighted, and so is publishing solely into a brand’s own social channels. Seeking out the right influencers on the subject matter and publishing to industry verticals with the proper calls-to-action will elevate content engagement and performance. More time and resources are required on the distribution aspect of the content marketing workflow process if marketers want their content investments to pay off.


Overall, the main messages coming from ad executives were the need to more intelligently inform content marketing strategies, determine the best distribution channels for maximum impact, and identify the most effective measures of performance and ROI. Not only do marketers want better ways of creating smart content, but they also want better ways of distributing and better ways of measuring.

How do you envision these shifts will impact your business?

Disclosure: gShift is a sponsor of The Marketing Companion but I have not been compensated for this blog post. Illustration courtesy AdTech 2014.

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