Digital Summit Spawns Actionable Ideas

Last week marked the sixth anniversary of TNS Media and Compete’s Digital CMO Summit and, despite the economic gloominess, attendees’ outlook for digital marketing was quite bright. One hundred and fifty senior executives from top brands, agencies and media companies gathered in Newport, R.I. for two and a half days of presentations, knowledge-sharing and extensive networking. The event spawned new ideas about the future of marketing, some forward-looking and many instantly actionable. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are my top five takeaways from the event:

1. There’s a new frontier where neuroscience meets online media. (Julie Anixter, Buyology Inc.)

A new class of research, led by marketing guru Martin Linstrom, uses brain imaging to show that what consumers think is equally important to what they say and do. Unfortunately, classic research techniques rely on self-reported behaviors via surveys, when in fact, most consumer decision-making is non-conscious. By linking research on non-conscious behavior to buying behavior, advertisers can get better insights into their audiences and what programs and messaging stimulates their thinking.

2. Base decisions on data, but don’t substitute data for knowledge. (Brian Lesser, 24/7 Real Media)

With new audience measurement and Web analytics data, marketers have never had so much information at their disposal. However, data can easily lead to a state of information paralysis. To combat this, make sure your analytics tools are focused on generating actionable consumer onsight, instead of just creating more reports. Train all levels of the organization to look for small insights first, then develop hypotheses and take an iterative approach to optimization.

3. Better creative will help online get beyond direct-response thinking. (Randy Rothenberg, IAB)

Anyone who thinks that the future of online media rests on click-through rates is a nincompoop. The beauty of internet advertising is that it is more measurable compared to other media. But that’s also its curse; in their zeal to prove ROI, many advertisers, agencies and publishers have reduced advertising effectiveness to a spreadsheet — and are designing campaigns to achieve narrow and shortsighted numeric goals. This reinforces the myth that the Web is best used as a direct-response and not a branding medium. Great creative will pave the way for a more holistic view of the Web.

Want to see what the last two takeaways from this notable event were? Check out Compete’s monthly post on MediaPost. And be sure to check out the Digital 180 channel to watch interviews with Summit attendees as they share their insights.