How Digital Marketing is Marketing in a Digital Era

Consumer behavior has changed wildly in recent years. People have become digital junkies who voraciously devour information they find interesting – but systematically filter out everything that isn’t germane to them. Consumers literally crave information from companies they’re interested in and are willing to give up a considerable amount of privacy in exchange for content that’s personalized for them.

Digital Marketing or Marketing in a Digital Era?

Marketers need to think about marketing in this Digital Era, rather than thinking about digital marketing separately.

Consumers’ attention is extremely valuable and has become a currency in this “always on” world where people are continually connected via computers, mobile tablets and ever-present smartphones.

Companies must deliver information that’s highly relevant to the consumer – the information they quite literally crave from brands they’re loyal to – because while they instantly tune out irrelevant information, they want all the information they can get about things they’re interested in and are passionate about.

Return on Engagement

Companies must engage consumers in dialogues that lead to meaningful relationships because it leads to return on engagement.

This can’t be emphasized strongly enough.

Before the advent of numerous marketing technologies, marketers relied on broad, generalized content based primarily on customer demographics. And communication was a one-way street – from companies’ megaphones – to consumers.

Consumers no longer tolerate contrived messages meant for mass audiences. Today, they want information to be specifically tailored to them. They also expect to be heard from and responded to in a timely fashion, which enables companies to gain the insight required to better understand consumers’ wants and needs on an individual basis.

Consumers also expect the information they want, when they want it and where they want it, which means marketing needs to deliver the pertinent information across multiple platforms.

Having this level of insight also enables marketers to deliver content germane to individuals based on where they are in the decision-making process during their customer journey.

People Are People

The brisk adoption of digital by consumers has changed their behavior and given them control over how they consume information. Naturally, people aren’t digital – they’re people – and they exist “offline” In Real Life (IRL).

People don’t enjoy their morning cup of coffee online.

Parents don’t feed their children online.

Children don’t cuddle with their puppies online.

They still readily purchase products and services and do the things they already did – shopping, doing their personal banking, looking for the best mortgage rates, etc. It’s just that consumers transact with companies differently than they once did prior to The Digital Era.

Multiple Channels Includes IRL

Consumers are loyal to brands that provide unique, exceptional customer experiences, and the lines where these experiences take place are blurred between online and offline.

Since the steps, consumers take during their decision journeys while making evaluations and purchases frequently include experiences that take place both digitally and IRL, thinking about digital marketing on a standalone basis costs companies opportunities – and those opportunity costs can be quite substantial.

Companies need to look at individual consumers holistically and market to them as such – people who “live offline” and are immersed in online activities.

Post Submitted by Stephen Monaco

Stephen Monaco is a forward-thinking marketing strategist and consultant who serves as a trusted advisor to companies of all sizes. Monaco has over 25 years of executive-level experience and is internationally recognized as a digital marketing pioneer for being one of the first to engage consumers directly via online communities – six years before the web browser was invented. Buy Stephen’s book Insightful Knowledge: An Enlightened View of Social Media Strategy over at

A Content Marketing Love Letter


Almost eight years ago to the day was one of the worst days of my life.

The business I had started 2.5 years earlier was on its last leg. It wasn’t just that we weren’t making money, but we were losing enough money that I started to question whether our family would have enough to pay certain bills.

The downtrend was apparent, but on this day … nail met coffin.

This was the day that one of our biggest clients, the one we delivered our best results to and was the most revered of all our case studies, decided not to renew our service (we provided qualified leads for content agencies).

I called the client, received the “official” word, and hung up the phone. In a daze, I walked out of my home office, and then wandered outside and into the yard.

I can’t remember how long I was back there … it could have been five minutes or five hours. I could hear my two boys (then 8 and 6) laughing from inside the house. I think they had just come home from school.

What would I do? What would we do?

It’s a strange feeling when you feel deeply sorry for yourself. Maybe you’ve felt it before … failure that rolls onto you like the ocean waves. Slowly, it overtakes you.

Looking back on it now, it all seems so silly. I mean, this is the definition of a first-world problem. Sure, it wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t the end of the world … except that’s exactly what it felt like.

I guessed I’d just go back and get a “real” job, which was fine except for the fact that I was unmanageable. I left an executive position 2.5 years earlier, put the shingle out, and vowed I’d never do it again. And here I was, considering going back to the corporate world.

A few days went by. I promised myself I wouldn’t make any decisions while in an emotional state.

That week I received an email from one of our blog subscribers. She worked at a fairly large B2B company. She said she absolutely loved the blog and felt like she found her calling around content marketing. She’d been doing content marketing for years but called it something else. She was glad there was a name for it now. Regardless, she wanted to implement a strategy and process in her company, and wanted to know if I could help.

“That’s nice,” I thought … a consulting gig would help.

Then, for whatever reason, I started going through all the emails I’d received from subscribers over the years. The content marketing blog I started in April 2007 was really taking off, and the audience was anything but shy.

And there it was … email after email, the audience telling me what they would buy. While I was so busy trying to perfect a failing product, the answers were right in front of me.

“Joe, our marketing department needs ongoing content marketing training. Does anyone do that?”

“Joe, why isn’t there a content marketing conference? I’d like to meet people who are going through the same challenges that I am.”

“Joe, is there any benchmark research on how marketers are using and succeeding with content marketing? I need to get buy-in from my boss.”

“I like AdAge and B2B magazine, but they never talk about content creation and distribution issues. Are there any media companies that focus on this? If so, I’d like to subscribe my team.”

The proverbial lightbulb had been switched to the “on” position.

Birth of Content Marketing Institute

Next to my computer was a cocktail napkin (I still can’t recall why). On that napkin, I wrote something to the effect of this:

In three years, we will run the leading online destination for content marketing, the leading content marketing magazine, and the largest content marketing event on the planet.

Just over six months later, in May 2010, Content Marketing Institute was born. The concept took off immediately. People came to the site. Social sharing was off the hook. It was hard to believe it was working.

Michele Linn bought into the vision and took over editorial. Robert Rose, always open to a disruptive idea, assisted with the vision and agreed to run consulting and training. Pam Kozelka, my wife and co-founder of CMI, took over all the operations so I could sell, speak, scale, and write. Joseph Kalinowski brought his design chops.

Chief Content Officer (CCO) magazine launched in January 2011. Clare McDermott, who for whatever reason agreed to edit the magazine, took charge of the brand with Angela Vannucci who became the project director.

I called Kelley Whetsell, event director extraordinaire, and explained to her the vision for Content Marketing…

This Week in Content Marketing: Marketing Associations to Blame Publishers for Allowing Bad Ads


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher. If you enjoy our show, we would love it if you would rate it or post a review on iTunes.

In this week’s episode

This week, Robert ponders how we compare ourselves to others. In the news, we talk about a new initiative from three marketing associations that puts the blame for bad online advertising directly on the shoulders of publishers. We also discuss media companies’ rankings for brand loyalty – though these aren’t the media companies you’re looking for. Our rants and raves include Nielsen’s bid at measuring Netflix, and what we can learn from one-hit wonders; then we wrap up with an example of the week on the “Gary Vaynerchuk” of sustainable farming.

Show details

  • (00:01): An advertising blast from the past: “Gotta Be Pepsi Now!”
  • (00:30): Robert muses on this week’s theme: How do you compare?
  • (05:45): Welcome to Episode 206: Recorded live on October 23, 2017 (Running time: 1:05:58)
  • (11:38): Content Marketing Master Classes – Our multi-city tour is returning for another round of in-depth content marketing training. Starting on November 6, we’ll be making stops in Boston; New York; Washington, DC; Seattle; San Francisco; Chicago; Atlanta; and Austin, Texas. Robert and I would love to see you there, so register today.

The quick hits – Notable news and trends

The deep dive – Industry analysis


What Brands Can Learn From A World Famous Architect

A world famous architect can teach brands a thing or two. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

This piece was coauthored with Sidney Evans, brand strategist and contributor to Branding Magazine.

One of the greatest drivers of angst and motivation for brands and people is how relevant they can remain to each other over a period of time. No one understands this better than architect and designer David Rockwell, founder and President of Rockwell Group, a 250-person award winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice based in New York.

In addition to being an architect and designer, Rockwell is also an author penning 2014’s aptly titled, What If – a retrospective of the award-winning designer’s work spanning over three decades. “It was a chance to look a little in the rearview mirror and think about both what we have done to get to the position we are in now and how to go forward.”

Impressive and Imaginative

For over three decades, Rockwell Group has designed some of the most impressive and imaginative spaces collaborating with some of the biggest names around the globe. The wisdom accumulated from the breadth of Rockwell’s three decades of work should serve as master class for how brands can stay relevant.

The eternal optimist Rockwell approaches every day as a new chance to dream, create, and win. He is very much the conductor of a well-heeled orchestra ensuring that every instrument is being played pitch perfect. His early, deeply engaging experiences helped shape his view of light; and the quality of it as a dominant part of the way he thought about the world.

He believes that all good designs start by fully understanding the problem – lesson 101 for savvy brands. Forward-thinking brands do more than solve problems, they add to the equation, challenge the status quo and reimagine norms. For Rockwell, simply solving the problem is not enough – there is a direct correlation to the longevity of a brand and their value-add.

One of the norms he and his team…

As Alcohol Ads Sprawl Elsewhere, New York Buses and Trains Go Dry

An ad for Svedka vodka on the entrance to a New York City subway station.
An ad for Svedka vodka on the entrance to a New York City subway station. Credit: via BAAFT

The alcohol industry has made steady gains getting ads and distribution in places where it was once banned, debuting liquor commercials in NFL broadcasts this season and expanding sales at college sports stadiums. But beer, wine and spirits marketers suffered a rare setback this week when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority banned alcohol ads on New York City buses, subway cars and stations.

The decision, which takes effect Jan. 1, could weaken efforts by brands to reach coveted millennial urban dwellers in the nation’s top media market. But the MTA’s action is likely more of a speed bump than a pothole for booze marketers, considering the relatively small amount of money in play. The authority collected a mere $2.8 million in alcohol ad revenue last year.

Overall MTA ad revenue across buses, subways, trains, stations and billboards totaled $144.8 million.

Still, the ban could have at least some impact on spending decisions and prices for other out-of-home ad space around the city.

“The pressure is on the advertising agencies that buy for these big alcohol brands to keep the ROI high and the cost down,” says Ken Sahlin, CEO of DoMedia, which operates an out-of-home advertising database. “So if there is some pressure on the supply side and demand goes up a little bit, that will put a little pressure on pricing.”

Ads for 'The Lorax' and Michelob Ultra in a New York subway station.
Ads for ‘The Lorax’ and Michelob Ultra in a New York subway station. Credit: via BAAFT

The ban was pushed by a group called Building Alcohol Ad-Free Transit, whose partners include churches and community groups in the New York metro area, according to its website. In a petition, the group argued that “hundreds of thousands of NYC schoolchildren use public transit every day as their ‘yellow school bus.'” Therefore, the group added, it is unacceptable that the MTA “would expose young people to messages glorifying…

AI Myth Busters: AI Will Usher In An Era Of Extreme Personalization


Remember when traditional marketing was overwhelmingly successful? Neither do I.

In an era of great innovation, marketing still largely operates with legacy mindsets and technologies. Time, however, isn’t on the side of those who follow convention. Digital Darwinism is only accelerating, and those marketers who defy convention will shape the next generation.

The good news is that natural selection favors anyone willing to learn and experiment. There’s also a shortcut: artificial intelligence (AI).

Technology, and all it disrupts, continues to evolve. Society, markets and customer behaviors — preferences and values, too — are evolving. Now, consumers expect personalization — real, know-who-I-am personalization.

Businesses either understand this and invest in the future of consumer-centered evolution, or they don’t. Continuing with outmoded perspectives of customers and technologies or following a path of business as usual isn’t going to help.

AI represents the ability for marketers to almost instantly make up for lost time, leapfrog competition and more effectively engage customers in ways that they prefer, value and reward.

AI, though, faces its own set of challenges. In everything from stealing jobs to taking over defense systems, AI could benefit from greater understanding and adoption.

So, why isn’t everyone jumping on AI? Turns out there are several myths impeding marketing’s ability to hasten change.

Sorry not sorry

Myth #1: AI is too complex and expensive to add to the marketing mix

Artificial intelligence is at its very core complex and expensive. The same is true for the technology that’s driving autonomous vehicles. Yet today, everyday consumers are already starting to experience the marvel of self-driving vehicles.

In a 2017 study of marketing and AI, Forrester Consulting found that 48% of marketers assume that AI integration would cost too much, and 29% and believe it’s too difficult to integrate.

In reality, AI isn’t as complex, scary or confusing as James Cameron and “The Terminator” would have you believe. Many of today’s AI-powered platforms are designed to plug and play into existing martech stacks, eliminating the need to rip and replace incumbent technology systems like ESPs (email service providers).

Myth #2: Marketers believe they are already using AI-powered systems

A whopping 40% of marketers think they’re already using AI-powered systems, according to the Forrester study. At the same time, 40% also believe that they’ve adopted AI-driven marketing initiatives.

In an article related to this study, Albert.AI CMO Amy Inlow told Information Age:

“The common denominators driving these challenges were marketers’ willful lack of knowledge about the tools they’re working with and the tools available to them.”


CMO Today: Twitter Ad Disclosures; IPG’s Earnings Disappoint; Chipotle’s Queso Opportunity

Preempting new rules governing the way political ads are regulated online, Twitter announced Tuesday it will launch a website that will disclose the people and organizations that have paid for ads on the platform and other details such as how long the campaigns have been running and how they were targeted, The Wall Street Journal reports. Twitter will also label political ads in the news feed and disclose the amount political campaigns spend on the platform. Twitter, you’ll remember, is one of the digital companies that said it discovered Russian-backed entities bought ads on its platform to spread divisive messages before and after the U.S. presidential election. “I’m sure the entire industry — Google and Facebook, included — would love to persuade Congress that self-regulation is the answer. Elsewhere, it was clearly Transparency Tuesday for Twitter yesterday as the company also confirmed it had agreed to a Media Rating Council audit, as Adweek reported.

Advertising agency holding company stocks dropped once again on Tuesday after Interpublic Group (IPG) reported disappointing growth in its third quarter and revised down its financial targets for the year, CMO Today reported. IPG Chief Executive Michael Roth said the softness was due to clients deferring or canceling spending, plus some advertisers moving from an agency-of-record model to working with agencies on a project basis. Analysts think the current environment rings alarm bells across the entire sector. In a research note dramatically titled “Sum of All Fears,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Steven Cahall wrote: “Agency sentiment has been steadily weakening for the last 9 months and IPG’s print confirmed, and perhaps increased, investor fears that life’s tough in Agencyland, and probably getting tougher near-term.” Meanwhile, Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser suggested “enhanced contract scrutiny,” in the wake of last year’s damning Association of National Advertisers media-transparency report, is having an effect on all agency holding companies.

Over at Chipotle, the burrito chain told Wall Street its ad campaign to promote its new queso dip is paying dividends. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to change the overall financial picture: Chipotle’s shares took a dive in after-hours trading on Tuesday after it reported third- quarter profits that fell below analysts’ expectations, WSJ reported. Mark Crumpacker,…

Datorama deployed 100,000 bots to analyze its customers’ marketing

Above: Garrett Tenold, a solution architect and evangelist at Datorama, discusses the company’s product at VB Summit 2017 in Berkeley, California on October 24, 2017.

revealed today that its customers have deployed more than 100,000 bots to analyze information about their marketing outcomes, as part of the AI Innovation Showcase at VB Summit 2017.

When people think about marketing, they think of Don Draper on TV,” said Nate Sandford, a solution architect and evangelist for Datorama.

But today, marketing is a precise data-crunching job. And the amount of legwork required to analyze today’s flood of info is far more than a human can do, Sandford told attendees. He then gave a peek under…

CMO Today: L.A. Times’s New Era; CNN’s ‘Facts First’ Ad; John Hancock’s Apple Watch Push

Los Angeles Times CEO and Publisher Ross Levinsohn
Los Angeles Times CEO and Publisher Ross Levinsohn

Staffers at the Los Angeles Times are tired of cuts, tired of turnover and tired of being uncertain about where parent company Tronc plans to take the business. More change is coming, under new CEO Ross Levinsohn, the former Yahoo interim boss who joined the company in August. The Wall Street Journal outlines some of Mr. Levinsohn’s plans, including launching digital verticals focused on entertainment and culture, licensing the publisher’s intellectual property and using data to target potential digital subscribers. One of his first moves was to hire Forbes veteran Lewis D’Vorkin as the new editor in chief, which was to the chagrin of some staffers who are concerned he may bring in the business website’s in-your-face approach to advertising. One takeaway for marketers: the title now has a new group of lieutenants who are going out to market to reposition the Los Angeles Times as a key advertising destination.

–Key Chart–

The Los Angeles Times’s publisher needs a boost badly.

Source: the company

News organizations are fighting back in the face of volleys from the White House and skeptical citizens belittling their output as “fake news.” CNN is making its position clear with a new brand campaign called “Facts First” that will initially run across networks operated by parent company Time Warner’s Turner, Variety reports. One of the first promos features an image of an apple on a white screen, while a narrator explains how people may try their darndest to convince you it’s a banana, but it’s still an apple. CNN’s CMO, Allison Gollust, said she hopes the new slogan will differentiate the network from its rivals Fox News and MSNBC: “They sometimes start with a point of view and go from there. We start with a fact.” The stark imagery and the clear nod to the fake news” insult is reminiscent of creative used by the New York Times with its “The Truth is Hard” Oscars spot and the closing frame of the Daily Telegraph’s recent “Words are powerful. Choose them well” ad.

The life insurance market isn’t the sexiest and it can be difficult to stand out. Marketing tends to…

CMO Today: Scientology Targets A&E Advertisers; Amazon’s Athletic Wear Push; Why Columbus Is a Retail Test Bed

Actress Leah Remini held the award for outstanding informational series or special for “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 9.
Actress Leah Remini held the award for outstanding informational series or special for “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 9.

The Church of Scientology has long been famous for going after its critics. Now it is adopting the playbook of social media activists like Sleeping Giants and targeting advertisers. As CMO Today’s Alexandra Bruell reports, Scientologists are writing to advertisers—including Anheuser-Busch, Chrysler and Geico—demanding they boycott the A&E show “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.” The group behind the effort, Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination (STAND), allege the series is inciting threats and acts of violence against members of the church. Is the campaign working? Some advertisers have pulled their ads from the show, but it isn’t clear whether the letters prompted their decision or simply the wider controversy around the content within the series. A&E says it stands behind the show, which won an Emmy earlier this year.

Amazon has apparel brands against a wall. Some brands have been resistant to listing their full inventory on Amazon, wanting to hold back some products to sell within their own carefully controlled environments, where they can dictate price and the merchandising environment. But Amazon is increasingly sending a message to any reluctant brands: If you leave gaps in our inventory, we’ll fill them. As Bloomberg reports, Amazon is working with some of the biggest athletic-apparel suppliers as it barges its way into private-label sportswear. News of Amazon’s activewear push sent shares of Lululemon, Under Armour and Nike down on Friday (although Nike’s shares recovered before the close). Established activewear brands are already having a tough time amid stiffer competition and discounting. Will Amazon’s new athletic line—which, if its other forays into clothing are anything to go by, will carry a trendy name that many people won’t realize is backed by Amazon—prove one disruption too far?

If you were asked to think about where you might stumble across cool new retail concepts, you might conjure up images of slick cafe-clothing setups in Williamsburg or Silicon Valley tech stores that double up…