DMX – Dublin

To maximise my career opportunities in the future, I will need to be able to deliver across a diverse digital marketing field. So, having initially worked through the process of constructing my professional development plan, I knew one of my goals would be to identify any new trends, technologies and applications that might have potential in the near future, and gain some up-to-date information and knowledge from experts in the digital world so that I don’t get left behind.

To this end, on March 8th last, I attended the DMX Dublin trade show, an event which brings together top international and Irish leaders from the marketing, digital, design, and media areas.

At the time, hearing the doctor tell us that all of her limbs were “deformed, misshapen and in some cases missing bones altogether” was a gut punch that knocked the wind out of us. I literally couldn’t breathe as I sobbed with my face buried in my hands.

An interesting session was one entitled “Moving Towards Maturity – Let’s Make ‘Digital’ Redundant” with strategist Shane O’Leary. Shane’s take on things could be summarised in his line: “It’s not about mastering digital marketing, it’s about mastering effective marketing in a digital world”. Rather than putting resources of time and money into the latest channels, it is time to take a long-term view, knowing from past experience that some of the new media will work and some will fail.

Social Media useHe also explained how we (in the industry) believe that our own media consumption pattern is normal and that everyone else behaves in the same way. But this is not true, particularly when it comes to digital media use, a point borne out when you compare usage between ‘Marketing Industry’ folk and what he calls ‘Normal’ people (see table over).

While finding myself agreeing with Shane to this point we parted company when he asserted that having a ‘digital strategy’ is outdated and that ‘digital’ is becoming an irrelevant term with no meaning. Yes, it is all marketing but marketing a lot of the time to completely different audiences. Target audiences are accessed via different types of media. Having a digital strategy allows for the effective targeting of a very specific demographic, so, depending on what your selling and to whom, I certainly see a need for a digital strategy as part of the mix.

What I took most from this talk, however, was that I came away from it confident in my own assessment of the marketing challenges, even though it ran contrary, in some parts, to that of an industry expert. There were times in the past where I might not have weighted my own opinions quite as highly.

The afternoon session started with Zara Flynn and “F*ck Millennials”. I really liked this session; it showed how society likes to categorise people, particularly the “younger generation”.

I went on to attend several other talks, including:

Marketa Mach from IBM on AI (artificial intelligence). This was a really interesting presentation on driving human experience with AI. She spoke about virtual shopping, which I find fascinating and definitely something I want to keep up-to-date on.

Scott Morrison on “What the F**k is Innovation as a Service”. I had never heard of the term “digital nomads”; businesses are tapping into this concept so as to get some of the best digital minds to work on specific projects. With this arrangement, both sides benefit because the digital expert can pick and choose the projects she/he works on and the company gets the best without the need for long-term contracts.

Google’s Sarah Jane Porter’s talk, “Know Search, Know People”, mentioned how brands need to rise to consumers’ “sky-high expectations” for personalisation and relevance and for connected experiences both offline and online. So, in order for marketers to keep up-to-date today with their customers, their campaigns need to be: personal, actionable and measurable.

The closing plenary session by Mark Earls titled “Copy, Copy, Copy” for me was my copyfavourite session of the day. During this talk, Mark discussed how, in today’s society, nothing is really original. We are obsessed by novelty and originality, but stunted by our culture’s notions of creativity and innovation.

Throughout human history, it turns out, the best way to make something new, original and effective is to copy something that has solved a similar problem elsewhere. In my current role, part of my job involves producing lots of copy.

So, I am painfully aware of the fact that it is extremely difficult to come up with an original concept and that, at the end of the day, the ideas and beliefs behind all writing remain the same; it’s just the approach and expression that varies and that, in this sense, it’s okay to copy in a “good way”.

David Bowie quote: "The only art I'll ever study is stuff I can steal from"

All in all, I have to say that I found the entire day excellent as I learned so much from the different speakers. I also gained an appreciation of how much is required in order to keep abreast of the changes and advances in the marketing world. 

I suppose the one main thing I took away from the event is that you can’t know, or be an expert in, every area of digital marketing and that, for me, it is important to prioritise keeping up-to-date in the areas I have a particular interest in. While it’s good to know how things are changing, it is also just as important to be good in the sector in which you specialise.

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