Cars zipping along the highway – driverless. Kids learning trigonometry in classrooms through online tutorials as their teacher monitors their progress on an digital dashboard. Thousands of concert-goers waving glow sticks and singing along to a chart-topping performer that happens to be an anime-style hologram. (Take that, Tupac.)
They may sound like futuristic pipedreams, but all of these things are happening now. As Tuesday’s annual Canadian Media Directors’ Council (CMDC) conference proved, the future is here and it’s time for marketers and agencies to embrace it.
The dominant message of the day’s presentations, held for the first time at Toronto’s TIFF Lightbox, was that there has been exponential growth in the progress of technology. Before you roll your eyes and get all “yeah, we know,” the day showcased how that growth will directly impact media, marketing and society in general.
Jack Myers, famed media economist and chairman of Media Advisory Group, kicked off the day with a theme that echoed through the rest of the day’s presentations: “We are on the other side of the digital tipping point,” he said.
Reflecting back to 1993, when the internet browser Mosaic was introduced, Myers said that we’ve since had two decades of chaos online. Comparing the introduction of the internet to the Industrial Age, Myers said there are typically 20 years of invention followed by an era of application. We are now moving into the “application” era of the internet, he said.
It’s an extremely exciting time, said Myers, calling it “the single most important time for us in our business careers.” Why? “We’re at the tipping point of marketers responding to the shifts in consumer purchasing patterns and digital media opportunities.”
And what about the companies that have cropped up to focus on “digital” and all that term entails, from display, search and social to gaming, commerce and mobile? How will they fare moving forward? He said all but 2% to 3% of the ones out there now will disappear or consolidate within the next decade.
He also noted that areas that used to exist in silos—procurement, marketing, technology and sales, for example—are now being combined because of digital innovation. But this change won’t happen over night. He thinks it will take roughly 20 years for that collaborative integration to happen and for the functional integration of all aspects of the marketing budget to come together.
Picking up on the theme of the digital change, Todd Scheidt, an associate principal in McKinsey & Company’s Toronto office, also reflected on the past. He shared a revealing historical comparison that charted how long it has taken new media to reach an audience of 50 million: for radio, it was 38 years; for TV it was 13 years; for the internet it was four years and for Facebook it was a mere two years.
In his talk about the merging of the virtual and physical worlds, Creative Realities CEO Paul Price also addressed how quickly technology is changing and how marketers have to keep up. That may mean adapting business models to better reflect how consumers are using technology.
“Stop thinking of consumers as consumers and start thinking of them as producers,” he said. With more people carrying around devices, they can shape the opinions of millions of others. To help deal with this change, he advised that brands move technology into the marketing department. If you have no CTO working for the CMO, he said, you are putting your business at risk.
Price also impressed the crowd with a series of imminent or existing technologies that drew audible “wows” from the crowd. Take the driverless Google car that navigates its way through highway traffic using signals that instruct it where to go. There are even sophisticated vending machines that dispense everything from warm pizza to designer items to—wait for it—medical marijuana.
“Vending 3.0 will change retail,” said Price.
What were your impressions of the CMDC event? Post your thoughts in our comment section.