Five Things I Learned During Advertising Week 2013

'Digital' Marketing Is Dead

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About 90,000 people gathered in New York City this past week for Advertising Week. You may not have even noticed the extra thousands of people in the middle of the always-busy Times Square, but for those of us in the advertising industry, the event was hard to avoid.

Those looking for the latest trends or cutting edge innovations likely reflected over the weekend that our primary focus and "reason for being" as an industry hasn't changed all that much, despite the insanely rapid changes in technology and consumer behavior. At the end of the day, marketers want to make sure they are focusing on the customer, getting the right message to the right person at the right time, and driving growth.

Here are some of my key observations from Advertising Week as a speaker and attendee.

Digital marketing is dead
Declaring something "dead" is a surefire way to get attention. But when Procter & Gamble global brand building officer Marc Pritchard says, "digital marketing is dead," people listen. Pritchard's comments actually came the week before Advertising Week, but there was much discussion of them throughout the week.

Here is what Pritchard said: "Try and resist thinking about digital in terms of the tools, the platforms, the QR Codes and all of the technology coming next. We [Procter & Gamble] try and see it for what it is, which is a tool for engaging people with fresh, creative campaigns ... the era of digital marketing is over. It's almost dead. It's now just brand building. It's what we do."

The underlying point here is that when everyone and every thing is connected to the Internet, every consumer action is digital marketing.

We're way past the 'year of mobile'
A long-standing joke in the industry is how we've been in the "year of mobile" for what seems like the last decade. Every year is the year that mobile will become pervasive not only from the consumer usage perspective but also as an advertising medium.

At this point you won't hear anyone uttering that phrase anymore, for fear of sounding ridiculously out of touch. With 1.5 billion smartphones in the world, and headed toward 5 billion, our mobile phone is the dashboard to our lives. My son Cole views the desktop computer as a device where he has to do his homework. It's like a beeper or fax machine.

Focus is crucial when things are changing fast
Wieden+Kennedy's Colleen DeCourcy, Global Co-Executive Creative Director, and Dave Luhr, President, did a wonderful job explaining how the agency had to get comfortable with not being able to do everything and focusing on producing creative good work over channel.

I've written about this before, as I think the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is focusing on the wrong things. At, we are focused on being the best 1:1 customer platform to help marketers connect with their customers in new ways. Lots of agencies can focus on doing the best work. We're not all going to do everything, nor can we.

Being customer-focused is everything
Every single person I spoke to mentioned that being customer focused and getting closer to customers is a number one priority. There is research that backs this up. 88% of all CEOs believe getting closer to the customer is the top business strategy over the next five years, according to a recent IBM study.

Marketers are in the best position ever to lead
I'll end with what I think is the most important observation, based on my conversation with hundreds of marketers over the last few months and during Advertising Week. The CMO and their teams are in the best position ever to truly lead the organization forward.

Digital marketing is not a part of your business, or part of your marketing plan, it is the business.

Michael Lazerow is CMO of of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a unified marketing platform for brands. Lazerow founded Buddy Media, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2012, as well as, which was sold to Time Inc. and U-Wire, which was sold to CBS. Follow him on Twitter at
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