All in on Digital for 2018? Wait!

Ross Miles - 05.01.2018

2017 marked the first time global digital ad spend beat TV, with Recode reporting total spend of $209bn and $178bn, respectively. So, if that’s the way the industry is moving, surely you should be focusing on a digital-first approach in 2018?

You certainly wouldn’t be alone. A recent article by The Drum noted that Neiman Marcus, The Smithsonian, J.Crew, Coca-Cola, ITV News, Rolls-Royce, Lego Group and ABC in Australia (to name just a few) have all announced that they’re undergoing “digital-first restructuring”.

While we might live in an increasingly digital world, Gartner’s Hype Cycle should act as a voice of reason before you dive head-first into digital.


It demonstrates how the emergence of a technology produces an enthusiastic overuse which, eventually, leads to moderation. At the moment, many companies are reaching the Peak of Inflated Expectations when it comes to digital as a whole.

Trough of Disillusionment

But that’s not to say that every single brand is pushing for digital-first. In fact, The Drum argues that some have already fallen into the Trough of Disillusionment after their great digital expectations were not realised. Taco Bell and Turner bucked the trend by decreasing their digital ad spend and putting it back into TV, while Procter & Gamble slashed their online ad spend by $140m, and saw a 2% rise in sales.

What’s a brand to do?

Perhaps the rush in digital ad spend has left you feeling like you need to pour more investment into your digital marketing; after all, your rivals are doing just that and you don’t want to be left behind. But who’s to say that their digital efforts will pay off?

As The Drum explains: “The marketing world loves hypothetical ‘one-size-fits-all’ proclamations, but the real world is never that simple.”

Instead of rushing to compete with your rivals, you need to take the time to determine whether digital will appeal to your consumers. And don’t be blindsided by the suggested success of other people’s online campaigns.

Coca-Cola’s Facebook page may have over 100 million followers but you can bet that it wouldn’t have anywhere near those numbers if it were starting off today. Coca-Cola has decades of brand-building behind it – from traditional media, may it be noted – enabling it to see huge numbers online.

Of course, there will always be the exception to the rule, but you can’t just assume you’ll see success by putting all your eggs into the digital basket. For this reason, marketers should aim to be marketing channel-neutral.

How to become marketing channel-neutral

To do this, you need to get straight on tactics and channels. Social media marketing is not a tactic, it is merely a new channel through which you can communicate your proposition to your customers.

With the emergence of online channels, there has been a growing trend to think of the mediums first, and then work on the strategy and the tactics. But how can you expect to see success in your campaign if you’re leading with the channel? As we start 2018, it’s time to shake up the routine – conduct market research, identify customer problems and solutions, build your strategy, and then determine the tactics and mediums you will use.

With consumer expectations at an all-time high, companies need to stop looking externally at what other brands are doing, and start looking inwards at their data to determine the tactics and strategies that work best for them, and then decide the mediums they will use – whether that’s digital or not!

If you’d like help developing your long-term strategic vision, give Fireworx a call today.