Spinal Tap, Wales and Digital Marketing Technology

I'm delighted to be speaking at the Online Influencer 2015 event in Cardiff in May. And not because it's always flattering to be invited to speak, but because Cardiff is my home town.

Growing up there a lifetime ago, I would never have imagined that a business conference (let alone a technology or digital marketing conference) would be hosted there. In fact it says a lot for the progress "provincial" UK towns have made over the last 30 years in moving out of the shadow of London. From being a frankly poor relation to London in terms of cultural, artistic, retail and lifestyle, I'd say cities like Cardiff can give London a run for its money any day in offering both a high quality and variety of life for its citizens.

So whilst holding a digital marketing technology event in Cardiff may raise a few eyebrows, OI15 is not only welcomed, but long overdue. And building on this trend I've also in the past week been approached about similar events in Manchester and Belfast. 

Anyway, I was interviewed in advance of the event, and here's a transcript. You'll find out about my thoughts on trends in digital marketing technology as well as discover my favourite film. Looking forward to OI15 and hoping to turn it up to 11!

Oi: So John 2014 has been and gone what were the highlights for you?

JW: I’ve been really excited by the explosion in both the uptake and variety of digital marketing technology over the course of the last 12 months. Its a strong indication of the focus on marketing right now, and for the profession I think that’s great. Technology is  a great enabler for today’s marketer. You can do amazing things at scale, quickly and at relatively low cost. I also think 2014 saw the rise of the generalist in marketing. After years of specialism (SEO, SEM social, ad buying etc) we saw the best marketers having digital DNA in their blood, but operating across many traditional silos. They have taken a step back and realised that what is truly essential is the ability to utilise core marketing principles in the digital age. The future is in core skills and blended, integrated technology.

Oi: What Social tech and digital trends do you anticipate coming to the fore this year?

JW: I see three big trends:
1. Cross channel’ will become ‘one channel’: our physical and digital worlds have collided and customers no longer differentiate between the two - they want a great experience regardless of when, where and how they interact with a brand. In 2015 brands will be focused on making sure all channels work seamlessly together, bringing together the best of online and offline to create the ultimate customer experience.

2. Data will be used to drive decisions, not defend decisions. Until now, marketers have been primarily using data to report on campaign success retrospectively, with the main objective being to prove their worth in the business and on the bottom line. We will see this change in 2015 with advanced maths and algorithms more frequently used to inform decisions about how, when and where to best spend future marketing budget. 

3. Brands will live or die by their mobile chops. After years declaring this year will be the year of the mobile, the tipping point has been reached. Time spent on mobile devices has never been so high and over the next twelve months, marketers will look to mobile as the foundation of the customer journey and prioritise creating relevant touch-points. Major brands will face tremendous competition in the battle to reach mobile consumers and the winners will be those who can deliver highly personalised content across screens. 

Oi: What can we expect from Adobe in 2015?

JW: I’m just seeing phenomenal interest an uptake for our Marketing Cloud. And 2014 was a great year for Adobe with our Marketing Cloud being rated the best by analysts Forrester and Gartner. 2015 will see us continue with this momentum. We’re all about making our platform not only the easiest to use but also the best at letting marketers share data and put it into action where and when it matters. Our customers want to give the best, personalised, relevant experience to their customers, so we need to make sure the platform rises to that challenge.

Oi: What is the best part of your job?

JW: I love marketing marketing technology to marketers. I get the issues, challenges and can relate to what our customers are going through. I can also talk from the heart when I’m sharing what we and our customers are doing with Adobe Marketing Cloud. There’s never been a better time to be a marketer. I love that.

Oi: Social technology has made Marketers jobs harder – discuss…

JW: I wouldn’t say harder. Just….different. When I started my career marketing was almost an abstract thing, with marketers far removed from customers. And campaigns were planned when we had bandwidth or a gap in the marketing calendar. Measurement involved sending out a direct mail or running an ad and then getting an agency to tell us the results three months later. When it was too late. Nowadays, with social, marketers are drawn more into a conversation with customers (quite literally) which is a good thing I think as marketing is only about understanding what your customers want. And social, as well as digital marketing more generally, can give you that live feedback. Of course this is challenging and requires many marketers to reinvent themselves. Some marketers will adapt to the change and some won’t. And that’s hard for many.

Oi: Favourite film?

JW: In terms of what I’ve watched the most, it has to be Spinal Tap. I first saw that movie when it came out, and was relatively obscure. You weren’t sure if it as a documentary or not. Of course now its a cult classic and the joke is well known. But it still stands up to the test of time, especially for someone like me who was a budding musician for many years. It also transpired to be my wife’s favourite film too, so it has a nice role in my life.

Oi: Are you looking forward to coming back to Cardiff for Oi15?

JW: Of course! I was born in Cardiff, and my family are still there. And its awesome to have a digital marketing conference in the City. I don’t get back as much as I’d like, so its great to have another reason to make a visit too.

Oi: Thanks John - we're glad you're coming home too :)

(Interview re-posted from the OI15 site).