Hear from Chris Actis, Digital Marketing

AMS (Ani Marketing Service) has just completed a blog series on digital marketing – trying to give user-friendly descriptions of basic terms that are common in the industry.  The next step is to tie all of this information together in the form of a strategic plan and to interpret how to best use digital marketing.

To spice things up a bit, AMS thought it would be fun to interview an executive about the corporate perspective on digital marketing.  So we interviewed Christopher Actis, Senior VP of Digital Marketing at Mediavest.  Chris is responsible for account management and business growth, with one of his largest accounts being Wal-Mart.

AMS: Hi Chris.  Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today.   As you know, many people are new to the world of digital marketing.  But, the more they learn, the more they realize that there’s so much more to learn, which can become quite overwhelming for them.  How do you explain digital marketing so that newbies get it quickly and easily?

CA: I believe that digital is an all encompassing term that includes tv, print, online, mobile, outdoor, and point of purchase.  All ideas about media are evolving to include the influence of digital.  A lot of what viewers see, read, and experience is now via digital media.  Digital marketing is simply the activation of media and messaging in multi-channel digital environments.

AMS: Now we both know that the world of marketing, advertising, and PR is vast with lots of choices.  What role do you think digital marketing plays in this forum, and why do you think it is valuable?

CA: Digital plays many roles in reaching consumers.  Marketers are able to create branding opportunities through high impact ad units or broadband video.  Or, if consideration is the objective, a marketer can align with credible content on a website to create preference and move metrics towards purchase intent.  Mobile media is good for driving action to a store, or for enabling couponing opportunities and trial.  Lastly, search functions up and down the funnel to follow consumers and generate awareness or drive a sale.

AMS: I’m sure a lot of our readers are curious about your new clients:  How do you determine their digital marketing needs?  Does it matter if they already have a digital program in place?

CA: We analyze their digital spend relative to their overall marketing mix and also try to determine what the role digital media can play to complement their other efforts.  If they already have a digital program in place we will assess its performance and look for ways in which to continue or optimize.

AMS: I remember once saying that if you’re nervous about trying digital marketing, you should start small to “get your feet wet”.  You responded with, if you want to have success, you must commit to making an investment.  What would you tell our readers about budgetary expectations if they are to embark on a digital marketing campaign?

CA: Budgets need to be considered, but a lot of marketing can be done via organic search, social media, and varied pricing models that are very efficient (cost per click, cost per acquisition, etc)

AMS: As a marketing agency, I am often approached by various digital experts, ready to take care of all of my marketing needs in “a blink of an eye”.  Honestly, they make me a bit skeptical.  What do you think, is there such a thing as a digital marketing expert?

CA: I think that the marketing channel is irrelevant.  If one is a marketer and understands audiences, the activation of strategies is secondary.  It is important to understand the fragmented way in which consumers are behaving around brands and media – digital is a part of a larger, more organic, dynamic.

AMS: Many people think that we’re on a current trajectory of digital marketing replacing the world of print.  Do you think that is really the case, or will we come to some sort of harmonious balance?

CA: I don’t think digital is replacing print.  The fact is, print offers a “lean back” experience where advertising is part of the experience!  Think about how consumers read magazines, oftentimes ads are extensions of content.  That is truly unique in the media ecosystem.  Print and digital work very well together and will continue to evolve as symbiotic media channels – each providing value in like and additive ways.

AMS: The world of digital is also taking its toll on the world of publishing.  What are your predictions?  With the introduction of the Kindle and iPad, do you see libraries and bookstores going away?  What would you suggest to publishers to adapt to the current digital environment?

CA: Publishers need to evolve to the behaviors that their audiences are practicing.  Content needs to be fluid and pricing models need to be blown up and adapted to the new channel outlets.  More power needs to be given to publishers of titles, and editors need to get beyond their ego positions of control and think of the incremental revenue opportunities beyond print pages and web placements.

AMS: Chris, this has been digi-tastic!  Thanks so much for your time.  Do you have any parting words of wisdom for us?

CA: The future of digital will be a much faster, fragmented, and fluid environment.  The best way for marketers to stay relevant is for them to become intimate with audiences and the role of media in their lives.  Data and technology are facilitating precise targeting and customer knowledge – marketers need to incorporate segmentation technology into their offerings to clients.  Finally, social and mobile are still evolving as marketing tools.  It’s important for marketers to follow these influential channels and adapt strategies to include them.

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