Marketing Insights from the Digiday Brand Summit

Marketing Trends to Watch in 2017

Christen Daniels

What has sub-zero temperatures, inspiring speakers, and lasts for three days? The Digiday Brand Summit in Park City, Utah. Our team attended the summit in 2016, where we experienced the thrill of northern Utah in the winter and an amazing event that delivered inspiring speakers, expert content, and an abundance of thoughtful conversations about the biggest challenges and initiatives that big brands have. Most importantly, we prepared for the coming new year with brands like Dennys, Nascar, GrubHub, Visa, Pepsi, and Skull Candy, as we discussed what they will be facing heading into 2017.

Here are the major themes that emerged over the three days:

Digital-First, Not Broadcast on Digital

Not all agencies are created equal. There’s a real difference between a digital-first agency and one that approaches digital as an add-on or afterthought. Digital channels are different than traditional channels. They are highly segmented between audience and interest, and offer different levels of functionality. They also go beyond passive viewing and spur interaction between consumers and brands. Making the most of digital channels requires a deep understanding of how each works and what content, formats, etc. work best based on your goals – whether it’s awareness (views), engagement (likes/comments), or conversions (clicks, sales). It’s equally important to know your audience, its expectations and how it behaves. As a digital-from-day-one agency we know this inherently and could not agree more. We approach each campaign, site build, and project with a user-first approach, meeting user needs while helping clients reach their business goals.

This subject was the topic of Nascar’s CMO Jillian Gregory’s talk at the conference. According to Jillian, the secret for Nascar’s success in 2016 was their shift to digital-first and responding directly to customer needs with a user first mindset. How did they do it? With a “Be present, be timely, be strategic” mantra – advice that will serve all brands well heading into 2017.

Omni-Channel Execution, Measurement, & Attribution

As audiences become more and more segmented, the number of channels grows exponentially. Likewise the responsibility of managing and maintaining those channels grows as well. Marketing departments are now faced with the challenge of measuring across different channels – trying to make sense of data that compares apples to oranges. One of the biggest things on our radar going into 2017 is working with clients to create centralized marketing dashboards using data visualization tools that surface the data that matters. These types of tools will make it possible to examine the data that’s relevant with a direct KPI that tracks back to bigger business goals.

Actionable Insights from Existing Data

Having the data is only part of the challenge. You have to know what it means and how to act on it. And, that’s where agencies like Authentic can provide value. We are able to see the entire landscape and connect the dots to deliver real value and actionable insights. We can implement strategies that move the needle and meet business objectives. And, we can develop custom solutions to better integrate tools and software so everything works together. This directly aligns with recent survey responses from top marketers to Marketing leaders, who are increasing sales and market share for their respective companies, are 3x more likely than counterparts to use data for their decisions.

Content Remains a Challenge

Content is king. But it’s a king whose reign has to be managed correctly. When brands fail to manage the volume of content or create duplicate content due to organizational silos, the message gets diluted and time and money are wasted. Even the best content can be rendered useless if it doesn’t have legs, meaning it must be relevant to the user and applicable across multiple platforms and channels. So when it comes to content, the question for brands heading into 2017 isn’t “should we do it?” It’s “how do we manage it effectively and create content that customers care about?”

Personalized Experiences

The goal is always to get the right message to the right person at the right time across the right channels and platforms. But as consumers become more aware of the data that’s collected to reach them, they are starting to demand a more personalized experience from the brands they frequent. They expect us to be smart with the data and use it to surprise and delight them. To do this, brands need to implement strategies that include both content and tools in order to be effective.

Creating personalized content was a key theme of the content discussion with John von Brachel, SVP, Content Marketing, Bank of America, and Ann Hynek, Head of Digital Content, Morgan Stanley. For content to resonate with your customers and audiences, they recommend starting with personalization. The way customers expect to interact with companies is now personal. They want personalized experiences based on their individual behaviors. Currently, companies are driving content creation based on perceived customer value. It is more important than ever heading into 2017 for companies to take the time to understand their audiences, their needs, challenges, and triggers, to create content that delivers actual value.

Technology & Tools

Naturally, everyone is investing in tools or software they hope will provide a “silver bullet” solution to all their challenges. In fact, according to, CMO Marketing Technology spending is on track to exceed CIO spending in 2017. But even a “silver bullet” has limitations if there’s no strategy in place to utilize it to its full potential. In our experience, this happens with CMS, (Content Management Systems) where the absence of a governance structure or clear contribution model means users are only leveraging a small portion of its features and functionality. You also see it when advanced marketing automation tools are only used to send emails, which is a little like owning an Italian supercar but only using it for short trips to the grocery store.

The three days in Park City of insights, inspiration, and conversations were invaluable to us to understand what’s keeping marketers at even the biggest brands up at night. To recap, here’s a quick summary of all we took in during our three days at Digiday.

- When investing in digital channels, be sure you are getting digital expertise to guide you.

- Measurement must look across channels and business silos to get truly valuable data.

- Just accumulating data isn’t good enough. We must be able to glean actionable insights to stay in step with consumer expectations.

- Content is still king. But it has to be something consumers care about and must be managed correctly.

- Make things personal. It works best and consumers have come to expect it.

- Even the best tools will come up short if they’re not paired with smart strategy.

Ready to tackle 2017? Our team is ready with a handle on the right strategies and tools to help you meet your aggressive business goals. Get in touch.