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The future of marketing in Australia: My top 7 takeaways from the iMedia summit

This week I attended the annual iMedia Future of Marketing summit along with 120+ marketers and networkers from varying industries and brands. It was a timely opportunity to connect and share insights on shifting consumer trends, innovation in Martech, global best practices and how to navigate the overwhelm of options available to marketers and prioritise what really matters.


Here are my top takeaways from the summit.


Most brands are not fully prepared for the cookieless future


In a keynote delivered by Larissa Parry, Quantcast surveyed 480 marketing and advertising professionals from around the world and found that preparing for the depreciation of third-party cookies is one of a few top priorities for 43% of brands. For agencies, it is a priority for 60% of those surveyed. 15% of brand-side marketers plan to deal with it later this year or next year. Whether brand-side or agency-side, the major concerns for the cookieless future are connected to measuring performance and ROI. In short, agencies are concerned about how they can demonstrate ROI and brands are concerned about measuring advertising effectiveness. In tight economic conditions, agencies that are slow to build their own first-party data, demonstrate cost efficiency and provide meaningful audience insights will struggle to retain client spend. On the flip side, brands need to be wary of being ultra-conservative and relying solely on their first-party paid search and social platforms when brand equity is up for grabs through a well-executed omnichannel approach.



The rising cost of living is keeping Aussies up at night


The two biggest challenges keeping Australians up at night are the rising cost of living and being able to pay the mortgage. In a research sample of 1526 average Australians by Insights Exchange, Australian's two biggest worries for the next three years are making enough money to cover the cost of living and paying the mortgage/saving to buy a house. As a result of the inflation pinch, Aussies are spending less on eating out, clothing and homewares and more on groceries, health and fitness and international travel. Nothing cures the stress of being unable to afford your own place like a European summer escape right? The cost-of-living pressures are also giving rise to the gig economy, with one in two Aussies likely to earn a secondary income in the next 12 months.



Marketplaces and department stores will remain resilient in the face of tightened spending


Budget-conscious Australians will turn to the likes of eBay, the Iconic and Myer to do their online shopping at competitive prices. A deep dive into the e-commerce traffic of 650 websites across 10 different categories by Similarweb revealed that website traffic for marketplaces is up 4.45% YoY, and Department Stores are up 3.47%. It’s not a great story for Fashion, Consumer Electronics, Home Appliances and Furniture with traffic down 2-10% from last year. Overall, Australian e-commerce websites saw a drop of 3% in average monthly visits during the first half of 2023 with conversion also dropping by 7%. What does this mean for online retailers? Squeeze your profit margins with greater discounts to stay competitive, lean more on your data to invest in paid acquisition channels and put considerable effort into organic search to rank for product keywords.



People use AI every day but half of Australia doesn’t know what ChatGPT is


Google Maps, Siri and Spotify have made it into the lexicon of the 21st century, but only 54% of Australians have heard of ChatGPT (Insights Exchange). While you can’t scroll LinkedIn without being drowned in ADOPT IT OR DIE content about AI, the reality is that marketers are always the first adopters of new tech and we’re already strides ahead of the average consumer. So, what do we do to stay there and navigate the rapidly developing AI landscape? Well according to media.monks to prepare yourself for sustained success with AI you need to be thinking about how to utilise AI in 6 key areas;

  • Analytics to use predictive modelling to measure and value customer touchpoints

  • Assets creation and management to deliver hyper-personalised digital experiences

  • Audience insights to understand and influence your key audiences throughout the sales funnel

  • Access to effectively reach your audiences across all ad inventory

  • Automation to optimise marketing operations to drive growth and

  • Organisation to facilitate effective cross-collaboration

AI won’t replace marketers. Marketers with AI skills will be irreplaceable.



Gen Z is changing the communication landscape


Gen Z is the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age. They have only known life with smartphones or social media. As digital natives, they prefer concise and visually engaging forms of communication. The platforms Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram which emphasise short videos, have become their preferred means of sharing information and expressing themselves. Findings from Australia’s largest corporate video production company YourFilm, backs this up with their latest results on the use of platforms to engage with video content. On all video platforms, Gen Z exceeds the usage of all other generations. Instagram is their favourite, followed by Youtube, Facebook and TikTok.


Gen Z engages with video content 54% more than any other generation on Instagram and a staggering 53% more on TikTok.

So are Gen Z’s wasting their lives away watching mind-numbing content? Apparently not. The most engaged with content across these platforms was connected to self-learning. Videos in the categories of ‘How to, product reviews, tutorials and explainers rank as the most engaged with types of content. Brands who invest the time in developing bite-sized learning videos on these platforms will win the hearts, minds and attention of Gen Z.



Digital marketers have an important role to play in sustainable advertising


Put your hand up if you thought that digital marketing is carbon-free and eco-friendly by default? This was me until I attended an eye-opening keynote from a company called Scope3 on a mission to decarbonise media and advertising. So how are digital marketers generating carbons admissions? Every time an ad is served, it uses computer hardware and energy to process the request. This energy creates carbon emissions. On average 1 million impressions is 1 metric ton of CO2, the equivalent of a one-way trip from Paris to New York. So, what can marketers do to reduce carbon emissions? A win-win for marketers is to utilise performance data to reduce wasted ad investment. According to Scope3, 15.3% of display ad spend is wasted on made-for-advertising inventory. Start measuring so you can start reducing your carbon footprint and improve your ROI at the same time.



Leaders will need to ask the tough questions to stay effective


In the uncertain future ahead, leaders will need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and make some tough decisions to get strategic alignment, cut the fluff and focus on the things that matter. Rob Pyne a leadership teams coach specialising in decision making, presented an engaging framework to take leadership teams on the hunt for the safari Big 5 through open and honest discussion to find;

  • The elephant in the room - What’s the most important thing we’re not talking about?

  • The invisible gorilla - What is the biggest decision you could make in the next 3 months?

  • The leopard who can’t change its spots - What have we always done that we need to stop doing?

  • The hippopotamus under the surface - Are we treating the symptoms or the root causes of our situation? Do we understand what’s happening under the surface?

  • The charging rhino - If we took all our priorities off the table, what’s the first one we’d then put back on for the next quarter?

By asking these questions, leadership teams can make bigger and better decisions that create greater focus and energise their people. And don’t we all need some energising for the times to come!



That wraps up my key takeaways from iMedia’s 2023 Future of Marketing summit. Pencil me in for the next one if they'll have me!

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