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Let’s face it: we all know digital marketing is important. Digital is such a big part of our lives as consumers – it should naturally be a big part of our lives as marketers. But the digital landscape is constantly changing and there are many options for reaching consumers within the digital channel alone (not to mention how digital ties in with offline channels). There’s always another up-and-coming trend on the horizon – it’s hard to get a handle on what the most impactful ways to utilize digital marketing are for your business.

At Millward Brown Digital, we help our clients cut through the clutter and focus on what’s important. In this new Digital Dialogue blog series we’ll interview thought leaders within Millward Brown Digital to uncover their views on industry and digital trends – starting with our President, Stephen DiMarco. As President of Millward Brown Digital, Stephen is all too familiar with the challenges marketers face. Find out what he has to say below!

Let’s start with one of my favorite topics. “Consumer Journeys” and “the Path-to-Purchase” are hot buzz words. What is your opinion on how marketers can identify and utilize the consumer journey?

Stephen: Well to answer that question perfectly I’ll need a crystal ball. If marketers had perfect information on how consumers shop within their categories they could devise the perfect way to reach them – eliminating all the inefficiencies in marketing.

But the closest thing that I see to having a crystal ball is creating a world-class insights program that integrates the best consumer and competitive research to track how different segments are shopping your products versus rivals. Brands need to know where they stand relative to rivals at each touchpoint, whether its in-store or online.

But it’s not enough to just know this, you need to be able to act on it too. So once you’ve got a good program in place to track the changing consumer landscape, this information needs to be quickly disseminated to the teams that can activate these insights, namely sales/channel managers and the media teams. With the right insight programs in place, and partnerships across the company, marketing can move beyond one-off campaigns to a more dynamic process based on real-time signals collected from consumer journeys.

Measuring ROI is critical to ensuring digital marketing effectiveness. What do you see as the most important trends that marketers should be paying attention to in advertising measurement?

Stephen: There is a lot of attention being paid to fraud, viewability and now ad insertion within the digital media industry. These are really important, but I think they are just point-in-time tactical challenges that we need to overcome. I think the bigger trend will be the growth in addressable devices, whether it’s a smartphone, a PC/tablet/TV equivalent, a wearable, or all of the devices that will soon be digitally connected. We’re on the cusp of figuring out how to optimize media investments between TV and desktop, but the challenge gets even more complex when you add new devices and new media consumption behaviors into the mix.

Finally, what’s a cool digital marketing trend you’re interested in these days?

Stephen: I am really interested in wearables and specifically the next generation of fitness trackers. Not just so Nike and Gatorade can target ads at us while we are working out, but rather because these trackers generate all new data about how consumers live their lives.

I actually think this data is more valuable to consumers than it is to marketers. The point of fitness trackers is to provide us with feedback about our diet, exercise and sleep patterns. With enough information benchmarked against other consumers and segments, these insights enable us to change how we live our lives including the products that we buy and use. This is a subtle shift that can have seismic impact on marketing where consumer-centric marketing transcends being simply consumer-focused to consumer-controlled. It’s going to be awesome!

Thanks, Stephen! Keep checking our blog for our next Digital Download post.