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Author: Ashley Friedlein
I started out working in digital TV and multimedia production. I then worked at the Financial Times on arguably the first commercial application of Video on Demand (1996) before getting involved with FT.com as a Producer / Project Manager.
In 1997 I moved to digital communications agency Wheel as the third person in the then 'internet team'. I went through the dotcom boom, seeing Wheel grow from 30 people to 450 in just 3 years, and was involved in launching sites for M&S, Abbey National, IPC Magazines, Autoglass, Channel 5, AMP etc.
Following the dotcom crash (which saw Wheel shrink back to a more modest 90 or so staff) I left and spent a very pleasant sabbatical year writing my second book in the South of France. I then returned to the UK and from June 2002 I have been running Econsultancy full time.
It’s a tough one. Partly because there are over 200 to choose from. Partly because I have programmed quite a few of the sessions so am biased.
But I find I have had to fire Lord Sugar from my top 10 (sorry Sir Alan), and even Monica Lewinsky does not make the cut even though I’ve heard she is a great speaker. I have also cheated by sneaking in a few “honourable mentions” without counting them in my ten.
I like to attend a mix up the more serious, authoritative, immediately useful and valuable, with the new and inspiring. So I have grouped my ten picks under a few headings:
That might be blurring the lines of what we used to consider typical consumer behaviours or models (e.g. increased focus on behavioural segmentation and targeting rather than relying on, say, demographics), the blurring of lines across physical and digital channels, the blurring of lines across value and supply chains, the blurring of national boundaries and commerce.
There are two strategic imperatives that you cannot fail to have missed. Firstly, digital transformation. Secondly, customer-centricity.
From McKinsey to Accenture to IBM to CapGemini to Deloitte to PWC to Forrester to Gartner and, of course, our very own Econsultancy and Marketing Week, all of the research, analysis and consultants’ advice bangs the same drum.
All businesses agree they have to become more digital and more customer-centric.
Earlier this year Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, gave a keynote address where he talked about three characteristics of the era we’re living in: internet everywhere, fast and easy media creation and ephemerality.
Snapchat is particularly known for the third of those, of course; the evaporating selfie, capturing a ‘moment of me, now’ has become an incredibly popular form of self-expression.
“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” This adage began as a cartoon caption by Peter Steiner and was published by The New Yorker in July 1993.
It became extremely popular. Indeed it has earned Steiner over $50,000 from its reprinting.
But this points to a problem. We marketers extol the powers of personalisation, the merits of relevancy, targeting, customisation, segmentation. We love to really understand our customers, have deep insight and consequently deliver relevant messaging and engagement.
But what if our customers are not who they say they are? What if we really are real-time retargeting a Labrador?