Now is the time to become a Marketing Technopologist

On July 1, 1941 the Bulova Watch Company ushered in a new era when the first television advertisement in the United States was broadcast on New York City’s NBC station.  Over 65 years later, television advertising is the dominant form of marketing with over $70 billion spent in the United States alone.

For the traditional Brand Manager, television advertising has been king for a long time.  In fact, TV is so central to the marketing plans of most Brand Managers that it is the vehicle everything has revolved around for decades.  In fact, at many companies “TV Copy Training” is the first class that new marketers attend as new hire.  And as a result, Brand Managers have become expert Mass Marketers.  They have made a fine art out of investing in mass media that will deliver a common message to the most people possible.  Brand Managers have built entire brands, even companies, on the concepts of reach, frequency, day parts and wear out where sales and ROI are closely predicted and measured.

But the days of the Mass Marketer are waning thanks to multi-tasking consumers and the emergence of ad-skipping technologies.  Jupiter Research estimated that $12 billion dollars worth of TV advertising was blown away by TiVo and similar devices in 2007.  That means over 15% of TV advertising that Brand Managers bought in 2007 was completely wasted, without even accounting for the number of ads that were missed by multi-tasking or that reach the wrong consumer.

Something has to change for the Brand Managers of tomorrow.

In my opinion, the change that needs to take place is for Brand Managers to develop the skills of a Marketing Technopologist.  So what is a Marketing Technopologist?  Well first consider this fact.  According to the social media writer Paul Gillin, “It took 40 years for the TV to reach 2/3 of homes in the US.  The Internet did it less than 15 years.”

This means marketers need to master a tool that wasn’t even in existence 15 years ago but today is a dominant form of media.  Thus, a Marketing Technopologist (a term coined by the Wall Street Journal) will bring together the strengths of marketing, technology and social interaction.  They will be a person who combines the skills of marketer, technologist, and social anthropologist to study how digital advance are changing culture and media.  They don’t walk away from the traditional tools of marketing and Brand Management, but instead embrace breakthrough digital tools to create a new way of doing business.  A Digital Marketer will be as comfortable talking about new technology as they reviewing creative with their agency.  This new breed of Brand Manager 2.0 will lead marketers away from tools based on mass reach and instead act as Digital Marketers to understand the convergence of media and technology in new, ever-evolving ways.  They will invest in brand experience and brand utility, using digital to create meaningful interactions with consumers.  Simply put, they will stop shouting at consumers.

Fact:  Only 24% of U.S. marketers consider their firms to be “digitally savvy”. –eMarketer

For the marketer willing to evolve into Marketing Technopologists, there is tremendous opportunity.  If eMarketer is right, 3 out of 4 companies (both brand companies AND agencies) are not ready for this new world of Digital Marketers.  So the Brand Manager that is willing to lead the charge will have an invaluable competitive advantage…but for their brands and in their own careers.  Seth Godin summed up this opportunity when he wrote that:

“I think a new divide has opened up, one that is based far more on choice than on circumstance. Several million people (and the number is growing, daily) have chosen to become the haves of the Internet, and at the same time that their number is growing, so are their skills….Today, though, the Net is far more robust and far more ubiquitous than it used to be. And it’s bloggers who are setting the agenda on everything from politics to culture. It’s bloggers that journalists and politicians look to as the first and the loudest….As a result, your most-connected, most influential customers are part of the digerati. They can make or break your product, your service or even your religion’s new policies. Because the Net is now a broadcast (and a narrowcast) medium, the digerati can spread ideas.”

Brand Managers who embrace the mindset of a Marketing Technopologist have the opportunity to become the “digerati” of their profession.


  1. Karen says

    I am totally with you, Dave. However, the "big" marketers always spend the most money on proven, predictable models. I worry that until the effect of sales from investing in newer technologies (not CPA banner ads!) can be predicted and measured, we may keep working in our old world models. :( Sad, but a universal truth is people do what they are rewarded for… which includes Agencies. Whew. As soon as an agency is TRULY evaluated from Senior to Junior on holistic ideas that can be executed first in-store and digitally, they will always present the TV board first. Sigh. I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic… Let's keep fighting this battle!!!! THANKS!

  2. says

    I think you hit the nail on the head by saying that the next generation of marketers will need to create meaningful brand experiences for their customers. My take is that you need to flip the equation. Less tell and more show. Today's businesses are so focused on prospective customers and the almighty funnel that they fail to deliver a tremendous experience to their current customers.
    You need to employ a simple concept called 'marketing lagniappe'. Lagniappe is creole for 'the gift' and represents the small gift given by the merchant at the time of purchase. Something thrown in extra for good measure. Today's consumer expects value and you need to overdeliver. Marketing lagniappe is that signature little extra that gets new customers to become repeats, repeats to become frequents, and frequents to become evangelists.
    'The Purple Goldfish Project'

  3. says

    Great post – I couldn't agree more that we now enter the Age of the Technopologist. More and more as marketers we appreciate the high granularity state changes involved in someone morphing from not knowing about us to becoming a customer. And that conversion is not about "persuasive" one-way sells that result in some magical Rapture-like state change, but about , quite simply and honestly, incrementally winning people's trust. Such a seismic shift is startling old guard agencies where IT was and still is "in another room" (aka no Technopologists exist).shaking out the technology-laggard boomer encumbents to make way for Gen-Y Technopologists. Kinda cool to watch…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *