On November 18th, AMA Boston and digital solutions provider Millward Brown partnered on a unique presentation and workshop to help a select group of Boston marketers understand how to elevate their brands through digital marketing. Host Stephen DiMarco, President of Millward Brown Digital, led off the program by sharing valuable insights from his firm’s research on digital habits, preferences, and challenges marketers face in implementing digital in their companies. The audience was especially interested in the facts that U.S. consumers use 7 hours of screen time (TV, smartphone, laptop, PC) daily; the under-investment in mobile media relative to that spent on traditional media based on device usage; smartphones are the “do it all device” while laptops are for productivity and tablets for entertainment; and new terms such as “multi-screening,” “meshing,” “shifting” and “stacking” are emerging to describe consumer screen habits.

Other presenters followed by offering their insights: Bridget Coogan, Sales Strategy and Operations at Google, Ryan Burke, VP Sales of InVision App and Dan Goldstein, Analytics at Hill Holiday, and that prompted a lively, interactive conversation, with a highlight being a powerful case study of how “Nest” thermostats provide such effective digital and service support that they overcame one participant’s strong objections.

The final slide of the Millward Brown research was an excellent lead-in to the exciting final phase of the evening’s program, a series of small group discussions on how the changes wrought by  digital affect your group’s blankactivities and organization. The last presentation slide described the four biggest challenges marketers see that prevent their organizations from getting digital right: connecting digital and traditional media; optimizing media allocation; expand consumer and channel insights; and increase marketing ROI. Several of these were echoed in the breakout sessions.

The breakout sessions on the how changes affect activities produced the following useful conclusions and needs: realizing one set of measurement; communicating to people on the their channel of choice;  personalizing communications (up to and including tailored deliveries of medication through implanted devices); the need to monetize more effectively; more audience segments are possible – but are they scalable?; long-term goals are more important than ever; and education is critical as these changes take hold.

The groups assessing digital’s effects on the organization cited the need to further break down silos;  the importance of having marketers who understand the multi-channel world and the analytics required; the need to re-shape organizations, in both skill sets and attitude; the importance of an effective information-sharing process; the ability to anticipate and address new media and channels, e.g Instagram; and the increased need for strategic thinking and the ability to see the big, integrated picture.

This exercise led to widespread discussions and contribution from all the participants, a fitting way to end an informative and fun session. AMA Boston is grateful for the support of Millward Brown, as well as the participation of all the panelists, a couple of whom joined on short notice.