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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Digital Marketing Adapts as Conferences Become More Important

Producing products and developing services comprise only half of the equation for success in today’s business world and without a proper marketing campaign that targets the right audience with the right material, no success is guaranteed or possible. Digital media has provided excellent aid to the field of marketing in this sense, enhancing its possibilities for reaching out to customers, while digital marketing has already become an industry standard for numerous companies. Technology is playing a big part in our world, whether it be uploading content to social media, scheduling software for businesses or analyzing data, the marketers of today are always involved in some sort of a digital transaction or activity related to their trade, and for a good enough reason: to learn, apply and maximize the effect of their campaigns. 

Digital marketing conferences fulfill an integral role in the given paradigm, making it possible for educators and successful projects to reach out to interested audiences to educate them about new techniques, procedures and ideas. Without them, marketers of the world would have a hard time connecting with one another to exchange ideas or learn about these novelties to apply them to their work. Much kudos to such organizations and their organizers for allowing such communications and education to take place in various parts of the world every year, and also for making it possible for information to get out and enlighten people. Even more thanks should be given to those who have contributed to the shaping of the current vivid global market of ours, within which information and knowhow help move mountains for those interested in enhancing business through intelligent digital marketing. 

However, it pays back a great deal to the inquirer to be more specific about this issue and focus on actual organizations to learn what is really going on in them. Philip Kushmaro’s list for The Huffington Post is a great resource for such an intention as the author lists several successful digital marketing conferences around the world to explain their key features along with providing the names of their key attendees. Hubspot Inbound’s ‘Fuel the Movement’ is the first one he mentions, which took place in Boston, Massachusetts, housing over 14,000 marketers and agency professionals including some important public figues such as Seth Godin, Aziz Ansari, Michelle Obama and Brene Brown. The main topics being discussed at the event were content marketing, conversion optimization and lead generation which are all integral concepts for digital marketing today. Kushmaro then refers to the ‘Optimove Connect’ conference which took place for the 3rd time in its history in Tel Aviv, Israel, to bring in “the sharpest minds in the industry to bestow knowledge upon peers and colleagues in the marketing industry.” The conference’s speaker list included “Mr. Blake Irving, GoDaddy’s CEO, Pini Yakuel, Founder and CEO of Optimove and many key figures from companies such as Stitch Fix, Adore Me, Google, Freshly” who all intended to integrate their theoretical knowledge within the experiences they shared with the audience. 

The ‘Rise’ conference in Hong Kong housed more than 250 speakers and 15,000 attendees coming from more than 100 countries of the world. In last year’s organization, important names such as Jon Tsei of and Bracken Darrell of Logitech attended the conference to provide excellent insights regarding digital marketing and how it helped define a better future for their superstar companies. The next one on the list is ‘TechCruch Disrupt Berlin’ event that took place in Berlin, Germany last December that concentrated on startups and possible marketing innovations to be used for their operations. Previously, the organization was staged in different countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Hong Kong and Ireland among many others, taking its message to a global audience. The ‘Web Summit’ conference in Lisbon, Portugal was staged for the 8th time in its history and has so far been labelled as “the largest tech conference worldwide” by and “the best tech conference on the planet” by Forbes. The organization had the pleasure of housing more than 1000 speakers so far, including “Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit, Gillian Tans the President & CEO of, Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel” along with “Dustin Moskovitz, cofounder & CEO of Asana,” and shows no sign of slowing down to bring more intelligence and talent into its mix.  

The last two conferences on Kushmaros’ list are ‘DigiMarCon South Africa’ and ‘iMedia Brand Summit Goa.’ The first event was a local African summit, bringing African marketers together whereas the second one has been noted as “one of the most influential summits globally.” iMedia’s organization houses several Fortune 500 companies but it is also an ‘invite-only organization’ and therefore one needs to be a member of a powerful network to be able to join. While all the conferences are concerned with essentially the same ideas and aspirations, it is totally up to the interested party(ies) to investigate further into them and obtain valuable information to make up their mind(s). It is a sure fact, however, that some organizations are better constructed and operated than the others and that some attendees would simply be more interested in specific areas of digital marketing than the others. Therefore, certain conferences would suit the needs of such marketers better than the other events. Either way, paying attention to these organizations is crucial for the aspired marketer and their future plans for their profession.

The Wired Magazine has managed to create a significant buzz in the worlds of digital media and marketing so far and the publication is also responsible for organizing the ‘Disruptive by Design’ conference that focuses on businesses and their digital media needs. Beth Carter for the magazine has interviewed Curtis Hougland, the CEO of the Public Relations company Attention, to ask him about social media’s involvement in the world of digital marketing today to which Mr. Hougland has more than generously responded in the most enlightening and educating manner possible. According to him, social media is not just a technology but rather it is “biology and consumer behavior,” as using it leads to dopamine being released in the user’s brain, making the whole experience an addiction of sorts. According to him, understanding social media habits is crucial for digital marketers to make up their minds about their future marketing projects.

Mr. Hougland also states that as enlightening and intuitive as social media might be, it is also a mere reflection of consumer behavior and not a driver of it, contrary to what many people believe. He also believes that social media marketing is more difficult than regular digital marketing because although “the supply of consumer attention is relatively fixed,” the demand for social media content “will grow exponentially faster,” meaning that the average social media marketer needs to “satisfy the basic needs of utility, entertainment, value and reciprocity” simultaneously. Otherwise, the potential customers waiting on social media networks will eventually shy away from repetitive and tasteless pieces of digital content and will never return as a possible consumer to the same company. Considering how busy and occupied most of the social media users are on a daily basis, it is understood that social media marketing needs to be done in a time-efficient manner to both attract user attention and appease the viewer’s eyes and mind.

Mr.Hougland also acknowledges the fact that social media enables its users to integrate their own identity into the actual brands that they share in their posts and therefore “people matters more than a corporate brand.” Brands that are being shared on social media outlets are getting a good chance to develop a one-to-one relationship with their customers to be promoted to the entire world. The author refers to this issue as the ‘social media buzz,’ which has managed to transform “the traditional marketing into a marketing loop.” In this sense, hyper-links are very utile tools to create digital word of mouth to grow relationships with the social media audience who also happen to be possible future consumers/clients. Developing such a personal relationship is very important in the digital age because information flow is virtually limitless and having dedicated followers is a great strategy to keep a brand’s name and image in the eyes of the public for long periods of time. 

The author then refers to a notion that he labels as ‘the customer journey,’ noting how “the web site is the center of the customer journey” and that “the world is social, and we must socialize every step of the customer journey, leaving no dead ends.” In a world where people’s attention spans are significantly shorter than what they used to be in the past, marketing procedures need to immediately and drastically adapt to such a change. Social media in this regard makes it possible to influence people in a very direct way, using real life data obtained directly from user activities. According to Mr. Houglan, mathematics and statistical design are taking over creativity, as he advises to the digital marketers to pay attention to network creation and retention to be able to continuously reach out to their clients. In other words, as opposed to the free and liberal marketing paradigm of the past, the new social media marketing system is heavily scientific and rests on mathematical principles that leave little room for experimentation or errors. Without understanding the algorithms and the associated mathematical ratios and correlations, even the most attractive and appealing digital content would be ignored by the audiences and miss its chance to deliver its intended message(s). A large and continuously active social media network however, would provide a better chance for marketers to succeed with their campaigns because it would allow them to try over and over again until they achieve the expected and desired result. 

As digital media and marketing both move towards a more integrated and sophisticated future, media companies themselves are taking direct routes to reaching out both to the public and their partners/rivals to raise interest in new realities and possibilities. As Naomi Larsson reports for The Guardian, “against a backdrop of rapid change across the media industries, the Guardian Changing Media Summit looked at the nature of responsibility in turbulent times,” meaning that the newspaper’s own digital media and marketing event is currently investing into developing the notions of social and corporate responsibility. The author takes note of how the current day media affairs are “dominated by fears of fake news” but trustworthy and constructive journalism and marketing will continue to profit from the industry in the years to come. Among the summit’s speakers was the newspaper’s chief revenue officer Hamish Nicklin, who stated that they were eager to continue with their ethical publishing policies and promote responsibility through their works at all costs. The organization, which housed “more than 550 delegates from the world of journalism, advertising and publishing” was a perfect opportunity for its attendees to evaluate Mr. Nicklin’s words and understand the underlying motivations.  

Ms. Larsson also refers to the case of Harvey Weinstein in her article to point out that the pursuing #MeToo debate and social media campaign were a great way to promote resistance against sexism and sexual assault, while they also constituted a great indicator of how “the industry must look at itself now and change its own ways.” In a similar vein, Cindy Gallop who is the former chairman of BBH New York, took note of their own campaigns titled ‘MakeLoveNotPorn/IfWeRanTheWorld’ as great attempts at promoting gender equality and sexual awareness among the public  and members of the media industry. According to her, one of the primary problems in today’s modern day world and the developing media paradigm is sexual harassment because “it prevents equality, diversity and inclusion happening.” In the media industry especially, women are subjected to such practices frequently. In this sense, Ms. Gallop emphasized the role of the media as a responsible leader in such an issue, and how the new digital media should not “perpetuate the same old stereotypes” created by its predecessors. The digital media and marketing professionals therefore should pay attention to their contents and how they are presented to the respective audiences, at times sacrificing profitability for being able to remain in the safe zone of equality and respect. 

Ms. Larsson then further continues her debate about sexism in the fields of digital media and marketing to point out that there exists a gender pay gap that is “45% in favor of men,” while also asserting her own idea that in the digital media business, women are actually more effective than man because they take on more responsibilities. Following this argument, the author claims that the summit, a “reflected a sentiment that the industry has a responsibility to be diverse in all senses of the term,” including issues such as racism. Ms. Larsson refers to the Buzzfeed news editor Elizabeth Pears who has pointed out that several newspapers in the UK have no African-British employees in their staff, further commenting on how disabling the African community from having the right to becoming journalists is a direct contradiction to the very notion of unbiased journalism. In the end, journalists are self-righteous people and therefore it is highly impossible that a largely white journalist crew would take interest in comprehending and reporting issues that plague the African community’s troubles in the country, or any other minority for that matter. With respect to digital marketing, it is understood that such dominance also promotes certain values within the consumer culture that are discriminative and might very well lead to larger social problems in the future. 

The author then focuses on social media and its responsibilities to contribute to such diversity and equality, underlining the fact that in this specific domain, “the line between platform and publisher becomes increasingly blurred.” In the light of the question of whether if social media outlets should be held responsible for the content shared on them or not, the British Parliament Member Damian Collins took a stance and stated that the definition of a social media platform currently is also a blurry one. According to the politician, who also happens to be a chair for the digital, culture, media and support committee that is currently conducting an investigation for fake news in the UK, they are more interested in understanding where the data is being taken from and where is sold off to. If direct connections between suspicious or malevolent sources and equally problematic targets are discovered, then it proves that there has been a breach of law. The PM also made reference to social media advertisements and marketing in the light of this argument, stating that there should be clear lines and limitations regarding such acts to ensure safety and security on these platforms. 

Looking at all the three articles and the provided information in them, it is seen that digital media and marketing are both hot subjects for debate and application today. The given conferences therefore are equally important in understanding how the trends are shaping in these fields but more importantly, what kind of ideas are being supported and promoted currently. Paying attention to speakers and attendees is a necessity in this sense, because it makes it possible to understand what the leaders of the sector are currently believing in. When combining all these insights together, it is understood that digital marketing conferences are very utile organizations because they allow valuable communications and exchange of ideas to take place, in a focused and dedicated way that would not be possible in an everyday or even an academic context or scenario.  

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