Superfans, content, and convenience: How the biggest brands ensure the future of digital marketing


It’s been almost 21 years since the premiere of the first web banner ad, hearkening an era of constant innovation in the digital marketing field. So what are these latest revelations? The IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) Engage conference this week probed this question, with experts revealing their findings about some of the biggest brands in the world.

Superfans tell all

Online lodging behemoth Airbnb wants to ensure its “superfans” shape the future of the explosively popular company. Airbnb recently invited its top 6,000 property listers to Airbnb Open, the first conference for hosts, to learn how to keep the gigantic brand personal. UK country manager James McClure said Airbnb wants its one hundred millionth customer as happy as its tenth. The company experienced its biggest night ever just a few months ago when one million people stayed at Airbnb properties. With those numbers, keeping Airbnb personal proves to be a challenge. At Airbnb Open, company execs will gather valuable takeaways from those who know the company best. “These guys are our superfans,” said McClure, “But they also don’t hold back from telling us things we can improve on.”

Data: Enhancing or overshadowing consumer feedback?

The topic of data prevailed at IAB Engage. Analysts cautioned brands against relying too heavily on data lest they lose sight of the creative process and connecting with consumers. However, Disney CMO Anna Hill said data can be an asset as long as brands place importance on prioritizing its consumers’ interest. At this UK-centric conference, Hill said Disney employs 30 Europe-based brand researchers who speak to more than 70,000 consumers a year, all in the name of learning what resonates with the public.

For example, the company discovered an untapped market of adults interested in its brand in Japan, leading to new partnerships with fashion brands like Jimmy Choo. However, Hill believes even numbers can’t replace simply listening to consumers. “A brand like Disney is ultimately about the kids. You have to get a balance between what the science and data and what your instinct and gut tells you,” she said.

Convenience over content

From Netflix to Uber to Spotify, the hottest brands may be captains of their respective industries, but all share one thing in common: convenience. That’s right: content isn’t king – convenience is. “Brands that can help consumers easily book a hotel room or order a taxi or listen to music will win out,” said consumer psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden. Brands and agencies alike should be investigating how they could be improving their consumer relationships. How can you make your customer’s life easier? “The future of advertising is in business model innovation,” said Marsden. “It is not about the next great ad format that changes everything or the next way to interrupt people. You have to change the value proposition.”

It is certainly a brave new world for the digital marketer, all of whom can trace their origins back to a single source – that first web banner:

What does the future hold for digital marketing? Only time – and apparently consumers – will tell.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s