Gray Matters: demand for digital, voice, ‘femvertising’ and top TVCs

Ditching marketing as we know it

A Marketing Week investigation in the UK last year found poor perception and low awareness of marketing as a career choice for young people. Just three percent of students aged 18 to 24 consider marketing a good career option.

There are no similar stats in New Zealand but suffice it to say that while the demand for people with digital marketing skills is strong, the demand for general marketing skills has been decreasing for a couple of years now and many of our most talented young marketers are looking to Australia and beyond to reach their potential.

According to McKinley, there’s high demand for skilled digital marketers, while a reliable supply of talent is lacking throughout the industry. The report shares that over half of all marketing hires will be digital specialists, with content and digital advertising being the most sought-after areas of specialisation.

The Digital Marketing institute further confirms that Australia is one of the countries with the highest demand for digital marketers globally.

The demand for digitally competent marketers in New Zealand and Australia is a trend mirrored in the IT sector as a whole with IT professionals in both countries earning more compared with last year, a TechTarget survey found.

A year ago, Which-50 partnered with Marketo and ADMA to develop Digital Marketing 2025, the most comprehensive study of how the priorities, capabilities, KPIs and technology needs of marketers will change in the years ahead.

What is evident from the study is there will be huge changes in the area of marketing skills. Many niche and emerging marketing skills beginning to gain importance today will lead teams in 2025, while a few current tasks will decline or be “automated into oblivion”.

As reported in the Australian Marketing Mag, “the fastest-growing skills in terms of expected importance are AI and neuromarketing. Today, six percent of marketers say they need AI capabilities for machine learning, and 60 percent say they’ll need it in 2025. Neuromarketing leaps from 8 percent to 52 percent on the same scale. Sophisticated data analytics, the foundational technology behind these two trends will be the most important skill in the marketing team in 2025.”

With generalist marketing skills expected to fall entirely out of fashion, the face and culture of marketing will undergo a dramatic change. Whether this will make marketing less of a career choice for young people remains to be seen but already I detect a shift towards the communications side of the business by those who would previously been drawn towards brand management.

In an article in The Drum, Unilever chief Alan Jope advised marketers of the future will be specialists: “If you look at our brand team, we used to have a group product manager, marketing manager, brand manager, associate brand manager – all generalists. Nowadays we will increasingly specialize on business management experts, communications experts, and innovation experts, and within communications expertise you will have audience segmentation analysts, pure data analysts, programmatic media people.”

In a blog from inbound marketing agency, The League, Andrew Lang maintains that while modern-day marketers need to be across a broad subset of skills just to keep up with online marketing trends, the basic tenets of successful marketing haven’t changed and a solid marketing strategy shouldn’t be adapted to accommodate tech.

Hopefully, New Zealand will still be able to draw on some of its best talent to keep up the high standard of marketing in this country, but there are warning signs that the profession is becoming less attractive while those that are attracted are tending to see greater potential across the ditch.

Hear ye, hear ye

Since writing a couple of articles recently for StopPress about voice technology, smart speakers and what they have meant for radio (here and here), I’ve received an interesting research report from voicebot.ai.

The research concerns the state of voice assistants as a marketing channel, surveying 329 marketers from agencies, consumer and business brands. One-quarter of marketing professionals believe voice assistants will be an extremely important marketing channel, and 88.5 percent believe voice assistants will be at least a somewhat significant marketing channel, over the next three to five years.

Marketers also believe voice commerce will take off with Apple’s Siri Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Bixby becoming ubiquitous with new technology users.

“Marketers care about smart speakers but are slightly more focused on smartphones as a vehicle for voice app engagement with their customers,” says the report. “It is clear that the intersection of smartphones and voice assistants is top of mind for marketers today.”

Although more than one-third of brands in the survey expect to have a voice app by the end of 2020, the initial investment in voice apps is slow. I’d be interested to hear from local marketers whether they have this on their radar.

Voice shopping appears to be an area of opportunity with voice being used as a channel for the front-end of the consumer shopping journey, including product search.

One thing all voice apps must have is content and creating it is an important consideration. In the research, about half of the brand marketers believed someone else should create it, giving a major opportunity to ad agencies to come to the party. For voice-over artists, the switch from radio commercials to giving voice apps a human voice should be an easy one.

The report states: “Voice actors tend to be used more frequently in voice apps that have a direct ‘call to action’ or ‘facilitate the buying process’. Voice actors were four times more likely to be used in voice apps with an explicit call to action and were used in over half of the voice apps that facilitated the buying process.”

Technology is changing the way we communicate but for the astute there are opportunities everywhere.


Ten months ago, Georgia Middleton wrote in StopPress about the changing faces of women in advertising, in which she asked the question: “Is misogynistic advertising a thing of the past, or do seeds of it still exist? In global terms, the answer came this week in a new US study by Kantar, which concluded ‘Six out of 10 women think the way women are portrayed in advertising is outdated, including three out of four Gen Z women who believe ads directed at them are ‘completely out of touch’.”

Furthermore, 78 percent of respondents wished that more companies and brands would stand up for women. “It’s clear that the ‘Femvertising’ approach that cheers on women with feel-good messages encouraging empowerment, confidence, and self-esteem, while well-intentioned, is failing to connect with the majority of women — especially those in the centennial generation (Gen Z),” Ryan McConnell, senior vice president of Kantar, told Marketing Daily.

The best example of an ad standing up for women, “encouraging empowerment, confidence, and self-esteem,” is the latest TVC for Women’s Refuge, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave,’ which gives us a better understanding of the complexity of an abusive relationship, and the inability for women to leave when they don’t know where to turn.

Coming from Women’s Refuge, this is an expected message, but what women appear to be looking for is a similar understanding of women’s issues from brands that might not ordinarily be seen to associate themselves with such realities. Women will identify with brands that are brave enough to align themselves with the real-life issues that have real-world relevance.

‘Femvertising’ appears to be the opportunity du jour. Let’s see if brand advertisers here take up the challenge.

Perception and reality

When StopPress published the Top ten TV ads named in new viewer-led research by Think TV and TRA, I was disappointed that the top-rated commercial was one created not here in New Zealand but overseas, created by UK agency VCCP as part of Cadbury’s new global platform.

The awesome Speight’s – ‘The Dance’ TVC came a close second but strangely, our most trusted brand, Whittaker’s was seemingly out advertised by its declining (in New Zealand) competitor, and did not appear in the top 10. This, despite the combined talents of the Whittaker’s team, Assignment Group and Nigella Lawson, surpassing the competition to win the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award for May, with “A journey from bean to bar”.

This follows a string of award-winning Whittaker’s ads, so one wonders about the voting systems of different awards and in particular how research houses TRA and Colmar Brunton seem to come up with different results.

But then any political aficionado who was bemused by the startling differences in the latest TV One Colmar Brunton and Three’s Reid Research recent political polls must be starting to wonder how much research we can believe.


“Agencies need to rethink how they speak about digital marketing and avoid using terminology that is far removed from the real world. Words such as ‘users’, ‘decks’ and ‘journeys’ sound natural in an agency setting but can be completely meaningless in someone else’s office. Let’s talk about ‘people’, ‘presentations’ and ‘experience’ instead.” – Joanna Harrod, strategist at Signal, talking to TheDrum.

About Author

Graham Medcalf is a freelance writer and owner of Red Advertising.

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