M0002 – Applied digital marketing with Ida Serneberg
M0002 – Applied digital marketing with Ida Serneberg
4 x 30 min
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Velkommen til Lorn.Tech – en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Med Silvija Seres og venner
SS: Welcome to a Lørn Masterclass. My name is Silvija Seres, and my guest today is Ida Serneberg. Program leader in digital marketing and social media at Noroff School of technology and digital media. Welcome, Ida.
IS: Thank you.
SS: I’m just going to say a few words about this different style of chat that we have started doing with Lørn. So, traditionally Lørn conversations are about reference cases in innovation, but we have found that our listeners also wish for a little bit more theory, so this is one of the 50 masterclasses that we are creating where the intention is to give people just the basic set of concept models and examples in a particular subject that we have reference cases within, and the topic today, Ida, is digital marketing. Sounds good?
IS: Yes, very good.
SS: Excellent. Ida, just tell us very briefly. Who are you and what do you do that relates to digital marketing?
IS: Yes, I’m the program leader of digital marketing and social media at Noroff School of technology and digital media, and I’ve been working here teaching the future marketeers digital marketing for the last three years. Before that, I was 15 years in the industry working as social media manager for Nordic Choice hotels and web manager for several big projects in Sweden. I’m originally from Sweden. I’ve lived here in Norway for 10 years, but I also have an international background. Studied in South Africa and worked in the finance industry in Switzerland, so yeah. That’s me.
SS: Very cool, Ida. And I know from social media that you’re very proud of your students. You celebrate them and encourage them to go for more. Tell us a little bit about Noroff and in particular, your part of it.
IS: Yes. So, Noroff is a vocational school, and vocational school means my responsibility and social responsibility. The mission I have from the government is to enable students to go straight to work without any further educational actions- That’s actually the law. I often say that in my program, which often is a one-year program, is a full year of a job application. So, it’s not just about getting a job after school, but I observe school just as the job world that you need to prepare the students for the future work-life. And in our case, we teach a lot of different programs. We have graphic design, 3d design, frontend development, and cyber security, and I teach at the digital marketing program. If you’re my student, you will most likely end up as a performance marketing specialist, content producer, or even head of marketing for instance. So that’s what my students do, and as I said I’ve had classes now, and actually, 80% of my students entered the job market, and specifically the digital marketing industry before or right after the exam, so I’m very proud of them, yes.
SS: They’re very, very good. I know from experience. Ida, tell us what is digital marketing and how is it different from what we traditionally think is marketing?
IS: I think it’s a really relevant question because in today’s world we put digital as a prefix on everything and the question is what is digital and what is not digital? So marketing, in general, is a field that goes back to Aristoteles. It goes back to the act of persuasion, so if we look at marketing as such, it’s about having your intended audience or a potential customer making an action, for instance, a purchase, in accordance with your goals. Then we put that digital on, and all of a sudden it becomes so complicated. And right before, I talked about performance specialists. We have all these buzzwords in today’s marketing world, and I think it’s important to think about it in the way that what technology made to marketing is that each step of the process can be used with the support of technology or digital technology, so I often talk about The Three P’s. The Three P’s are Position or Placement, Price, and let me come back to the third one. But the funny thing is that we often think –
IS: No, it’s not a product. I’m going to be there in a minute, but the funny thing is –
IS: No, so that’s the classical Four P’s. So, we talked about The Four P’s, that’s also important. That’s good old Kotler. He’s one of these guys that you still talk about. He talked about The Four P’s like Place, Product, Price and Promotion. And the funny thing is very often when we talk about marketing, we only talk about promotions. When I ask my students what digital marketing is, they say it’s social media ads at the beginning of the year. I always ask people that. It is an advertisement through Google. Advertisement online, so we very often think about marketing as an advertisement. That is only promotion, so marketing is the whole set of things around it. When we went online, the big major shift is that we can talk about the search corridor. You can say that you have two types of marketing. Either it’s inbound, which is that you have people searching for something, they have a need, and your job as a marketer is to make your company as visible as possible in that search corridor. So that’s one thing. The other one is interruption. Back in the day it was knocking on the door and selling your hover, right? Nowadays interruption marketing is the TV ad. The commercial TV ad, but it’s also what pops up in your feed while your scrolling looking for what people just recently did, meaning that as a product, you’re not only competing with other competitors, you’re competing with people’s grandma, people’s cousins and so forth. And back to my P’s again. If we look at placements for instance. What digital made to marketing is that the placement became digital. You can place an ad on a whole variety of new kinds of placements, and when I say placements, it’s typical placements like in the back of a magazine. But it’s also on VG.no, like in a big newspaper. It’s what covers all of it, right? But then you also have something that’s called outdoor marketing. Outdoor marketing has increased immensely in the last couple of years, and what do we see in outdoor marketing? They’ve gone from those papers to those big…
IS: Billboards, right. And they’re also digital, so that’s where you have the placement. Then we have prices, and think about back in the old days where you had the sales management around your magazine, and they would call different potential customers, and they would say “Okay, you want to advertise in our magazine. We can offer you this and that, this and that” If you were advertising for a longer period, you would get a discount. The whole process nowadays is automatic. It’s made through the usage of technology and that gives us a whole different variety of new, hard, difficult words that we can predict the price. We can predict the behavior of people, and we can then have a much smarter algorithmic price model than back in the day. And then there’s the third P that I can’t remember, but it will pop up in my mind soon.
SS: So basically, digital marketing is placement or visibility of your products, pushing your products through technology that’s helping you with each of these steps that you’ve mentioned?
SS: And technology is making everything in a way easier for creators and distributors, but at the same time there’s far more competition. Is the nature of the subject changing? Could you tell us the basic history of the subject, and is it harder or easier today?
IS: Oh yeah, that’s such a good question Silvija. Is it harder or easier? So that’s also in my second lesson in digital marketing. What’s different from old media to new media, or old marketing to new marketing? And then the students will write different notes, and then you often have contradictory answers. It’s easier to target people and it’s easier to reach out. You can reach out to a global audience within the next minute, which you couldn’t back in the day. So, is nature different? But then someone would say it’s harder because the volume has changed, so you can think about marketing from that perspective that every day when you open your Facebook feed or your LinkedIn feed, you have between 1.500 to 15.000 messages waiting for you. You’re only to get a selection of them. The algorithm will decide the selection of what you see in your feed. You’ll only see approximately 80 messages, so my job as a marketer is to become the top 80 in the right audience, so for that matter, it’s harder, right? But speed made it easier on the other hand. The reach was all of a sudden higher, but then again, you’re reaching everyone and no one. Then we also have the concept of context collapse. Context collapse means that all of a sudden, you don’t know where your message will show up and that makes it also harder, then someone would claim that was also the issue with marketing. That the context collapse is always there, so yes and no. The concepts of marketing are still the same, we just have this technology that amplified parts of it.
SS: What are the most important concepts in your area? If we are to teach people five words that they can use to bluff about digital marketing, what would those five words be?
IS: I would talk about the five qualities. To begin with, searchability. So, all of the sudden you’re searchable, so with the whole idea of a search engine, me as a customer, I can go online and I can start making a lot of research about vacuum cleaners and then I create needs along the way that I didn’t know that I had. So searchability is number one. Then you have that constant connectivity, and that creates a whole lot of problems for us. I think this is the issue that is being addressed more and more, that constant connectivity means I can reach out to my customers 24/7. They can reach me and that requires that we are online 24/7, but now we see a shift in that. “No, we don’t want to be online all the time”, but what if a client posts something about you on Twitter at 11 clock in the evening, and you don’t see it because that’s outside your opening hours, and when you wake up in the morning the next day, you all of a sudden has a big PR-problem. So that’s another thing. Persistence is also important. What comes online, stays online. So here you see your reputation. And again, going back to good old Kotler and his four P’s. And if we say that “Okay, that’s only advertising. That’s what marketing is. That’s a promotion”. And Kotler actually said this in his late years. Kotler, professor in marketing, is over 90 years old and is still active, and he says that there’s too much one P-marketing in today’s world, but marketing is also about the product and what you could offer the people. If it’s not a good product then the internet will tell you so, so that’s the persistence that you need to think about marketing as a whole. The whole organization and everyone in your company is a marketeer. That’s the third one. The fourth one is scalability is what I already touched upon. It’s the fact that you can reach a global audience in one click, and you can reach an audience that wasn’t an intended one. I remember that the government in the Netherlands created this fantastic website where they wanted to show how to get easy access to the demography of the Netherlands, and you could just walk into your area, and it pops up like a really nice graph. This is your demographic in your neighborhood. This is the average age. Most single households, and also how many immigrants and where they came from. Then someone picked that up. Someone from a right-wing party, or even extreme right, used it against the purpose. They used it to show “Look how our country is going” and so forth. Sometimes you have a message and it will be misused, and it’s so much easier in today’s world to have misinformation. There we have the concept of fake news and so forth. That’s the fourth one.
SS: We talked about replicability and scalability.
IS: And searchability
SS: And instant connectivity and persistence.
SS: So, there are pros and cons, but really, there’s not an alternative. We cannot undo the digital. What should we be most careful about and what does successful implementation look like?
IS: Really good question. If we go back to 2004. I think that’s a really important year, so let me give you a brief history lesson, not on digital marketing, but rather social media which is really essential in this universe. So, in 2004 that fall, there was a huge conference in California. It was called the Web 2.0 Conference, and it was here this concept was coined. Web 2.0. This social outbreak of the internet. It was actually the code html5 that was invented at that time. Then a few months there was a little webpage that was created that was called YouTube, and YouTube marks the shift of Web 2.0. Until that time, the internet was kind of static. You had information there. You’ve had forums where you maybe shared things, but in 2004 we saw the big companies coming up. From Facebook to YouTube and so forth. So that was the Web 2.0. So fast forward a few years until 2013, or actually 2012 marks a shift in the history of Facebook. That’s the year where the feed is invented, and the feed is one of the most important inventions in Facebook history. Up until then, you didn’t have your own feed, and that’s why if you go back on your Facebook page, Silvija, and it doesn’t make sense. You were writing messages back and forth, back and forth then. Because we didn’t have that feed. We went into the profile of each person and we didn’t really understand that other people can see this. That’s the scalability again, and in 2013 the feed came. The feed made it possible to commercialize. That’s the year we started the commercial aspect of the internet, and especially of social media. Where you started with programmatic ads, to a larger extent you could start targeting in a very diligent and intelligent way in 2013.
SS: The idea is that you could program your ads to go to a particular group, by age, by sex, by location etc.
IS: Exactly. So that’s also the era where the usage of cookies. The fact that when you enter a webpage, you leave traces and information about you and this is being used for marketing purposes. This created a slight awareness about the fact that “Okay, what about privacy?”. In 2018 in June, we got the GDPR. I mean, it was a process of many years. They started to work with it in 2015, and GDPR was a callout to our industry. Every time you enter a webpage, you broadcast your identity and your personal information to the rest of the world. “Hey, marketing industry. You need to do something”. And that to me marks the shift to the next one, Web 4.0. And if you google that, you’ll find a lot of “Okay, so what is Web 4.0 going to be like?”. Web 4.0 is the era of regulations. I would call it the ethical aspect of the internet. There is going to be a massive change next year with cookies. Google are phasing out their cookies. We talk about “The cookie death”, meaning it will not be that simple anymore to target people just like that. We will see that in the years to come, I always say to my students that the regulations that you need to know, they’re not even invented yet. I think as a marketeer, one of the core skills you need to know these days is to be reactive to regulations. I think it’s so interesting because of what we’ll see next year. We will always have the need to market ourselves. To make ourselves visible, everyone is asking me “Well, how’s this world going to be like?”. I have a very dear cousin who works with these kinds of issues in Stockholm, and she always says “Next year, we’ll have a new internet”, and that sounds very dramatic, right? It’s an exaggeration I would say, but still, what we will see next year is that we will have first-party data. We will work with the login function on our web pages like you and Lørn.Tech do. You have your own, we call it Walled Garden. That’s a 100$ word. Walled Garden, that’s your platform, or your webpage, and you own the data. You have the right to talk to your customers in that secure garden. That’s going to be the future of marketing, and that’s why we marketers need to work with creating secure platforms like back in the day. You know your customers. You’re the owner of the corner shop, and you know that every morning at 9, Silvija comes to pick up her bread. Every day at 12, Linda comes and buys her lunch, for instance.
SS: I think this is super interesting. I have just to ask you for a couple of explanations, Ida. One of them has to do with knowing the regulations. Also perhaps knowing the algorithm. I remember there was no end to the discussion on how Google does this or that, nobody wants SEO, it’s terrible. But on the other hand, what you saw was as soon as you published information about, let’s say search optimization, people would look for tricks. Invisible text, especially text related to pornography and hidden ads. My take on that is that I always thought that if you can’t make your content compete on its own strength, then you might as well not do this at all. So rather than looking for dirty tricks or finding holes in the regulation in the future as well, I believe we should make sure that we have the product and we have good enough content for the placement. What do you think?
IS: So, one of the main foundations in marketing is that you always have an objective. You always have a placement and then you have creativity. Those are the three fundamentals and you kind of find that even in rhetoric’s, so this is an old theory. Very often, the trick is to be finding the placement. It’s about “How can I hack the algorithm?”. “How can I make sure I’m at the top of these search results?”. “How can I understand the algorithm so that I know exactly how to be the best?”. But what we know is that 80% of all marketing activities fail on their creatives. Creatives are the content you’re talking about. That’s where you have the gold. You can’t trick yourself out of that, and the most typical question people ask me is “What’s the best time to post?”. There is no such thing as a best time. Again, we have the algorithm, but still. If your story is worth sharing and if it’s this wow-effect to it, that’s what matters, not time. I believe that what we need is marketeers who know the regulations. We know that we need to know some technology and understand technology well enough to be able to at least hire the right people to create the right platform that we talked about, but finally, we need good storytellers.
SS: So, we in Lørn believe in the marketing of knowledge and innovation through stories. What I find is that there is respect out there for good content creation. I just want to hear you on that, because there is also this belief that AI is going to scrape up other content and create our own automatically creative content, but somebody is going to give some text-seed to the machine. Somebody needs to create some new content and have some new ideas for the whole automated machinery if you want robot-journalists, programmatic ads, or anything else to work. How do you inspire people to create good content? How do you inspire them to experiment with different content creation platforms? I’m looking for somebody who will make us a really good TikTok for every good case that we have in our library. Some people are too young and simply don’t care for the topic, and the people who care for the topic don’t dare to touch TikTok. How do you boost that content creativity?
IS: That’s one of my favorite challenges. I think about it often because that’s what really makes the outstanding marketeer an outstanding marketeer. There are a lot of things here to take upon. To begin with, what can machines do? I’ve heard about and read about some of the storytellers that we have in our society. Journalists like you said, but also priests. I’ve heard someone say “Okay, so what if we have an AI who preaches for each Sunday”, and that’s totally possible actually. Then we stand with this idea of “Okay, what can humans do?”. In terms of creating novelty, that requires human intelligence. Novelty is to create something new, and new requires using your senses. What I try to do is to create all these kinds of activities where we share stories using all our senses. Tactile, and not only visually. It’s a very visual culture we have right now, but as we’ve known from this pandemic is that we also need touch and we need tactile. So that’s one thing. Secondly, it’s also about inspiration. I try to encourage my students to read a lot. Read many different things, but at the end of the day, observation. What we use with our human eyes. That’s also incredibly important, and how we smell the world. Robots of today cannot connect the dots, so the activities that we have to work on are connecting the dots. Secondly, you’re also into that “Okay, TikTok”, so what we need to know is to understand and explore the different functions of each medium, so you have a variety of possibilities in TikTok that you have in this medium, this podcast-medium. Then you need to go out and explore and observe. How are people using TikTok? Secondly, how can we use those functions in a relevant way, and that’s really exciting because every time there’s a new medium, there’s a whole bunch of functions connected to it. What I encourage everyone to do is to go out and explore. With that said, everyone doesn’t have to be on TikTok, but we need to at least explore the possibility. Another one is Clubhouse. Clubhouse is really linear to begin with. You need to meet up at a certain point. It’s kind of like the instant connectivity and a response to that. It’s not instant connectivity, you actually have to meet at a certain time, and it’s also about going back to the near and the dear ones. It’s affinity-based. It’s based on interest. You can go out and find people that are also into knowledge and technology and find those peers. To explore is the answer.
SS: I’m fascinated about how often we create technology for a particular idea or purpose, and they end up solving a different problem. The people that understand that hidden value or that hidden problem that they actually solved. There is a story about messaging, SMS, that was created without many expectations, but eventually managed to create this very requirement of connectivity solution for people independent of the quality of their networks. Almost indifferent. I’m fascinated, for example, by Clubhouse. It went up like a rocket. It has sort of come down now. I don’t miss the hype, but I miss the service. I very much enjoyed having Clubhouse-events because of the possibility to pull the audience up to the stage and give them some real participation opportunities. I’m sure you can use a chat function in a conference, but that might not be seen by most people. Here they are on the stage, and they’re actively participating. I love that. I think that many of these media like TikTok with its filters. It creates a new medium. It creates a new format, and it takes time for us to figure out the real value of that format. It’s the people that manage to combine these formats that are going to get to something interesting over time. But basically, if I summarize. If I make a bumper sticker of what you were talking about now in terms of successful implementations, what I hear you say is to focus on the creative. Make sure that you know the technicalities of the placement, create realistic, ambitious objectives, and then go creative. Don’t stop. When we came to the pitfalls, you were saying that it takes a lot of work, but also that it might be too much data?
IS: Yeah. I couldn’t have said it better, I liked your sticker there. It’s very well said. One thing that I noticed is that we get very caught up in data in today’s world. We end up having too much data and at the same time I have so many of my students saying “Well, the companies that we work with, they don’t have data”. And that’s very often not the case. They often haven’t structured their data well enough. But also, we’re just overwhelmed by this data and we all start to measure very irrelevant things. Likes, clicks, and so forth. What you should measure is over a long period. So, when you have a campaign and an activity, even if that activity only lasts for a month, you should look at and be attentive to the consequences for a long time. I also find it very important to address that creating content is time-consuming. I think you in Lørn know that creating good, qualitative content requires much more time than people think. Investing time when it comes to content.
SS: Time well spent. And there are no real shortcuts, I think. You mentioned three examples for me, and I’ll like you to basically explain them to us. You talked about the Marshmello concert live in Fortnite, Rema 1000, and SKAM, the show. Why do you like them?
IS: I guess I took really odd examples, but it was what popped in my head. To begin with, Marshmello. The gaming industry is one of the most undervalued possibilities that we have in marketing. Think about how many gamers we have. The gaming industry is not only for kids. It’s for everyone. I’m sure that everyone listening is having a distraction app on our iPhone that we do when we just want to relax. Gamification is such a big part of today’s world, and Fortnite is probably one of the biggest games that we have and one of the most money-making games. Epic Games is the company behind Fortnite. They had a few years ago, and I know this because my nephew talks about it. I don’t play Fortnite, but I listen. And that’s also one of my number one tips. Ask your kids. Try to follow them, and my nephew William, he’s a big fan of Fortnite. Marshmello is an artist, and he had his first-ever live concert within the game. That’s really something that we will see in marketing. It’s already implemented in the gaming industry, but it’s going to be in a very sophisticated way in the years to come. This is one of the examples that I always take at the beginning of the year because it’s so fascinating. Go search for Marshmello concert on YouTube. I think it has about 25 million views. That’s one of the examples. Then Rema 1000 which is probably more known to us. Rema 1000 is probably one of the strongest brands that we have in the Norwegian market. If we go to their YouTube channel, you will see that they have this series about a man and his neighbor. They have the slogan that a simple life is always the best life.
SS: It’s the one where he’s had the tooth operation and he can’t unlock his door because his voice recognition doesn’t work.
IS: Exactly. And I want to know how they came up with that idea, but I’m sure that they just created that one-shot advertisement and it evolved into this series. And seriality is also something that we haven’t talked about, but seriality is also a very big thing in marketing. Not only like Netflix, but creating a story that continues over time and over channels, even. That’s why that’s a really good example. SKAM. Why am I picking something like SKAM? SKAM is not a marketing activity, to begin with, it’s a series. But in SKAM, you have all the components of what I mean is a useful marketing campaign. To begin with, they started gathering data. They asked 16-year-olds “What would be themes that you would be interested in?”. They really understood their audience before they created the content. Then they created this piece of content and it lives on multiple channels at the same time. You can walk into their Instagram stories while you’re watching the play, there’s a whole webpage about it, and then they broadcasted at the times it was meant to be set. It really felt real. If the show was happening at 12:08, that’s also the time they published it. Then you had this whole fanbase that was created around it, and a fanbase that was broader than the intended one. Broader than just the young ones. Some of us were quite old, so there you have the scalability again. And I think it’s massively interesting that the last words of the SKAM series are from the feed. It’s from the chat, and it’s like all we need is love. And that’s not from the series, it’s not from the production, it was from one of the fans. That’s how they decided to end it with the audience. There you have an interactive audience as well which was also a key component in this world. I feel like I’m adding these key components all the time.
SS: I think it’s a really good way of adding them as well, because we look at concrete examples, that most of us have some associations with and then we can steal good ideas and try to see if we can translate them to our needs in digital marketing. And that brings it to the final questions, Ida. Where do I go to become a better marketer, and you have recommended some books. You’ve said you’ve read 50 books this spring, but you recommend “The Flow Book” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. Both of these books have been mentioned previously in the series, but say very briefly what they are, and I would like you to go a little more into digital minimalism before we end.
IS: Oh yeah. To begin with your first question, where do you seek out information? Lørn.Tech is a good example of today’s world and how you can always learn new things, so I think you should have some go-to spot like that. You can of course always apply for a year at my class, but other than that, there are so many certificates. We have HubSpot. It’s actually a tool, but they have a fantastic resource where you can seek content marketing and you can even take really good certificates. I mean, we’re all on this lifelong journey of learning. I find it so hard to say what you should read because I really want to know my audience if they’re my students or whoever. What’s your interest? And try to start with things that you really enjoy, but then I have these three go-to books that if you really need the basics. So, to begin with Kahneman. “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. There’s a scientific article by Kahneman and Tversky, 1979. It marks the shift in how we think about human behavior. And it’s so basic understanding of system A and system B, how we think fast and slow at the same time. Having a sense of understanding as a marketer that we need to talk to the whole brain when we talk to people and it’s very often cited. If you’ve read that, then you will bump into him everywhere. I’m such a fan of Kahneman and Tversky that I’ve read almost everything about them. There’s also another book, “The Undoing Project” and it’s about their friendship. About Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. The psychologist really changed how we think and understand human decision-making. This is at the end of the day what we want to do as marketers. We want to change their behavior in some way or another. So that’s why I always say that it’s a go-to book. The same with “Flow” by Csikszentmihalyi. Csikszentmihalyi is also a psychologist, so both these books are psychology at the bottom. It’s also a book that’s widely cited. It’s really trying to understand creativity. Where does creativity come from and how can I reach that stage of flow into my life? That’s why I find that a really good book. And then I have my favorite author Cal Newport. Cal Newport wrote this book in 2019 called “Digital Minimalism”, and it’s really about the black sides of marketing and digital media in general. I just find that an important read.
SS: Very good Ida. I will actually go and read “Digital Minimalism”. I haven’t read it and I keep thinking both me and my whole team need to do it because I think we get kind of lost in the details and creativity untamed is also a very dangerous thing. I guess the discipline of focusing or the courage of prioritizing that we need to bring back into many of our creative processes. We’ve been through the basic concepts of digital marketing. We have talked through three really good examples, and we have also talked about further reading and some pitfalls. I think that people can look up both your course and other content from Lørn as examples, and I’m hoping actually that we’re going to work with your students on testing out some more of these new modularity of content creation, but also perhaps content distribution.
IS: Yeah, for sure.
SS: Ida, thank you so much.
IS: Thank you.
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With Ida Serneberg and Silvija Seres.
Velkommen til Lørn.Tech – en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Med Silvija Seres og venner
SS: Hello, and welcome to LØRN Master conversation with Ida Serneberg from NOROFF. And this is the second conversation in a row of four. I’m just going to very briefly say how do we structure this, and then we’ll get started. So we already had one conversation. It was about Digital Marketing as background information, a primer, an intro to this subject when you talked about the concept, the definitions, the history of the subject, the pitfalls, and you talked briefly about some of your favourite examples. In this section number 2, we are going to do a deep dive into those examples, and try to understand what we can learn from them. In section three we are going to talk about bridges, so society, technology, and business all have a say in digital marketing. What is it, and how do they form the jobs of tomorrow, and the fourth one will be sort of a toolbox for people on how to get started. Where to go next. How to get working with digital marketing. And we are going to create those three sessions in a row now. Sounds okay?
IS: Yes, wonderful.
SS: Excellent. So, Ida. I’m going to start asking you basically about your examples in this second session on digital marketing. We have room for three to five examples that we are going to explore for about five minutes each. And you have in our introduction talked about commercials, or a series of commercials from Rema 1000, a Norwegian food store chain. Why do you like them, and what’s the coolness of it related to digital marketing?
IS: Yes, I think to understand that example, I think that the listener should take the opportunity to on the Youtube-channel to Rema 1000, and you’ll see there is a sequence of series of the same guy and his neighbour. I think everyone’s seen that when he’s trying to open the door, and he’s struggling with it and then everything is getting messed up. And it’s, I mean, the sense of humour being used is connected to our times, so it’s very, called time relevant, and that’s a very important part when you do content in order to fly.
SS: Just for our viewers who haven’t seen these commercials. Basically, Rema 1000 is our kind of bread-and-butter local food store, and the “1000” in its name refers to the fact that they only, in theory at least, have 1000 unique items. So they have the tagline that the simplest is usually the best, and they’re playing with this super modern smart house technology that suddenly doesn’t work and try to bring us back to simpler times.
IS: Yeah, exactly.
SS: It’s very funny.
IS: Yeah, it’s very funny, and I wonder also because of the one that got really famous. I don’t know how many views it has, I don’t know the history behind it, I don’t know the agency that created it, but I guess that they never planned to do a whole series of it. So I think someone came up with the idea, and then it’s been this series because there’s a request from the audience, so that’s also very interesting to take into account that. Only because you find your idea fantastic in this digital world that at the end of the day, it’s really up to the viewer to determine whether they like it or not. So that’s also something I admire with it, and there’s also this seriality. That we are drawn to, that you can use the same idea for a long time, and that’s something that I find important. To try to find a coherent narrative structure in your brand story, and to stick to it and keep it. Rather than trying to make up something every season, every sale, and every campaign.
SS: I have to add a little bit to your story here because first of all. Most of us has seen that open door commercial where the door just won’t open because the guy had tooth surgery and his voice isn’t recognized by the smart door, but it must mean Ida, that they spent quite a lot of money as well on airing it on all tv channels and very much on the internet. So how do you go from creating something really good and then realising this is a superstar commercial, so let’s have a huge budget. In what order do you do that?
IS: Yeah, really important question, because that also marks a shift in marketing and in today’s world, I would always suggest that you never go all-in with your whole budget when you start. You should maybe start with 10% to test it and see whether it’s going to fly or not. If it doesn’t fly, you have to evaluate it and see why I didn’t fly, and if it did, then you can go big. If you think about it, it’s quite cheap to go online these days and test it out on a very cheap basis before deciding upon going anywhere. So that’s the number one rule.
SS: The other thing I want to ask you is this use of humour. So I’m an immigrant to Norway, some 30+ years ago, and I remember going to the cinema and being delighted with two kinds of commercials especially. One was for the drink called Solo, and the other was for the Lotto. Norsk Tipping winners. And they were both kind of “foot in your mouth”, cheeky, self-ironic. Very, very funny, and I miss them. Why do we so rarely use humor in our creativity?
IS: Ohh, I would say that I’m not sure if I agree, because what we see now is particularly spreadable content which it’s called. How Henry Jenkins, a communications scholar, calls it. He would say humour is one of them. One of the ten ways to get content to spread, so humour is widely used, and also in the Scandinavian context. We use humour a lot in commercials. It’s also funny because I often use Rema 1000 as a case for international students. I teach courses in social media at the university in Sweden. Where 60% are from other countries outside of Scandinavia, and I always ask them: Okay, so what is this commercial about? And then they say, well, it’s about keys. That’s what they take away from it. And that’s also important I think in today’s world, to understand the commercial Rema 1000. So for me, I’m a foreigner too. I was brought up in Sweden, lived there for 10 years. I didn’t even know about the concept that you just taught me about. The 1000 things that they have in their stores, so there we also see something about today’s world about the cultural context is often being lost? And that’s something you have to be sensitive about. So if there’s one critique that I have towards Rema 1000, it’s the fact it’s not related to their products, it’s only related to their brand, and it requires some previous knowledge from the viewers. That’s something that you have to take into account when creating content today.
SS: So a lot of cultural contexts, and sometimes you can export it, but not always. Can you just remind me? The seriality here was a concept that was new to me. So the whole point is to not just do a one-off but to create kind of a timely consistency and continuity about it. Why is that important?
IS: I think it’s important because, I wonder, this is only my theory in that sense, but I think about the never-ending changes that we have in the world. We’re in this constant change, so I believe seriality creates some sort of. There’s something that creates safety for us, I think. It creates some sort of, okay, I know this from before, and I also believe that the narrative structure, that we have a beginning, a middle, and an end, that’s the first type of abstract. Abstract concepts that we learn as children, I think that is the simplest abstract of every form that we have. And I do believe that is important, and often we talk about storytelling as this key concept in marketing and communication today, I mean it always was, but at the end of the day, what does that mean? And it means that we have some form of recognition, the continuity that creates safety.
SS: I think that recognition and that predictability is the thing that you know that this is going to happen, and you still think it’s funny and you’re expecting it. I follow you on the fact that it might be giving us some safety and some connection as well you know. There is Rema 1000 experiencing this whole digitalization of my home and society together with me. You know that they’re experiencing the same way that I do, isn’t that nice. It must be a nice company to buy from.
IS: Because another example of safety in content is nostalgic content, so we use a lot of humour in spreadability or for things to spread, but also. You just referred to Solo or things from the past. I think that also creates a sense of safety because the future is so unknown or insecure, and then we kind of like the idea of going back to something that at least we know. So you will also see that a lot of brands will use nostalgia, they are using their old commercials. That’s also because of access. All of a sudden we have access to content that we never could access before the time of the internet. You saw the same with the printing press, right? After the printing press, we had that huge era when we went back to all the older Latin classical texts that became famous again because we had access to them.
SS: I think that the access element is also super interesting, and I think the access element across new channels is something I want to ask you about as we go. I think this was in Sweden on their airport express train, although maybe I’m confusing it with Norway. Do you know these digital boards that are replacing the paper poster boards? And for a long time, everything that was published on them was just as static as paper. It’s just that, you know, you didn’t have to use glue, you could use a USB, I guess. Now I saw this woman, a picture of a woman standing next to the airport train bay, and as the train came in, her hair would just go all, you know, then it would swoosh down. And it was communicating speed and timeliness. It was interesting, you know I was fascinated, mesmerised looking at the, you know, just as you as a person standing there and feeling all your hair being moved down by the passing train, so is the woman in the commercial. I thought finally, this was a really nice and new way of using a new communication platform. But it took years, it took five years before someone started animating these things.
IS: Yeah, and it’s also animating in that specific context. Understanding the situation of the billboard, that’s very interesting.
SS: A similar kind of blinding experience is another example that you mentioned to me, and it is SKAM or SHAME. A tv-series in Norway.
IS: Yeah, to begin with, I want to have examples outside digital marketing, just to have us understand that is not about marketing or advertisement solely, it’s about the phenomenon that we can see in all kinds of communications as of today. And this series is, to begin with, a fantastic series according to me, but I also find the story behind it is important to understand its success. So the team behind SKAM, started before they created the show. They started by interviewing 600 young people in Norway. Trying to understand who they were, what they were talking about, how they talked, what their interest was, and that created the foundation for the series. That’s how we should do everything. Every piece of communication. Begin with the audience, the customer. Who is that audience? And very often, both my students and my customers start with this very weird idea of creating a persona. A persona is a great tool where you can create an archetype of your audience, and you say okay, my persona and customers are 35 years old. She’s living in Oslo and she has this or this degree. And that’s fair enough as long as it reflects reality. Very often it does not reflect reality, it takes us away from the customer. And I think the first thing all of us have to do is, who is my follower? When I’m looking at my back, who’s following me? Who is listening to me, and why are they listening to me? What’s in their minds and heart, and how can I tap into it? Important. I start even though, I mean. As a teacher, I’m also a marketer. I start every school year asking my students who they are, their backgrounds, what they like to do in their free time, and then I add that to my educational case. If they’re into Harry Potter, well, then I have to read Harry Potter. If they’re into Fortnite, then I have to take that dose of samples into my teaching to create retention. So, retention is really important in marketing, teaching, and communication. Retention is the idea of not so much what do I have to say to my audience, but at the end of the day, what do you remember? And SKAM is the perfect example of that.
SS: I have an insider story on SKAM. It was told to me in such an informal way that I’m not even sure if I understand it correctly, but it was a really interesting cross-functional collaboration, and we’ll come back to this at a later session Ida. So NRK has this division called NRK Super. Our national broadcaster, NRK, has a children’s division called NRK Super. And they are amazingly good at understanding their audience, and creating product after product that the kids just love, and they’ve made it into an art, really. Understanding how to communicate to children, so when the concept of. Let’s make a corresponding product but for youth, for teenagers came up. The request was that the drama division and children division has to do this together. They were put together in this creative room, and they very quickly found out, yeah, but we are too different, you know. We work in completely different ways, so we can’t do this. They were sent back again twice, and in the end, they figured out how to do this in a way that drama was happy with and Super was happy with. And I just think it’s really interesting both as a creative example, you know, of this constructive positive friction, and also as you were saying, one of the unique things about this series, is that it lives this parallel life on our tv-screens and social media. And you kind of lose the borderline through fiction and reality through the social media channels. And that was truly an innovation.
IS: Yeah. So that is the next thing with SKAM. So to begin with, it’s just the idea of having the best inside possible before even creating the product. So that’s the one thing, and then, looking at the product, it’s also very timely and relevant in that sense that they’re intertwining the reality of the show and our daily lives. If you remember this series, they had the show and it was broadcasted on the same date that it was supposed to take place. They had their own Instagram accounts, so you have what we call continuity in that they continued the story across different platforms, so to create real seriality these days, it’s not only about having the narrative in one channel but across channels. And it was also highly connected to the audience, so the audience could comment in the comments, and I even ended up reading the comments because I was so obsessed with it. And very often people tell me, yeah, you know, it is important that when we create content online, it can’t be too long. And that’s false, and especially if you look at SKAM, the fans were requesting more content. They were like counting on it like oh no, the Friday show is only going to be 7 minutes. It’s going to be so short, so if you create jolly good content, your audience will request more of it. It’s just fascinating. There was this intertwined, even like a dialog between the audience and the show, so all of the sudden they had a lot of Danish fans. So what happened? They put on one of the shows, they just had a Danish receptionist in the hotel lobby as a flirt to the audience. So they had all of these small hints that came from the audience. The very last word of the whole show was comments from the feed made by the audience, so there you have this blurred line between the user and the consumer according to Henry Jenkins now from MIT. I think that is so genius, and still at the same time, if you look at it from a cinematic point of view, you have a very a circle disposition, so it started with one of the guys, like, having a speech, and then he ended up with a speech, and it just tied everything together, and at the same time, they were able to intertwine the voices from the audience.
SS: So. I remember mothers watching the series, and then not being very popular with their daughters for you know, mom, stat away. My thing. I was really interested in the generational thing as well, so a great example. I just want to ask you. We’re going to go over to the gaming world in a sec, Ida. But I want to ask you one more thing about these kinds of blurred blended reality things. So for a long time one of the coolest things. They have to come up with new concepts in media all the time, so there were these reality shows. But this was something more than a reality show like Big Brother or the sports or the island-things or farm-things. You know they’re quite heavenly circulated off the real world and directed. Here it’s like being in a zoo. SKAM didn’t feel like living in a zoo. You know it is a new concept developed.
IS: Yeah, that’s interesting. I also think if you think about other series and fan culture, it’s often very connected to specific subcultures or subgroups. I think what SKAM did was that everyone was engaged. Mothers and. In the beginning, the core audience, the main audience, or the main target group if you want to use that word. Which were the youngsters, the 16-year-olds. And then eventually you saw the shift, and you could also see the shift in the four seasons they had that the audience became older, and then they also talked to other target groups in a way. Yeah, it is interesting. They never created the kind of bubble or fan cultures like Harry Potter for instance or Star Wars. That is a different type. I don’t know why.
SS: It’s interesting, and something that definitely is a virtual world is Fortnite, yet they managed to create one of the greatest concerts ever in terms of the number of participants, and I like you to talk about that, and I like to admit immediately that if I remember correctly, they might have done several, but at least on one of these, my boys were going to go and watch it. And I was like, why is that a concert. You have to be with people for it to be a concert, and they’re like no mom, I think this is fine. And I think that also challenges the concept of what a concert is, so please tell us about the world of games.
IS: Yeah, to begin with, it challenges our concept of what a concert is, but also what it means to do marketing in today’s world. So to begin with, Fortnite for those who don’t know it is one of the biggest current online games out there, and I’m very engaged in Fortnite because my nephew is a blood fan of it. That’s the only thing he likes to do, so every Christmas and every birthday all he wants is V-bucks. That’s the currency in Fortnite. It’s a multi-billion industry, so Epic Games. This company is behind Fortnite, and I would consider Epic Games to become one of the Big Five. So we have Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and who’s going to become the fifth horse there? Epic Games is good and a warning for them, kind of. We have to understand that the gaming industry is not only for children, I think on my mobile phone I have at least one or two of those games just to distract myself or to get a bit of headspace. Maybe you do too, and I think most of us have. So we just have to remember that the whole gaming industry is kind of a hidden secret in terms of marketing.
SS: If I may just interrupt you for a second. Cause I was just thinking about that this morning. So I used to play Clash of Clans. I’m just tired of it now. I liked the whole clan-building thing about it. I used to play Candy Crush, now I play Farm Hero which is the same thing, right?
SS: And I remember that the prime minister got caught playing one of these in some sort of a formal meeting, but I do the same. And I do it exactly for what reason you said now. Sometimes I just need those five minutes of headspace. I need to kind of free one channel in my brain. I’m still listening to what is being said. It kind of helps me. It’s a therapy against mental fatigue, and I don’t know what the dynamics are, but I think we grownups don’t realize that our kids probably to an even larger extent than we do, use these games also as social therapy and free space as well as many other things.
IS: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, just keep that in mind, and then if we can have a small repetition from last time, I talked about distribution and distribution is placement, price, and people. So placement. The gaming industry has a huge amount of new types of placements for marketeers. And one simple one we think of is very premature that we often have found very annoying, that’s when you don’t have a premium account, and then it pops up. That’s a type of placement. They’re often very bad quality, they’re often very, I mean, it’s still very in its first phase I would say. And then we have this concert, so it was a concert arranged by marshmallow, and they released their song in Fortnite. That’s also placement. *That’s a type of placement you would call back in the old times of the industry, you would call it product placement, right? And product placement in the gaming industry, that’s something we haven’t seen so much yet, but it’s going to be a growing industry. Meaning when you are going to place an ad somewhere, we’re using so-called ad exchange. The one most of us are familiar with is the Facebook’s Ads manager. That’s one ads manager in business manager, or we have Google marketing platform where you have the ad-exchange formerly called DoubleClick, and now it’s just called Google Marketing platform I guess. That’s where you bid for placement. I’m just waiting for Epic Games to come up with that kind of ad exchange, and then all of the sudden you as a company, you need to know, okay, where I’m going to put my money? Where is the best way to reach the audience that I want to reach? And just think about it Silvija, in a few years maybe, if someone wants to recruit my nephew for a position in data, data security, digital forensics, I mean, where is the place to go? Well, you should meet him and game with him in Fortnite and say “Hey listen, would you be interested in signing a job with us?” So here is, I believe that gaming from so many perspectives is teaching us something In marketing. And also what we call affinity-based marketing. Affinity based is based on interest. Based on that you create a culture around what you’re doing. And that’s what we need to do as companies as well. To win this younger generation, because that’s how they relate and connect with one another.
SS: Ida, there are so many other things I like to ask you, but I just want us to squeeze in one last example, and my question is about programmatic. So we hear this word a lot, can you please explain what it means, and can you give us an example from somewhere you’ve seen it done right?
IS: Yeah, so programmatic I think is one of the most misused buzzwords, because it creates some sort of fear that it sounds very advanced, but let me take the example of Adlibris which is a book company. I always take this example because I’m a big book shopper, I buy a lot of books every year and that’s why I’m also being exposed to their ads, so I often go to Alibris. And programmatic means they target me. They target ads to me based on a previous set of data points, and the easiest one is behaviour. Behaviour means I visit their websites, and then I go online and buy different books, and based on what I bought. Based on my behaviour they can expose me to books they believe I would be interested in. I think you have the same experience with Amazon, right?
SS: Exactly. I’m a fan of audiobooks, and I started off thinking well, I’ll just buy the twelve credits subscription and thats twelve books and I’m happy, and I ended up with more than new 200 books per year, and that’s because they are by now, they have become the best librarian in the world for me. Because they know me, and they also know how to stretch me. So you know, it’s not just giving me books about AI, they are suddenly recommending great courses on psychology or great myths. It’s a really interesting algorithm I guess. To read the user and then nudge the user in a way that’s profitable and maybe good for the user as well.
IS: Yeah, exactly, and I also have the same experience, but it is also interesting because what I also have seen very often, almost every time, is what I get. So it often pops up five books, and then one of the books is a book that I already bought. And in the beginning, I was a bit irritated by that, I was thinking they should know that. They have that data, that should be a slip. And later on, I realised when I learned more about it. There is a book called “Nudge”, for instance, which is a really good book that everyone should read. And if you learn about social psychology, there is something called the anchoring effect. And the anchoring effect means that they put something familiar to me next to four other books, and then I kind of relate those books. Oh, I read that one, and then I relate the other books to this book. And that again, they based suggestions on other people who tend to be like me and what they bought. So it is like you say a very smart algorithm. But then we also have other, what I find fascinating with Adlibris is that last year, around 12. March when the country closed down. All of a sudden I’ve got the same pop-up again with five different items, but all of the sudden I had puzzles. And I never bought puzzles and all this kind of. And I guess they then predicted based on the contextual behaviour. The context around us, there was a pandemic, there was the shutdown, and they just predicted that Ida is likely willing to buy puzzles right now. Even though I did not have that behaviour. And that is very smart when you’re able to, not only based on my previous behaviour but can kind of predict future behaviour. The funny thing is I never knew before that I would buy puzzles and games, board games, and stuff at Adlibris, so they made that known to me. Which I find very interesting.
SS: I’m very fascinated by the way the Facebook ads keep popping up in my Facebook feed. There are certain kinds of very robust, but pretty clothes for women. Sort of, you know, dress you can wear to travel and to work and your work. And then they are sending me a lot of video recording equipment and they’re sending me some garden stuff. They obviously see what I have done before, but they are very smart in relating I guess to the rest of my digital life.
IS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it’s. One of the things I do with my students is that I have them analyse the ads that they’re exposed to. There is also a way of going into Google. Into your account at Google where you look at the preferences, and how Google has interrupted your behaviour. Sometimes it’s actually not true. Sometimes it can say that, well, it says I’m single, but I’m married, or sometimes they misinterpreted you based on your behaviour. And that’s also very fascinating. The fascinating thing with data.
SS: I think we’ll get even more of that in the future. I think we’re going to stop now with the second session and soon start the third session, Ida. Because one of the things I think we need to dig into is this concept of ethical marketing. Where, you know, they know a little too much about each of us by now, and the question is how far should you be stretching and for what purpose. Should we save that for the next one?
SS: Sounds good. Thank you so much!
IS: Thank you!
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SS: Hi, and welcome back to our Lørn masters-series with Ida Serneberg about digital marketing. Ida, we have already had two chats in this series where you are actually attempting to teach me through conversation about digital marketing. And the first talk was about basic concepts and definitions and the story of the subject. The second one was about some of your favorite examples and kind of nice analysis of why you think they’re interesting. And now we are going into section number three, which is going to be about bridges. So, there are things to talk about when it comes to technology, there are things to talk about when It comes to business, and there are some things to talk about when it comes to society. And we talked about all kinds of new nudging that ads are doing with us in the digital world. Cambridge Analytica wasn´t mentioned, but is perhaps the most well-known example. And you know. We didn’t know where to start thinking about the ethics of these things. Another idea related to ethics that I like to discuss a little bit with you is. There is a book called World Without Mind by a guy called Francis Foer, and he’s talking about echo chambers and fake news and how people who work in the media have a really, almost sacred duty, to protect us from manipulations. Yet the business might want to manipulate us, so how do we balance that. So that´s the social ethics side. When it comes to business, I´d like you to teach me, you know, how do I measure the business effect of digital marketing. How do I relate them to something that creates value for my business? And the third, on the technology side, you already mentioned things like Google Marketing platform or Facebook ads platform. How do I start, what do I need to learn in order to start using these tools? I don´t know which order we should take them, but should we start with ethics?
IS: Okay, sure.
SS: What is digital marketing doing to us as individuals and as a society?
IS: Yeah, so when I teach digital ethics, I always started with the ethical Faultline explained by Kerry James, Harvard Researcher. You can talk about privacy, property, participation and identity and credibility. So, there is no difference from the time before the internet, so credibility. You give credit where credit belongs, right? But all of these five things have become a lot more complicated in our world. Because, I mean, credibility. How do you give credit when it’s a meme, for instance. That’s the one thing. Participation, the whole idea that consumer and producer relating in a blurred way like we heard the last time with the example of SHAME, that creates a lot of new kinds of tricky things. When it comes to the company, and all of the sudden I can make fun of your logo, or you can try to pretend to have some sort of image, but the co-workers know it’s not true, then they start participating in that. Identity. Identity is huge. Where is my identity beginning and where does it end, and we talked about behavior data last time. We talked about geographical, demographic data, the data that can be used for the benefit to target me in a way that I don’t want to be targeted in. And property. Property is also connected to that, I mean, the property in terms of can be many things, I mean, now what we see now what some people are talking about, and I just recently read an article that was claiming that we will see now different internets in different countries, and the one thing that I should be aware of is the internet in the years to come will be different from the one that we know from today. The open, free internet I don’t think is going to end, but we´ll see a lot of regulations connected to it. As a consequence of the fact that it’s been high after all for a few years. So, yeah. Those are some of the issues that are already being addressed. They’re being addressed through for instance GDPR 2018 we got that role. That was a shower from the EU saying every time you go online, you broadcast your information. And people don´t even, we´re not even aware of it. One exercise I do with my students in the beginning of the year, and I hope no future students is listening right now, because then it´s going to be a spoiler, but what I do is that I send them to a personality test online, and I say hey make this personality test. And everyone is doing that. And the test is not the personality test, but afterwards I ask them okay, so what did you consent to now. And what you’re giving away every time you do these free personality test online, you give away psychographic data. Something that was misused by Cambridge Analytica. Funnily, the one that I’m using, the one personality test I’m using, the on-personality test is based in Cambridge. Probably on the same street where we had Cambridge Analytica, probably based on the same people worked at Cambridge Analytica, and we´re very naive. And I think in the years to come, people will become more concerned about it, and I always tell my students that: What kind of marketing do you want to have? How do you want to be exposed? That’s the kind of marketer that you want to be, so this is a really important. I think this is one of my hearts major concerns, actually.
SS: Our personal boundaries and how we are being used is being directed in this new digital, social world. But okay, so we leave lots and lots of tracks in the digital space, and these are being used in good and bad ways to target us with information, and that information might be aimed to make us buy something, or maybe make us vote in a certain way or affect us in some way or another. How do I measure the effectiveness of this? How do I relate it to my business calls?
IS: Yeah, really awesome and good important question, because very often I get clients coming to me and my students and say okay, we need help with this and that, and very often it´s, I mean, I ask them what’s the aim with. Why do you need support, what can we help you with. And very often they say, well, I want to grow my digital visibility in Facebook and on Google, and I want to raise sometimes because they’ve learned that I need clear goals, they need to be SMART. Specific, measurable, all that. And then they say well, I need to grow my follower base by 200%. And that’s a micro goal, and I would strongly recommend to avoid all kinds of how many clicks did I get to my website, and how many followers do I have. It doesn’t say necessarily a lot at the end of the day what you earned. I think it’s really important to have a clear idea on what´s your primary aim. What’s makes. What´s your primary business goals? When we put up digital marketing, it needs to reflect that to begin with. Secondly, you also need to know why you are doing what you´re doing. So, in order to measure why you’re doing what you’re doing, that´s a rather qualitative metric then. It´s rather to look at “Did I come through with whatever I wanted to do”. I believe in the years to come, that the way that we measure marketing is going to change radically, and I even saw now that some of my students are signing up for positions called qualitative analytics or working with qualitative analytics, because it’s not enough to look at numbers. The amount of followers, the amount of clicks, the amount of visits to you websites, but we need to go back to those good old´ focus groups. Sit down with you customers and ask the what´s you impression on this product? And then to really see if it’s reflecting what you’re doing, and I have cuisine who works at a media auditing company, one of the biggest firms in the world. They´re working with global brands, and she’s always answering when people say I have a small company, I can’t afford to measure. Doing all this brand lifts surveys that Google provides you with. I can’t afford that. It requires a big budget. And her response is, well, there are other ways of measuring customer satisfaction. You can just ask them “How did it taste?”, right? So, there is something about finding that good blend when it comes to measuring things. Not only being blind to the digital measurements, but try to find, and here we see the intertwined and the bridge between the digital and the analog.
SS: Can I ask you Ida, because I’m wondering if we´re becoming a little bit too data-blind. You know, we believe that now that we have everything digitally it means that we´re going to have lots and lots of data on everything and data will tell us all. That’s not how it works, unless you really understand and communicate the vision. Data is not going to tell you anything unless you have a hypothesis.
IS: Exactly, and I think also it’s a little bit like the good old analogy about the guy who lost his keys, and you find him searching for the keys under the lamp and someone says why are you looking there? Is that where you lost them? He’s like no, but here is where the light is based. And that´s the same with a lot of ways we measure things in the online world. It’s not the accurate way of measuring things.
SS: It’s just a shadow?
IS: It’s just a shadow, yeah.
SS: And so. Data can´t tell you everything. You have to combine quantitative with the qualitative, but when it comes to quantitative, I guess we need to connect those clicks and likes and followership and so on with higher business goals as you say.
SS: Sometimes I have a feeling we don’t even do that, I mean, there is a disconnect between the number of items you sell with the number of likes you might have.
IS: Yeah, I mean, I can only relate to my own business, so. My business I have outside of my company or my normal work, which is only based on the stories I share on LinkedIn. I would say that 99% of my business, even then when I say business, I mean just requests from other universities or you asking me about doing this, I put zero money on it. Probably if I were to go independent by myself, I would put up a bigger strategy around it, but at the end of the day what’s being measured is probably the number of requests that I get online. And that at the end leads to some sort of initiative and engagement for anyone else that would be independent, that leads to revenue. And why is that? I mean, again it goes back to just the story, the content that I create, does it reflect the end goal that I have? Which is to be, in my case, not about making money because I don’t make any money outside the normal. The position that Noroff necessarily, but is rather being that thought leader in a certain area for me. And if I want to measure my content, the effectiveness of the content, I have to look at the end of the day, okay, how many requests did I get in this time and that’s how we should relate to it. I never look at likes, I never look at visits to. What I do look at, is how many search my name on Google. That’s something you can do actually.
SS: Number of searches, that’s true. Listen, Ida, just five minutes on technology. If I need to learn to use a technology platform, we´ll go back to the tools of the trade later, but something like. Just teach me, you mentioned the Google ad platform or Google analytics or. So, if you could talk a little bit about., that I think there are two types of technologies. One is the production technology, perhaps we need to learn a little bit about Tik Tok or about, you know, the new ways of creating whether it´s video or other content. And then there is the distribution technology. How do you get this out? What are some of the basic tools here and explain how one of each works?
IS: Yeah, and If I can add one to it. Is also the basic communication tools that you have internally in your organization. I think that’s where you start. It’s about having an infrastructure that helps you coo-work. It’s often unseen. We often forget about it. It can be a google drive disk for everyone, it can be for someone is Dropbox, right? For some it’s more like the internet. I say this because if you want to be successful in digital marketing, you have to have an organization where everyone shares the same platform, shares the same common, not necessarily values, but you have a common ground where you can share your values and you can share your documents, see the process of everyone. I would start there, and also have some sort of project tool. It can be Asana, it can be Basecamp. You need somewhere to communicate, it’s often Slack. What else do we have, Discord. I know that a lot of people like Discord. Teams obviously, so begin with. You need to have that infrastructure that is based on internal communication. That’s number one. Then we go on to, so you said like the distribution side, and you also have the production side. The production, most of the time you have a website as a company. Not always, but you have some sort of, like, hub. So connected to that website you need to have a CMS. A content management system. It can be WordPress, it can be Drupal, Wix, Shopify and so on. And you need to connect that one to some sort of analytics tools. Most of the time that’s Google Analytics. That’s the bare minimum. You need to know, okay, what’s my foundation. Very often, or not very often, but what everyone should have, is Google Business Manager. Google My Business.
SS: Just to translate that. Because, you know, when you were in a physical store before, you could count the people that were going into the shop, you could see how they behave Infront of different shelves. Now in a digital world, your webpage is doing the same as the shop, so basically you need to understand where people are going and where they are staying, right? And where they´re buying.
IS: Yes, exactly. And I mean, it does not necessarily have to be the webpage or the website. It’s important to remember that there’s even a little bit of yesterday’s news already. For someone it might be the app. If your Vipps, right, then it’s the app. In my case it’s also, I wouldn’t say my webpage is the number one core. My core is rather LinkedIn and my Google Business position. If you google my name, there’s a box on the right side. That’s my front page. And your front page, Silvija, is Silvija Seres and what is being shown there. So that´s probably, like, something that you also have to take in account. But in my case, it’s also Google Scholar. Google Scholar is a scientist. It’s where, you know, on Google you have the normal feed where you can search, or you have the newsfeed, and you have the Scholar where you search for papers. I have a profile there as well, and this is a really important point, because there you see that most of the listeners who are listening to me right now, most likely are not on Google Scholar, and should not be. And here we have a very important part of marketing today is niche. So, what’s your niche? And the niche will decide whether you should be on TikTok or not. I should be on Tiktok, but I’m not. I´m afraid of TikTok, but most of my students are, so I should actually go out and explore there just to understand it. I would most likely never be on TikTok because that´s not my niche.
SS: Ida, I have to ask you that question now. You mentioned TikTok, and you know, I´m also a little bit scared of both TikTok, and Instagram and Snap, and it’s just like, you know, I’m oversaturated with channels, and I’m afraid that I can start new channel, but I don’t have the time or the bandwidth to keep up the good work, and it would just be a dead channel. Somebody was doing a interview with me, and they said, well, you know, we checked you out and it looks like you have a zombie Instagram account where there are about thirty pictures. Some swimming competition with your children, and then nothing more. And I said, yeah, you know, that was the time I used it, and I simply didn’t have the time to do it. So, I think many companies and many individuals are wondering about this, you know, is there like a limit, should they use five and stick to those five? Should I go on as many as possible, because we don’t have the resources to keep it up in all these channels.
IS: Exactly, and I think that´s a very relevant and important question. I honestly believe that a lot of companies are on Facebook without even, and shouldn’t be on Facebook. Facebook was a core, it was a bare minimum a few years ago, but now we see that Facebook is moving into being a niche as well. If you want to reach out to the young ones, Facebook is not the place to be. If you want to reach out to my brother, who is like 42, Facebook is the place. So, it all depends on who is your customer. What do you want to, what kind of action, how do you want to nudge them, and how do they behave in that context, and how can you use it. And obviously, it´s also depending on your budget. If you´re Booking.com or if you´re Coop with quite a lot of media-spend, well then you have the resources to be available on the much, much more channels.
SS: Cool. Ida, we talked about technology in terms of different channels, different platforms and different creative tools, and different communication tools. We also talked about business in terms of how you define what success looks like with your digital marketing strategy and we talked about the social side of this, in terms how do you make sure that it is respectful and ethical. At least at some very high level. I think we´re going to stop there and then soon go into our fourth session, which is going to be, well, so how do I start? Help me how to get a project started, and what´s my, you know, starting steps and starting KPIs. Sounds good?
SS: Okay, thank you so far.
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SS: Hi, and welcome back to our fourth session about Digital Marketing in Lørn Masters with Ida Serneberg. We’ve had three chats Ida, and this is kind of a conversational teach me session, where you’re trying to explain to me through these chats what digital marketing is, and how I can start using it as a person who hasn’t done any of it before. And the first one was about the primary, the definition, the concepts of the subjects. The second was about your favourite examples, the third session was about the three different aspects of digital marketing. Technology, business, and society, and what are some interesting dilemmas, and what do you have to think about in each of those boxes. And now we’re in our final chat, and basically, I’m hoping you will help me get started. If we try to think of a concrete example, and I come to you and say, Ida, I want to start a digital marketing campaign on this master class and I want to make sure that at least 5000 people take the master class diploma. How do I start? I’m hoping we’ll talk about that, and a little bit about requirements before we can start a project like that, and also a little bit about the huge jobs I should be thinking about more than I am. Sounds good?
IS: Yes, wonderful.
SS: So, then, my question is basically as I said it. How do I start on a digital campaign for the master class about digital marketing?
IS: Yes, and that is very often the case that companies come to me and they say “We have this need and we need to start a campaign” and to begin with, the campaign is the tactics and very often that is the solution. And very often we go to the solution without having the problem. We jump over that. What’s the real problem here? Very often the problem might be; Well, the product that you want to sell is there no need for in the market, or there is a need for it, but you need to reach the right people at the right time. So, I always start with investigating what’s the real problem here. And in order to do so, I also have to look at the infrastructure. If you come to me, I would start with looking-
SS: My problem is that they understand that lifelong learning is good for them, but they haven’t found a way to put it in their everyday life. The real problem is that I’m trying to build a habit. That’s a really hard thing to do.
IS: Yeah, and then to build a habit, you have to nudge people. And to understand that, we have to understand that the ones- the habit has to occur in consequence of something else. So, to have people prioritise Lørn, they have to give up something else. So, that’s like with me and my training. In order to get back to SATS or Berry’s, I have to give up on some habits. Sometimes it’s also about understanding what are the habits that are standing in the way of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is a very good example because everyone knows it’s important, but how do I implement that in my life as part of my lifestyle?
SS: And then I need infrastructure as well.
IS: Yes. You need an infrastructure, and infrastructure means to begin with people around you. So, I would have to understand who’s in your organisation and what do they do? What are their competencies? In order to understand my role here, because very often companies come to my students and they say “help us and save us from this”. But we need to work on intertwined as well, so as an agency. As an external agency, you need to get your hands dirty, but my job is to get your hands dirty. So, then I have to understand your organisation. Who’s responsible for what? I need to get access to all the technology platforms. I need to know whether, okay, what about your webpage? Is it user-friendly? Because we can drive a lot of traffic, a lot of relevant traffic who’re interested in signing up for your class, but they end up not signing up because the website is not functioning probably. Everything is tied up together.
SS: So, we are continuing the example. So, Lørn has lorn.tech which is our navigation page where you can find all the cases and additional materials, and then we have Lørn University where we give you the same thing, but you have to register. Now the advantage of Lørn University is that you get a diploma when you have listened and answered the quiz, and we register that diploma certified with blockchain. We can’t do that on lorn.tech because on lorn.tech we don’t know who you are, but it seems like just the step of registration is scaring away many people. It’s saying to me that it doesn’t really help to create the great digital marketing program unless all the steps the user needs to do in order to get to the final kind of – whether it’s buying or using steps, are very very smooth. How do you optimise that?
IS: Yeah, so, here I also wonder whether the added value. The diploma. Is that enough for people to sign up? Or do we need to have even more added value? That’s what most newspapers do, right? That you have the added value that is the plus articles. So, what are your plusses? Is it only the diploma? And if so, well. I wonder what’s the need of people who have an urgent need to learn about technology. Maybe they don’t even care about the diploma?
SS: Okay, so, I think that’s a great question. I think that my plus, or our plus, is that we’re soon providing you with individualised learning paths. One thing is that you can take one course, but we can provide you with a roadmap through the jungle of all this learning content that is meaningful to you, and we can provide you several of those, but I guess all of this needs to be communicated very clearly in the campaign. So, what you’re saying to me is that just telling people “hey, hello please come here, click and take a diploma” is not good enough. You need to be sure that you’re providing them with clear value messaging.
IS: Yes. And then again if I can be the devil lawyer here, I also wonder, okay, and individual path. How would you know better than me about my individual path? And how can you fulfil all the goals and aims that I have? Maybe I’m someone who, okay, I need to begin with some certificates in Google Analytics, and in addition to that, I need to understand a little about behavioural sciences and UX, maybe I need to take a course on social psychology at the University of Amsterdam, I also would like to challenge your role in that ecosystem of all these kinds of options out there in terms of both academic and non-academic, and how Lørn fits into that blend.
SS: Okay, so, let’s not go too deep into examples. I don’t want to use all our time on this, but basically, our idea is that we have a different format. It’s not a lecture, but a conversation. And we believe that format works really well as time in between work, between home, travelling, exercising, it’s a new format. But even more so, it’s a 1000 stories and hopefully, we’ll be 2000 soon that are tagged and structured in a way, because if you go to LinkedIn or Coursera what you get there is usually either relatively extensive courses, and you know the top 5% of the courses are very good and there is a lot of content. But it’s not snackable. It takes three weeks of your life to do the product management course. But you have to communicate the uniqueness of your product very clearly as you say. In order to be not just seen, but also selective. Because too often we create marketing just to be seen, but that’s not enough.
IS: Exactly. Very good. Well said.
SS: Okay, so, let’s say we create a positioning statement, and let’s say we create some nice posters for Facebook. And I say please come and listen to this amazing master course and you can get 3-4 really nice blockchain diplomas and it will be something you can do on your way to work and it’ll be fun. And then what? How do I select the channel? How do I create those posters that are correct? How do I set up, where should they go? How should I do that?
IS: Yeah, good question. I would start with my existing database. So, you must have some sort of existing database with the customers that you already have enrolled, and I would look at them, to begin with. Who are they and where did they come from? How did they end up taking this course? That would give you a very good clue of who’s out there who can be replicated, so, that’s what we often refer to as twin profiles. So, it goes back to who I have in my existing audience and how I can scale that. Make it scalable. And that again will define where you should be, and where you should be is also a question of volume versus competition. We’ve seen recently that some of my students tried out a smaller niche medium where you get a smaller audience, but a lower fee, and the competition is lower. Reddit for instance. You can easily get a high view rate on your ads, and then again, the question is how many of them will sign up? So, I also want to think outside the existing Dropoly. And when I say Dropoly, I mean Google and Facebook. Because that’s where our fast-brain goes too quickly. We need to go on Facebook. I really strongly challenge that right now. I’m not sure whether Facebook is… In the years to come, Facebook is… The feed the way we know it is going to change radically, you better just try to in the coming phase, I would be very explorative right now. Explore all the options that you have like Reddit or –
SS: Can I also ask you, are we being too blind to the physical? Because one of the things that I’ve noticed is. I was skiing in Trysil over all the weekends this winter, and Storytel is on every billboard between Oslo and Trysil, and you know, on the trains, airport, on the ski-slopes. In the hotels. You name it, there was Storytel. They didn’t necessarily choose Facebook, they chose ski slopes which I think was a genius move.
IS: I love it, and I love that you say that because that’s what I mean with we’re going so blind into this Dropoly, Google, and Facebook, and even we’re very much into “it has to be digital”. No, it does not have to be digital. It can be either inbound. Inbound meaning people seek you because they need it. That is the Google corridor. Or it can be interruptive. Interruptive is on the way to the ski-slope, and I’m sitting in my own world and reading my audiobook, then I’m interrupted by some message on the way. Those are the two and yes, we need to think about analogy and digital at the same time. I don’t like the fact that my course is called digital marketing because I think it should be called Herbert marketing. After all, that’s what it is at the end of the day. And then it’s all about price. Position, price, and audience. People. Who do you want to reach out and how much money do you have and work to reach them in order to get their attention.
SS: So, if we play ball with that for a second, my audience is really businesses. We’re business-to-business. I want you to choose a masterclass with Ida, and then all the masterclasses might be behind a premium paywall, and it’s your company that should pay for your annual subscription at the level of Spotify. Fou you to be able to get access to these Norwegian-focused master classes in business, tech, and society. So, is there a very different way of thinking when you’re trying to reach businesses?
IS: Yeah, and again, I think your example is excellent on your way to the ski slope. If you want to reach out to business, and a lot of our clients say that “we’re different. We’re business to business”. At the end of the day, there is a human making the decisions. And on the way to the ski-slope, that’s actually when you want people to listen to some lørn podcasts. That’s the place where you can say and then you can have the message “This could have been the opportunity for your staff to educate themselves. 20 minutes of time”. Like, you could do from the commuting. From Økern in Oslo to Majorstuen, that’s 20 minutes. That could be 20 minutes of education time, so you can try to put your message where the people are, and that’s actually where you want the people to use your product. That’s something that I would use in communication, I guess.
SS: I also think that, again, another physical space that we forget is. We’ve almost forgotten that we had conferences before the pandemics, but it could be a possibility to create a product that is associated with the conference and then tell people that if they want more of what they learned today, well, please go here and subscribe. And I just think there are so many physical channels that still are in our world. And then the other one is that I want to go back to your idea, the app. Because of my Audible app, I don’t buy my books through Audible, I buy them from Amazon. The moment I go into my car and turn on my Bluetooth radio, the book starts playing, right? That’s how it keeps coming back into my life. It’s that kind of blended interrupted world that we need to find hooks in the old products that we need to sell.
IS: Very well said.
SS: So, Ida, okay, we create some campaigns. Can you just remind me what the planning document includes? Let’s say we go digital and let’s say we go to LinkedIn. Talk to me about something like objectives like in the first session.
IS: Yes, so, you always have an objective. You always have this set of distribution and you have creatives. And they’re all connected. The objectives might be like you said. 50 sign-ups. I need 50 sign-ups at Lørn academy. Distribution, that is placed. You said LinkedIn, in LinkedIn you have three types of placements. One placement is in the mail. You send an email, or it’s in the feed, or it can also be on the right side if you’re on a desktop. There you have the placements, then you have a price connected to it. The price would be more expensive than Facebook, but it’s also a little bit more relevant for the audience that you want to reach since you’re saying we want to reach out to businesspeople. LinkedIn in many regards is taking over some of the old functions to Facebook or the old patterns that we have. The behaviour that we have used on Facebook, we have it on LinkedIn now. And then you have to define your creativity and that’s the most important part of it. 80% off all ads and campaigns, they fail on their creatives.
SS: They’re just boring.
IS: Yeah, they’re bad. Low quality, boring. They are not. I don’t understand it. They’re in the wrong setting. You don’t correctly use the medium, those are all the concerns that you need to take and understand. I would be a terrible advisor on TikTok because I don’t understand the functionalities that we have on TikTok, so, if you want to be that person who sets up a campaign in LinkedIn, you also have to understand LinkedIn and how we relate to things in LinkedIn. I would also look into – what’s the existing activities that Lørn.Tech has on LinkedIn that are organic? If that’s not in place, I wouldn’t advise you to start putting money on it. So, you need some sort of existing storyline there. What does it look like? How often do you publish? What do you publish, and how well do those two cope with one another? Organic is not paid communication online. Further on I have to check whether your website is good enough so that we can get them through the whole journey to booking. That is something that needs to be in place. Obviously also some sort of tracking that makes it possible for me to say at the end of the day was this a good campaign or a bad campaign? And if so, why?
SS: Can I just make two comments, and we have to go into landing with future jobs, but from our own scars on our backs basically in Lørn. We’ve been trying, you know, we are building platforms and hiccups and everything, but two areas where I think we have failed most so far. One of them is exactly what you said now. Tracking and learning. What have been learned from this campaign, and how are we doing the next one differently? I think that lessons learned and lessons shared are super important and not done enough. A person or a team is doing digital marketing, but how do you make the whole company a part of that and how do we all develop. And the other thing I want you to comment on is mobile. There is a different world of experiences on a thing like this and a desktop, and I don’t think we’re good enough. We think desktop first when we develop products. How do we blend in mobile more?
IS: Yeah. A lot of questions, where should we start. Let’s start with the mobile. So, mobile is an old cliché by now. We have to think mobile-first. I kind of disagree, we have to think the world first. And we have to think and relate to the fact that I’m currently sitting in front of my desktop. I have my mobile here and I have a TV next to me, and we have to understand that it’s linked to one another. And in addition, you’re maybe sitting on your way to Trysil to ski, so we have to think not mobile-first, but user first and how is this user being connected to all of it. And yes, at the same time so many of our award-pitches are not mobile-first, and if they’re not mobile-first, they’re not going to be good SEO, and then your campaign is going to fail. What were the other questions or comments you had?
SS: To summarise, rather than being hung up on one platform and whether that’s mobile or virtual reality or the clock you’re carrying or whatever, you really need to understand that it’s becoming an ecosystem of integrated things. And you have to kind of understand the context of the user.
IS: Yes, exactly.
SS: And the other question was really. I feel there’s a disconnect between delivery on a campaign and learning from the campaign. We keep doing campaign after campaign, and it’s a little bit like banging your head on the wall without really kind of learning where to stop banging.
IS: Yeah. And I’m also very tired of this “it’s important to fail. We need to fail more”. No, we don’t. We call that consequence pedagogy. That’s not fashionable at all. We need to have a good structure for constant optimization and constant optimization means constant learning, and call it lifelong learning to use your terminology. And we need to teach the ones that we have in our organisation, that’s why it always starts with “What’s your internal platform?”. How do you share ideas, how do you spread ideas internally, and you have to build your brand internally in order to communicate externally. And my students, I said that 80% of their time, they will work with the organisation. 20% of the time the communication, creating the campaigns and activities. But 80% of the time will be just to have others understand the collective journey, to understand them, and to have them be engaged in your activity because that’s where the success starts. And I really believe we need to talk about new professions. We need bridgebuilders internally. We need people working to integrate the whole company, to have everyone understand the idea of communication and marketing.
SS: Very good. I think we have talked about this whole series of steps to understand the real problem. You have to imagine the context correctly and then you spend enough effort and energy doing good creative work and setting up good creatives and channels and you think about pricing, and don’t think just mobile-first, but think world-first across channels and platforms. Final question Ida. What are the new most relevant jobs? What do you think people should be, I was going to say specialise in, but I’m very much against specialisation. I think we need to have this cross-functional stuff, but you still have to have a title. A core, a top.
IS: Yeah, if I were to develop a new program, it would probably be digital-fix-specialist. What we need is a psychologist who understands technology and what technology does to humans and what humans do to technology. And we need technologists to be able to understand the psychology behind the technology. The psychology in people when interacting with technology, and we need bridgebuilders as I said. People who work between divisions in a company and have them work together. We need digital ethnography. People understand behaviour online as well as offline for that matter, and online in connection to offline. That’s going to be a big thing, it’s called Ethnography. It’s really important to understand that the successful organisation of tomorrow or 2020 is where you’re working realistically, and realistically means to understand what you do as an impact on others in a company. The best example I have, and maybe it’s far-fetched, but it relates to any industry. The scientific society right now where you often have the division in university where you have the administrative staff and you have the researchers, and the researchers, they need to reach out in order to get finances. In order to recruit participants, and in order to do so, they’re dependent on good infrastructure when it comes to the digital ecosystem of the university, which is often owned by the administration, and then all of the sudden you have this spot in between, and that’s where the success comes in. And very often you can see that in any company. You have blue collars or white collars, and we need to get away from that. And that’s a big word, but that’s the future. And also change. Advocate for change sounds like a fluffy thing, but…
SS: There’s going to change.
IS: Yes. There are going to be a lot of organisational, structural changes in the years to come. That’s often the number one. I have two major questions. Number two is the one you asked. I want to create a campaign. The first one is how we are supposed to organise ourselves to succeed. These two are closely related I would say.
SS: At least I learned a lot Ida, and one of the things that I learned is that we need to start on this journey and we need to start experimenting and then figuring out what solution works for our organisation and then find the right way to develop internal skills and developing external skills or purchasing skills with the best partners out there.
SS: Thank you so much for this masters-chat with us in Lørn.
IS: Thank you!
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